Sure, this decade brought us the rise and fall of Lindsay Lohan, the legend of the Snuggie and VH1’s “Rock of Love Bus,” but the last 10 years have been great for film.
Except for maybe “White Chicks.”
Right from the moment you see the iconic cover, a beautiful Kate Hudson in dark John Lennon sunglasses, “Almost Famous” captures your attention, taking you right backstage in the midst of the early 1970s. Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical picture added one thing to the list of life goals: to be a Band-Aide.
It is the perfect mix of revenge, power struggles and knock-down drag-out gladiator fights. Maximus (Russell Crowe) personally gets the chance to seek retribution on the disgusting Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), the man who robbed him of his title, family and freedom. Just thinking about the movie right now makes me want to watch it.
“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”
The end-all-be-all of silver screen-adapted young adult books, the Harry Potter series began with “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Though historically, minor plot twists in the book haven’t been projected in the films, there’s still something truly exciting about a breath of life being introduced into J.K. Rowling’s distinctive characters.
The story of a grumpy, yet poignantly lovable ogre was a modern take on the usual fairy tale formula. The film formulated jokes around popular culture in a way that was appealing to young and old alike. The star-studded cast members who contributed their voices to Donkey, Shrek, Princess Fiona and Lord Farquaad were also a definite plus.
Appealing to the arachnophobe in all of us is 2002’s “Spider-Man.” Bit by a genetically modified spider, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is suddenly bursting with superpowers, a hot bod and the unquenchable desire to climb walls and swing around New York City. The upside-down kiss between Parker and Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) also may have become a widely attempted activity in this year.
“The Bourne Identity”
This decade was all about awesome trilogies, and this series is no exception. Matt Damon shines in this thriller about a man who rebuilds his memory after somehow forgetting everything he ever knew. As details of his life arise, the hunted man searches for his identity — all while trapped in the middle of dual CIA assassination plots.
“Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”
Disney’s initial stretch into deeper waters (pun intended), grossed more than $650 million in theaters, with both swashbuckling predecessors, “Dead Man’s Chest” and “At World’s End” reaching even higher numbers later in the decade.
“Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”
The best of the three films in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, “The Return of the King” has been named the second highest-grossing film of all time, right after James Cameron’s “Titanic.” “The Return of the King” is a cinematic masterpiece, and a thrilling perspective of Frodo’s climb to the top of Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring once and for all.
“The Passion of the Christ”
Mel Gibson’s preliminary effort at direction, “The Passion of the Christ” is the intense depiction of the last hours and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. The movie is graphic and frightening, but it took a huge risk in the midst of other Hollywood dramas.
The premise of “I, Robot” was so compelling because it is a concept not too far off from our own society. Will Smith’s knack for acting was the big factor that propelled this movie from good to great.
Before 2005, Joseph Gordon- Levitt was just that kid from “3rd Rock From the Sun.” This all changed with “Brick,” a taut and t e r r i f i c neo-noir centered around a murder at a California high school. As Levitt’s young gumshoe starts to unravel the story of betrayal, drugs and love, he wonders who he can trust and how he will survive.
“Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”
Yes, “Revenge of the Sith” is basically C-Span in space, but it finally closed the doors on the travesty of the second “Star Wars” trilogy. It’s probably the best of the newer films, but it really isn’t that big of an accomplishment to be better than “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones.” Plus, there was 80 percent less Jar Jar Binks!
“Little Miss Sunshine”
The little underground movie that could, “Little Miss Sunshine” captured the attention of the public and the Academy like no independent film ever had. Its mix of quirky innocence and genuine emotion was entertaining and refreshing, and Steve Carell, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano and Alan Arkin really pull the movie together.
Sure, it doesn’t hold up that well, and really wasn’t that good to begin with, but “Hostel” really brought the “torture porn” genre into its own. All the hallmarks are there — gratuitous nudity, box cutters, people crying and a really stupid ending so we can all feel good afterward.
“There Will Be Blood”
2007 was probably the greatest year in recent memory for movies, and the argument between every film nerd was “No Country for Old Men” or “There Will Be Blood.” Although both are great, ‘There Will be Blood” has held up so much better, both as a tale of a man fully willing to commit atrocities in the name of progress, as well as a chilling story of broken relationships. Daniel Day Lewis gives the performance of a lifetime coupled with Paul Thomas Anderson’s bleak directing, without a doubt makes “ T h e r e Will Be Bl o o d ” one of, if not, the greatest film of the decade.
“No Country For Old Men”
After years of deftly fusing slapstick comedy with shocking violence, the Coen Brothers finally embraced serious territory with “No Country for Old Men.” The film is a whirlwind, and it is impossible not to be sucked into the story of drug money gone missing in the not-so-old-West.
Approaching a subject as legendary as Harvey Milk would seem to be impossible. The man has a veritable cult of personality, is beloved by millions and was killed in his prime. With all of this in mind, Director Gus Van Sant and Sean Penn created a film that escapes mythologizing, and instead humanizes an icon. “Milk” is stunning in the way it shows the triumphs of Harvey Milk, but also shows him as a sort of everyman, just trying to do what is right against all odds.
“The Dark Knight”
$400 million. Think about it. Christopher Nolan’s Batman epic made this in 18 days, before going on to make more than a billion dollars worldwide. Helped along by the late Heath Ledger’s stunning performance, “The Dark Knight” redefined what comic book movies can do and changed what they had to be.
Comedy fans may have been expecting something more akin to “Superbad” when they stepped into Greg Mottola’s newest film, but “Adventureland” plays more like a burnout teenage tragedy than anything. The film is funny at times, but it serves best as a time capsule to the days of working at a dead end summer job, being in love and wanting to be bigger than what you are stuck in.
“Where the Wild Things Are” Spike Jonze expanded everything in the classic story and brings “Where the Wild Things Are” to life with amazing special effects and a captivating story of childhood that anyone can enjoy. Examining loneliness, imagination and the trials of growing up, Jonze’s film makes more than an apt companion piece to the classic children’s book.