That time is approaching where all of us movie bloggers begin to ponder and discuss our favorite films of the year. We put together Top 10 lists that some people dislike but I personally love. That leads into awards season highlighted by the Oscars. In light of that I was thinking about past Oscar Best Picture winners specifically since the year 2000. That lead to this installment of the Phenomenal 5. Now Oscar’s choices are always subject to good debate and my list is no exception. Therefore calling this the definitive list would be silly. But I have no problem calling these five Best Picture winners simply phenomenal.
#5 – “A Beautiful Mind”
Ron Howard did some amazing things in 2001’s “A Beautiful Mind”. He puts us in the head of a brilliant man struggling with a mental disorder and creates a level of empathy only captured in truly great films. Russell Crowe shows off his immense acting range and a wonderful supporting cast featuring Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, and Paul Bettany make things even better. The film has been criticized for its inaccuracies and by those who don’t care for Howard’s style. I think it’s a beautiful movie that tells an incredible story.
#4 – “Slumdog Millionaire”
In 2008 “Slumdog Millionaire” was the movie that seemed to come out of nowhere. The vision of British director Danny Boyle was so vivid and energetic and the story was captivating. I remember the debate at the time particularly from those who couldn’t connect with the film. Personally I found it to be a magnetic, poetic, searing, and heartbreaking experience. I’ll give the detractors this, there are moments where the movie stumbles, but overall “Slumdog” is still a great film both from a story and style perspective.
#3 – “The Artist”
My appreciation for “The Artist” is hard to express in one simple paragraph. Looking at it one could say it was a film made for awards. I think that is cutting it short. Director Michel Hazanivicius deserves a ton of credit, not just for having the guts to make a silent picture in a finicky modern movie era, but for doing it with incredible detail and precision. And then there is the performances especially from Jean Dujardin. Watching it again only impressed me more and the perfection of his casting is undeniable. I love “The Artist”.
#2 – “Gladiator”
Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott teamed up for 2000’s “Gladiator” and the results were magical. Scott’s epic-sized direction and Crowe’s period-perfect performance drove what would become an enormous box office hit. The film had its critics including Roger Ebert who called it dull and indistinct. I couldn’t possibly disagree with him more. “Gladiator” has so many scenes that I adore and Russell Crowe owns the screen every time the camera is on him. Pulse-pounding action, glorious epic scale, and a fine central story. I’m a big fan of this film.
#1 – “No Country for Old Men”
Frequent readers of Keith & the Movies shouldn’t be a bit surprised to see the Coen Brothers’ near perfect modern day classic “No Country for Old Men” at the top of my list. For me few movies from the last fifteen years can compete with it. Joel and Ethan Coen’s faithful adaptation of the stellar Cormac McCarthy novel is a visual masterpiece laced with their signature quirky humor and gritty tone. Every performance hits the right note, and there isn’t a wasted scene in the entire film. I’ll say it again, “No Country for Old Men” is as close to perfection as I’ve seen in years.
So there you have my five top five Best Picture winners since the year 2000. What about you? See something that I missed? Please take time to share your thoughts in the comments section below.