Giant-Size JET #1 - The 100 Best Movies of the 00s, Part 1

Dedicated To
Theda B. Geer
1925 - 2010

Added 1/20/10

I know what you’re thinking and I can’t say I blame you. “Another best of the decade list? Yawn!” For what it’s worth, I kind of agree with you. A lot of these things are fairly pointless, especially when they’re cobbled together by committee. Personal lists are a bit more interesting, since they reveal quite a bit about the individual who compiled it. You can read between the lines and discover a lot about what matters most to this person.

The reason I’m doing one is simple. Ten years ago, I wrote a 100 Best Movies of the 90s essay. Prior to that, I hadn’t reviewed a movie in almost ten years. I thought the essay would be an interesting exercise. This was before everybody and their cat had their own blog, so I emailed it to a few friends and thought no more about it. The next thing I knew, my friends were forwarding it to their friends, who in turn sent it along to their friends. I started to get positive feedback from film professors I’d never met. At the time, I was working at the Seattle Times and, after a fair amount of prodding, I decided to send it to John Hartl, who was the paper’s film critic at the time. John was extremely encouraging and offered a great deal of advice. All of this kick-started my dormant interest in writing about film and now, a decade later, here we are.

For me, this list represents the completion of a circle. For you, I hope it offers some insight into what kind of hairpin you’re dealing with here. I hope there are at least a few titles on here that you’d either forgotten about or never knew existed in the first place and you’re inspired to check them out. It wasn’t easy coming up with the 100 Best Movies of the 00s. I’ve seen over 1,100 movies released in the last ten years (that’s right, I counted). Not as many as some, I realize, but probably more than most. I started with a list of almost 200 contenders. The first thing I did was eliminate movies that, as much as I might love them, I can’t really make an argument for their greatness (my apologies to the makers of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie). That narrowed it down to about 130 or so. From that, I compiled the top 50, picking movies that truly have become favorites. The last step was the most difficult, eliminating worthy titles in order to narrow it down to 50.

I do not expect you to agree with every movie on here or even where they rank. This isn’t a list of important or significant movies, though some of them clearly are. These are the movies that speak to me, grabbing me on some fundamental level that I may not always be able to articulate. I imagine there will be a number of movies that you assume will be on here that aren’t. That doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t think it was a good movie. Just that there were at least a hundred that I liked better. Except in the case of A.I., which is not on the list because I don’t think it’s a good movie.

With all that in mind, sit back, relax and enjoy the Electric Theatre’s 100 Best Movies of the 00s, Part One of Ten!

100. Dirty Pretty Things (2002)

I went back and forth between this movie and the somewhat similar Eastern Promises, both of which were written by Steven Knight. Dirty Pretty Things won out with its complex look at the hidden world of illegal immigrants in London. Skillfully directed by the underrated Stephen Frears and featuring a soulful, haunted performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor, this succeeds as both a dramatic character study and a gripping thriller.

99. All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001)

Director Shunji Iwai’s lovely, lyrical coming-of-age drama tapped into cyberculture better than any movie before or, arguably, since. I’m still waiting for audiences to catch up with this hidden gem, a movie that gets better and better with age.

98. Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)

Phillip Noyce directs this powerful drama based on a true story about three aboriginal girls who are taken to become domestic servants, escape and walk 1,500 miles across the Australian outback to get back home. Bonus points for Peter Gabriel’s music, one of the best film scores of the decade.

97. Sunshine (2007)

Danny Boyle’s exercise in sci-fi didn’t fare as well as his take on horror, 28 Days Later. But even with its flaws, I think Sunshine is the better film with bold, original ideas executed with some stunning visual effects.

96. Monsoon Wedding (2001)

This isn’t exactly a movie I was dying to see at first, so it’s a tribute to director Mira Nair that I found it so utterly charming. This is a funny, romantic, vibrant movie with a top-notch ensemble cast and an irresistible soundtrack of great Indian music.

95. Let The Right One In (2008)

If you’re even remotely plugged into the horror-fan community, you probably got as sick of hearing about this movie as I did. Hype aside, Tomas Alfredson’s spin on the well-worn vampire movie is a truly impressive piece of work thanks to its chilly visuals and the remarkably mature performances of young actors Lina Leandersson and Kare Hedebrant.

94. Spider (2002)

Speaking of chilly…David Cronenberg’s adaptation of Patrick McGrath’s novel is so cold you can practically see your breath while you’re watching it. Ralph Fiennes gives an astonishing, practically silent performance as the mentally disturbed Spider. One of Cronenberg’s most accomplished, and sadly underrated, films.

93. Touching The Void (2003)

Only two documentaries have ever made me catch my breath from tension: this one and Man On Wire. In Touching The Void, director Kevin Macdonald seamlessly blends interview footage with re-creation to tell the story of two mountain climbers who came within a hair’s breadth of death. An astonishing story, vividly told.

92. The Departed (2006)

Martin Scorsese seemed to spend most of the decade making movies that had great things about them without actually being great movies. The Departed might not rank as high as his classics of the 70s and 80s but it is a rock-solid thriller that reminds us what a virtuoso Scorsese really is.

91. The Visitor (2007)

Actor Tom McCarthy established himself as one of the most distinctive writer/directors of the decade, first with The Station Agent and again with The Visitor. Richard Jenkins is outstanding as a widowed professor who makes an unlikely connection with two immigrants he finds squatting in his New York apartment. A beautiful film with the richness and depth of a good novel.

We're just getting started here, folks. Click here for numbers 90 thru 81, including at least one movie that I actually saw people walk out on! Yeah, I've really got my finger on the pulse of popular culture..

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