*Quick Anniversary wish to me - I have now lived in Colorado for exactly one full year! Looking forward to many more...
I’m going to let you know right now that I’m going to cheat for this one.
I know you’re thinking I’m wimping out by not ranking my Top 10 favorite movies of the past decade, but hear me out. I easily came up with 10, I just couldn’t award ANY of them with the #1 honor (most of my Top 10 occupied the top spot at one time or another over the past three months).
That got me to thinking about the films of Oh-Oh’s in general.
I read an article the other day (and now I can’t find it for the life of me) about how the movies of the 2000’s were the most escapist era of films that we’ve ever seen. I could not disagree more.
Way back in the film genres class I took in college, I realized the obvious notion that movies typically mirror the mood of the world. In my opinion, most of the movies we’ve seen recently have had dark tones and were rooted in reality; because that’s the world we live in now.
Three quick points about the past decade in films:
1. My buddy Jesse and I were just talking about all of this a few weeks ago before I read that article. I was saying how I miss the “Adventure” films of the 80’s and 90’s (Back to the Future, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Jurassic Park, to name a few) where we saw ordinary people going on extraordinary adventures.
Now we have hobbits and superheroes – even the films that showcased superheroes that don’t possess superpowers (i.e. Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark) are darker and more intense (The new Batman franchise) or completely grounded in our current events (Iron Man) than they have been in the past.
Even though the Will Smith’s Hancock had superpowers, the premise of the story focused on the reality of a superhero living among us. We required realism in a way I’ve never experienced before.
That’s necessarily good or bad, better or worse, it’s just where we are now.
2. There was also a time where I saw every film nominated for an Oscar award in a given year; now I feel lucky if I’ve even heard of most of the nominees. Like it or not, there is growing divide between artistic-award driven films and mainstream-popcorn films and this terrifies me because I don’t really care for either camp.
There are times when I don’t mind an emotional or mental journey from a film (Juno, Up in the Air – not coincidentally done by the same director) but There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men did nothing for me. On the flip side, I’m now receiving therapy for the damage that two Transformers films and G.I. Joe did to my childhood memories.
In my Top 10 TV Shows, I mentioned that if How I Met Your Mother had run during the 90’s as opposed to the 2000’s, it would have been regarded as an all-time classic. I felt the same way about The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Ben Button is to Forrest Gump what HIMYM is to Friends. Both films were grand journey pieces (and Button was probably technically better, just like HIMYM) but it is already forgotten because of the climate that it was born into.
To cement my point, Jerry Maguire was literally nominated for Best Picture in 1996. Can you begin to even imagine a scenario where it gets nominated 10 years later in 2006 ahead of that year’s nominees The Departed, Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, and The Queen?
I know Little Miss Sunshine was considered a comedy (and a fine film) but I don’t remember laughing.
The defense rests.
3. Probably the most prominent way that I will remember this decade in cinema will be as the era of the visually-stunning-yet-plot-lacking films. I get that offerings like Wall-E and Avatar were technological accomplishments, but it just doesn’t mean that’s what I’m looking for in a movie. Let’s see how I Avatar stacks up on my movie-going checklist:
Q. Do I like the main actors?
A. Sorry Sam, you’re not as cool as you think you are… yet.
Q. Do I like the director?
A. My only thoughts towards Cameron are that he ruined a great shipwreck story with an awful love story.
Q. Am I interested in the premise of the movie?
A. It's a politically driven, eco story with blue people running around in what looks like the Fern Gully remake? Hmm… not so much.
(You gotta remember that I’m the guy that walked out the second Lord of the Rings installment because I was annoyed by the talking trees. I love adventure films, but not fantasy. Save the talking animals and inanimate objects for Disney and Pixar.)
So when you look past the I-MAX theaters and the 3D glasses, there’s just not a whole lot there for someone like me. Hollywood is a phase of sacrificing substance for the style.
It’s OK, it always come backs around.
So that’s the way I’ve viewed the movies this past 10 years. I know I probably sound a grumpy old man, but believe me, I LOVE the movies. Before I make any plans for a Friday night, I checked to see what’s opening because if it’s anything decent, I will be there.
Like I said above, I’m not going to try to rank my Top 10 favorite movies, but I will list them by genre.
Once again, these are just my favorites. I’m not claiming them to be the BEST (but of course, I think they are). I can’t wait to hear your opinions and thanks for letting me recapture my favorite pop culture moments over these past few weeks.
I’m looking forward to see what the new decade has to offer us.
Anchorman (July 9, 2004)
The Hangover (June 5, 2009)
Just like Tommy Boy in the 90’s, Anchorman took the crown for movie with the most and best catchphrases. You know a movie is a great when it has a catchphrase for any real life situation. You want to recommend something to a friend? You can tell them that 60 percent of the time it works every time. You make a bad life decision? You can say that milk was a bad choice. And The Hangover jumped Wedding Crashers, 40-Year Old Virgin, and Knocked Up because it was able to do what the others could not – the comedy never fell apart at the end of the movie. Because you had a mystery involved, it kept you hanging on. There was no misunderstanding that breaks the main characters up, these guys just wanted to find their buddy! Just a great story structure.
Cast Away (December 22, 2000)
The Royal Tenenbaums (December 14, 2001)
These are both films that I appreciate and enjoy as I get older. We’ve all had Cast Away moments in our lives, so there’s the comfort there – besides, was that the last good Tom Hanks performance we’ve seen? Thanks for going on cruise control with two Da Vinci codes and that Charlie Wilson movie, Tom. How about taking a page out Downey’s playbook (more on that in a bit) and give us another comedy just to spice it up a little and remind us that you still care? The best compliment that I, or anyone else for that matter, can give The Royal Tenenbaums is that it was a J.D. Salinger story (that wasn’t) come to life. I’m proud to say that I was somehow able to get my Wife to use the Hey Jude version from the movie’s soundtrack during our wedding.
Gladiator (May 5, 2000)
Ocean’s 11 (December 7, 2001)
Batman Begins (June 15, 2005)
Like Scrubs with the single camera comedy from the TV Show list, we can thank AND blame Gladiator for the rebirth, then subsequent glut of the Epic Movie (which of course was recently spoofed under the same title). I just remember feeling blown away after seeing it on opening weekend in May of 2000. It just felt a step ahead of everything else at that time (looking forward to Crowe and director Ridley Scott reteaming this coming May with Robin Hood). I don’t know exactly what genre the Ocean’s films would technically fall under (other than “Cool”) so I just had to put the representative first one here. I was one of the few people that actually loved the second film in the series and as avid fan of a quality heist film these three hit the spot with Ocean’s 11 leading the way (PS – if you’ve never seen it, the original Ocean’s 11 starring the Rat Pack is pretty cool too). As I mentioned above, the Batman reboot revolutionized the comic book to film genre. That movie made you feel like it would not be out of the question for a man to dress up like a bat and fight crime in a metropolitan city.
ROBERT DOWNEY, JR.
Iron Man (May 2, 2008)
The Soloist (April 24, 2009)
Sherlock Holmes (December 25, 2009)
To say Downey has been on fire as of late doesn’t even close to doing him justice. This is already an impressive resume WITHOUT mentioning him turning in the best overall acting performance of the decade in Tropic Thunder. He was the first one to make you care more about the secret identity than the superhero in Iron Man, he and Jamie Foxx are brilliant together in the vastly underrated Soloist, and he updated my favorite work of fiction for a new generation in a fresh and fun way in Holmes (I’ve seen it twice already). Can’t wait for his upcoming road-trip buddy comedy Due Date with Zach Galifianakis from The Hangover.
Moulin Rouge (May 18, 2001)
Chicago (December 27, 2002)
To show off my well-rounded side, I was going to have these two listed together but then Downey snuck up this weekend with Sherlock Holmes. The way Moulin Rouge used pop culture classic songs to fit in its story was ridiculously creative to me (the White Elephant Medley still shatters my brain) and Chicago was the last movie I saw in the theater that felt like the best movie I saw that year and actually won the Oscar for Best Picture.