Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Favorite Movies Of The 2000's

On one of the forums I frequent, there's this thread going on right now where people are talking about their favorite movies of the 2000's. So I thought hey, that sounds neat, I'll do one here.

Please keep in mind that I don't watch a LOT of current movies. So just because you don't see a movie on this list doesn't mean I didn't like it -- it just means I never saw it. It's probably in my Netflix queue. Which has like 300 things on it now.

But without any further ado, here's my list of my favorite movies of the 2000s.


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My Life Without Me (2003)
Sarah Polley stars as Ann, a woman with a husband and two kids who learns that she is dying. Instead of telling anyone about her impending fate, she decides to make a list describing what she wants to do with her remaining days. She records tapes for her daughters with words of wisdom, as much as she can offer for someone who has had the kind of life she has.

It sounds sad, but the film has a message of hope and inspiration. Ann's relationship with her daughters is compelling. It's not one I can watch too often, but it's very well done.

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Nim's Island (2008)
Abigail Breslin and Gerard Butler play a daughter and dad who live together on a secluded island. Dad's a scientist; daughter's an animal lover and avid reader. When Dad gets lost at sea, it's up to Daughter to recruit help... but things don't go as she planned. Jodie Foster plays a fascinating character who joins the party halfway in.

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Dear Frankie (2004)
Lizzie, a single mom, is on the run from her ex-husband. She lives with her mother and her young son Frankie, who is deaf. She's never told her son what a jerk his father is, and because her son is curious about his dad, Lizzie writes the boy letters, pretending to be the father. She has done so for years. She also does this because it's the only way she can truly "hear" her son. But one day, it looks like she may be busted when circumstances force her to produce The Real Thing, an in-the-flesh dad. So she goes looking for a man to pose as Frankie's father. What happens next is bittersweet and charming.

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Harry Potter series (2001-2009)
Just like the books, which started out very kid-friendly and then got darker and more mature, so did these films. Though I prefer some to others (#3 and #6 are especially awesome) I think they all have their merits.

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Superman Returns (2006)

For the first time since the 80's, Superman appeared on the big screen. And it was about darn time, I thought. The special effects were amazing, Brandon Routh (as Superman) was hot, and there was a sweet B-plot running through the film. But there were a few problems -- one being Lex Luthor. This age-old villain was not inspired, and his scenes dragged terribly. If you could get past that, it was a great movie. And it begged for a sequel. Unfortunately, the movie didn't meet box-office expectations, and it looks like if there ever is another Superman movie, it will either be a reboot or something much darker.

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The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003)
Yeah, so I've never read the books. I really didn't have any interest in seeing the movies, either. But when everyone around you is constantly saying how great something is, sometimes you just gotta say, okay I'll try it. So I watched the first film with my college roommate and the 2nd and 3rd ones with my brother. The third was probably my favorite. It had a lot of kickass scenes. I loved Smeagol, that little creep. If The Hobbit ever makes it to theaters, I'll be there.

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Cast Away (2000)
At first, you think the movie is just about a man who has to make a life for himself on a deserted island after a plane crash. Or you think it's a movie about a guy who has a strange attachment to a volleyball. But really, it's a movie about letting go. When Tom Hanks' character makes a bid for freedom toward the end (making a raft to get him off the island) he ends up having to sacrifice his one friend (Wilson the volleyball) when Wilson accidentally floats away. If Tom goes after Wilson, he'll get too far away from his raft and he'll probably die. But if he goes back to his raft, he has to let go of this thing that has come to be his friend. Many of us come upon a time in our lives when we have to make this kind of heart-wrenching decision.

Lots of symbolism in this movie, if you take the time to notice it. Many people found the end depressing, but I found it hopeful.

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Charlotte's Web (2006)
In my opinion, this is one of the few book-to-movie translations that got almost everything just right. Dakota Fanning transcended the fact that she was a well-established child star and made me really believe she was little Fern. The film would have been near-perfect if not for the inclusion/addition of the wise-cracking crows. What was THAT?

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Batman Begins (2005)
I love the first half of the movie, where we get to see how Bruce Wayne came to be Batman. Sure, the scene where his parents get the death boot is sad, but the rest is great. Morgan Freeman's character helps with the gadgetry, and Michael Caine's character helps give Bruce some good swift kicks in the rear when he needs 'em. After a few misfires, he gets things right, and becomes a hero. Then the entire city goes haywire, which is kind of depressing, but then you've got...

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The Dark Knight (2008)
Yay, there is hope for Gotham City! Harvey Dent is here, and now maybe Bruce can sit back, relax, and get it on with his childhood sweetheart. Or maybe it's just not meant to be. Heath Ledger takes a turn as the insanely creepy Joker, who is probably one of the most brilliant villains ever. I mean really, he's crazy, but he's a freaking genius. Let's face it, crazy geniuses are the scariest of them all. Again, the end is depressing, but it leaves room for another sequel. I can't wait to see what's next.

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Lost In Austen (2008)
Every fanfic writer has probably thought about writing a story where they marysue themselves into the world of their fandom. In this movie, Jane Austen fan Amanda magically finds her way into the world of Pride & Prejudice, literally taking the place of Elizabeth Bennett. Fervently devoted to making sure everything goes as it should (ie Elizabeth + Mr. Darcy = Tru Luv), Amanda really only succeeds in screwing things up hardcore. But she does get Mr. Darcy to take a dip in the pond, ala Colin Firth, which is sure to delight many a fan of the 1995 P&P TV miniseries. And though true fans of P&P might not be pleased with the way things change thanks to Amanda, her influence doesn't destroy the universe, and some things still turn out okay. Or better than okay.

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Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Young Olive, not exactly the beauty queen type, gets a chance to participate in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant. In order to get there, her family piles into a van and starts a cross-country journey. Along the way, many crazy things happen. A lot of the comedy is dark, and sometimes it gets downright depressing. But things really start rocking when they get to the beauty pageant and Olive does her talent routine. Eyebrows shoot through the ceiling, but the power of love brings the family together just when their littlest member needs them the most.

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Peter Pan (2003)
The book had come out nearly 100 years before, and it had been made into a Disney movie, been performed on stage many times, and even had a live-action sequel (Hook). But believe it or not, there'd never before been a live-action version of Peter Pan, nor had young Peter ever been played by a male actor (except for a few seconds of flashback in Hook). So it was about darn time.

The movie is magical and well-done, and it's a bit more mature than the Disney version. The casting was inspired, and the music is hauntingly beautiful. There's not much I don't enjoy about this movie.

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Away From Her (2006)
This is a bittersweet story about a couple of older folks who are faced with a dilemma when the wife begins to show signs of Alzheimer's. At first it seems like it's something they both can handle, but when the wife's lapses in memory put her life in danger, they decide to put her in a home. Tragically, it's the husband who has the hardest time with this, as he becomes very lonely. When he goes to visit his wife, he finds that she has made new friends, and her memories of HIM are diminishing. And due to the nature of her illness, he knows things might never get better.

Sad as it may be, this issue is all too real, and the movie really makes you think. Its sweet, heartfelt moments save it from being a total depress-fest.

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Where The Heart Is (2000)
A pregnant 17-year-old named Novalee (Natalie Portman) is abandoned by her boyfriend at a Wal-Mart, and after giving birth to the "Wal-Mart baby," she is taken in by members of the small town. She builds a life for herself and her daughter over the next five years. Every so often, the movie shifts perspective to show us what's happening with her rotten ex-boyfriend. The stories eventually converge, and Novalee learns an important life lesson before it's too late.

I really enjoy Novalee's storyline, but often skip the boyfriend's. Stockard Channing and Ashley Judd have supporting roles in this sweet, sometimes sad, story about love and loss.

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Dan In Real Life (2007)
Steve Carell stars in this dramedy about a single dad with three daughters. Akin to Parenthood, the movie features a large extended family and the relationships within. Family life is completely imperfect, but the story is easy to relate to. Carell's character is a sweet guy, and you want him to be happy -- but unfortunately, his happiness may lead to the unhappiness of someone else. Dilemmas, dilemmas.

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August Rush (2007)
Two young musicians (Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers) get together -- romantically -- producing a son. But fate drives all three of them apart, and they'll never all be happy unless they can find each other, somehow. Years later, music -- and the power of optimism -- bring them to the same city and the same time. It's a beautiful movie, even if it requires a lot of disbelief-suspending.

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Penelope (2006)
Hollywood has given us many versions of Cinderella, but has been a bit stingy with adaptations of Beauty and the Beast. But here we have one -- with the gender roles reversed. Full of bright, cheerful colors that give the movie a whimsical feel, Penelope is the story of a young woman (played by Christina Ricci) who is not conventionally beautiful. In fact, her face frightens all her perspective suitors. And in order to break her curse (the one that makes her look the way she does) she must find a guy to fall in love with her. Enter Max. He's good-looking, but he has some internal flaws. When the two of them get together, it's pure magic. But of course there are complications.

Though there are a few plot holes, and the American version of the DVD leaves out some important scenes, overall it's a delightful fairy tale of a film.

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Pride & Prejudice (2005)

Yet another adaptation of Jane Austen's classic novel. Though some P&P enthusiasts will prefer the longer, truer-to-the novel 1995 miniseries (the "Colin Firth" version, as some call it), this "shortened" version of the classic novel contains all the important stuff. Matthew MacFadyen, as Darcy, does an excellent transformation from snobby jerk to humble, likable cutiepie. Some of the other casting choices leave something to be desired, but overall it's a well-made adaptation.

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Others I enjoyed but don't have the energy to write about right now:

Attila (TV, 2001)
Holes (2003)
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Feast Of Love (2007)
Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
Tuck Everlasting (2002)
Love Comes Softly (TV, 2003)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Spiderman (2002)
The Chronicles Of Narnia series (2005, 2008)
The Princess Diaries (2001)

2 comments:

Wes said...

And I thought I watched a lot of movies, Molly! I've never even heard of many of your favorite films, let alone seen them. I did notice a familiar theme throughout, though.

Thanks for sharing -- this list revealed as much about you as it did about the films. :)

molly said...

Wes, you've intrigued me.... what theme did you see?