Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Years in Review: 2001

Low Resolution celebrates the end of the Double-Ohs Decade with a year-by-year retrospective of the movies I watched and (sometimes) loved. All due apologies to Nick Davis and Nathaniel Rogers for co-opting portions of their own decade-end features. I crib with love!

[Previously: 2000]

Having gone on record as liking the year 2000 crop of movies, despite the bad rap they got in the press, I have to admit 2001 represented a great leap forward on several fronts. It's hard to imagine a universe before The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter franchises (and considering I had never even heard of the Potter books before the movies, I was really in the dark ages). I recall there being some real debate at the time over which franchise would be more embraced -- by the public and also by the Oscars. Like, a) I'm glad we got over the Frodo v. Harry thing; there was clearly enough room in our dweeby hearts for both, and b) the idea of the Potter movies as an Oscar juggernaut is pretty funny, in retrospect.

Oh! Speaking of which! So 2001 was the first year in which I started following the Oscar race from the beginning of the year. I found The Film Experience and Kris Tapley's old site (Oscar Central?) and the former Oscarwatch (now Awards Daily). And thus was I thrust into the twelve-month crazy-making navel-gaze that is the online Oscar scene. I sometimes wish I had started my blog back then just to say I'd been there since the old days, but it also spares me from having to answer to having predicted Catherine Keener would win Best Actress for The Ballad of Jack and Rose. So, but back to Pearl Harbor -- in the wake of Gladiator, there was a very real fear in the online Oscar community that Pearl Harbor was going to be this unstoppable juggernaut and that Michael Bay would be nominated for Best Director, if not win it. People were WORRIED, you guys. It's kind of amazing to think about.

Also amazing? Mulholland Dr., The Royal Tenenbaums, Donnie Darko, Waking Life, Moulin Rouge!, The Deep End, A.I., The Others, Wet, Hot, American Summer, The Devil's Backbone, Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The tip of the iceberg and all movies that I'm still comparing other movies to today.

Click below for the best movies of 2001...

The Year in Matt Damon: At the time, it seemed like a sign of his already-diminished star power. The once-celebrated top-liner got a lesson in where he really stood on the Hollywood ladder when he placed a distant third to George Clooney and Brad Pitt in Ocean's Eleven (fourth when you factor in Julia Roberts). But in hindsight, it was a real turning point. Not only did Matt shine in a supporting role (see my Supporting Actor ranks below), he also made valuable connections (to Clooney, to Soderbergh) that would serve him very well throughout the decade.

The Year in Tilda Swinton: The Deep End was a groundbreaker, hauling in a bunch of critics' awards and a Golden Globe nomination. But I'd also like to shout out her teeny cameo in Vanilla Sky, a bright spot as that movie was circling the drain.

Best Theater Experience

For some strange reason -- and I can't for the life of me think of why -- I hardly saw anything in the theater this year. But I do recall a group outing to see the much-anticipated Hannibal ... and me being so pissed at that garbage plate of a film that I was bellowing my dissatisfaction before I'd even exited my aisle.

My Top 10
1. LotR: The Fellowship of the Ring
2. Mulholland Dr.
3. The Royal Tenenbaums
4. Hedwig and the Angry Inch
5. Memento
6. Moulin Rouge!
7. Gosford Park
8. Donnie Darko
9. Ocean’s Eleven
10. The Man Who Wasn’t There

Best Director
Robert Altman - Gosford Park
Wes Anderson - The Royal Tenenbaums
Peter Jackson - LotR: The Fellowship of the Ring
David Lynch - Mulholland Dr.
Christopher Nolan - Memento

Best Actor
Brian Cox – L.I.E.
Gene Hackman - The Royal Tennenbaums
John Cameron Mitchell - Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Guy Pearce - Memento
Tom Wilkinson - In the Bedroom

Best Actress
Laura Elena Harring - Mulholland Dr.
Nicole Kidman - Moulin Rouge / The Others
Sissy Spacek - In the Bedroom
Tilda Swinton - The Deep End
Naomi Watts - Mulholland Dr.

Best Supporting Actor
Jim Broadbent - Moulin Rouge!
Matt Damon - Ocean's Eleven
Jude Law - A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Ian McKellan - LotR: The Fellowship of the Ring
Tony Shalhoub - The Man Who Wasn’t There

Best Supporting Actress
Mary McDonnell – Donnie Darko
Frances McDormand - The Man Who Wasn’t There
Carrie-Ann Moss - Memento
Gwynneth Paltrow - The Royal Tennenbaums
Maggie Smith - Gosford Park

Five Films That Have Endured (outside my Top 10)
A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Wet Hot American Summer

Waking Life
A Knight's Tale

Amores Perros

I've watched A.I. a couple times this past month, and each time I become more certain of its moments of brilliance (the landscapes, the tone, everything involving Fraces O'Connor and Haley Joel Osment), more willing to forgive the shortcomings (Dr. Know, William Hurt giving his usual 30%), and more appreciative that it ends the way it does, Spielberg being Spielberg or not. Wet Hot was the funniest movie of the year and launched countless careers (not to mention singlehandedly turning Paul "Object of My Affection" Rudd's career around). I watched Waking Life twice in one day and went from vehement hatred to swooning adoration in the process. I'm not sure if everyone remembers what a crowd-pleasing hit A Knight's Tale was, and what a charismatic star turn Heath Ledger delivered therein. I wasn't super wild about Amores Perros, but the Iñaritu effect would have a long tail (not to mention the Gael Garcia Bernal effect).

Five Films I Should See Again
The Man Who Wasn't There
The Mexican
The Deep End

Atop the teetering, sky-high pile of movies I need to rewatch is Memento, if only to see if Carrie-Ann Moss's performance is as good as I thought it was. I have a feeling The Man Who Wasn't There might be even better than I remember (so many of those performances still seem so vivid). I found Tape to be incredibly nervy, but I'd like to re-examine whether it looked as ugly as I remember. Any good Tilda Swinton performance is worth revisiting, but I'm just as eager to revisit slimy Josh Lucas in The Deep End. And I remember The Mexican getting big hype on account of the Julia/Brad pairing, followed by big backlash for not being that great. But I remember it being quite watchable, and Julia and James Gandolfini made a great pair.

1 comment:

jessica said...

I like watching Memento like I'm watching a puzzle come together. All the black and white moments are occurring first-to-last, while all the technicolor moments are occurring last-to-first, and they meet at the end of the movie. It's really amazing as a structure.