Brendan Campbell's Best of the Aughts

Writing a top ten list for the year is usually a task upon itself; so to write a top ten list choosing the best out of an entire decade, well, the possibilities are endless. The variety that will be seen out of the IP Movie staff’s lists will be interesting, and tell a little about their personalities, as well as the types of movies they enjoy. Some will agree with certain choices, others will argue why certain titles were left off, or how little recognition certain films received, yet in the end there will be multiple lists filled with movies you may love, movies you may dislike, or some you may not even have heard of. This is the fun of these types of features, as it lets you see into the writer’s mind a little bit, as well as open up discussions about certain films that you feel should have made the grade.

Looking at all the movies released from the year 2000 all the way up until 2009, there are hundreds of choices, yet we’ve chosen to take it upon ourselves to each cut it down to the ten films we enjoyed the most. While some may say that taking the best movie from each year would be fast and efficient, the fact is that some years there are multiple movies that are better than any that come in the following years.

This has been a fantastic decade for movies, technical advancements, and allowed doors to be opened for films to be made that some thought never could be. When coming up with my top ten I found that about half of them could easily find their place on a list of my favourite movies of all-time. It’s been a long while since I’ve sat down and compiled one of those lists, but I do know that at least my top four find themselves on the list.

I found, like my top ten lists each year, that the numbers become blurred in the second half of the list (5-10) where they need numbers in front of them, but can each be considered fantastic films in any order. I couple of movies bounced around, and almost made the cut, but inevitably had to be sidelined to trim the list to a simple ten.

Without further ado, here are my top ten movies of the last decade…

10. Avatar – The thing with putting Avatar on the list is that people may be uneasy about is that it’s so new. Personally, I don’t have an issue with this, but I find it may need explaining. Avatar was a fantastic feature film, a beautifully crafted masterpiece, and a blueprint for how movies of this calibre can, and likely will be made in the future. It’s a wonderfully epic story, that covers all the ground necessary in order to make everything and everyone involved feel real.

James Cameron created a world from scratch that lives and breathes on the screen, and with this new technology he allowed the audience to become emerged in this world along with its characters. The heart that went into the movie shows, as you can’t help but become involved with those fighting the good fight right from the start. The only hesitance I had about putting it on this list wasn’t because of how new it is, it’s because it hasn’t had the years that some of these other films that it beat out have had with me. Films that have made the cut previously and stood the test of time. I ended up putting Avatar on this list because it’s what going to the movies is all about, and I have no doubt it will stand the test of time and earn its place on this list.

9. 3:10 to Yuma Christian Bale is an actor I can’t get enough of, and when he and Russell Crowe joined up to remake this old western tale I couldn’t help but jump on board. I thought the story was great, the acting was rock solid, and that this film underachieved the status that I believe it should have reached during its release. It’s my favourite western film period, and one that shouldn’t be missed by fans of the genre, or fans who just enjoy a good tale.

8. The Last Samurai – I’m feeling that this will be one that catches some eyes as it has caught a lot of flack over the years. Yes, Tom Cruise is a soldier who becomes a samurai and turns out to be even better at it than those who have been trained from birth; but that’s only if you look at it from a glass half empty perspective.

If you look at it from the other side, you’ll see that it’s a moving story that shows that anyone can change, grow, and be forgiven for mistakes of their past. They can then go on to wear kick-ass armor and fight ninjas. That aside, this is a movie that I just can’t get enough of for some reason. I love watching it, and I’m not sure what it is, but it calms me when I do. Watching Cruise in the samurai village out in the mountains of Japan, it’s breathtaking, and it’s relaxing. Everything seems so serene, and you just feel a weight lift off your shoulders while watching. It’s a movie I enjoy greatly, and won’t make excuses for doing so.

7. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy I’m going to make a rule that many make (see Travis’ top ten list) and stack all three of these films together in one slot. You can have a favourite out of the three, but they are one, extremely long, extremely fantastic film. I’m also talking the Extended Editions here, as once you watch those, there’s no going back to the theatrical releases.

The Lord of the Rings story was one that nobody thought could ever be made into a movie, but Peter Jackson took that bet and ran with it. He stood his ground against the studios who wanted to make one 3-hour feature film that summed up all three books. With how much is missing from the theatrical releases as is compared to the extended editions, one can only imagine how horrible the entire story done in one movie would have been.

Could these movies find themselves higher on my list? Sure they could, as I said, when it comes to these five or so films, the numbers are just placeholders, as they’re all on equal ground of just being amazing achievements I feel. This is a series that every film buff should own, and likely does, in many different formats by this point.

6. Gladiator I spoke previously about Gladiator in our top ten of the Academy over the past ten years, and my reasoning for it making this list are the same. Crowe made this film and this film made Crowe. The story is epic, heartfelt, and intense, and one can’t help but want to experience the journey that Maximus goes through looking for redemption time and time again.

5. Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith – I just made a rule earlier, and now I’m going to break it. I view the entire Star Wars franchise as one ongoing saga. While the prequels could be said to be ‘tacked on,’ I feel that they added a huge amount of background, and the reason they came together so perfectly was because of Episode 3.

While I view the entire series as one, Episode 1 was released in ‘99, and the originals were released quite some time ago; thus making it impossible for me to combine them as one for this list. Sure Episode 2 is available, but again, this isn’t about grabbing what I can, it’s about admitting how I view the series, and talking about the one that brings them all together flawlessly.

The prequels have left a bad taste in certain Star Wars fans mouths, though I believe that when looked at as a whole, the story is amazingly put together. George Lucas set the groundwork for his epic saga, and then topped it off in Revenge of the Sith with an explanation of every little bit of information that may have seemed awkward or irrelevant in Episodes 1 and 2. He created the Clone Wars, and he showed us how The Empire came to be such a threat. The betrayal, the loss, and the darkness is overwhelming in this installment, and it goes on to make the following three films that much more epic. It would be number one on my list if I were talking all-time and brought all six films together, but for the sake of explaining my reasoning it’s found its place where it has on this list itself.

4. Batman Begins – Let me put this out there right now, and you can go ahead and call this spot the Bat-spot. If it makes you feel better, The Dark Knight is co-holder of this slot, simply because they’re both that amazing. While there have been some spectacular comic book movies made over the past decade, none have been better than the Batman series by Christopher Nolan.

Why Begins as my favourite? I’m an origins kinda guy, and I believe that without this sturdy, tell-all story about how Bruce Wayne came to don the cape and cowl then The Dark Knight could not have been as perfect as it was. Batman Begins sets the groundwork for what can become some of the best films period, so long as Nolan and Bale keep pressing forward. And making a movie such a hit without cashing in on The Joker or another well known enemy that your average movie-goer would know right off the bat (no pun intended) makes it all the better.

3. Serenity
Firefly is a those huge cult phenomenon. It’s a TV show that was canceled only 13 episodes in, and yet somehow found a huge audience on DVD that pushed for Universal to nab up the rights and make a movie. Unfortunately, somehow those sales didn’t turn into a big box-office for Joss Whedon and company, as Serenity failed to take off, and ended up being one of the highest acclaimed movies of the year that nobody saw.

The thing is, Serenity is a fantastic stand-alone story, that obviously is all the better if you met the cast watching Firefly, but holds up just as well if you didn’t. That’s a rare case with a movie being made continuing where a TV show left off, but that just shows how strong Whedon’s writing and direction are, as well as how fantastic an ensemble he put together to create the crew of Serenity. It’s a fantastic tale, and it’s too bad that their flight was cut short due to lack of interest. When I reviewed it back in 2005, I called it the Star Wars of our time, and I stand by that. It had the potential to go on and do great things, as Whedon and those involved hoped it would. The story was there, the characters were there, but now they’re just a memory.

Do yourself a favour though, and if you haven’t seen either of these, go pick them up at your earliest convenience, you won’t be disappointed.

2. Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang Robert Downey Jr. along with Val Kilmer and the writer of Lethal Weapon Shane Black came together in 2005 and made one of the best buddy movies of all time. Hands down. The dialogue and interaction between Downey Jr. and Kilmer is beyond words, as the two have a chemistry so natural in their roles you could compare them to any twosome the business has seen so far and likely be able to compare them head to head.

The screenplay is witty, quick-paced, filled with action and just flat out perfection. I have no doubt this movie should have been up for Best Picture that year, and these three men up for awards in their respective fields as well. The movie is that good, and yet can be found in bargain bins if you catch them at the right time. It’s a huge injustice and consider yourself lucky if you find yourself a copy for cheap, as it’s worth more than most films 10 times the cost.

1. About a Boy – Okay, nobody saw this coming. If there was ever a choice out of left field, this would be it, and I’m completely fine with that. About a Boy is one of my all-time favourite movies, and I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it.

Hugh Grant takes a lot of flack for playing the same character in every film he’s in, and while I enjoy his work in those films, I would say that was true until this one came out. In About a Boy he plays a guy who has zero responsibility, and likes living life on his own terms with no commitments. His journey of growth is a heartfelt one as he takes on a father-figure type role to a young boy named Marcus. The thing is, the title may imply that the story is about Marcus; but it could easily be argued that Grant’s character is the boy who actually grows up with the help of Marcus, albeit unknowingly.

It really is a great story, based off the novel written by Nick Hornby (who also wrote High Fidelity, another great movie with John Cusack) and even if you aren’t a fan of Grant, it’s worth giving a shot, just to experience something different.

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