Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Favorites of the 2000's: 2004

Spider-Man 2: I know, I know. You must be getting tired of superhero movies making these lists. But honestly, Spidey 2 is still the gold standard for some people when it comes to the genre. It was Sam Raimi at the absolute top of his game, crafting a better film than the original and populating this one with a relatable, believable villain and utilizing the best technology at his disposal to create the best (OK, the only) Doc Ock we've ever seen on the big screen. Great flick.

Troy: I minored in Classical Studies (aka Greek and Roman mythology) in college, so naturally I was stoked when I found out an epic adaptation of the Trojan War was hitting the silver screen. Needless to say, this movie isn't the most well-respected among critics or the most accurate portrayal of the quasi-historical events, but that doesn't mean that I can't love the hell out of it. The casting was pretty great (standout performance? Eric Bana), and the solid direction from Wolfgang Petersen makes this one a movie I certainly don't mind rewatching.

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy: I'd argue that 2004 was the best year for pure comedy in the entire decade. With Anchorman and Dodgeball coming out in the same summer, audiences everywhere were busting their guts at the antics of the Frat Pack, a comedy crew that dominated the decade. Will Ferrell delivers his career-defining performance (to me, at least) as the buffoonish San Diego anchorman and spits out so many quotable lines it's unwieldy to list them all here. I'd almost guarantee that you still hear at least one Anchorman quote a month.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story: I spent years battling myself in my head over which was funnier between Dodgeball and Anchorman until I finally realized that it truly doesn't matter - both films are spectacles of hilarity, infinitely quotable, and laugh out loud funny almost all the way through. They hold up on repeat viewings (especially well if there's some time between viewings so you forget the small jokes), and redefined the comedy landscape of the aughts. Vince Vaughn has never been better; after a string of holiday-themed movies and average comedies, I'm still holding out hope that he reaches his peak yet again in the years to come.

Collateral: Michael Mann enthusiasts may hate me for this, but I like this movie more than Heat. Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx were fantastic, and Jada Pinkett-Smith did an admirable job not making me hate her character (an unfortunate pattern from the actress and her son). The style, tone, and execution of this movie are flawless, and Mann's digital filmmaking is on masterful display here. I can't wait until this movie comes out on Blu-ray, because I'll be first in line to pick it up.

Garden State: It seems cliche, but this movie affected me in a very personal way. Zach Braff is astoundingly confident behind the camera in his directorial debut, and characteristically charming in front of it as the lead actor. The emotional beats this movie hits are powerful and genuine, and Natalie Portman secured her spot as one of my favorite actresses with her performance as the "manic pixie dream girl" against which all others must be measured.

The Village: Another unpopular choice, M. Night Shyamalan's The Village had me from the get-go and never released its grip. I bought the entire story, never once complaining about predictability or ridiculousness; this movie captures an eerie sense of the unknown, and the spectacular Pennsylvania locations add to the heightened tensions of the woods surrounding the village. Complain about the "twist" ending all you wantm but the climactic shot where Ivy Walker is alone in the woods and the camera reveals that she is, in fact, NOT alone - I was on the edge of my seat. More than anything, the uneasy vibe that the film emanates is what keeps me coming back. Also, this movie was my introduction to Bryce Dallas Howard, and for that I am thankful.


Jacob said...

I credit much of Spider-Man 2's success to its screenwriter, Alvin Sargent, Oscar-winner in 1980 for adapting a personal favorite of mine, Ordinary People, to the screen.

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