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Bitter Balcony's Top Films of the 2000's(And The Wicker Man remake is nowhere in sight!)


Bitter Balcony Top Ten Films of the Decade

Note: List goes by year of film's release.

1. Memento (2000)
Christopher Nolan established his directing dominance with this noir thriller that proves sometimes the best place to begin a film is at its ending. Not only is "Memento" a backward puzzle in the head of short-term memory victim Leonard (Guy Pearce), it also sets cinema free of the constrictions of time. It was great to see that Nolan, originally seen as a strict art director, would save the Batman franchise from that awful thing Joel Shumaker did.

2. Amores Perros (2000)
Director Alejandro González Iñárritu and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga put Mexico back on the cinematic map for the first time since the golden heyday of the 40s and 50s. "Amores Perros" is the mature "Pulp Fiction,” a triad of stories on the social classes of the Aztec Nation that intersect in a devastating car crash. Whether the story follows Octavio (Gael García Bernal), a lovestruck dog fighter or severely injured celebrity Valeria (Goya Toledo) or El Chivo (the superb Emilio Echevarría), a former professor turned disgraced terrorist and hit-man, the bonds of love, lust, regret and hope connect these characters in their loss of grace.

3. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)
This trilogy based on the works of J.R Tolkien and directed by Peter Jackson laid the groundwork for how blockbuster filmmaking should be done. Jackson took on themes of nobility, sacrifice and friendship with plenty of humanity – not an easy feat considering that Middle-Earth consists of Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves and Ring-Wraiths. This trilogy is not only grand, but unlike most “event” films of the 2000s, it is timeless.

4. In The Bedroom (2001)
Todd Field is the most underrated American filmmaker of the 2000s. Field, a former supporting actor most notable as the pianist in "Eyes Wide Shut,” is a spectacular talent but is not regarded in the same breath of other independent directors. "In The Bedroom" is a New England tragedy poet Robert Lowell would have been proud of. Influenced by an Ingmar Bergman sense of irony and retribution, Matt Fowler (Tom Wilkinson should have won the Oscar over Denzel Washington in "Training Day" for this role) must come to terms with his wounded wife Ruth (Sissy Spacek should have won the Oscar over Halle Berry in "Monster's Ball") who blames him over the deadly outcome of their only son Frank (Nick Stahl) by his older girlfriend's Natalie (Marisa Tomei) abusive ex-husband. Matt and Ruth face the regrets of their relationship with their deceased son while clashing over the unspoken aspects of their long marriage. This film’s power is in Matt's transformation from a levelheaded man into one who is quietly left with revenge in his heart.

5. The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
In a great decade for animated features such as “Shreck,” The Incredibles, “Up” and “Wall-E,” how did this lesser-praised French animated tale win us over? While the Pixar and Dreamworks movies were excellent, it took them time to instill the adult themes into their movies. Almost as if experimenting with an audience still suspicious over the expectations of what animation can be. "The Triplets of Belleville" jumped the gun first, creating a visceral and twisted Tim Burton-like world of a serene France and congested Belleville (a lightly disguised jazz-era New York City). Madame Souza travels with her loyal dog Bruno into the core of Belleville to rescue her bicycle-trotting athlete grandson Champion. She encounters hamburgers, gangsters, and a trio of old divas, the Belleville sisters, who help Madame Souza with her daring plan to save Champion. The movie is mostly silent, which adds a touch of nostalgia and eeriness to the film. Also, "The Triplets of Belleville" has the most touching ending of any movie this decade.

6. Oldboy (2003)
Chan-wook Park's revenge yarn about Oh Dae-Su (Min-sik Choi), as an average man imprisoned in a hotel room for 15 years. As his desperation turns him into a muscle-bound fighting brick, Oh Dae-Su is suddenly freed and left with five days to discover the culprit behind his captivity. As he partners up with young Mido(Hye-jeong Kang), Oh Dae-Su begins to connect the pieces of his ordeal with a mysterious and forgotten transgression of his past, linking him to entrepreneur Woo-jin Lee(Ji-tae Yu). What distinguishes "Oldboy" from other revenge films is the moral stance Park makes despite all the craziness on display – one that proves that the futility of vengeance causes the destruction of men's souls. And it kicks ass.

7. The Lives of Others (2006)
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's debut takes place in 1980's East Germany and Stasi surveillance ruled over the lives of men. The late Ulrich Muhe plays Wielser ,one of those agents sent to listen to suspected dissident artist Gerog (Sebastian Koch), who secretly holds a relationship with Christa-Maria (Martina Gedeck), the wannabe paramour of Wielser's superior. "The Lives of Others" has a style very keen to 1970s cinema, detailed and quiet in its tension. Ultimately, it is a sad reminder of the remains of a country torn by Cold War politics, clearly played out by a destitute Wiesler roaming the streets of Germany like a ghost.

8. Children Of Men (2006)
The versatile Alfonso Cuaron, one of the Mexican three-headed monster of Inarritu and Guillermo Del Toro, brought a guerrilla-style direction to a not-so-distant future where man has lost the ability to procreate and natural order has been raised to the highest peak of war and segregation. "Children Of Men,” based on the sci-fi novel by P.D James, shows what could happen to humanity when desperation and survival wins over compassion and right. Clive Owen's Theo is the last person to be heroic in the circumstance he gets involved in, but as the unwilling escort of the first pregnant woman in years, Owen shines in making drunkard Theo sympathetic and redeeming. Also, this film has scenes so real that it looks like a documentary, perhaps Cuar€n's warning of things to come.

9. No Country For Old Men (2007)
The Coen brothers took Cormac McCarthy's western crime novel by its Texas-sized horns and corralled it masterfully. "No Country For Old Men" is lean and mean, but manages to find humor and empathy in its bleakness. Using noir archetypes, the likable anti-hero Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin), the stern sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) and elusive and dangerous villain Anton Chiguh (Javier Bardem), the Coen brothers’ caper is creepily and methodically developed. The greatness of this film is how the Coens pull the rug under us and choose to be anti-climatic, an exhibition of their risk-taking blend of irony and morbid humor.

10. The Dark Knight (2008)
The sequel to Nolan's Batman redux was a phenomenon beyond any of our hopes. I expected a good summer movie, perhaps with the solemn reminder of what could have been in store for the late Heath Ledger. But Nolan took the Caped Crusader into the new century as a vigilante with questionable methods, and it turn, redefined the comic-book hero as a figure not far from the ranks of a Greek tragedy. Certainly comic book heroes are part of American mythology, and to update Batman, Two-Face, and The Joker into our current world of political and ethical uncertainty is a brave and big step for any storyteller. Nolan never loses focus that the film is also pop entertainment, and doesn’t let on up the intensity. With "The Dark Knight,” Nolan closes his 2000 body of work as the decade's best Big Movie director.

Source of the Bitter: John Rojas

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