In an annual series, Every Movie Has a Lesson is going to look back twenty years to revisit, relearn, and reexamine a year of cinema history to share favorites, lists, and experiences from the films of that year.
THE BEST OF THE REST OF 2000
Where were you at the beginning of the new millenium? I was a undergrad junior at the now-closed Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana. I was working as the school’s athletic equipment manager for all NCAA Division II sports after being the football guy for two years. It counted as a pretty cool post for a student to have.
I distinctly remember watching the Y2K ball drop on a tiny TV from temporary digs sleeping on my office couch in the Richard F. Scharf Alumni Fieldhouse. It was Winter Break where I stayed on campus with a skeleton crew of workers and students for basketball season instead of going home. It was a quiet and auspicious start to a year that wouldn’t be that lonely. The year that followed was filled more and more movies as the resident film critic where I actually won “Reporter of the Year” honors for The Observer student newspaper. I outlined my “10 Best” a post before. Here’s the best of the rest.
High Fidelity, Men of Honor, What Women Want, Meet the Parents, The Perfect Storm, Rules of Engagement, U-571, Frequency, The Patriot, Space Cowboys, Finding Forrester, X-Men, Miss Congeniality
A large majority of these personal favorites and “Next 10” are part of that dying breed of mid-budget studio programmers that used to be the steady bread-and-butter of the 1990s for damn near any genre. I love the starry speed of movies like What Women Want, Erin Brockovich, Frequency, Men of Honor, U-571, Meet the Parents, and others. Meaty blockbusters still make the list with The Perfect Storm, The Patriot, and X-Men.
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, The Beach, Boiler Room, Sunshine, The Contender, Proof of Life, The Gift
To show my cinephile side, I’ll be a guy first in line to nab Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai when it hits the Criterion Collection this year. It’s a slick work from Jim Jarmusch and Forest Whitaker. The Contender is a proud second to Thirteen Days for presidential-themed movies of 2000. Boiler Room might steal a little bit from Glengarry Glen Ross, but it’s still a solid flick filled with fresh faces of its era. It’s a slog, but if you have three hours and a line on hard-to-find movies, Ralph Fiennes puts in one of his finest career performances playing three Hungarian generations in Sunshine. Anyone who thinks Sam Raimi is just horror and Spider-Man needs to see The Gift.
Mission: Impossible 2, Road Trip, Reindeer Games, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Mission to Mars, The Red Planet, The Ninth Gate, The Replacements, The Watcher, Vertical Limit
I’ll gladly wear the lampshade as one of the few fans of John Woo’s Mission: Impossible 2. I’ll take its gaudy theatrics to a large majority of the action movies today. Give me a matching shameless lampshade for The Legend of Bagger Vance, magical negro tropes and all. Road Trip is a quote-fest of immature fun that I don’t mind one bit. I also don’t mind the part of Martian disappointments with The Red Planet a little higher than Mission to Mars. For a flat-out good time with a sports movie, the preposterous laughs come easy in The Replacements. To see Keanu do something completely different, I recommend re-discovering The Watcher despite its abysmal reviews.
Traffic, O Brother Where Art Thou, Autumn in New York, Pay It Forward, Bounce, Snatch, Family Man, All the Pretty Horses, Shadow of the Vampire, American Psycho
I remember Traffic as Steven Soderbergh’s The Schindler’s List long dramatic double dip coming in the same year as his happier Erin Brockovich being the Jurassic Park crowdpleaser half. I need to see it again. I’m not a Coen brothers fan, so I’ve avoided O Brother, Where Art Thou? I need to fix that too. I wonder if All the Pretty Horse and Shadow of the Vampire play better with older eyes. They felt boring back in the day. I want to rediscover Guy Ritchie’s genius with Snatch someday soon.
Billy Elliot, Pollock, Bring It On, Woman on Top, Requiem for a Dream, Girlfight, Tigerland, You Can Count on Me, The Emperor’s New Groove
Like everyone, I can’t see everything and I have my holes. The three on this list I personally want to catch the most are the breakout beginnings of Michelle Rodriguez, Colin Farrell, and Mark Ruffalo in Girlfight, Tigerland, and You Can Count on Me respectively. Brave cinephiles tell me the hard stuff of Requiem for a Dream is a necessary exercise. I’ll get there some day. As a then 20-year-old, I have no idea how I missed the jiggle of Bring It On. As a 41-year-old parent now, I have no idea how I’ve missed The Emperor’s New Groove
Unbreakable, Wonder Boys, The Whole Nine Yards, The Skulls, Gone in 60 Seconds, Shaft, My, Myself, and Irene, Charlie’s Angels, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Pitch Black
I don’t think any of M. Night Shyamalan’s films hold up to multiple viewings or the weight of time and reflection. Unbreakable fares the best of his movies, but not buy much with the watered-down legacy Split and Glass have tried to extend. Speaking of watering down, the sequels to Pitch Black have done the original no favors. The same in a way can be said with Gone in 60 Seconds. It hasn’t aged as badly as other Bruckheimer movies, but other than car porn, it’s still too bonkers to really enjoy, especially with The Fast and the Furious blowing it out of the water the next year. Compared to the reboot I should probably like Charlie’s Angels more but I can never take Drew Barrymore seriously in anything. It’s a crutch I’m proud to celebrate.
Little Nicky, Battlefield Earth, Nurse Betty, Quills, Next Friday, Play it To the Bone, Supernova, Down to You, Eye of the Beholder, Scream 3, The Next Best Thing, What Planet Are You From? Whatever it Takes, Ready to Rumble, 28 Days, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, The Kid, Scary Movie, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, Highlander: Endgame, The Way of the Gun, Bait, Urban Legends: Final Cut, Dr. T and the Women, The Ladies Man, Lucky Numbers, 102 Dalmatians, The 6th Day, Dungeons and Dragons, Dracula 2000, Dude, Where’s My Car?
Maybe this is where folks point when it comes to calling 1999 a tough act the volume. The volume and height of really crappy movies did grow with the turn of the century. Little Nicky and Battlefield Earth, Dungeons and Dragons, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle are some all-timer stinkers. Yikes! Yeah, maybe this was a bad year after all.