I know how much people like to complain that there aren't any good
movies these days but 2001 really wasn't a bad year to go your local
multiplex. The ones that I liked weren't, for the most part, the ones
that did big box office but that happens every year. Here are my
favorites, in order of preference:
1) Ghost World my favorite films usually combine comedy with light-
handed social commentary. GW is a great example many of the funniest
scenes didn't rely heavily on dialog I could have laughed without hearing
2) Gosford Park by far the best film nominated for Best Picture this year.
I had to see it three times to fully appreciate it. The dialog is very dense
and I found it hard to keep the names of the characters straight on the first
pass. I can't think of another film with such a large ensemble of
3) Black Hawk Down one of the best, if not the best, war movies of all
time. It is rare that a filmmaker (Ridley Scott in this case) resists the urge
to radically change a true story in order to find a wider audience (which is
why you won't find A Beautiful Mind among my "Best of 2001").
4) Tailor of Panama a spy movie starring Pierce Brosnan as a bad-boy
spy this is so much better than James Bond. I really wanted this to do
big box office so that more of John le Carre's novels would make their way
onto the big screen.
5) Amelie (aka: Le Fabuleux destin d'Amιlie Poulain) the perfect
antidote to post-9/11 depression. A lovely but painfully shy young woman
(played by rising star Audrey Tautou) decides dedicate herself to helping
other people find happiness.
6) The Others a classic supernatural thriller like we haven't seen in years.
Nicole Kidman should get an Oscar for this movie not that anything was
wrong with Moulin Rouge.
7) Monsters Inc. a rare movie that can appeal to all ages. Billy Crystal
does one of the best voice performances of all time as the one-eyed, green-
ball of a monster. The film has heart and deserves the first animated
8) Bandits Cate Blanchett and Billy Bob Thornton at their best. There is
one scene where they have just met and are riding in her car -- that
alone is worth the price of admission.
9) Memento a very interesting story, told in reverse chronological order,
of a man who has lost his memory. It can be a little hard to follow I
figured it out (I think) on the second viewing.
10) Mulholland Dr. another somewhat hard to follow (but worth the
effort) story written and directed by David Lynch in his characteristic
style. Naomi Watts gave a standout performance.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Shipping News
Now the fun part!
The Worst Movies (that I saw) of 2001:
Worst Movie of 2001 (in a walk): Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within I walked into this movie with very low
expectations it was based on a video game enough said. I had heard that the
animation might be worthwhile and I'm usually willing to sit through lots of
mindless dialog to see if new ground had been turned in terms of animation. Well,
the animation was crap the characters looked like they were either cross-eyed
or looking at the floor when they should have making eye contact. I won't even go
into what I thought of the story, characters, etc. The real kicker I read in
Premiere magazine that it cost $137 million to make the movie unbelievable!
Some heads should roll because of that (at Sony, I think).
Worst Movie of 2001 to Receive Critical Acclaim (including Oscar
In the Bedroom with better editing, it could have been a good solid film. The
first act went very well - I felt that I knew the characters and cared about them
but after that (when the son dies) the movie goes into a funk highly repetitive
melodrama. They could have cut at least 45 minutes of the mom and dad having
a bummer and giving one to the audience. And not only that but the filmmaker
left out [of discussion in the of the dialog between the principals] the most
important plot-point of the film: why the father (played by Tom Wilkinson)
decided to kill the killer of his son (a vigilante act - morally questionable!
my point is that the filmmaker ignored that issue but overwhelmed the viewer
with so much detail when the couple was bumming over their son's death).
Worst "Event Movie" of 2001 by a Director Who Should Know Better:
Pearl Harbor not totally worthless some of the action sequences were very
well done but Michael Bay (director) should have resisted the urge to make the
story of a major turning point in American history into a sappy love triangle, a la
Worst Movie of 2001 in the "So Bad That It is Good" Sense:
Ghosts of Mars a lot fun but still a really bad movie it reminded me of the
bad low-budget sci-fi movies made in the 1950s. I suspect that director John
Carpenter knew, when he cast an ex-rapper (Ice Cube) opposite an ex-model
(Natasha Hensridge) fighting zombies on Mars, that he might wind up with a
camp classic. It worked! -- a bad movie to be remembered.