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My Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2001

Time to set the time machine to 2001, a year that like many others had a great deal of great films to offer. There’s a nice mix to be had with this list, I think. Sure, it leans slightly towards comedy as my lists tend do – although there’s nothing here that i’d classify strictly as a laugh-out-loud type of movie – but there is some international variety. USA, France, Spain and Norway are all represented in one way or another.

I don’t normally do honorable mentions for these lists, but I do need to give a shout-out to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The trilogy as a whole is a remarkably ambitious cinematic accomplishment which does such a great job of bringing the world of the novels to life. Both The Two Towers and The Return of the King barely missed out on spots on their respective year lists. The Fellowship of the Ring – my personal favorite of the three – was sitting at #9 on this list at first draft. Then along came a movie I hadn’t seen before (#7), and Fellowship got bumped down. And then I realized a teriffic film I thought belonged to 2000 was actually released in 2001 (#2), and just like that, Fellowship dropped off. So an honorable mention goes out to that film and, by extension, the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy.

On to the list proper. As always, this is 2001 as listed on IMDB to avoid confusion with international release dates.

10 – HUMAN NATURE (Michel Gondry)

“Remember: when in doubt, don’t ever do what you really want to do.”

The most overlooked of the films written by Charlie Kaufman, Human Nature is a movie of many questions about – of course – human nature. What’s fun is the strange ways in which it goes about asking them. The central characters are a scientist (Tim Robbins) trying to teach mice to have a formal dinner, a man (Rhys Ifans) who grew up in the wilderness thinking himself to be an ape, and a woman (Patricia Arquette) who voluntarily abandoned civilization as an adult due to feeling out of place because of her thick body hair. This story proves to be a good fit for Michel Gondry, here making his feature film debut and immediately establishing his unique style – how many directors would go with a sudden Disney-esque song number in a film like this? Human Nature is both funny and thought-provoking, and it deserves more attention than it tends to get.

9 – A KNIGHT’S TALE (Brian Helgeland)

“Now that I got their attention, you go and win their hearts.”

Wikipedia describes this as an action-adventure film. This is false. A Knight’s Tale is very much a sports movie, with all the familiar story elements and tropes associated with the genre. It just so happens to take place in medieval times, with the sport in question being jousting. What makes the film stand out even more is the anachronistic music. Here we have a dance scene in at the royal court set to David Bowie’s “Golden Years”, and joust audiences clapping along to Queen’s “We Will Rock You”. Heath Ledger makes for an effective protagonist, Shannyn Sossamon is as radiant as ever as his love interest, and Paul Bettany and Alan Tyduk as comedic sidekicks take turns to steal the movie. Often hilarious, always feel-good. A Knight’s Tale never fails to put a smile on my face.

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Posted by on 25 January, 2012 in Lists, Top 10 of a year

 

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Some of my favorite Ebert quotes

There are times when I’m discussing films online or writing a blog post that I hesitate to say something really apt and true about the movie. Not because it wouldn’t be a great thing to say, but because I know I didn’t think of it myself, at least not consciously. More often than not, it’s from the mind of Roger Ebert.

I’m a big fan of Ebert’s writing, due in equal parts to what he has to say and to the way he says it in. His long experience working as a film critic has given him a keen analytical mind and he’s always able to effectively argue for why he thinks the way he does about a movie. He’s not afraid to go against the grain (he was one of few critics to enjoy Speed 2: Cruise Control, and he has a noted aversion to Stanley Kubrick‘s well-regarded A Clockwork Orange) but doesn’t do it just to be a contrarian (compare with the infamous Armond White). Do I always agree with Ebert? Certainly not. Our views on film differ on numerous occasions. To name but one example, he enjoyed 2012, which I found to be a complete snoozefest. But I still like that review, because in it I sense a similar kind of child-like enthusiasm towards the film as what I have towards, say, Crank (which he sadly didn’t review. I’d love to hear what he’d make of that one). So while I don’t agree with him, I can see where he’s coming from.

After I see a movie, there is a certain ritual I go through. Rate it on this and that site, tweet something about it, rank it on Flickchart, etcetera. The last step in said process tends to be to see what Ebert had to say about it (being of the mindset that the less known about a movie beforehand the better, I rarely read reviews until after I’ve seen a film). For a while, I’ve been saving snippets of his reviews into a document. Quotes that I’ve enjoyed, either because they’re wonderfully worded, insightful or just plain funny. Here are some of them, along with one or two I’ve discovered through other quote collections online.

“Timecrimes” is like a temporal chess game with nudity, voyeurism and violence, which makes it more boring than most chess games but less boring than a lot of movies.
~ Timecrimes

There is also a cute blacksmithess named Kate (Laura Fraser), who must be good, as she has obviously not been kicked in the head much.
~ A Knight’s Tale

This movie doesn’t scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels.
~ Freddy Got Fingered

And although we are treated to very nice shots of Neptune, the crew members never look at the planet in awe, or react to the wondrous sight; like the actors standing next to the open airplane door in “Air Force One,” they’re so intent on their dialogue they’re oblivious to their surroundings.
~ Event Horizon

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Posted by on 18 December, 2011 in Misc.

 

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