As we near the end of a remarkable decade in film, lets remember some of those that paved the way during 2000-2009:
Crash (2004): This movie not only is one of my favorite movies of the decade. But it's also one of my favorite movies of all time. It was more than a movie to me--it was a conversation, a dialogue explaining what happens when ignorance and non-communication collide.
Training Day (2001): This is the first time we see Academy award winner Denzel Washington become the bad guy--not the guy who rescues everyone from a burning house and walk on water afterwards--but the curse-mouthed, maniacal, corrupt policeman who shakes down rookie Ethan Hawke in one of the grittiest cop dramas we'd seen in a while.
Ray (2004): In Living Color alum and former B-movie magnet Jamie Foxx shreds his past image and literally transforms into the late great Ray Charles in this bioflick about the deceased musician's rise to fame and personal turmoil. Ray offers an elegant look at a beloved musician we hardly knew and creates a bonafide actor (Foxx).
Ali (2001): Before this movie, Will Smith was just the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to me (no matter how many action movies and alien flicks he starred in). But after seeing him become the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, I was finally convinced of his acting ability. Ali was the captivating and inspiring true story of how a Kentucky-born boxer merged politics and the ring to become one of the most memorable forces in sports and U.S. history.
The Departed (2006): Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, and Matt Damon teamed up to star in what i would like to call an ode to old Scorsese, a celebration of gangster films everywhere. This time, the gangsters invaded the streets of Boston in this beautifully-directed flawlessly-edited tale very much worthy of the Best Picture Oscar it received.
Revolutionary Road (2008): Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio reteam in this 1950s drama about the most desperate housewife I've seen on screen and her underwhelmed husband who both struggle to reclaim their own longtime dreams as they go slipping through their grasps. Heartbreaking, relatable story indicative of the times.
Knocked Up (2007): Drunk girl meets drunk loser boy. Girl sleeps with boy. Then boy and girl end up pregnant after a one-night stand. Okay, not the usual film that would top any "best of" list, but somehow this quirky anti-romantic comedy made it on here. It's the hilarious movie that was that jumpstarted the rebirth of the good stoner flicks.
The Dark Knight (2008): As a HUGE batman fan, I didn't think anyone could play the caped crusader any better than Michael Keaton on the big screen. Then came along Christian Bale and all just seemed to turn around. In The Dark Knight, Batman brings along a few familiar faces, namely The Joker (Heath Ledger) and Two-Faced (Aaron Eckhart), for one devilishly hellish ride through the valley of good and evil in Gotham City--a ride we'll never forget.
The Bourne films (2004-2007): Yes, I'm squishing these three action-packed films (The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Ultimatum, and The Bourne Supremacy) together because I just couldn't decide which one to choose. It was one of the few action franchises that had a terrific story along with it that made you want to crack the mystery of Jason Bourne just as much as he did. And we all waited on the edge of our seats until the very end to see it through.
25th Hour (2002): This is the gripping story following one man's last 25 hours of freedom before he heads to jail. But before then he goes in, he reevaluates the friends and foes he made on the outside and the choices he made throughout his life. With a nearly perfect cast and riveting screenplay, 25th Hour remains one of the most underrated films of the decade.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004): I wouldn't necessarily call myself a fan of romantic movies, but if you ever wished there was a way to erase heartbreak from a previous relationship, you probably enjoyed this movie. Entertaining, extremely quirky and amazing performances throughout led by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, this movie kicks all other "romantic" movies to the wayside.
Hotel Rwanda (2004): Don Cheadle earned his first (and long overdue) Oscar nod for his portrayal as the real life Rwandan hotel owner Paul Rusesabagina who bravely sheltered over a thousand Tutsi refugees in a fight for their lives against the Hutu militia. Hotel Rwanda is a courageous, inspiring movie that was one of the first stories about the Rwandan crisis to gain major Hollywood attention.
Volver (2006): Director Pedro Almodovar's brilliantly quirky story of a heartbroken housewife with a haunting maternal instinct (played by Penelope Cruz) is here quite simply because it's better than you think it is. The multi-layered story becomes more enticing as it progresses, leaving the audience wild with anticipation.
Kill Bill Vol. 1...and 2 (2003-2004): Director Quentin Tarantino resurrected his career with these odes to bad-ass martial arts merged with a true vengeance flick. Uma Thurman is awesome as the jaded bride who seeks to annihilate her number one enemy: the late great David Carradine as Bill.
Frida (2002): Frida is the beautiful story of legendary artist Frida Kahlo who never quite got her due, much like the actress who played her--Salma Hayek. Touching, courageous and filled with heartache, Frida sheds light on the artist behind the painting.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008): Curious indeed. This is the amazingly awesome story of a young boy with a peculiar defect, but one which made him see further beyond his years. Death was life and life was living and age was...just a number, and a state of mind.
Mystic River (2003): The best thing about Mystic River is the brilliant performance by Sean Penn, and the the subdued tortured performance by his second mate Tim Robbins. A father loses his beloved daughter to a brutal crime and stops at nothing to get to the bottom of it. Everyone becomes a suspect--even his closest friends. In true Eastwood fashion, the film is always quite dim and dark indicative to the solemn nature of the story. This is just flawless filmmaking.
Share your thoughts on the list. Don't see your favorite film here? Tell me about it.