What follows is my original top ten list of 2000... or rather the revised version I published in 2002. Let's discuss each year of this decade as it winds down! Who's with me?!? It's always interesting to see which films remained at the forefront of our memory and which fade... both for a variety of reasons, quality being only one factor. New comments are in red.
Please note: This list was based on NYC release dates in the year 2000. Some movies are listed as different years at the IMDB based on when they were released in their home country or in LA or whatnot.
Runners Up (in descending order): Une Liaisons Pornographique, Nurse Betty, You Can Count On Me, Before Night Falls, Pola X, Chicken Run, American Psycho, Wonder Boys and Billy Elliott Um... WHAT THE HELL are some of these movies doing outside the top ten list? You Can Count on Me is still so lovely to think about. Particularly Laura Linney's gleeful waving to brother Mark Ruffalo and that beautifully coaxed ending, bless. Of these nine pictures, I think of American Psycho (originally #17!?) most -- see previous posts -- and then probably Pola X which I know a lot of people hate.
P.S. Those people are cuckoo!
10 Jesus Son
Allison MacLean's stark and arresting drug drama is laced with surprising (but occassionally off putting) comedy and blessed with two astonishing, enigmatic performances by Samantha Morton and Billy Crudup. Filled with memorable imagery it feels optimistic in such a realistic way that it should be required viewing in rehab.
I've rarely thought of this movie since but one image, Samantha Morton shimmying towards her man, remains particularly vivid. Morton is such an electric actor and she's never lost that alien watchability, even as her face has grown familiar.
Full review here. Jon Shear's directorial debut (an adaptation of Daniel Reitz' stage play) is an exhilarating and unexpected ride through urban anxiety and grief. It's stunning. And though I'll cop to perhaps a little trouble being objective about it (it hit close to home), I'm betting that this overlooked film will grow in stature.
I probably overestimated this one at the time, which on a revisit a few years later felt too stagebound to totally work as cinema but I still wish more people would have seen / do see it. Dan Futterman is strong in the lead role.
08 Bring It On
Full review here. A dozen reasons to love Bring It On: 1. The best teen comedy in at least five years. 2. Hugely enjoyable, a great popcorn film. 3. Elisha Dushku's va va voom (for all of you Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans) -"Missy is the poo. So take a whiff!" 4. The toothbrush scene 5. Allows itself important themes (racism, sexual orientation, appropriation versus theft) without once feeling like a downer or casting the themes aside. 6. Spirit fingers. 7. "Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded!" 8. "Brrrrr....it's cold in here." 9. Torrance plays the cassette. 10. A sports movies that's actually a good sport. 11. A gay man that's hotter than the straight men? Now, there's something you don't see too often in the homophobia ridden world of cinema. 12. Kirsten Dunst in top comic form, what more do you need?
Lars Von Trier's much maligned first and only "official" Dogme 95 film, The Idiots, is an in your face marvel. This Danish madman splits cinephiles in love and loathe camps. I'm firmly in the love category. His genius is clearly visible but only for those who have eyes to see...
Before Antichrist arrived to give me pause, I would have called this movie the definitive von Trier. It's so tellingly of him: the humor, the aesthetic, the not-entirely-serious self regard. I still think it's one of his best and most successfully provocative pictures
06 The House of Mirth
Gillian Anderson's coming out ball. While I wouldn't go so far as to say it was "the best performance in any category all year" as I've read in at least one review... she was up to the challenge of Lily Bart. But hey, I knew she transferred. She already proved that with Playing by Heart. And leaving Anderson aside for a moment, it's an exceedingly intelligent and gorgeous adaptation from Terence Davies which is sure to garner at least a few deserved technical nods at the Oscars. God bless Terence Davies for not having Joanne Woodward READ the whole freaking story to us as we watched (Are you listening Scorsese?)
I compared it unfavorably to The Age of Innocence? While I do very much hate overbearing voiceovers, there's a lot to recommend in both films. Why was I mad at Scorsese in 2000? Hmmm, what came out then? I haven't thought of Mirth in years and years and I am surprised to see it in my top ten list. It's amusing how I entirely misread its Oscar chances (nomination total: zero) but it's sad that Gillian Anderson's film career never really panned out.
05 Erin Brockovich
At its core it's a brassy superbly wrought star vehicle with Julia Roberts at her all time best. With Soderbergh's auteurial skills in full bloom however, it's elevated to a whole other realm of humanity. Sharp, funny, focused, and auteurial ...and for my money stronger than Soderbergh's other more highly praised 2000 endeavor. At any rate it's easily the best pure "Hollywood" film of the year.
04 Beau Travail
Claire Denis contemplative masterwork of masculine rituals and hierarchy.
Then and now I seem to be at a loss for words but oh, how that movie lingers. Greatness. Haven't seen it in years, though and it's obviously one that needs multiple viewings to fully appreciate.
03 Requiem For a Dream
Darren Aronofsky's astoundingly cinematic second film is not easy to sit through, but the rewards are great. Ellen Burstyn is miraculous as an unravelling diet pill addict. Jennifer Connelly and Jared Leto are heartbreaking as the foolish young lovers who throw their lives away but the film's ultimate power comes courtesy of Aronofsky's vision. Making as bold a statement as you can make about what the cinema can and should do, he discards any narrative device other than imagery. The further I get away from the film the more it's looking like a masterpiece.
02 Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Ang Lee & James Schamus's delightful one off homage to a favorite genre. The modern feminist kung fu genre pic is fused with an old fashioned romantic period piece by a superb cast, haunting gorgeous cinematography by Peter Pau, and Ang Lee's own seemingly infallible directorial instincts. Whichever culture or characters he fixes his versatile lens on, he gets straight to the heart of the matter. Ang Lee tops his own impressive roster of films (Sense & Sensibility, The Ice Storm, & The Wedding Banquet among them) and makes what could only be called magic. This movie will restore your faith in the cinema. No joke. It's that wondrous.
01 Dancer in the Dark
Full review here. Lars von Trier. Björk. Catherine Deneuve. "Love it. Hate it. See It." Overwhelming, visionary, absolute genius... I'm tempted to call it best of the decade and there's nine years left to go.
I sure went hyperbolic on my bronze, silver and gold medalists there. It's a good thing all three pictures hold up. Though I suppose it's worth noting that Requiem for a Dream which I labelled 'not easy to sit through' is the one I've sat through the most on this entire top ten list in the intervening years... even more than Bring It On. What a double feature that is, eh?
What are your favorite pictures from 2000?
Which that you used to love are you surprised that you let go? Which have changed the most for you over the years? Which do you think I should revisit.