Swerb has his Top 200 List from 1970 - 2008, and I have my Top 100 List of All-Time, but let's take a different look at things, and appraise the best work of this new millennium, now in it's ninth hit year.
(And please spare my the semantics about the Millennium not starting until the year 2001. It's my column, and therefore my rules...and my Main Rule is that the new Millennium started on 2000).
I expect there will be many (many) moments where most of you will be questioning my sanity. Go to the boards and talk about it.
1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) - Peter Jackson's magnificent conclusion to a trilogy I never thought could be made ended up sweeping every award it was nominated for in the 2004 Oscars, including Best Picture. Some may have disagreed with the extended wrap-up, but after investing so much time and emotion in this tale, the Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, Wizards, and Men deserved this finale.
2. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) - While I have the entire LOTR trilogy combined at #2 overall in my All-Time Best List, here I'll split them. This was the movie that started it all, proving that the classic works of Tolkien actually could translate to the big screen, provided the right hand was at the helm.
3. Munich (2005) - An amazing, underappreciated masterpiece from Steven Spielberg about the work of Israeli agents in tracking down and punishing those responsible for the 1972 Olympic Massacre. Spielberg dares ask "was it worth the cost?" If you look closely enough, you'll see that his answer falls to the side of "yes, it was", but he doesn't hesitate to show the effect it had on the hunters, once they became the hunted.
4. The Departed (2006) - Truly inspired casting of several great actors. Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin, and Martin Sheen never strike a bad note amongst the lot of them in this tale of intrigue and betrayal amongst the Irish Mob in Boston, and the policemen trying to snuff them out. Martin Scorsese finally wins the long overdue Best Director Oscar.
5. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) - As the middle tale of the trilogy, this one was bound to pale a bit compared to the other two. However, it still ratcheted up the drama, setting the stage for the spectacular conclusion.
6. Juno (2007) - A truly moving and smile inducing story of a pregnant 16 year old trying to do the right thing by giving up her baby to a desperate couple. Amazing characters throughout, led by pint-sized Ellen Page in the lead role; a performance for the ages.
7. Mystic River (2003) - Another depiction of the shady side of Boston. Clint Eastwood once again shows his skills as a director, aided by powerful performances by Sean Penn (Oscar winning Best Actor) and Tim Robbins.
8. WALL-E (2008) - Pixar has never made a bad film, and the latest one about a lonely robot's quest for love and belonging will be remembered as a classic in the same vein as some of Disney's early animation like "Snow White" or "Bambi".
9. Children of Men (2006) - Apocalypse with a slight breath of hope as director Alfonso Cuarón depicts a world where women can no longer bear children, and what the effects of knowing that civilization will end in a generation can do to the people living through such times.
10. The Dark Knight (2008) - Soon to be the highest grossing movie not named Titanic. Christian Bale may star as Batman, but it's Heath Ledger's last major film role as the sociopath killer The Joker that mesmerizes.
11. Once (2007) - A simple tale of a busker in Dublin meeting a Czech pianist. Over a week, they talk, make music, flirt, and contemplate What It All Means. One of the most perfect endings ever in this brief (86 minutes) musical.
12. Michael Clayton (2007) - Tense legal drama that never steps foot in a courtroom, with George Clooney as the "fixer" for a large law firm, dealing with his mentor's mental breakdown near the end of a large class-action lawsuit.
13. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) - Another collaboration between director Tim Burton and star Johnny Depp, this one being a faithful adaptation of Steven Sondheim's macabre musical about an unjustly imprisoned barber's quest for revenge. Not for the squeamish.
14. Lost in Translation (2003) - Like "Once", a wonderfully crafted tale of two people connecting with each other just because they need someone to hold onto for a brief period of time. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson may seem mismatched as the aging movie star and the young photographer's wife bored out of their minds in Tokyo, but their chemistry is amazing.
15. Black Hawk Down (2001) - Ridley Scott's gripping tale of horror and heroism surrounding the true story of American soldiers outnumbered and trying to escape from heavily armed forces in Somalia.
16. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) - The superior companion piece to Clint Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers", this tells the tale of the Battle of Iwo Jima from the perspective of the Japanese Forces. The focus is not on the "right or wrong" of the battle, but on the human perspective, with Ken Watanabe delivering an incredible performance as the general in charge of the doomed occupation.
17. The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) (2006) - Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film is this surprisingly enthralling story of an East German Stasi officer as he becomes more involved than he had planned in the lives of an artistic couple he is spying on.
18. World Trade Center (2006) - Oliver Stone abandons his normal over-the-top approach with this touching story of two of the last men to be pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Center after the 911 attacks...looking at the good that could still be found on that horrific day.
19. Babel (2006) - Four interlocking tales from Mexico's talented director Alejandro González Inarritu about the ramifications of seemingly minor failures in communication.
20. Minority Report (2002) - Another extraordinary film from Steven Spielberg. Set in the not-so-distant future, Tom Cruise plays a police officer who arrests people based upon crimes that psychics say will happen in the future.
21. Eastern Promises (2007) - Naomi Watts as a London midwife trying to find the identity of a newborn girl, with Viggo Mortensen as a Russian mobster who takes an interest in her search. The second excellent teaming of Mortensen and director David Cronenberg.
22. Hotel Rwanda (2004) - Don Cheadle shines as Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu hotel manager who worked to save over a thousand Tutsi refugees from genocide in Rwanda. A powerful film like Schindler's List that will upset you due to man's inhumanity to man, but will move you by the unselfish acts of a real life hero.
23. Closer (2003) - Two couples in London, played by Clive Owen and Julia Roberts, Jude Law and Natalie Portman, who cheat and lie to get what (and who) they want. Possibly the best dramatic effort ever from Julia, and the first sign of greatness from Natalie.
24. Downfall (Der Untergang) (2004) - Another German language film with subtitles in the Top 25, this follows the last days of Hitler, told through the eyes of the secretary who was in the bunker with him and his cronies. An unforgettable performance by Bruno Ganz as the mad dictator.
25. Casino Royale (2006) - Daniel Craig takes over the Aston Martin and the tuxedo, giving us the best Bond since Sean Connery in this amazing reboot of the classic franchise, skipping the gadgets in favor of plot and characters.
26. Traffic (2000) - Like "Babel", "Crash", and "Syrianna", a one word title for a fascinating film with multiple plot lines and characters, this one focused on the drug trade.
27. 25th Hour 2002) - Spike Lee gets a bravura performance from Edward Norton as a convicted drug dealer enjoying his last night of freedom before reporting to prison.
28. Green Street Hooligans (2005) - Elijah Wood's first major role after LOTR, playing a wrongfully disgraced Harvard journalism major who moves to London and gets drawn into the world of violent English soccer gangs.
29. 3:10 to Yuma (2007) - Christian Bale and Russell Crowe as two men on opposite sides of the law and of fortune, who find that they may have found something in each other that was missing in their own lives.
30. Cast Away (2000) - Tom Hanks in what is practically a one-man show as a FedEx time management specialist stranded on a remote island for years.
31. The Queen (2006) - Helen Mirren's Oscar winning performance shines through in her portrayal as Queen Elizabeth, dealing with the aftermath of the death of Princess Diana.
32. Almost Famous (2000) - Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical tale of a 15 year old journalist for Rolling Stone magazine as he covers an up and coming rock band on the road, including the famous groupie Penny Lane.
33. There Will Be Blood (2007) - A tour de force from Daniel Day-Lewis as a ruthless California oil baron.
34. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) - He Who Shall Not Be Named stalks Harry and his friends, who also have to battle Dolores Umbridge, possibly the nastiest little smiling administrator ever seen on film.
35. Crash (2005) - The "love it or hate it" Oscar winning ensemble film about racism and its effects on interwoven characters in Los Angeles.
36. Little Children (2006) - Kate Winslet impresses as a subdued suburbia housewife who finds solace and comfort in an affair with a stay at home dad.
37. Artificial Intelligence (2001) - Spielberg channeling Stanley Kubrick in this futuristic tale of a robotic Pinocchio who just wants to be a real boy.
38. A History of Violence (2005) - Before "Eastern Promises", director David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen teamed up in this fascinating film about a small town diner owner who isn't what he seems to be.
39. V for Vendetta (2006) - Excellent adaptation by the Wachowski Brothers of Alan Moore's graphic novel about a masked vigilante waging a war of terror in a future, fascist Great Britain.
40. High Fidelity (2000) - John Cusack as a vinyl record store owner/DJ lamenting his past failures in love. Worth the rating for having a cameo from Bruce Springsteen, if nothing else.
41. Good Night and Good Luck (2005) - David Strathairn nails it as Edward R. Murrow, fighting the Good Fight in taking on Joe McCarthy during the height of the Red Scare.
42. Finding Forrester (2000) - Sean Connery as a J.D. Salinger type recluse author who brings out the best in a fledgling high school writer who is valued more for his basketball skills than his brain.
43. Inside Man (2006) - Denzel Washington and Clive Owens, both at the top of their game in this Spike Lee cat-n-mouse bank caper film that leaves you guessing the entire way.
44. Snatch (2000) - Fast and funny British caper film from Guy Ritchie about a stolen diamond, flesh eating pigs, and a gypsy bare-knuckles boxer (Brad Pitt, using a nearly indecipherable Irish accent).
45. No Country for Old Men (2007) - The Oscar winning movie from the Coen Brothers, featuring what will go down as one of the most evil characters ever; Anton Chigurh.
46. Sideways (2004) - The movie that brought Paul Giamatti his well deserved recognition as a top flight actor, in this dramedy about two friends out on a wine tour.
47. Batman Begins (2005) - Christopher Nolan re-energizes the Batman franchise, focusing on the start of the Caped Crusader's career.
48. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) - The first step in taking this franchise out of the category of children's movie, with renowned director Alfonso Cuarón introducing a level of darkness not previously seen.
49. From Hell (2001) - Johnny Depp as an opium addicted private eye investigating the murders committed by Jack the Ripper.
50. Gone Baby Gone (2007) - Who knew that Ben Affleck could be such a good director, and that little brother Casey Affleck could be a leading man? An excellent piece from the writer of "Mystic River"
51. Monster (2003) - Charlize Theron forsakes her looks and her glamour in her Oscar winning performance of a real life prostitute who becomes a serial killer.
52. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006) - Sacha Baron Cohen's anarchic "documentary" of a Kazakhstan reporter's journey to discover American rednecks and Pamela Sue Anderson.
53. Syrianna (2005) - George Clooney and Matt Damon, headline a large cast in a multiple-threaded story about oil, fundamentalism, poverty, and terrorism in the Middle East.
54. The Tailor of Panama (2001) - Geoffrey Rush and Jamie Lee Curtis as a husband and wife used by an unscrupulous spy, played against his 007 persona by Pierce Brosnan.
55. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) - The first Chinese language film to make it big in the United States, this movie thrilled audiences with its martial arts as dance imagery.
56. Open Range (2003) - Similar to "Unforgiven" in its gritty, unromantic portrayal of the Old West. As always, put Kevin Costner on a horse, or as a jock, and you have a great film.
57. Cinderella Man (2005) - True life story of down and out boxer Jim Braddock's inspirational comeback, with Russell Crowe giving another incredible performance.
58. Master and Commander (2003) - Russell Crowe again as the swashbuckling early 19th Century Captain Jack Aubrey, pursuing a French war-vessel.
59. The Incredibles (2004) - Pixar scores again with it's most adult oriented film yet, about a family of super heroes trying to exist in the real world, until they are called back into action.
60. Road to Perdition (2002) - Tom Hanks playing against type as a hit man on the run with his young son, hiding from his former mentor (brilliantly played by Paul Newman).
61. Ratatouille (2007) - Who would have ever thought that a movie about a rat cooking, and the French in general could be so charming? Once again, Pixar comes through.
62. The Illusionist (2006) - Edward Norton as a turn of the century Austrian illusionist, daring to flaunt the wrath of a powerful noble in his quest for love.
63. Catch Me If You Can (2002) - Hanks and DiCaprio in a deceptively charming action/comedy/drama based on fact, with Hanks' as an FBI agent pursuing DiCaprio as a teenaged forgerer who successfully impersonates a doctor, pilot, and businessman.
64. Capote (2005) - Philip Seymour Hoffman's Oscar winning turn as the famed author during his writing of "In Cold Blood".
65. Pan's Labyrinth (2006) - Guillermo del Toro's amazing imagery dominates this tale of a young girl in Fascist Spain, dealing with a sadistic step-father and a fantastic (and creepy) underworld.
66. Spider-Man (2002) - Tobey Maguire brings to life the arachnid superpowered teenager.
67. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) - Impressive adaptation of the classic children's tale from C.S. Lewis
68. Gladiator (2000) - Highly entertaining re-introduction of the Sword and Sandal epic.
69. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - The introduction of one of the greatest action film characters ever in Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow.
70. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) - Ralph Fiennes comes aboard as Lord Voldemort, as Harry (and the audience) must deal with much more adult themes.
71. The Bourne Identity (2002) - Matt Damon surprises as a very believable super-skilled CIA assassin who is dealing with amnesia.
72. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) - Excellent conclusion of the first arc of films.
73. The Bourne Supremacy (2004) - The best thing about this trilogy was the consistency seen throughout.
74. Sin City (2005) - A completely different way of telling a story based upon a graphic novel, putting real actors in a comic-book setting.
75. Collateral (2004) - Wonderful chemistry between Tom Cruise as a hitman, and Jamie Foxx as the cab driver who must shuttle him from one killing to another.
76. In the Valley of Elah (2007) - Iraq War based movies have all failed, but this mystery about a father's quest for answers concerning his AWOL son deserved a bigger audience.
77. Star Wars - Episode 3: The Return of the Sith (2005) - The second trilogy was such a disappointment compared to the first, but George Lucas salvaged it a bit with the final film.
78. Seabiscuit (2003) - Everyone loves an underdog story, especially when it's a true story about a horse, jockey, owner, and trainer all needing redemption.
79. Spider-Man 2 (2004) - A much better villain that the first one, with Alfred Molina standing out as the villainous/virtuous Dr. Octopus.
80. The Cooler (2003) - William H. Macy gets his long overdue chance to carry a movie as a Las Vegas "cooler", a man who can spark bad luck in a hot player just by being near him.
81. 300 (2007) - Like "Sin City", this live action cartoon is an over-the-top adrenaline fueled blast.
82. O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000) - Another off-beat movie from the Coen Brothers, based VERY loosely on Homer's "The Odyssey", set in Depression Era America.
83. Finding Neverland (2004) - Tearjerker with Johnny Depp as playwright Sir James Matthew Barrie and the family that served as his inspiration for writing "Peter Pan".
84. Iron Man (2008) - Robert Downey Jr. in what may be the best performance ever by an actor playing a superhero.
85. Lucky Number Slevin (2006) - Josh Hartnett not sucking in this "Usual Suspects" styled crime caper, teaming up and running from Bruce Willis.
86. We Were Soldiers (2002) - Mel Gibson in the true story of the first major battle of the Vietnam War
87. Million Dollar Baby (2004) - Completely depressing, but brilliantly directed and acted film about an aspiring female boxer, and the crusty old trainer who takes her on.
88. X-Men United (2003) - A slight improvement from the first film, one that focuses more on the team dynamics of this group of mutants.
89. Gangs of New York (2002) - The first teaming of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, plus a dynamic turn by Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill the Butcher.
90. Thirteen Days (2000) - Fascinating insider look into the Kennedy White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
91. American Gangster (2007) - Great acting and a great script in a film that would have been rated much higher had Ridley Scott not fabricated so many facts about real life gangster Frank Lucas.
92. X-Men (2000) - Proof that movies based on comic books can address serious issues.
93. Bend It Like Beckham (2001) - Surprising hidden gem that introduced the world to Keira Knightley
94. Changing Lanes (2001) - Excellent character study with Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson playing two men who are neither good nor evil, just too obsessed for their own good after an innocent accident.
95. The Italian Job (2003) - Fun caper movie with an exceptional cast. The inspiration of my wife's (fulfilled) dream of owning a Mini Cooper.
96. The Bucket List (2007) - Pure sentimental mush, but with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman's chemistry, you won't mind.
97. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) - About as weird of a movie as you can find, but Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet made it work.
98. Finding Nemo (2003) - Yes, it's a kids' movie, but it was just so well done.
99. The Upside of Anger (2005) - Joan Allen and Kevin Costner display some amazing chemistry about an abandoned wife boozing and venting her way to acceptance of her situation.
100. The Bank Job (2008) - Surprisingly good caper film base upon a real life London robbery.
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