As much as we hate saying noughties, it was time for us to get up-to-date, well almost, with our decade-based looks at great movies. First we got all misty-eyed over the gritty brilliance of the 70s, then we got all caught up on childhood nostlagia with the 80s and then in the 90s, well, Tarantino happened.
Now, we're looking at the 00s and, despite people constantly saying they don't make them like they used to, it was a damn fine decade.
Let us know if we missed off your favourite at the bottom. We know you will.
(Image: All Star)
A semi-autobiographical tale of writer-director Cameron Crowe’s teenage experiences writing for Rolling Stone magazine, Almost Famous overcame a poor box office performance to receive four Oscar nominations, and a deserved place in this list. Telling the story of a young journalist on tour with up-and-coming ‘70s rock group Stillwater, his journey takes in romance, riots and rock and roll, whilst retaining humour and charm. An overlooked classic.
Many doubted whether a movie could ever be made out of Bret Easton Ellis’ ultra-violent novel, but director Mary Harron took on the challenge with spectacular results, creating a film which divided fans and critics alike upon release. Christian Bale put in a star turn as the narcissistic and bloodthirsty Patrick Bateman, whose reign of terror costs the lives of the innocent victims who come into his path. Its gore was too much for some, but for many it is viewed as a true cult classic.
Director Ridley Scott used the 1960s Hollywood classic Spartacus as the starting point for Gladiator, and created a cinematic epic which stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the epic historical films of yesteryear. Featuring a suitably dynamic performance by Russell Crowe as the wronged Gladiator Maximus Decimus Meridius fighting back from his betrayal, the film was a box office smash, grossing $500m and bagging five Oscars. A bona fide old-school blockbuster, in every sense of the word.
This film, an adaptation of the book by Nick Hornby, was a gift to music nerds everywhere. Featuring an record-obsessive, brilliantly played by John Cusack, and a showstopping performance by relative newcomer Jack Black as the ultimate record store geek Barry, the film had heart and, quite literally, soul. People everywhere would forever be discussing their top fives after watching this.
Memento was a smart film in every way; primarily through its use of a groundbreaking nonlinear structure, incorporating a forwards and a backwards version of the same story, with Guy Pearce holding the whole show together with a critically-acclaimed performance - not bad for someone who started out playing Mike in Neighbours. The movie was a Nolan family affair, based on a short story written by the younger Jonathan, with the film written and directed by the older Christopher. With a relatively small budget, the film attained box office success to accompany its originality; thus its place on this list is well-deserved.
A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
Effectively a joint effort between two powerhouses of the silver screen in Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick, A.I. more than lived up to expectations. Kubrick had developed the idea for almost 30 years until his death, before Spielberg took over, to finally bring the movie to fruition in 2001. A simultaneously touching and dark tale, it featured a stunning performance by Haley Joel Osment as David, a robot with human emotions caught between two worlds.
Dark, mysterious, haunting, eerie and menacing: all of these adjectives and more could be described to Donnie Darko, a sinister tale of prophecies and altered reality. Hampered by featuring a plane crash in the year of the terrorist attacks on New York, it suffered a slow start at the box office, before gradually receiving acclaim and becoming a cult hit. In addition, it boasted a memorable soundtrack, including a version of Tears For Fears’ Mad World, which was a huge Christmas No.1 hit in the UK.
28 Days Later
Danny Boyle made a decade-defining film in the 1990s with the iconic Trainspotting, but offered the ‘00s an equally-deserved entry with 28 Days Later. Taking a familiar genre (the zombie film) and infusing it with a stark sense of realism and genuine terror, it was one of the most affecting and thrilling horror films of the decade. Plus it showed that Boyle’s position as the most exciting British director of his generation remained untouched.
City Of God
Arriving with more confidence and vibrancy than 50 Hollywood action movies combined, this electrifying tale of Brazilian street gangs made one hell of an impression. As well as being a huge hit in its home country, it also broke out on a mass scale, scoring four Oscar nominations, including one for director Fernando Meirelles (who went on to direct The Constant Gardener). One of the most vital foreign films of the decade.
Kill Bill (Volume One)
After a stellar decade where he broke out into the mainstream, Tarantino’s first of two mentions in this list sees him at his most ambitious. Re-teaming with his Pulp Fiction star Uma Thurman, his gory two-part action epic started out strong with the first, and more impressive, volume. It was Tarantino at his most confident with homages, visual tricks and quotable lines aplenty. Plus, in Beatrix Kiddo, an instantly iconic character and stunning action-packed performance from Thurman.
The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
Nothing less than a towering triumph of a movie, Return Of The King was a modern epic, and a fitting conclusion to the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Moviegoers flocked to see it, with the film grossing over $1bn, and awards from the critics and fellow filmmakers rained down: it won all 11 Oscars that it was nominated for, putting it level with Ben Hur and Titanic. Giant battles, spellbinding storylines and heroic figures - Return Of The King had it all. Plus, the word “the” is in the title an impressive four times!
Arguably joint-holder of the ‘most quoted movie ever’ award with The Big Lebowski, Anchorman was an utter riot of a film. Anchored (sorry) by a tour de force of a performance from Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy, the hapless news lead at KVWN-TV, with strong performances from a host of supporting actors, the film is rightly classed as one of the funniest of all time. Remember: “You stay classy, San Diego!”.
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
Up until The Truman Show, Jim Carrey had been known for his rubber-faced comedy, and while Peter Weir’s television satire saw him mix it up a bit, it was Michel Gondry’s unusual romantic fantasy that really changed things. Carrey was admirably restrained while the traditionally demure Kate Winslet was blue-haired and wild. It was an utterly unique film, simultaneously surreal and heartbreaking real, bursting with ideas, and it deservedly picked up an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
Million Dollar Baby
Clint Eastwood’s devastating drama did what every film about boxing should: it delivered a total knockout. For the most part, it plays like a female Rocky, showing a tough boxer train up and move her way up the ranks. But then there’s that ending. A shocking turn of events results in a harrowing conclusion that helped a) the Academy award the film a whole bunch of Oscars and b) embarrass everyone in the cinema due to over-weeping. Powerful stuff.
Children Of Men
While the decade might have been full of showy sci-fi films which acted as mere excuses to waste money on special effects, Children Of Men stood out as a rare example of using the genre for good, not evil. A bleak look at what would happen to the world if people became infertile, it was horribly convincing by choosing realism over sensationalism. Also contains one of the most shocking deaths ever seen on film, one that remains slightly unbelievable to this day.
The third of Scorsese’s gangster films, The Departed was to the ‘00s what Goodfellas was for the ‘90s. Based on a Hong Kong movie with the endlessly pleasing title Infernal Affairs, it’s a classic tale of organised crime, undercover work and fluid identities. The Departed was thrilling, keeping you guessing the whole way. The critics concurred, as the movie won four Oscars, further establishing Scorsese’s legendary status.
Guillermo Del Toro’s breathtaking Oscar nominee (predating his winning The Shape Of Water by eleven years) managed to combine inspired fantasy with harrowing wartime drama. Not an easy feat. His tale of a young girl torn between fascist ‘40s Spain and a magical yet dangerous fantasy world delivered on so many levels that it catapulted Del Toro to the A-List and was the best-reviewed film of the entire decade. Oh, and made everyone who saw it cry like a baby.
No Country For Old Men
The Coens had one hell of a time in the ‘90s with Fargo and The Big Lebowski, and while the ‘00s were a tad slower (Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers were misfires), things picked up when they won Best Picture at the Oscars for their blistering adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s classic thriller. The film also brought Javier Bardem to our attention with his Oscar-winning turn as iconic villain Anton Chigurh.
There Will Be Blood
A critically-acclaimed masterpiece set in California, but filmed, like No Country for Old Men in Texas, There Will Be Blood was an epic tale of oil, wealth, domination and betrayal, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Featuring a towering performance by Daniel Day-Lewis as oil prospector Daniel Plainview, it also boasted a superb soundtrack, courtesy of Radiohead’s mercurial guitarist Johnny Greenwood.
This Is England
A powerful film exploring the rise of the far-right National Front in England in the early ‘80s, this was an uncompromising, but effective piece of storytelling. Featuring a 13-year old, Thomas Turgoose, who had never acted before, in the lead role, it was an unexpected success, spawning a spin-off TV series following the characters through a decade. Exploring a period of social history that England would rather forget, this was a defining film of the era.
A fascinating adaptation of a real-life story, David Fincher’s movie explored the story of the mysterious Zodiac killer of the early 1970s. As detectives draw a blank, it’s left to a newspaper cartoonist to dig deeper into the secrets of a serial killer on the loose in San Francisco, gradually getting caught deeper and deeper into solving the case. The film was not a box office success, but was critically-acclaimed. A subtle classic of a movie.
The Dark Knight
While this tour de force was one of the all-time great Batman films and a demonstration of Christopher Nolan’s talents for producing a dense, claustrophobic, but epic movie, The Dark Knight will always be remembered for Heath Ledger’s astonishing performance as The Joker, in what would turn out to be his final film. In his own words, he played the character as a “psychopathic, mass murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy” and in doing so created one of the most iconic performances of all-time, recognised with his posthumous Oscar award.
Peter Jackson teamed up with first-time director Neill Blomkamp to create this surprise hit, which saw a thought-provoking exploration of prejudice and xenophobia, through the medium of alien discrimination. Utilising a partially documentary-style approach, brilliant special effects and a truly inventive marketing campaign, the film was a powerful statement on humanity, taking obvious parallels from South African apartheid and transposing them into the future. A box-office smash, it took seven times its budget and a host of deserved critical acclaim.
Another showing for Tarantino in the list after Kill Bill (Volume One), this defiantly misspelled revisionist telling of the end of World War II saw him at his absolute best. Not only did we get the classic mix of violence and one-liners, he also infused the story with depth and a real heart, making it a hit commercially and at the Oscars where it bagged a bunch of nominations. It also saw a win for Christoph Waltz who delivered a standout turn as the evil ‘Jew Hunter’.
Any film from Pixar would have made a suitable entrant on this list but their final film of the decade proved to be their finest. Initially, we were all a bit unsure about an animated film based around a 78-year-old protagonist but this funny, exciting and profoundly moving adventure surprised us all. It also became the second animated film ever to score a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. The opening 10 minutes makes a strong case for best sequence of the decade.