Several months ago I wrapped up my year-by-year look at the films of the 1980s. Instead of just falling in line and jumping to the 90s, I thought I would skip a decade and save it for later. Today I starting my look at the 2000s from a Phenomenal 5 perspective. The year 2000 was a very intriguing movie year especially for the ladies. A number of ‘Girl Power’ stinkers popped up (“Bring It On”, “Coyote Ugly”, “Charlie’s Angels”), but we also got several strong and memorable female leads (Juliette Binoche in “Chocolat”, Julia Roberts in “Erin Brokovich”, Ellen Burston in “Requiem for a Dream”).
But it was also a very strong year for some of Hollywood’s biggest actors as today’s list will show. Overall it was a year rich with variety so I wouldn’t call this the definitive list. But still, there is no denying that these five movies from the year 2000 were nothing short of Phenomenal.
#5 – “O Brother, Where Art Thou”
Whenever is see “written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen” my enthusiasm shoots through the roof. In 2000 the filmmaking brothers gave us a deep south action comedy set during The Great Depression. So many things contribute to this film’s success. The impeccable locations brought through the film’s Oscar nominated cinematography. The period perfect music. Great performances from Clooney, Turturro, and Nelson. And of course that razor-sharp Coen brothers humor. It all makes for a fabulously funny experience.
#4 – “The Patriot”
Many arguments could be made that Rolland Emmerich’s “The Patriot” deals too heavily in melodrama. Some critics have griped about its historical inaccuracies. Both criticisms may have merit but that doesn’t stop the film from being a rousing and emotional experience. “The Patriot” has its big action moments and a truckload of drama, but at the heart is a relationship between a war-weary father scarred from his past and his seven children. The Revolutionary War swirls in the background and it often comes more front and center, but ultimately it’s Gibson’s conflicted and tormented character that wins me over.
#3 – “Memento”
Christopher Nolan has established himself as one of the most ambitious and compelling working directors. His mind-bending projects stand out for taking chances and always trying something new and fresh. That exact same approach is what earned him attention in 2000 when he released “Memento”. Everything about the film is unique. Even its structure stands out. It tells its story through two timelines visually differentiated – one is in color, the other in black-and-white. Nolan weaves together what could have been an utter disaster. Instead it is a true gem and the launching point of a great filmmaker’s career.
#2 – “Cast Away”
It’s hard to verbalize my fascination with this movie. I remember first seeing it and being so intensely engrossed in its story of a man stranded on a deserted island. But the movie gives us more than that. There is also a deep flowing emotional undercurrent that gives an interesting weight to everything we see. Tom Hanks is fabulous both in his physical transformation and in humanizing the many struggles his character faces. For the majority of the film there is no one else but Hanks and he never loses the audience. It is truly brilliant work in a brilliant movie.
#1 – “Gladiator”
No movie of 2000 sucked me in, excited me, or left as big of an impression as Ridley Scott’s period epic “Gladiator”. For me “Gladiator” encapsulates why cinema is such a powerful and potent medium. Scott is able to transport us back to the Roman Empire. The action sequences are both brutal and beautiful. The story is exciting and multifaceted. It’s a story of loss. It’s a story of survival. It’s a story of vengeance. And then there is the rugged and charismatic performance from Russell Crowe – perfectly cast and perfectly in tune with his character. It’s such a phenomenal movie and for me it was the clear #1 for the list.
So there are five phenomenal movies from the year 2000. What say you? There were several great films that I hated to leave off. Would they make your list? Please take time and share your thoughts in the comments section below.