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Sean’s Top Ten Movies of the ’00s

The 2000s saw two Star Wars prequels, the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, two Matrix sequels, Judd Apatow take over comedy, the rise in comic book super hero movies and a ton of other things that, frankly, I really enjoyed. Narrowing my list of films down to just ten was several magnitudes more difficult than it was with music or video games, because I see more movies than either of those media. Also, I didn’t really get that serious about music until about 2007. And video games just keep getting better, so that list was mainly about choosing between important trends and games that I kept coming back to. With movies, well, I’ll just say right now I’m looking at a list of 30 motion pictures that I’m just now going to try to whittle down. A list of honorable mentions would be too damn long, if something’s missing from this list, just assume it’s my number 11 or I haven’t seen it yet.

10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Oh man, the ten spot is one of the hardest. This is the cutoff point, the place where I decide what makes the cut and what will help occupy the enigmatic, unofficial number 11. There were so many choices, I could have done comedies like Sideways, Best in Show or Knocked Up. I could have done prestige pictures like The Departed or Zodiac. In the end, I had to go with the surprise pick. I only say surprise because I think I heard somewhere that John isn’t a fan of Eternal Sunshine. Is this the one you didn’t even finish, John? Maybe I’m thinking of something else. Sorry if I am. But Eternal Sunshine is quite the movie. The nonlinear storytelling felt really fresh and led to a really satisfying payoff. Jim Carrey is really good too. Ultimately this story manages to be extremely bizarre while at the same time totally relatable. That deserves props.

9. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
In retrospect, it’s kind of weird that Ang Lee made this movie. I mean, that’s the Brokeback Mountain guy. He made a Chinese wire fu movie? But Crouching Tiger is more than just a visual feast of martial arts magic. It’s two tragic stories of forbidden love. And we all have been there, haven’t we? I know this chick that I totally would have hooked up with if it wasn’t for me being totally best pals with her dead husband. And I think everyone knows what it’s like being a princess in love with the bandit who totally stole your comb. But seriously, the somewhat Shakespearean nature of the story just helps me think of Kurosawa samurai epics and this as somehow in the same league. And Chow Yun Fat’s my boy. Oh, and there was another really good wire fu movie from the 2000s, House of Flying Daggers, that you really should check out.

8. The Dark Knight (2008)
Of all comic book super hero movies, The Dark Knight is the best. It transcends being too pulpy, stylized or cartoony and becomes a legitimately compelling drama. About a man who dresses like a bat trying to arrest a clown. I’d like to think I’d be a fan of this movie regardless, but being a lifelong Batman fan really makes this movie impossible not to list. I do have complaints, however. Everything after Batman’s failed rescue feels really rushed, like they had to do a whole second movie in 45 minutes. Christian Bale kind of lost control of his Batman voice. But ultimately these are minor complaints in the face of a supremely entertaining movie. In the first of what I hope are many surprising declarations, I’m going to say I prefer Heath Ledger’s Joker to Jack Nicholson’s. Actually, that’s not very surprising. My favorite’s still Mark Hamill, if you were curious.

7. Kill Bill, Vol. 2 (2004)
I don’t know if you know this, but the only Quentin Tarantino movie I had seen before the first Kill Bill was Resevoir Dogs. That’s right, no Pulp Fiction. And it might have taken me longer to get to that classic if it wasn’t for how much I loved seeing Kill Bill, Vol. 1 in theaters. I’d like to consider this as one picture, like Tarantino intended. I would have too, if it had ever been released that way, like he promised. But it wasn’t, so I’m not going to cop out. The first volume is a great action tale full of great visual flair and one badass heroine. The second volume, however, is where most of the story lives. The great training sequence. The showdowns with Bud and Elle. The final meeting with Bill. Those fights aren’t even close to the grandeur of the first volume, but they mean a lot more. So out of the Kill Bill series, I must go with Volume 2 as one of my favorite movies of the decade.

6. Serenity (2005)
With a great movie, I’ll spend that night dwelling on what I loved about it. With a really amazing movie, I’ll go see it again in theaters. With Serenity, I bought the TV series, watched all of that, and then went and saw the movie again. There’s something that’s so appealing about treating outer space like the wild west, and this movie got it. More than just a thrilling sci fi action movie, Serenity manages to work in humor, romance, and even terror as it crafts a very satisfying conclusion to a show that was cut all too short. God, just thinking about this movie makes me want to watch it again. And I just watched it a few months ago. Hold on one second. OK, I just bought this shit on Blu-Ray. Who wants to watch it with me? It’ll be here Monday.

5. High Fidelity (2000)
I really should read this book. Would we even be doing these lists if it wasn’t for High Fidelity? Probably, but it’s fun to think about all this movie had to do for the popularity of listing stuff. Of course they did top 5s, but close enough. This movie means a lot to me, I really like pretty much everything about it. I love Cusack’s interactions with Black and Louiso. The concept of these musical elitists alone is pretty great. But that there’s a great love story wrapped in there too makes it pretty irresistible. In the end, though, you’ve got to give it up to Jack Black who is totally hilarious through out. There aren’t too many scenes that makes me smile just thinking about them. The Monday morning mixtape and “Let’s Get It On” scenes from this movie are in that tiny group. Oh, and they totally sold me on The Three EPs.

4. Lost in Translation (2003)
Seriously, Lost in Translation must have been made for me. Back when I was a total sucker for Japan and Japanese culture comes this touching movie staring Bill Murray, who, let’s face it, is my favorite actor. At this point I need to throw out the obligatory he deserved the Oscar remark. Scarlet Johansson is pretty and does fine in her role, but this is Murray’s movie. And he totally delivers. Anyway, I’m sure a lot of people could find this movie boring or just not that interesting, and that’s fine for them. For me, it’s just incredible. It’s sad and yet funny. Sweet and romantic and yet sarcastic and pragmatic. It is at this point that I’ve noticed how the ratio of badass action movies to dramas is surprisingly even. And I didn’t even have the balls to put a straight-up comedy on the list. What’s the matter with me? Is this what growing up is like?

3. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Wes Anderson was not a name I knew before the 2000s. I was first exposed to him when my dad and I saw The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, more because we like Bill Murray than anything else. I was really captivated with the quirky style Anderson brought to the picture. Now that I’ve seen all of Anderson’s films, and loved them all, I was faced with the tough decision of either going with my first taste, or the one I keep coming back too. In the end, The Royal Tenenbaums probably is not only my favorite Anderson film of the decade, but my favorite of all of his films. Sure, Rushmore is the most important of his movies, and it is really good, but Tenenbaums is the one that resonates within me the most. I love everything about it, from the wacky story to the great soundtrack. I think what really does it for me is Gene Hackman, one of my favorite actors in one of his best performances. Gotta give it up for the Hackman.

2. No Country for Old Men (2007)
I am all about this movie. I remember when we saw it in theaters I was completely blown away. I still have been each subsequent viewing of No Country for Old Men too. The cinematography alone is worth seeing this. It’s like every frame could have been on some fancy calendar or a computer wallpaper. The performances are really strong, especially from Javier Bardem, who is right up there with the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis and Heath Ledger for remarkable portrayals of twisted characters. No Country for Old Men single-handedly got me interested in Cormac McCarthy, the Coen Brothers, and Josh Brolin. You just can’t beat some of the scenes in this movie. That scene in the hotel is just incredible.

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
There were lots of movies that seemed like cultural events in the past decade. Recently, we’ve had Avatar fill that role. Before that we had The Dark Knight. The Harry Potter and Twilight series seem to kind of have that affect. But no series better sums up the 2000s better than The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I have very specific memories of going to see each of these great movies. I remember when we saw Return of the King at Cinerama, my dad turned to me and was sad that this would be the last time he’d hear that little song at the beginning of each picture. After seeing Fellowship, I actually read the whole trilogy, which is a bit of a feat. And let’s not get started on Erin Keller. I go with Two Towers because I honestly do consider it my favorite of the trilogy. From what has to be the most epic first scene in movie history, to the surprisingly moving plight of the men of Rohan, to the incredible final battle, this movie has everything that made the series great. And Peter Jackson’s overly long storytelling works with material that’s this dense. We already own both the theatrical and extended editions of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I’ll probably end up buying the Blu-Rays soon.


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