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Best of the Aughts
by Tim Josephs

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With the decade winding down I thought I'd take some time to reflect. By the way, what are we calling the last ten years? My Mom suggested the aughts and I kind of like it. Forty years from now I can gather my grandchildren around me and say "You kids don't realize how easy you have it nowadays with your newfangled contraptions. You didn't use to be able just to say the name of a movie and have it show up on your compuvision helmet. Back in aught nine you still had to put a disc into a machine..."

But I digress. I figured now would be a good time to get a jump on my list of what I consider to be the best films of the decade before everyone and their uncle comes out with their own list. I know there's still a lot of time left in '09, but I doubt I'll be seeing anything too amazing in the next seven-plus months. (Also, I notice that the later in the decade it gets, the more the quality of the movies seem to drop. I only have two from '07 and none from '08). So here they are, in no particular order, the best of the aughts.

NORTHFORK (2003)
I don't think a lot of people saw this and it's a shame. This surreal story is centered around a dying boy and a town full of quirky characters that is being evacuated to make way for a dam. Terribly sad at times, there's also a lot of humor, and the special effects are wonderful.

BUBBA HO-TEP (2002)
This hysterical film has perhaps the
weirdest plot in movie history. Whenever I think of Elvis on the phone with JFK saying "We're gonna kill us a mummy," it still makes me laugh. (If you're not familiar with this movie that last sentence probably confused the hell out of you. Do yourself a favor and see this film.)

SPIRITED AWAY (2001)
One of the few movies I've ever gone to see without really knowing anything about it. An incredibly imaginative story with amazing (not computer generated) animation. Don't confuse it with Disney's horse movie SPIRIT which came out the same year.

SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004)
One of my favorite all-time films. I have to agree with Quentin Tarantino who said (I'm paraphrasing) "The best film of the year and if I watch it any other year it would be the best film of that year."

GARDEN STATE (2004)
Another one of my favorite movies. Wrongly labeled as a comedy, there are funny moments but the majority of the film is kind of depressing and sad. The characters are interesting and three-dimensional and the love story is touching and believable. I think this movie gets written off because of writer/director Zach Braff, but had it been done by someone more established, I believe Oscar nominations would have been imminent.

PAN'S LABYRINTH (2006)
Dark and disturbing with astounding imagery and special effects, this film is at times magical, frightening, and
ultimately heartbreaking. Parts of this movie are hard to watch but definitely worth it.

CHILDREN OF MEN (2006)
Another bleak, depressing film (how did they get London to look so horrific?) that most likely portrays how society would act in such a global crisis. I saw this one and PAN'S LABYRINTH within a week of each other. I didn't leave my bed for several days.

SIDEWAYS (2004)
This film is wonderfully smart and funny. Every time I see a commercial for a so-called comedy (usually something by Judd Apatow) I think, why can't they make movies like SIDEWAYS anymore?

ONCE (2006)
This charming film proves you don't need an enormous budget to produce a great movie. Sad at times but also hopeful and amusing with excellent music.

LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY (2001, 02, 03)
I never get tired of watching these movies. From the opening battle scenes you're hooked and by the time Gandalf rolls into the Shire, you're ready to go with Frodo and company to the ends of Middle-Earth.

AMERICAN SPLENDOR (2003)
Paul Giamatti is brilliant as Harvey Pekar and the use of the real Harvey periodically commentating on his portrayal was a stroke of genius.

RETURN TO ME (2000)
I generally despise romantic comedies (see a past column) but this one is great and proves that they all don't have to be dull and formulaic. Minnie Driver is adorable and David Duchovny
demonstrates how good a comedic actor he can be.

GRINDHOUSE (2007)
Why didn't more people go to see this? First of all, it was two for the price of one. Secondly, they were both delightfully (and intentionally as some people didn't seem to realize) awful. Outlandish plots, over the top acting, blood, gore, cleavage, what's not to like? The fake trailers alone were worth the price of admission.

THE KING OF KONG: A FISTFULL OF QUARTERS (2007)
If this had been a fictional film these characters would have been seen as way too unbelievable. But these people, happily trapped in the early 80's, are alarmingly real.

A MIGHTY WIND (2003)
I really enjoy most of Christopher Guest's films (excluding FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION) but this one might be his best with the possible exception of THIS IS SPINAL TAP. Funny and charming characters, an interesting and believable plot, and surprisingly good music.

MAIL ORDER WIFE (2004)
What starts as a guy making a documentary about another guy ordering a mail order bride quickly turns into one of the strangest tales you'll ever see.

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004)
Charlie Kauffman's best and simply amazing.

Honorable Mention:

LITTLE OTIK (2000)
TRAFFIC (2000)
IGBY GOES DOWN (2002)
BAD SANTA (2003)
SUPER SIZE ME (2004)
THE YES MEN (2003)
HOT FUZZ (2007)
THE VISITOR (2008)
IN BRUGES (2008)

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Movie Musings
Every other Tuesday

Thoughts, observations, conjectures, complaints about movies and mostly how they relate to me personally. If you're looking for something a little broader, try Ebert.


Other Columns
Other columns by Tim Josephs:

So Long 2013, and MatchFlickers!

The Season for Peace, Presents, & Puncture Wounds

Women are Once Again Kicking Ass

Chewing the Scenery

The Greatest President We Never Had

All Columns


Tim Josephs
Born to write (literally much to the displeasure of his mother, he emerged with a pencil clutched in one tiny fist), Tim spends most of his days crafting epic monosyllabic poems, new comical titles to his favorite Beatles' songs (Hey, Dude), and angry letters to local businesses that have wronged him in some way. He's really an okay guy once you get to know him.


Contact
If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Tim Josephs by clicking here.


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