Best Movies from 2000-2009

While I can appreciate that Million Dollar Baby was a good movie.  I am not typically a fan of the poignant, artistic, make me a better person movies.  So if you have stumbled upon this post expecting something along the lines of a ranking of Cannes winners and Oscar nominees then you are in the wrong place.  Transformers and Fantastic Four were on my rough draft list, so there you go.  Despite that you will see a few Oscar winners here, mostly because the 00’s demonstrated a shift for the Oscars to reward movies that people actually watch.  How novel.

One more note.  I am lumping series of movies that came out together as one entry.  This can both help a movie, but it can also hurt a movie as well.  A great first movie can be tainted by mediocre or too many sequels and pull the whole franchise down.  I had to group franchises together because otherwise, 5 of my top 10 movies would have been Batman and Lord of the Rings movies.  Seriously.  No really, seriously.

Some mini-lists:

5 Good First Movies That Were Hurt by Sequels

5. National Treasure

The first one is probably on my all time rewatchable movie list.  It appeals to a wide range of people. My mom and my girls love this movie.  The second one was completely forgettable. I watched it again on Showtime, because I wanted to redeem it in my mind—didn’t work.

4. Chronicles of Narnia

The first movie made me cry, literally.  I cried at the Aslan death scene.  (I am not accustomed to giving spoilers but if you haven’t seen this and don’t know that Aslan dies, you have no familiarity with these books or C.S. Lewis, so you probably won’t see it)  I don’t know if I am criticizing the book or the movie, but Prince Caspian was just nothing.  If it hadn’t been for the Mouse swordsman, I would remember nothing.

3. Spiderman

The original wasn’t as awesome to me as it was to true Spidey believers, but it was exciting and fun and a great start.  The franchise needed to build though.  The second one was OK, and then the third movie had every conceivable villain they could fit in, and the franchise is all but dead now.

2. Oceans 11

There are two movies that have turned into series where in my mind there were no sequels.  The Matrix and Oceans 11.  You may think that you have seen sequels to those movies, but you didn’t.  You didn’t; they don’t exist.

1. Transformers

How can the movie that was my first Blu-Ray not make my list?  The effects are incredible. The plot was great. It was fun and brainless and cool.  Why? Because Revenge of the Fallen is terrible.  Too much cursing, this most convoluted plot imaginable, it just wasn’t working.  Maybe simple and appropriate for little kids will reenter their mind for #3, and the franchise can bounce back.

5 Best Animated Movies

5. Kung Fu Panda

Jack Black was hilarious.  Enough said.  “There is no charge for awesomeness… or attractiveness.”  That is my motto for my preaching as well.

4. Up

Given time to sink in, this movie could move up this list and even on to the next list.  Let’s see.  We tell this joke at our house “Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, “I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead.” Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead.”

3. Finding Nemo

Dory is one of the all time favorite animated characters.  Short-term memory loss done well is hilarious (see Tom Hanks on SNL, “How did this food get in my mouth?”)

2. Shrek

The franchise cracked the list (see below) so I won’t say much here except that I took Heidi to see this on our anniversary.  I have never lived that down.  I can imagine her bringing it up in heaven, 1 billion years from now.

1. Incredibles

I am a nerd and a geek and a loser.  I get that.  I love Pixar, I love superheroes and I love trying to tell a story that blends superhero world with the real world.  This may be my all time favorite animated movie.

5 Movies That Would Be on This List if I Were a Better Person

5. Million Dollar Baby

Spoiler!!!!!!!! Tragically bad endings.  No thank you.  I do not pay money to be depressed.  It was good for what it was.

4. Crash & 3. Traffic

The intersecting and interweaving of multiple seemingly unrelated story lines is great.  Add in some great actors and you have two really good movies there.

2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Very close to being on the list.  It had action—kung fu action even.  I think some of those folks could fly.  That was cool.  Subtitles do me in.  Too much work.  (This also eliminates British movies.  I don’t know how loud I would have to turn it up to understand what Brits say in movies)

1. Beautiful Mind

Russell Crowe and math.  What more could you possibly want in a movie?  It was on the big list for a while and I took it off.  Why? Because I am horribly immature.  What did I replace it with?  Iron Man.  I am pathetic.

Top 5 Movies That I Watched to Earn Points and Ended Up Enjoying on Some Level

This is a tribute to the female readers who I know noticed that there is maybe one movie on the rest of these lists that they would like.  I will not say much about these movies, because I am not comfortable saying I liked any of these movies too much

5) Bridget Jones Diary

I like Renee Zellweger.  She is cute and fun in a way that seems like you could like her in real life. I don’t know if she is like that in real life, but the characters she plays are that way.  It has Hugh Grant, which is, of course, a huge negative not just for me but all guys.  However, the movie is pretty funny.

4) The Notebook

(Not saying anything.  The admission was hard enough)

3) Sweet Home Alabama

The same thing I said about Zellweger applies to Reese Witherspoon.  In addition, this movie made fun of Southerners and Yankees which is funny, but of course, made Southerners way cooler.

2) What Women Want

I like Helen Hunt and I like Mel Gibson.  Getting to hear what women think is highly entertaining for guys, especially since this movie didn’t get too PC on us.  It was fun.

1) My Big Fat Greek Wedding

This was just a great movie.  It was funny.  The dad with Windex, history of all words being Greek, the aunt with the twin in her neck.  I could go on and on.  It didn’t feel like a chick flick at all.  It just felt like a great movie.

The List

10. Memento

A little intense for some people and very hard to follow for others.  The first time I watched this with my wife, we had to pause it a lot for “what?” moments.  The story is told in reverse order which is great.  Plot twist is even better.  The fact that when it’s over you are left asking, “wait, what happened?” is the best.  I know a lot of you haven’t seen this.  It is worth your time.

9. Remember the Titans

“Attitude reflect leadership, Captain.” Boom.  I know that this movie is as predictable as it gets.  I don’t care.  I feel inspired every time that I watch it.  Football inspiration plus social/societal inspiration equals a great movie.  I know what you’re thinking.  What about Blind Side?  Haven’t seen it yet.  I’m sorry.  Don’t judge me.

8. Iron Man

It really would not surprise me if this movie makes its way higher up this list and into contention to the big list at some point.  I am racking my brain trying to come up with the reasons why I love this movie in comparison to other superhero movies.  The answer keeps coming back Robert Downey, Jr.  He was perfect for that role.  Total cad has a life changing experience and become a cad who is now a superhero.  That was perfect casting.  There is one more answer.  The special effects are very cool.  (Didn’t I tell you not to judge me?)

7. Passion of the Christ

If this were a list of movies that moved me emotionally, I am not sure there would be a number two.  If there were, the gap between one and two would be enormous.  I know that it was very gory.  However, the story is that.  Gibson and Caviezel brought the story to life in a realistic and visual way that moved me deeply.  It was a solid 20 minutes before I could talk about it, and I took my small group with me and we were headed to my house for a discussion.  This movie belongs on its own list.  I had no idea where to put it, but it needed to go on this list somewhere.  7 it is. That’s a Biblical number, right?

6. Shrek Movies

To be a great animated movie, you have to be funny and simple for kids and at the same time have deeper humor for adults.  The pop culture references in all of these movies are a lot fun.  Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas are hilarious.  The three of them are funny in every scene where they banter together.  The third movie drags the franchise down a little, but the first two are so strong, it didn’t matter.

5. Bourne Movies

Someday there will be a blog post dedicated to the question of what action movie character would win in an ultimate showdown.  (Eliminating people with superpowers, including jedis)  Anyway, the man on top of that list for me right now is Jason Bourne.  He would win and not even get sweaty.  Beyond just being cool action movies, they are intellectual with complex interesting characters.

4. Pirates of the Caribbean

This more than anything is a tribute to two things.  One, how incredible Curse of the Black Pearl is and how amazing Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow is.  Could he be my all time favorite movie character?  Only time and another inane blog column will answer that question.  Black Pearl was the kind of movie that was specifically designed for me.  We walked out of that movie and Heidi looks at me and says, “Well, we will be owning that as soon as comes out on DVD.”  And we did.

3. Batman Movies

There is no way, no way that you could remake the Batman movies from the late 89-97 and make them better.  They started great, ended terribly and we should just lock that door.  If you do, you should at least have the good sense to not remake the Joker character.  Jack Nicholson closed the door there for sure.  I was wrong with a vengeance on all accounts.  Christian Bale, whom I didn’t know, has been incredible.  Not only for playing Batman and Bruce Wayne both well (which is hard to do, ask George Clooney), but also for giving us the best Batman voice ever.  Heath Ledger in Dark Knight was brilliant and is quickly moving up the all-time list, very quickly.

2. Gladiator

Russell Crowe, nuff said.  They are remaking Robin Hood.  Who would want to see that?  Me, because I found out that Russell Crowe is in it.  Some people accuse me because of my fascination with this, Braveheart and Lord of the Rings that all it takes is some good sword fights and battle scenes for me to love a movie.  However, not on this list, 300 and Troy.  Gladiator has an inspiring plot with a tragically cursed and then redeemed hero.  You want to a better stronger man after having watched it.

1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy

With that said, look what we have at number one, a fantasy movie with sword fighting and battle scenes, some of the most amazing battle scenes ever.  However again we have inspirational heroes, redemption, love, sacrifice—the best themes for epic great movies.  The scenery is beautiful, the effects and acting are superb (you can’t review a whole bunch of movies and not use the word superb).  At some point I will likely write an entire column on each movie in the overall top 10, a column still in development but is listed here.   When that comes I will have more to say about this series, but I will end with this.  I can watch all nine hours of these movies (over the course of a couple of weeks) and when it is over, think, “I want to see that again.”  They are that inspiring to me.

P.S.  Star Wars Episodes II and III are nowhere on this list.  That’s sad.  Sad that one of the most eager fans of that series didn’t like either of those movies well enough for them to bump Shrek or Iron Man.  I wish that they would make more, just because I would love to have a better taste in my mouth.

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