And here we are at the end of the Naughts; the Decade of the Sequel. And the Decade of the Remake. And the Decade of Franchise Films.
It could be worse...it could be the 1980s again.
One note on all of my lists: RELAX, PEOPLE!! This is not an Edict handed down by God...it is not the Last Word on Movie Excellence. It is MY opinion as a movie critic, which gets me a really bitchin' cup of coffee down at Starbucks...as long as I throw in about five bucks.
Your opinion is bound to be different. At least I hope so, to some degree, anyway. In fact, if there aren't at least five movies on this list that make you shake your head in disbelief of my obvious stupidity and poor taste, then you need to get out more often.
Even my opinion is different than it was when I last attempted this list, as I'm continually looking back and making changes as new films are viewed, and as second and third looks back at other films cause me to re-evaluate their position.
That said....let's get on with the countdown (thank you, Casey Kasem). We'll have the Top 100, the Worst 25, and the Top 10 Guilty Pleasures.
The Top 100 Movies of the Decade
1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001 - 2003) - No, you cannot separate them into separate films (although I did try to do so in an earlier list). Peter Jackson's magnificent trio of movies is something that I never thought could be made. The final film ended up sweeping every award it was nominated for in the 2004 Oscars, including Best Picture. I fear PJ may never be able to come close to re-creating the magic seen in this series, but that's a small price to pay for something so amazing.
2. 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.
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. Lost in Translation (2003) - 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.
5. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) - This movie was almost released straight-to-video. ("Inconceivable!" shouts Vizzini). Director Danny Boyle struck gold with this familiar tale of redemption and "getting the girl" told in a most unusual fashion; through the eyes of an 18 year old orphan's survival of the mean streets of Mumbai, India.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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. The first of several foreign language movies you'll see on this list (which is quite amazing, as I'm don't really watch that many foreign films).
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. Up in the Air (2009) - Director Jason Reitman's second film on the list. George Clooney is brilliant as a carefree man spending 325 days a year on the road as a consultant hired to fire people due to the clients being too spineless. Despite the somber topic, it is a wonderful character study, with a lot of heart, and even more intelligence.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. Avatar (2009) - James Cameron takes movie making technology for as big of a quantum leap forward as Steven Speilberg did in 1993 with "Jurassic Park". A movie that is one of the rare events that can truly be called a "Spectacle".
16. Frost/Nixon (2008) - Ron Howard successfully adapts the award winning Peter Morgan play about the interviews of the disgraced former President by the lightly regarded British TV host David Frost. Despite everyone knowing how it was to end, it is still riveting and suspenseful to watch.
17. 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.
18. WALL-E (2008) - Pixar has never made a bad film, and this 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".
19. 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 ("A History of Violence").
20. The Dark Knight (2008) - The highest grossing U.S. 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.
21. 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
22. 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.
23. 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.
24. 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. Surprisingly touching at times...other times painfully difficult to watch.
25. Invictus (2009) - Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon in a Clint Eastwood directed film about Nelson Mandela's first year as the leader of South Africa after Apartheid, and the national rugby team that would pull the country together for the first time in the World Cup competition.
26. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
27. World Trade Center (2006)
28. Hotel Rwanda (2004)
29. Minority Report (2002)
30. Babel (2006)
31. The Queen (2006)
32. Blackhawk Down (2001)
33. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
34. Cast Away (2000)
35. There Will Be Blood (2007)
36. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
37. Crash (2005)
38. Revolutionary Road (2008)
39. A History of Violence (2005)
40. V for Vendetta (2006)
41. High Fidelity (2000)
42. Good Night and Good Luck (2005)
43. Star Trek (2009)
44. Inside Man (2006)
45. Snatch (2000)
46. Inglorius Basterds (2009)
47. Sideways (2004)
48. Batman Begins (2005)
49. Little Children (2006)
50. Finding Forrester (2000)
51. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
52. From Hell (2001)
53. Gone Baby Gone (2007)
54. Monster (2003)
55. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
56. Syrianna (2005)
57. The Tailor of Panama (2001)
58. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
59. Open Range (2003)
60. Master and Commander (2003)
61. The Incredibles (2004)
62. The Illusionist (2006)
63. Road to Perdition (2002)
64. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
65. Ratatouille (2007)
66. Gran Torino (2008)
67. Cinderella Man (2005)
68. No Country for Old Men (2007)
69. Traffic (2000)
70. Catch Me if You Can (2002)
71. Capote (2005)
72. Borat (2006)
73. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
74. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
75. Gladiator (2000)
76. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
77. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
78. The Bourne Identity (2002)
79. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
80. The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
81. Sin City (2005)
82. Collateral (2004)
83. In the Valley of Elah (2007)
84. Seabiscuit (2003)
85. The Cooler (2003)
86. 300 (2007)
87. O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000)
88. Finding Neverland (2004)
89. Iron Man (2008)
90. Lucky Number Slevin (2006)
91. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2009)
92. Spider-Man (2002)
93. The Bucket List (2007)
94. Up (2009)
95. Big Fish (2003)
96. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
97. Chicago (2002)
98. Changing Lanes (2002)
99. The Bank Job (2008)
100. State of Play (2009)
The 25 Worst Movies of the Decade
Bear a few things in mind on this list.
First: You won't find comedies here. The reason is that humor is so subjective and taste so widespread that you really can't say something definitively is or is not funny...although I'm sure we'll all agree that "The Love Guru" and "Witless Protection" were really crappy movies.
Second: I'm not listing movies that I, nor anyone else in the free world, saw. Granted; we all know that Madonna's crapfest "Swept Away" sucked...same with Mariah Carey in "Glitter". To say nothing of pretty much everything Eddie Murphy put out this decade ("Pluto Nash", "Imagine That", "Meet Dave", "Norbit", etc, etc, etc).
Third: No sequels in this list. Once again, it's just too easy, as most sequels blow chunks.
So these are all movies that I was stupid enough to go out and see. Please take my word for these...you really don't want to waste one minute of your lives watching any of them.
1. The Happening (2008) - M. Night Shyamalan hitting rock bottom with this retched tale of plants "revolting" and releasing toxins in the air that make people kill themselves in gruesome ways. I was tempted to slit my throat halfway through.
2. 2012 (2009) - Roland Emmerich is in close competition with M. Night and Michael Bay as the Worst Director Anywhere (not named Uwe Boll).
3. Battlefield Earth (2000) - I am embarrassed to admit that I saw this at the theater. This was at a very low point in my life, so please forgive me...although I doubt I'll ever forgive John Travolta and L. Ron Hubbard.
4. Smokin Aces (2006) - My very first Spergon Wynn graded review.
5. 10,000 B.C. (2008) - Roland Emmerich again in a movie that is as far away from Rachel Welch's fur lined bikini film 1,000,000 B.C. as Rosie O'Donnell is from Scarlett Johannson.
6. Lady in the Water (2006) - M. Night again in a tale where he cast himself as the person destined to save the world. I think I'd rather let Emmerich's "2012" supervolcanoes fry my eyes out.
7. Poseidon (2006) - Maybe I should have said "no lame remakes on the list".
8. Gigli (2003) - Again...don't ask me why I watched this. Maybe it was just that I couldn't believe that it was as bad as they said. It was.
9. Catwoman (2004) - OK...I know why I watched this...Halle Berry in a tight leather costume. Wasn't worth it.
10. Speed Racer (2008) - How the Wachowski Brothers have fallen since they first came out with "The Matrix".
11. Lions for Lambs (2007) - I'm sure that even Keith Olbermann and Cindy Sheehan found this to be the most boring film ever made.
12. This Island (2005) - I was thinking that this would be great, with Ewan McGregor at the height of his celebrity, and Scarlett Johansson coming off from "Lost in Translation" and "Match Point". Should have paid more attention to the director...Michael Bay.
13. Driven (2001) - Found this Sly Stallone/Burt Reynolds movie while surfing channels one boring post-football Sunday. Should have just watched infomercials.
14. The Cell (2000) - Remember back at the start of the decade when Jennifer Lopez was considered a star? This was the movie that made people finally wake up to the fact that she is totally talentless.
15. Pearl Harbor (2001) - Michael Bay, Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett. A virtual Bermuda Triangle of Suck.
16. Alexander (2004) - Not even copious amounts of gratuitous nudity from a very hot and buff Rosario Dawson could make this Oliver Stone debacle worth watching.
17. What Lies Beneath (2000) - Harrison Ford hasn't made a decent movie since "Air Force One" in 1997. This one just stands out as exceptionally bad considering the pedigree (Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert Zemeckis)
18. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) - Lamest Science Fiction Movie Ever.
19. Eagle Eye (2008) - Had moments of decency, and then the whole thing fell apart in plot twist so stupid that even Roland Emmerich was saying, "I can't believe that".
20. Pathfinder (2007) - The movie that was to make Karl Urban a "star" after his role as Eomer in LOTR. Not quite...he needed to wait until he could play Dr. McCoy in "Star Trek".
21. The Prestige (2006) - The movie on this list I'm most likely to catch grief about. I don't care...the out-of-nowhere sci-fi twist at the end ruined it.
22. The Spirit (2008) - Perhaps the worst adaptation of a graphic novel ever made.
23. Van Helsing (2004) - Dumbest Vampire movie of the Decade.
24. Righteous Kill (2008) - If you put Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino together, you expect something great...not something crappy.
25. Mission to Mars (2000) - One giant WTF? film.
The 10 Best Guilty Pleasures of the Decade
Yes, I should probably be ashamed of myself for really liking these films...but I'm not.
1. Oceans 11 (2001) - No real reason to not hate this movie. But I can't help but enjoy it.
2. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) - Alan Rickman was the best part, voicing Marvin, the chronically depressed robot. When I was at Sea World last month, I kept singing to myself "So long, and thanks for all the fish"
3. Eight Below (2006) - I'm a dog lover...why else would a Paul Walker movie be here?
4. Taken (2009) - Bryan Mills might even be able to kick Jack Bauer's ass.
5. Moulin Rouge! (2001) - Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman singing a medley of 70s and 80s pop tunes on top of a giant elephant statue. What more could you ask for? (Voted top movie of the Naughts to watch while under the influence of some mind altering substance or another).
6. A Knight's Tale (2001) - Dumbest knight movie ever...but so enjoyable to watch, especially Paul Bettany as Geoffrey Chaucer channeling Michael Buffer.
7. The Italian Job (2003) - Where my wife first decided that she must own a Mini Cooper. And she drives it like she was in the movie.
8. Love Actually (2003) - Oh, no he DIDN'T put a Hugh Grant movie here, did he? Yeah, but you get a very cougarish Laura Linney topless, and a cute British girl completely naked...so it has that going for it, which is nice.
9. Bend It Like Beckham (2003) - Might be my favorite soccer movie ever. Two words to Keira Knightley, however: EAT SOMETHING!
10. RocknRolla (2008) - Least seen Guy Ritchie London Mob Movie, but a lot of fun.