Posts Tagged ‘Best films of the year’

My Best Films of The Decade By Year: 2001 & 2002

August 6, 2008

I started seeing films theatrically, in earnest, in December 2001, when The Lord Of The Rings trilogy started wowing audiences. I knew little to nothing about the books themselves, so I wasn’t exactly rushing to theaters (plus, despite being a child of the ’80’s, I despised sword and sorcery fantasy flicks). But I was in New York for Christmas, and my brother and cousin wanted to go, and I sure as hell wasn’t getting left behind.

The Fellowship Of The Ring blew me away, easily becoming my best theatrical experience ever (a title it held until the midnight screening of The Dark Knight), and ushered in the phase where I started to critique and rate films seriously.

Considering how (relatively) scant my theatrical jaunts in 2001 and 2002 were, I list a rather abridged version of my best of for both years:

2001

1. The Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring (*****; A+): Yep, wasn’t joking about it being abridged. I’ve seen this a couple of times since then, and it holds up much better than the sequels. People have complained about it being slow, but it’s merely prodigiously paced, deliberate and thoughtful with plenty of character development and internal strife to go with the battles – a rarity for a blockbuster. Enya’s musical contribution is outstanding – a perfect marriage of sound and film, and the general pathos it induces and conduces (in conjunction with the measured performances and expertly weighted atmosphere) make this an instant, unforgettable classic.

2002

5. Blade II (****½; A-): Don’t laugh; Guillermo Del Toro’s vampiric action flick is a hidden gem; gloriously bloody and excitingly plotted and paced. And it boasted a rarity in comic book flicks (besides a black hero) – a sympathetic, if ruthless villain. Sure the CGI fights are a little too much (though it’s got nothin’ on The Matrix Reloaded), but the performances are solid, the action is thrilling and the overall atmosphere and excitement beats Del Toro’s pet Hellboy projects.

4. About A Boy (*****; A): I like Hugh Grant as much as the next guy, but will gladly admit his range is limited and his shtick can get tiresome. But never has he been more wining, more nuanced and more bloody watchable than here. This is the role he was born to play. The Weitz brothers, fresh off American Pie, outdo themselves here in a story that deftly taunts then avoids the minefield of clichés it seems destined for. It’s a Christmas movie, a buddy comedy, a sweet romance, and an unconventional coming-of-age tale.

3. Spirited Away (****; A+): My first foray into Miyazaki, and my favorite. What an unbridled imagination to give birth to as fantastical as world as this, so potent that it effortlessly transports you to the mindset of a child, wide-eyed and curious. There is also a budding sense of danger in Miyazaki’s world, and it is a deft balancing act of unparalleled dexterity that pulls it off without making it menacing. Simply put, the must-see animated film of the decade, Pixar or no.

2. Adaptation (*****; A+): Charlie Kaufman won me over with this blisteringly hilarious and insightful tale of a talented writer struggling to adapt the unadaptable. Nicolas Cage put all naysayers to rest with a wickedly on-the-nose portrayal of Charlie and his fictional twin, two performances so adept that neither character needs hair, wardrobe or makeup tics to distinguish them. The supporting cast is gold, the film as a whole an instant classic.

1. Minority Report (*****; A+): Spielberg’s (short-lived) return to form, a muscular, breathless, intelligent and rousing piece of entertainment that only a true master of the game could have up his sleeve. People complain about its length or false endings, but the fatalism implied therein makes an interesting and curious counterpoint to on of its central themes. The ideas bandied about here are fascinating, the future so deliriously well realized, and the performances are raw and effective – all held together by some sublime set-pieces (the jet-pack chase, car factory fisticuffs, the ‘spyders’ sequence, and especially the abduction and escape of Agatha through the mall). With this Spielberg, the founder of the summer blockbuster, delivered the best one in years, and certainly the boldest ‘til Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.