The 15 Best Films of the 2000s (and the intro to our 2009 festival)

by George Watches Things

Finally a decade I know a little something about!

The Top 15 of 2000-2009

15. Goodbye Solo (2008)

Goodbye Solo was actually the first film I watched when I first got Netflix. And it wasn’t a bad move. Goodbye Solois glorious and its title gives it bonus points, in my book. If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to very soon. That way, you’ll know what I’m talking about. By the way, do I count this as 2008 or 2009? It got its first US release in 2009, according to IMDb, but I’ve been counting it as 2008 forever. You decide.

14. Finding Nemo (2003)

The 2000 decade was the decade of Pixar. Only two of their films made the top 15 (albeit there were four in the top 25 and one clinched a top 5 finish for the 90s), but they made their mark. Their films don’t talk/teach down to kids. In fact, most of their films aren’t just for kids. Finding Nemo could have been a live-action flick, but that would have robbed it of all the fun.

13. My Winnipeg (2008)

Local political gripes aside, Guy Maddin has made a masterpiece. Oh, I’m sorry, did I just use the ‘m’ word? Yeah, I did. Because My Winnipeg is a masterpiece to not only Maddin and not only the people of Winnipeg, but to me. It’s a deeply strange genre-bending love/hate letter to his hometown, and I think it’s simply a must.

12. Best in Show (2000)

Best in Show is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. That’s basically it. No, that’s not basically it. This film reveals so much about who we are as humans, as well as our bonds to our dogs. I couldn’t bring myself to omit it.

11. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Slumdog Millionaire is innovative, story-wise. In a decade in which cinema seems to have run low on originality, it’s refreshing to see a movie like Slumdog Millionaire. I have three 2008 films higher on this list, but Slumdog was good enough to deserve Oscar’s Best Picture, since one is a Kelly Reichardt film, another is animated, and the third is a documentary.

10. Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005)

Some films aren’t meant to be realistic and some are. Usually, films that fail to make the audience believe they’re real are weighted down by less-than-average performances and anything awkwardly chronologically inappropriate. Fortunately for Good Night, and Good Luck, the performances nail it and the two major era-creating techniques (the black-and-white and actual interview material from McCarthy) work.

9. Wendy and Lucy (2008)

When we meet Wendy, she’s a blank slate. She’s trying to get away from her old life, and trying to create a new one. She hardly has any baggage, but she also hardly has any money. Wendy and Lucy is a reminder of the fragility of life, especially in these difficult economic times.

8. In the Loop (2009)

Ooh another comedy! I like those! Especially comedies like In the Loop, which are acute political satires with both strong characters and a strong message. Director Armando Iannucci is the series creator of HBO’s Veep.

7. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days comes from my mother’s homeland, Romania. (We’ll get to that in a little bit.) And this movie is seriously haunting, partially because it’s about abortion, but mostly because it feels so real. Cristian Mungiu established himself with this picture, and I can’t wait to see his next feature, which debuted at Cannes last week. The abortionist’s last name means “baby,” by the way.

6. The Life of Reilly (2006)

One of the best and, more importantly, most personal documentaries I’ve ever seen. The Life of Reilly is fascinating to listen to, and the final scene moved me to tears.

5. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005)

I am very privileged to get to travel to Romania not just because traveling is cool, but because I get to see how another country lives. And I’m sorry to say that what is presented in The Death of Mr. Lazarescu as fact is indeed fact. That is exactly how hospitals (and basically everything else) run. The banner across the top of the DVD cover states that Lazarescu is “The Most Acclaimed Comedy of the Year.” I was perplexed by this. Is this movie supposed to be a comedy?

4. Wall-e (2008)

I’ll admit that Wall-e best parts are at the beginning, but it still deserves this spot. Pixar is extremely thorough, and every detail is important in their films. The idea for the film was itself conceived back in 1994. The script was a work-in-progress since 2002. The story and animation crews watched silent cinema for almost a year and a half just so they could master the silent scenes. The end result was definitely worth it.

3. No Country for Old Men (2007)

No Country for Old Men stunned me. What a deep, powerful story. And the Coen Brothers didn’t answer all questions, which is always key with films like this. Deserving of Oscars: Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, the Coen Brothers. Receiving Oscars: Bardem, the Coens. Also very good: Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson.

2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

The other day, I submitted The Truman Show as proof that Jim Carrey could act. Well, I introduce to you Exhibit B, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a film that is too ambitious to allow one actor to dominate. Eternal Sunshine is so gloriously in favor of happiness and love that it is almost impossible not to get sucked in by it. It is very, very dark, but the film’s view on life is unique, captivating, and refreshing.

1. Man on Wire (2008)

Yes, yes, it’s true. I think Man on Wire is the best film of yesterdecade. It’s a very bold documentary. There’s something incredible about watching Philippe Petit talk about his life and his experience breaking in and walking between the Twin Towers. I cannot recommend it enough.

The Films I’ve Seen From 2009 So Far (In Order of Quality)

  1. In the Loop (****)
  2. Mary and Max (***½)
  3. Up
  4. An Education
  5. A Town Called Panic
  6. The Band That Wouldn’t Die
  7. The U
  8. Star Trek
  9. City Island (***)
  10. World’s Greatest Dad
  11. The Hangover
  12. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
  13. The Blind Side
  14. The Proposal
  15. Without Bias
  16. The Invention of Lying
  17. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (**½)
  18. Humpday
  19. District 9
  20. He’s Just Not That Into You
  21. Kings Ransom
  22. Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?
  23. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (**)
  24. Where the Wild Things Are
  25. Dadnapped
  26. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
  27. Dragonball Evolution (*½)
  28. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

The festival will run through the summer and into a couple of fall months. Each week, there will be either one or two 2009 film(s) that get(s) reviewed. Some weeks will be off-weeks, and mini-reviews of the above films will run those weeks. I’m sticking to mostly Netflix Instant films, since I’ve already seen a good amount of the Best Picture nominees and iTunes isn’t renting The Hurt Locker. If I deviate from the plan at all, I’ll let you know.