Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ten Great Films of the New Millennium

Yes, I realize that I am bumping up my Friday Feature to Wednesday, but I will be in Oregon for presbytery from Thursday until Saturday, and I know what pop culture buffs you all are. So without further ado, here are my ten favorite films of the new millennium:

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: Unlike many, I am willing to forgive Peter Jackson for his modifications to Tolkien’s story (with the possible exception of Legolas’s varial-kickflip-ollie-to-frontside-smith-grind on an Orc shield down the steps of Helm’s Deep in film two). The stand-out actors, in my opinion, are Sean Bean as Boromir, Bernard Hill as Theoden, and of course, Elijah Wood as Frodo. I’m not sure if I like Fellowship of the Ring or Return of the King better, but I am leaning toward the former.

Memento: This is obviously the work of Christopher Nolan since, like all his films, its protagonist suffers from short-term memory loss, with the color footage taking place in reverse sequence and the black-and-white footage occurring in proper chronological order. I love judging films by their directors.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford: This film was simply amazing. Casey Affleck should have received, at the very least, a Best Supporting Actor nomination.

Garden State: Natalie Portman has been a favorite actor of mine since I saw her in Leon (called The Professional in the U.S.). Zach Braff, who wrote and directed it, basically rises from the dead as the film progresses, going from a medicated zombie to a young man who confronts his past and falls in love. Plus, The Shins play on the soundtrack.

Before Sunset: This film just rips your heart out, doesn’t it? I hope they continue to revisit this project as Ethan Hawke and Julia Delpy grow old.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: Though this only showed on Showtime, I am counting it as a proper film. It chronicles the last gasp of the Sioux, and does a wonderful job of putting a human face on both the victors and the victims. If you’re prone to white guilt, stay away.

Napoleon Dynamite: Pure genius. “Back in ’82 I coulda thrown a pig-skin over that mountain.”

The Departed: Great cast, great acting, and the scene in which they’re driving to the final showdown as Dropkick Murphys’ “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” is playing—well, it makes you wanna drink and fight.

V for Vendetta: Terrorism never looked so cool, and neither did a girl with a shaved head.

Juno: I wish Ellen Page had been old enough to play Lindsey Weir on Freaks and Geeks. Sure, there are times when this film is a bit too self-conscious and clever, but I loved it anyway. My favorite line is when Juno’s father says, “Geez, Juno, I thought you were the kind of girl who knew when to say ‘when.’” and Juno responds, “I don’t really know what kind of girl I am.”

Honorable mentions: High Fidelity, Batman Begins, 3:10 to Yuma, The Village, Michael Clayton, Snatch, Ocean's 11, and Serenity.