Crazy as it seems, the first decade of the 21st century is about to draw to a close. Like every decade since the inception of the motion picture, there were some absolutely incredible films released.
The Inside Redbox team thought it would be fun to share with you our favorite films from the last ten years and today you get my picks.
Before we start, a caveat or two: This article is about my favorite films of the 2000s. It’s not a list of the highest grossing, best-reviewed, or most award-winning movies of the decade. Out of all the films released in the last ten years, the following are the ones that I’ll reach for first on a movie night. Michael’s choices will obviously differ from mine, as will yours. That’s part of the fun, see? Let us know in the comments which films you think we got right, which ones we got wrong and which ones we missed completely.
Let’s do it—here are my ten favorite films of the last decade, in no particular order:
About a Boy (2002)
Funny, poignant, a bit bleak at times and ultimately hopeful, this little comedy has it all. Based on an equally fine novel by Nick Hornby and featuring an impeccably cast Hugh Grant and Toni Collette, this may well be the best comedy of the decade. And to top it all off, the soundtrack is made up of fantastically hummable, original songs by Badly Drawn Boy that perfectly set the film’s tone. They don’t get much better than this.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003)
For the purposes of this list, I’m going to count these three films as one epic piece of cinema. Never really having been a sci-fi or fantasy fan, I paid little attention to the hype surrounding The Fellowship of the Ring when it first came out. By the time The Return of the King was released two years later, however, I was one of the first in line.
What makes these movies so special is not that they are great fantasy movies—they are gripping, moving stories that also happen to have elves and hobbits in them. The timeless, powerful themes are just as resonant in our world as they are in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Add in the majestic scope, stirring score and brilliant performances and you have one of the greatest achievements in motion picture history.
Guy Pearce is absolutely riveting in this dark, twisty, backwards mystery thriller. Christopher Nolan’s direction is flawless and astonishing in its attention to detail—this is a movie that could have easily spiraled into chaos and incomprehension. Few films require so much of the viewer’s attention, and even fewer are as rewarding of that attention. Definitely worth a second, third and fourth viewing.
Gladiator (2000) I’ll spare you the “Were you not entertained?” tripe and get right to the point: this some outstanding filmmaking. The long-dormant “sword and sandal” genre was almost single-handedly revived by Gladiator—Troy, Alexander, Kingdom of Heaven and others likely owe their existence to Ridley Scott’s bloody and bloody good tale of revenge and ambition.
It’s a toss-up as to who gave the better performance: Russell Crowe as the noble, wronged general-turned-slave Maximus or a pre-crazy Joachin Phoenix as the amoral, sneering Emperor Commodus. With a grandiose, if slightly sanitized, recreation of Rome at the height of its glory and gorgeous music and cinematography, Gladiator triumphs.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Christopher Nolan is seemingly incapable of making a bad movie. After de-Schumacherizing the languishing franchise with the excellent Batman Begins, Nolan knocked it out of the park with this smart, gritty thriller. Similar to my praise for The Lord of the Rings movies, this film is an exquisitely made crime drama that also just happens to have a superhero as the main protagonist. Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker will be remembered as one of the all-time great cinematic villains. That laugh…
A charming little treat of a movie—I was completely surprised at how much I loved this film. It’s impossible not to fall in love with Keri Russell’s sweet, frustrated Jenna, and the incomparable Nathan Fillion gives a fabulously quirky, nuanced performance. Throw in some tart dialogue, southern charm and a perfectly cast Andy Griffith, and you’ve got a recipe for delicious filmmaking.
In contrast with some of the other huge, bombastic films on this list, Frost/Nixon is quietly stunning. The stellar duo of Michael Sheen and Frank Langella ware outstanding in their roles as the celebrity interviewer looking for legitimacy and the crafty, disgraced ex-president. Who knew Ron Howard could make such a fascinating and scintillating movie that mostly consists of two guys just sitting and talking? Brilliant.
It’s a testament to Pixar’s technical and storytelling prowess that this film just barely beat out The Incredibles, Wall-E, Finding Nemo and Up for its spot on the list. I had my doubts about this film when I first heard the concept, and would never have guessed that a movie about an olfactorily gifted Parisian rat would become one of my favorite films of this or any decade.
The animation is beautiful and painterly in this ode to the magic of food, love and Paris itself. The writing and voice acting are pitch-perfect—Peter O’Toole/Anton Ego’s monologue on criticism and creativity is a screenwriting master class. Lost composer Michael Giacchino also contributes one of the best musical scores of any film I’ve ever seen, animated or not.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
Coen brothers, how do I count the ways your movies please me? From its bleached out, Depression-era palette to its award-winning folk soundtrack, this eccentric take on Homer’s classic is one of the most entertaining films I’ve ever seen. Chock-full of tasty, quotable Coen dialogue and bizarre characters, there’s not an off-note in the entire film. George Clooney’s rascally Everett is hilarious and nefarious, while the supporting cast is one of the best of the decade. In the Coens’ oeuvre of great films, O Brother rises to the top like a Dapper Dan can in a Mississippi flood.
Almost Famous (2000)
As someone who loves music as much as movies, this film is pure nirvana for me (insert joke here). Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical masterpiece is a love note to the pure bliss that rock and roll can give to its faithful. This is the movie that deservedly made Kate Hudson a star, and Philip Seymour Hoffman is spot on as a grungy music editor. If there was a formula for creating a near-perfect film, it could be based on Almost Famous. I dare you to watch the “Tiny Dancer” bus scene without singing along.
The Prestige, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, V for Vendetta, Moulin Rouge, No Country for Old Men, Minority Report, 3:10 to Yuma, Twilight (just teasin’)