My Top 20 Movies for The First Ten Years of 2000

I’ve never written about movies here before, but I’m a pretty big movie fan and can’t pass up the opportunity to write a bit about those who top my list over the past ten years. I was so into movies at a younger age that I seriously considered going to film school when it came time to make a decision about my post-secondary education. So, I like movies and I got the urge to write a bit about some of my favorites from the last ten years. Pretty simple. Now on to the list, in descending order:

The Aviator on IMDBBuy from Amazon.com

20. The Aviator (2004)

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I’m a sucker for films based on true stories, especially those centered on characters as unique as Howard Hughes. Martin Scorcese captures the bravado and madness of Hughes as well as the history in the making. The acting is top notch all the way around. Beautiful film.

Ocean's Eleven on IMDBBuy from Amazon.com

19. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

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Remaking a movie formerly filled with the Rat Pack should be disastrous, especially when the new cast is full of some of the biggest names in the movie biz today. But Ocean’s Eleven is fun to watch (over and over again), even with the impossible scheme the plot is built around.

Little Miss Sunshine on IMDB
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18. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

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Comedy is hard to do right. While all the best picture nominations normally go to movies depicting the darkest of life’s corners, movies that make us laugh are tossed to the side. Little Miss Sunshine made me laugh hard, very hard, many times throughout. While some may argue the characters are cliché for an indie film, I will argue that truly funny indie films don’t come along very often so I’ll take the clichés in this case.

Catch Me if You Can on IMDB
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17. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

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I’ve watched this movie numerous times. I never grow tired of it. It’s fun, based on a true story, and has some strong acting. This one proved to me just how versatile Spielberg is as a director. Interesting to note is that we’re only at movie 17 and Leonardo is in two of my top 20. I didn’t realize I was such a big fan of the Keebler elf (as one audience member sitting behind me called him in Titanic).

In Good Company on IMDB
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16. In Good Company (2004)

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If comedy is hard to do right, then making comedy with a heart may be the ultimate challenge. In Good Company is funny and it has a heart. Even better is that the ending isn’t predictable fluff that often plagues this genre.

Breach on IMDB
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15. Breach (2007)

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Some found this one too slow. I think it’s a rare quiet thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat without ever demanding big action or over the top acting. And this is all done while we know the ending, as it’s based on the true story of an FBI agent who is captured for selling secrets to Russia for over twenty years. Pretty amazing.

Syriana on IMDB
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14. Syriana (2005)

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If I didn’t know better, I could’ve sworn this one was a Stephen Soderbergh film. The multiple intertwined stories about a complex topic is not unlike Soderbergh’s Traffic, another flick I considered for this list. Syriana has everything required for a disaster on the screen – several big name actors, a hot political topic (oil and the Middle East), and a plethora of plot lines to make sense of. Instead of a disaster, we get an intelligent, entertaining, and ultimately powerful film.

Cinderella Man on IMDB
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13. Cinderella Man (2005)

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I can’t remember walking away from a movie more inspired than when I left Cinderella Man. It does have a typical sports movie ending but the journey along the way is anything but typical.

The Dark Knight on IMDB
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12. The Dark Knight (2008)

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Superhero movies are hot. I would’ve put Spiderman (1 or 2, not 3) on this list as I believe it revived the genre this decade. But, as good as the first two Spiderman movies were, The Dark Knight is even better. One big reason I believe The Dark Knight is superior is due to Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker. I can’t remember the last time I saw such a repulsive villain, a missing ingredient from the Spiderman movies. In addition to The Joker, we also get a tale for the 2000’s. The moral dilemmas and plot lines seem to be taken from the news of the last ten years.

Owning Mahowny on IMDB
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11. Owning Mahowny (2003)

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There are plenty of films about addiction. Actors that want recognition around Oscar time seem to gravitate towards roles such as that of an addict. But Owning Mahowny is a different tale of addiction. It’s about a gambling addict and Philip Seymour Hoffman plays this compulsive gambler with a quiet intensity that makes one feel the insanity of the struggle.

The King of Kong on IMDB
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10. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)

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If you had told me I’d be putting a documentary in my top ten list a year ago, I would have laughed. It’s not that documentaries can’t be great, it’s just that I haven’t seen any that I thought “this is awesome” like I do with traditional movies. Then I watched The King of Kong. Three times. Who knew the story of a grown man going for the world’s highest Donkey Kong score would be so compelling. There is a sweetness and a real story of intrigue being told in this documentary. I wish more fiction was as good as this.

Meet The Parents on IMDB
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9. Meet The Parents (2000)

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Don’t laugh, unless it’s because you’re thinking of a scene from Meet The Parents. This is one of my all time favorite comedies. I think Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller make comedic magic happen. This one is full of smart writing without reverting to the debauchery and foul mouthed comedy that came into favor around 2005 and continues today. “I have nipples, Greg, could you milk me?”

The Departed on IMDB
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8. The Departed (2006)

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It’s a bit strange to find The Departed in my top 20, let alone top 10, considering after I first saw this one I was turned off by the way it felt a bit sloppy overall. The acting wasn’t at fault, but I thought the story and transitions between scenes were a mess. Then a funny thing happened. I watched it again about a year later and didn’t perceive any of those faults. The great acting remained and I found a new admiration for Martin Scorsese’s film along the way.

Brothers

7. Brothers (2009)

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The only 2009 title on my list. I saw it last week over Christmas break and was completely blown away by how good everything was. The directing allows the viewer to see the real lives of these people without overstating the deep emotions running throughout. The acting was superb and the story was interesting. I could feel the tension between the characters from the start, especially in those shots at the dinner table. It’s rare to see a movie that could serve as a stage for big break out acting roles and political messages, but instead gives the audience something much greater, a connection with the characters that runs deep.

Finding Nemo on IMDB
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6. Finding Nemo (2003)

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Pixar is amazing and Finding Nemo is one of its better exhibits of what it can do in terms of making technically amazing films that tell good stories and have nearly perfect voice casting. I was often baffled that The Incredibles was considered a more popular Pixar flick during this period of time. I think Finding Nemo is Pixar’s second best movie to date, behind only Toy Story. And that is saying a lot when you consider some of their other titles like Toy Story 2, Up, Wall-E, and Ratatouille.

You Can Count on Me on IMDB
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5. You Can Count on Me (2000)

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This one is much like Brothers in that it lets you in on the lives of a particular family. Where Brothers had the intensity of scenes of war in Afghanistan for a change of pace, You Can Count on Me doesn’t ever take the focus off the small town and lives of a grown up brother and sister still grappling with life after losing their parents at an early age. The results are both sad and funny, often at the same time. Sort of like real life.

City of God on IMDB
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4. City of God (2002)

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City of God is like an amazing car accident happening right before your eyes. Cars are flipping and smashing all over the road. People are helpless as metal crunches and glass shatters. Almost everyone involved has serious damage, if they make it out alive at all. And we as the onlookers can’t take our eyes off a single second, even in the worst of the carnage. That is City of God in a nutshell. A stylistic film capturing some of the worst society has to offer in the form of the life in the slums of Rio De Janeiro during the 70’s and 80’s. The images last forever in your memory. There is little desire for a repeat viewing but my admiration for this film runs deep.

The Bourne Triology on IMDB
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3. The Bourne Triology (2002, 2004, 2007)

Cheater! Yes I am. But, I felt like the Bourne movies are rare in that they can stand on their own as well as tell a coherent story when viewed as a whole. These are smart action films that entertain throughout, no small feat. Now consider there are three of them, all delivering an excellent balance of story telling, character development, and amazing action sequences. Amazing. And that is why I have them here all together representing number three on my list.

Walk The Line on IMDB
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2. Walk The Line (2005)

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I was more than a bit tepid when I went to the theater to see this one when it was released. How can any actor pull off Johnny Cash’s presence, let alone sing the songs with his own voice? Love him or think he’s lost his mind, Joaquin Phoenix did the impossible. From the start, I believed I was watching the life of Johnny Cash on the screen. This isn’t even mentioning the fantastic job Reese Witherspoon did as June Carter. Beyond the tremendous acting and singing, we get a fine story of the rise, fall, and redemption of The Man in Black.

Lore of The Rings Triology on IMDB
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1. Lord of The Rings Trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003)

I’m pushing it. One trilogy in a top 20 list might (just might) be justifiable, but two? It is a bit crazy but I have my reasons. I feel even more strongly about including The Lord of The Rings as a trilogy, as I never viewed the films as standing completely on their own. Just ask my Dad, who after watching The Fellowship of The Ring, looked at me in shock. To be continued?! Yep, my Dad didn’t realize it was a three part series and he’d have to hang in there two more years for the complete story to be told. I don’t think he made it, but I think my point does. These are one film broken into three slices. Where the Bourne films can stand on their own or as a whole, The Lord of The Rings doesn’t share the same luxury. But, it’s difficult to watch an over nine hour long movie (or 12+ hour one if viewing the extended version) so we get three separate titles if only out of logistical requirements. Enough justifying of the trilogy. Lord of The Rings does the impossible by taking a very long, complex fantasy book and turning it into a fantastic story on the screen. Die hard fans will nitpick the missing characters and scenes, but it’s hard to imagine a more perfect film. It’s gorgeous to look at, has characters we care about (very difficult in fantasy), a sense of humor, great adventure, and complex storytelling that ultimately gives us a tale of good triumphing over evil. I can’t wait for it to come out on Blu-ray.

  • What kind of person would create a movie top 20 list without linking to imdb.com? Perhaps someone with an amazon kickback. Come on.
    I have not seen 8 on your list, but looking forward to watching them based on your list. I also like Philip Seymour Hoffman.

    Most important movie missed: Band of Brothers (2001).

    • Joshua Hoover

      James, Ha! Yes, all but one link is to Amazon. It might have been better to link to trailers directly. IMDB is great for details on the flicks but otherwise really overcrowded.

      Band of Brothers. Yes, it would’ve been on the list if I thought it was a movie. I was thinking of it as more of an HBO special kind of thing. I love it nonetheless. Maybe I should show my “honorable mentions” list, for quite a few more films that I considered but didn’t think they were top 20. Hmmm…

  • James Lorenzen

    You also missed The Count of Monte Cristo.

    • Joshua Hoover

      I liked The Count of Monte Cristo but it’s not top 20 for me. Hopefully you and others will put out a similar list. I’d love to see what others have on their list!

  • Joshua Hoover

    There James. All the image links go to IMDB and there are two new text links for most of the movies. One is to buy the movie on Amazon and the other is to add it to your Netflix queue. Much better. :)

  • William

    Cool list. A bunch of movies that I haven’t seen. I would have included Pan’s Labyrinth and Amélie.

  • Randy

    a agree with most of the movies in your top 20, but not sure about the order. way too high is in good company, and way, way too high is meet the parents. i am shocked that you don’t have wedding crashers on your list, considering your love of all things owen wilson. traffic, blow, and best in show should have made the top 10.