Top Ten Films of 2000
In the order in which I have arranged them:
Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier)
The movie made me cry, and laugh at myself for crying, all at once. A musical melodrama that interrogates musicals, melodramas, and musical melodramas with a wonderfully effective Bjork at the center.
High Fidelity (Stephen Frears)
Nick Hornby’s book of the same name tells the story of record store owner Rob Gordon’s struggle to love a woman (any woman) as much as he loves music. John Cusack delivers Hornby’s (and the screenwriters’) lines with knowing humor and of course the use of the music in the film is perfect.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Joel and Ethan Cohen)
The latest from the Coen Brothers showcases their stock company once again, including cinematographer Roger Deakins and a host of familiar actors. Like the other two films listed above, O Brother, is, among other things, about the power and influence of music in the 20th century. It is also funny and continuously surprising.
Croupier (Mike Hodges)
This year’s “remake”—I hesitate to call it a “remake”—of Get Carter this year only underscored the brilliance of the original, directed by Mike Hodges in 1971. His 1997 film, Croupier, released in the States in 2000, is almost as good. I saw a preview screening of this film, loved it, and told others to see it. Apparently I was not alone, as word of mouth helped make this film quite successful in the US.
Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock 1956) / Blood Simple (Joel and Ethan Cohen 1984)
The former you’ve seen already, but I hope you also saw this restored print in theaters in 2000. It was a real treat. The latter you might not have seen before. The Coen Brothers’ first film was actually trimmed a little and given a very silly (new) introduction for this re-release.
Rats (James Felter) / Dark Days (Marc Singer)
Two city symphonies filmed at ground level (and below). Rats is James Felter’s film about D.C.‘s (most?) famous residents and is funny and sickening. Dark Days is Marc Singer’s (surprisingly) encouraging portrait of the people living underneath Penn Station in New York.
The Exorcist: Director’s Cut (William Friedkin)
There are enough changes in the 2000 version of this 1973 classic that I give it its own mention apart from the re-release titles above. Yes, the new CGI images on the walls are redundant. Yes, the “restored” ending is superfluous if you’ve been paying attention. And maybe the “spiderwalk” is not as great as we were led to believe. But the sound is wonderfully restored, the film still scares.
Beyond the Mat (Barry Blaustein)
This is the best film you had (and have) absolutely no desire to see and after you do see it, you will be pleasantly surprised but too embarrassed to tell anyone. This very entertaining documentary about wrestling and wrestling culture raises more questions than it answers but it tries hard, in its own goofy way.
Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky)
This film is much better than Pi, though director Darren Aronofsky still loves to strap his camera to people (one way he chooses to shove his technical skill in your face). Marlon Wayans and Jennifer Connelly have never been better, and Ellen Burstyn is given enough space to remind us just how gifted she still is.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee)
This is a lovely film about unspoken love and fighting in moon-like non-gravity. Director Ang Lee continues to surprise (this film follows his reconsideration of the Civil War, Ride with the Devil) and impress, and of course Chow Yung-Fat and Michelle Yeoh are, well, cool.