13
May
2009
Feature: Jordan's Movie Quest
Jordan's Movie Quest: The Year 2000
Jordan
As you may have noticed, faced with Sam's declaration of his favorite movie, I conspicuously avoided naming mine. This is because I have never been able to come up with a satisfying answer as to what is my favorite movie of all time. A few years ago I began to compile a Top Ten Movies of the Year list. As this year began I realized it was the last of the decade, and decided to expand my efforts to include a Top Ten list for every year in the decade, culminating in my Top Ten Movies of the Decade list, which you can look for in December. With any luck I shall move on to other decades subsequently, with my eventual goal being to create a top ten list for every decade from the 1940's on, and from there, develop my Top Ten Favorite Movies. In furtherance of that goal, here is my Top Ten Movies of 2000 list, with a tiny blurb included about each:

10. Best in Show-Christopher Guest was at the top of his game when he crafted this mockumentary (though Guest hates the term) that goes behind the scenes of the ultra-competitive, never say die world of...dog shows. The whole Guest troupe (including hilarious performances by Eugene Levy, Michael McKean, Catherine O'Hara and Parker Posey) is at their best, and the hilarity is all the more impressive for the fact that the film is almost entirely improvised.

9. You Can Count on Me-The always phenomenal Laura Linney carries the show (and earned herself a deserved Oscar nomination) as a high strung single mother (to the incredibly capable young Rory Culkin) who tries to hide her disappointment when her black sheep of a younger brother (Mark Ruffalo) returns to town, stirring up memories of the accident that left them orphans years ago. Matthew Broderick rounds out the cast as Linney's anal new boss to whom she finds herself oddly attracted to, even while they are at odds over how he manages her bank. An excellent study of co-dependence, the burden of familial ties, and the trials that make us who we are.

8. Meet the Parents-When Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) wants to ask Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo) to marry him, only one thing stands in the way: he must first ask her ex-CIA operative father (Robert DeNiro, realizing exactly how funny he can be) for permission. Along the way he encounters a toilet trained cat, Pam's ex-boyfriend (Owen Wilson), and airport security. Stiller balances physical comedy perfectly with snarky one liners to create a hilariously awkward weekend from hell.

7. In the Mood For Love-Wong Kar-Wai crafts a beautiful story of forbidden attraction between neighbors (Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung) married to other people in 1962 Hong Kong. Their relationship may be platonic, but their attraction to one another clearly runs deeper, and Kar-wai fills the film with enough romantic tension that when the couple's graze hands in the backseat of a cab your heart flutters with anticipation. Gorgeously shot and wonderfully constructed, In the Mood For Love is a phenomenal story of two people's unrequited love in the face of commitments made to people who no longer love them.

6.Memento-Director Christopher Nolan (of Batman Begins, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight fame) broke into the mainstream consciousness with this complex, twisty thriller. The story of Leonard (Guy Pearce) and his efforts to combat his short-term memory loss and solve the murder of his wife would be complex enough if it were told in straight-forward fashion. But the film unfolds in reverse, in five minute spurts, revealing what happened to Leonard before jumping back and revealing how he got to each place. Throw in the shady Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Teddy (Joe Pantoliano) whose loyalties are never sure and you get one of the most labrynthine, high-octane thrillers of all time.

5. Billy Elliot-The story of the titular teen (Jamie Bell) and his struggle to become a ballet dancer in the face of the strike that is putting his father (Gary Lewis) and brother (Jamie Draven) out of work may seem schmaltzy, and it is, but it packs a more emotional punch than you might expect. Billy is helped in his quest by dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson (an Oscar nominated Julie Walters) whose encouragement helps him to overcome adversity and gives him the strength to follow his dreams. Give the film a chance and you'll find yourself far more invested in the journey of Billy Elliot than the premise might lead you to believe.

4.Wonder Boys-Professor Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas) has been writing his latest novel for seven years"”its now over two thousand pages long and still not done. When his wife leaves him, his mistress and boss (Frances Mcdormand) announces she's pregnant, his agent (Robert Downey Jr.) comes to town to pressure him on the book, and an eccentric student (Toby Maguire) begins to entwine himself in Grady's life, things are about to come to a head. Vacillating in a pot-induced haze, Grady takes the student under his wing and between covering up for the murder of the dean's dog and losing a jacket once owned by Marilyn Monroe, the professor has his hands full. The film investigates the dangers of success, the politics of academia, and the beauty of second chances with a wry sense of humor and a heart in the right place.

3. O Brother, Where Art Thou?- One of the Coen Brothers most underrated films, O Brother, based on Homer's The Odyssey, tells the story of Everett McGill (a winning George Clooney), who, along with cynical Pete (John Turturro) and dim-witted Delmar (Tim Blake Nelseon), breaks out of prison in search of buried treasure. The trio gets into many adventures as they travel across the depression-era south. From becoming radio sensations to avoiding the temptations of the beautiful sirens, the three attempt to avoid the law and strike it rich. Endlessly witty and rewarding on multiple views, the film is at once a satire of the 1930's and a commentary on human nature in general.

2. Requiem for a Dream-The lives of a low-level drug dealer (Jared Leto), his best friend (Marlon Wayans), his girlfriend (Jennifer Connelly) and his mother (Oscar nominated Ellen Burstyn) unravel as they each sink deeper into a downward sprial of drug addiction and dying dreams. Not for the faint of heart, this movie will empty out your soul. Burstyn gives the performance of a lifetime and director Darren Aronofsky (Pi: Faith in Chaos, The Wrestler) commandingly documents the destruction of these compelling characters.

1. Almost Famous (Director's Cut)-The story of high schooler William Miller (Patrick Fugit) who nabs an assignment for Rolling Stone magazine to follow rising band Stillwater around the country and document their tour. Packed with nostalgia for '70's rock and roll and the mysterious bonds that form on the road, director Cameron Crowe's masterpiece seemlessly ties together the coming of age of William Miller with the systematic destruction and potential fall of Stillwater as tensions rise between the lead singer Jeff (Jason Lee) and the more popular guitarist Russell (Billy Crudup). Along for the ride is the enigmatic groupie Penny Lane (Oscar nominee Kate Hudson, in what appears to be the only great role she'll ever play) who catches the affections of William while trying to maintain an affair with Russell. At turns hilarious and heartbreaking, nostalgic and knowing, the movie is the perfect document of life on the road, and of what it feels like to be a band on the fringe of fame.
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