Cinerina’s Best 50 Of The Decade: The 2000’s
Last turn of the decade I had only been writing for three years, so I didn’t think I could really support a Decade list. Heavens to betsy how the years do add up! I will definitely forget your favorite film, or some ridiculously obvious classic that I didn’t happen to see. These are just my thoughts that I hope spurs someone to pick up the video or catch it in a rerelease, just to know that these films spoke in a voice that I still hear today. They transported me, they got under my skin, and/or they blew my mind. They made me glad that I see as many movies as I do and they made my job that much more pleasurable. Fifty was a fortunate coincidence — I wasn’t going for any quantity.
So, here they are roughly in release date order. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did, or at least in different ways.
- Bring It On
The Citizen Kane of cheerleader movies, Bring It On is bubbly and high-spirited, funny, quotable, and full of positive girl excellence. It seems ridiculous but it is a solid piece of pleasure.
- O Brother Where Art Thou?
For me, the apex of the goofy Coens and the artsy Coens, before they left the goofy behind and pressed the artsy harder, with great music, gorgeous scenery, and Clooney’s most adorable role.
- Return To Me
A painful beginning to a sweet and hesitant love story, with two unlikely leads that just make you fall in love with them. A supporting cast that supports and rocks, and a wonderful script. Eminently rewatchable.
- Moulin Rouge
Crazy, gorgeous, innovative, sexy, brave, and wild. It demands that you watch it again while you are still watching it.
- Monsters Inc.
Such a creative and loving way to deal with so many childhood issues and that huge warehouse of doors is still the thing that makes me go, “how amazing to have a Pixar brain.”
A narrative told backward from the point of view of a man with no short term memory? Fantastic and complex and fascinating; also it gave me some preventative memory maintenance tips for my own recall shortcomings.
- Bridget Jones’ Diary
The book is a breezy read and the casting of Colin Firth is meta-genius. Anything that can make Renee Zellweger this sympathetic deserves accolades, and it’s funny and romantic. (Skip the sequel.)
- Legally Blonde
Showing you can be girly and smart and all you really need in life is to be true to yourself and damn anyone who says differently. Hilarious, empowering, and not at all as frou frou as the poster might have made you think. (Skip the sequel.)
- Kate & Leopold
Immensely romantic in the sense of fate bringing lovers together, and the long-lost old-fashioned modes of courtship that still pluck your heartstrings. And hello, Hugh Jackman!
- Black Hawk Down
Intense, terrifying, full of non-Americans playing Americans because American actors are too spoiled and soft to show the ugly side of warfare, and as a result, immediate and sobering.
- Lilo & Stitch
This movie is so primal for me I am not sure I can even assess it objectively, but the gorgeous watercolor backgrounds and the surprisingly complex triangle between Lilo, Stitch, and Lilo’s sister Nani should get your vote even if the sight of Stitch alone with his Ugly Duckling book doesn’t send you into hysterics.
- Minority Report
The best sci-fi is that which has recognizable human interiors in a fantastic exterior. Minority Report is exciting action but also thoughtful moral ponderings about the nature of crime and corruption.
- One Hour Photo
Robin Williams reminding us that he can act, that his mind is always working even when his mouth is not. A creepy and elegant tale that blew me away when I first saw it and brings me back to new appreciation each time.
- The Ring
Creepy puzzle movie with an unlikely and yet terrific premise, Naomi Watts acting her butt off, and indelible images that stick with you.
- Rabbit-Proof Fence
While unlike many of these, this is not a movie I go back to again and again, it is a sweet poem of a movie about a world so far away and it’s just gentle and lovely and brave and true.
Sexy, funny, sardonic, exciting, and gun-totin’, this movie embodies the glamour of movies and the excitement of musical theatre and it’s just gorgeous! “They Both Reached For The Gun” is so clever and wild.
- Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
The twin engines of Sam Rockwell and George Cloooney are already firing at full charisma — and then you cast a guy who might be the guy who might be a spy, but is also Chuck Barry? Hard to describe, easy to watch.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
Not since Clue has such an unpromising source delivered such fantastic returns. It’s got it all, action, romance, comedy, and a long-overdue Academy Award nomination for Johnny Depp.
- Love Actually
A network of people connected in various ways find or explore love in various modes and crack us up and make me bawl every time. For me, a Christmas tradition, but also a movie that makes me feel good about people.
- Winged Migration
When it’s unfathomable to think how someone got footage, that sticks with you. When you have heard the grunting efforts of a migratory bird flying across the world just to mate or eat, you can’t forget it. So intimate and so amazing.
- Finding Nemo
Pixar always wows me but Nemo had that certain extra something for me, whether it’s the doting parent/rebellious child, the glories of the ocean and Australia, or Dory’s simple hilarity with Marlin, this is still my favorite Pixar movie, which is saying quite a bit.
- Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
For making a book I did not enjoy into a movie I could, Peter Jackson gets some credit. For advancing the technology of moviemaking and propmaking and world-creating beyond just transcribing a story on screen, this installment deserves to be on this list.
Much was made of Charlize Theron’s make-under, but this movie is all about her acting, from the horrors she endured to the horrors she inflicted. It gets under your skin but it’s too good to skeeve you out.
- Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban
All Potter movies owe a great debt to the groundwork laid by Chris Columbus, but Azkaban was the first to dare to mold itself into a new shape, and also just technically and artistically beautiful. This one I could watch once a month for years before tiring of it.
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
My initial response to recitation of the title of this film is a visceral “oh” and a pressing of my hand over my heart. This movie is romantic, dreamy, funny, visually innovative and stunning, and makes you think about your whole life and all your feelings and memories. Always in my top-whatever lists and easily in my top 10 from this list.
- Super Size Me
Documentaries are not often as entertaining as a comedy and also as horrifying as a slasher film, and Morgan Spurlock is a delightful leading everyman doing terrible things to himself with McDonald’s food.
- Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
Like its leads, Dodgeball grows on you slowly until you fall utterly in love with it, and it only seems to get better with each viewing. Silly, absurd, over the top (“Garr”) and heart-warming.
- Shaun of the Dead
That wonderful mix of spoof and homage that is so difficult to achieve — and even better, it’s British and it has zombies and a wicked cast.
- The 40 Year-Old Virgin
Crude, juvenile, tender, hilarious, quotable, and full of lovable characters, not the least of which is the lead, who is also the lovable Steve Carell. Sensitive and boorish in perfect balance.
- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Taking Tarantino’s sexy-cool flavor cues from his Pulp Fiction days and adding the smartypants sensibilities of Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer? Rock ’em sock ’em but also witty and coherent.
- Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic
She’s beautiful, intelligent, crude, surprising, scathing, musically talented, brave, irreverent, and ridiculous; everything I want to be (except maybe Jimmy Kimmel’s ex-girlfriend) and endlessly funny to watch.
- Brokeback Mountain
A romantic tragedy set in gorgeous country bigger than any of us, with two men who are forced to hide a love that most people wish they could find and sing about.
Brave, ego-free performance art, hilarious commentary and parody and just plain old delicious “I wish I could get away with that,” Borat is a piece of art, no matter how crude.
- United 93
A movie fictionalizing the possible occurrences of a real event that we all know the ending for, and still completely nailbiting and fantastically shot. It gets you.
- Children of Men
Grim, artistically impressive, full of despair and hope and some digs at human nature. I don’t get tired of watching this one either.
A procedural that turns into an exciting mystery that is true to life and feels completely real to you as you watch it. Scary and dark and intimate and fascinating.
Takes zombies and the suburban American 1950’s and makes them seem perfectly matched, while also being funny and even a little romantic. No one saw this movie, despite my best efforts, but it’s got a million details to bring you back.
- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Lyrically beautiful, this movie may be mostly about the visuals but the fact that he wrote it by blinking and managed to be so expressive, and the notion of being trapped inside one’s own mind blows me away.
How many musical comedies can address racism, segregation, sizeism, self-confidence, and make me love John Travolta? One, and it’s this one. Amazing design, fabulous dancing, a winning cast, and these happymaking songs make this one a permanent favorite.
Pure anti-depression on a disc. Amy Adams personifies the generous and joyful spirit of her character and the songs skewer the long-sacred tropes of animated love.
Many movies show how the arts help us overcome tribulations, but none that I have seen blend the terrors of war with the raptures of dance so elegantly or with such stories.
- Tropic Thunder
Instead of making another movie about the making of a movie (though they did make a fake documentary about the fake movie that they made about the story that is told in this movie), how about thinking you’re making a movie while you’re really narrowly avoiding being killed? Maybe it’s been done before, but not with Robert Downey Jr. as the Australian dude playing the black dude disguised as the other dude.
- Waltz With Bashir
Animating a documentary about an intense war moment seems like an irreverent idea but instead it elevated the subject material from another war movie to something really personal and magical and terrible.
- The Wrestler
Redemptive dramas are a dime a dozen, in a way, but Mickey Roark and the character he play are so richly portrayed and so incredibly relatable and sympathetic that this is one of the few that still makes me say “oh god that was great you must see it!”
Acting so good that you forget they are actors, a story so harrowing that you forget that it’s based on reality, and a life so full of pain and struggle and beauty too. This one will stay with you.
With Sam Rockwell kind of playing multiple parts, kind of not, Moon is an old-school sci-fi drama that captures the best aspects of sci-fi often forgotten in the bombastic world of the Transformers. Also, when you have any movie that stars Sam Rockwell, you have something special.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Two Harry Potters on the list? It doesn’t seem right. This film, while taking immense short-cut liberties with the book for the sake of time and simplification, did so using Steve Kloves’ masterful interpretive screenwriting and David Yates’ visual sensibility, plus the story in this one is the best of all the books.
- District 9
Original, entertaining, philosophical, and amazing effects and acting rolled into a unique and surprisingly affecting story that happens to be science fiction but doesn’t feel just like more spaceships and aliens.
- The Cove
Disturbing, shot at great risk and with impressive ingenuity, The Cove will not let you forget it.
Yeah, it just came out, but what movie has ever so fully immersed you in such a way before? A complete biosphere invented from the ground up and deep, rich shots of a beautiful world with plenty of pew pew pew and excitement.
And I couldn’t resist…Honorable Mention:
Galaxy Quest (release date 12/25/99) is still one of the most rewatchable movies out there, and could easily bump any one of the above movies for sheer awesomeness. It’s clever and funny and walks a fine line between spoof and homage, and is rightfully beloved accordingly.