Well, if you hit up O&T yesterday, you knew this was coming. Now that the 2000s are actually over, it is time for us to sit back and think about what films defined the past decade, and which ones were the cream of the crop. So, without further ado, here is O&T’s list of the top 20 (in reverse order, of course) films of the ’00s, from number 20 to 16.
There are certain film genres which have soared in popularity since the turn of the millennium, and the real-life documentary is one of them. Although Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11 turned over huge amounts of money, it’s Morgan Spurlock’s charming 2004 picture which slides its way onto this list. One man’s quest to eat McDonald’s every day for 30 days, Super Size Me is a kind of morbidly engaging exercise, but Spurlock’s everyman charm and relentless pursuit of fatty perfection make this a cut above the rest. Rather than ramming his point down your throat (no pun intended), Spurlock makes shitloads (again no pun intended) of wisecracks – the “McShakes” section especially – and visits every corner of the States to find out how addicted we are to fast food. Not only is it a brilliant watch, but it made a difference, as the Super Size option was removed from McDonald’s menus worldwide: impressive work indeed.
Despite the best efforts of the likes of Spurlock and Moore, the genre which really dominated the ’00s was certainly the superhero film. Every comic book hero was ‘re-imagined’ in the last decade, but it is Marvel Comics’ X-Men who managed to make for the best film in an overcrowded marketplace. Bryan Singer’s film, the second in what would become a franchise, managed to combine action set-pieces and predictable one-liners with genuine character development, as we gazed deeper into the psyche of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, by far the series’ most well-realized and interesting character. Singer’s film creates a believable yet sensational premise – Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) is incapacitated and the X-Men must fight to free him whilst discovering a secret military base where Logan/Wolverine/Weapon X was created. Bursting with action but maintaining an interesting angle on the human condition, X-2 rose above a hoarde of imitators to cement itself as a truly great film in a genre filled with mediocrity.
A film concerning itself with the ins-and-outs of the tobacco advertising trade may not initially seem to be one destined for greatness. Yet Jason Reitman’s 2005 tar-black comedy is certifiably brilliant despite its, well, fatal subject matter. Aaron Eckhart’s Nick Naylor is a schmoozer extraodinaire, able to talk the hind legs off a donkey but still coming across as utterly charming. His journey from cream of the crop to down in the dumps and back again is not only a story showing the complete indifference of an industry predicated on addiction to advertising bans, but also the story of one man’s ability to overcome even the toughest opposition. Eckhart’s superb turn is the film’s core, with admirable support from the likes of J.K. Simmons and Rob Lowe, but the intuitive, relevant tale that Reitman’s film weaves is more complex, challenging and hilarious than a thousand pretenders. Original, sly and smart, this is one of the best comedies you’ll encounter, and hopefully non-addictive.
Of all the so-called ‘frat-pack’ movies made in the ’00s, Wedding Crashers might just be the funniest. Following the tribulations of titular gatecrashers John (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy (an unforgettably brilliant Vince Vaughn), it’s a film about awkward romantic encounters, misplaced confidence and questionable ethics. In short, it’s about schtupping, and lots of it. As the lead pair engage in the endless pursuit of bedding women, they find love. So far, so dull. But a late-night homosexual encounter, an American football game, a quail hunt and a family meal are all milked for comedy gold, with Vaughn, as the film’s hilarious foil to Wilson’s straight man, on phenomenal form as the serial shagger who struggles to shake off instinct. Wedding Crashers may not have the eminent quotability of an Anchorman or the gags-per-minute ratio of a Dodgeball, but it contains a consistently butt-clenchingly hilarious script which would rival any movie yet made, as well as star-making turns from Vaughn and Wilson. And probably the best Will Ferrell cameo yet seen.
Stephen Soderbergh has made a lot of good movies, but in Ocean’s Eleven he has produced perhaps the slickest picture of the last 10 years. A cast of veritable megastars – Clooney, Pitt, Roberts, Damon – gel together to make a merry band of professional thieves, whose goal is to clean out not one, not two, but three Vegas casinos on a fight night, amounting to serious dollar. The cast are all tremendously confident and handle the engaging banter with almost surreal levels of charm, whilst the dialogue sizzles and the set-pieces deliver on a grand scale. Of course, the whole movie would be a waste of time without a satisfying finale, and the revelation of how Danny Ocean’s ragtag crew pull off this super-heist is devastating in its wit, brilliance and realisation, rocketing it to the top of many a box-office and the number 16 spot on this rundown.
So that’s the list thus far, tune back in on Thursday for the next instalment of this film countdown, and tomorrow over in Tucson for the next lot of best albums of the decade.