[2 January 2002]
The Most Enjoyable Films of 2001
The year was certainly a good one for movies, with a lot of diversity, a lot of fun, and a lot of whimsy. Some set out to make one think or reevaluate previous judgments, while others were strictly for our entertainment. So, in no particular order the films that I enjoyed the most this year were:
Legally Blonde (Robert Luketic)
Reminiscent of Clueless, the most delightful, think-pink movie of the ‘90s, Legally Blonde questions gender roles, cleverly. At first, it seems that Elle Woods’ (Reese Witherspoon) raison d’être is her Harvard-bound boyfriend. Soon it becomes abundantly clear that she needs to depend on no one but herself to succeed. In its fluffy way, Legally Blonde makes it feminist-lite message that boys are fun, but girls can also rock on their own.
Moulin Rouge (Baz Luhrmann)
The story is simple—two people who are completely different fall for one another nonetheless. However, the costumes are breathtaking, the colors lush, and the set design elaborate. It certainly made me fall in love with the Montmarte and Paris that Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec inhabited.
Memento (Christopher Nolan)
How do our perceptions shape our memories? Christopher Nolan’s movie, told in reverse order, endeavors to answer that question. We find out information the same way and at the same time that Leonard (Guy Pearce) does, so we too are in constant doubt. In the end, we must still wonder about what we’ve just watched, trying to figure out how certain characters fit into the plot as a whole or if there is supposed to be a fit at all.
Bridget Jones’s Diary (Sharon Maguire)
So, is everyone over the fact that Renee Zellweger gained some weight to play Bridget Jones? Let’s hope so. Based upon Helen Fielding’s 1997 novel, Bridget Jones’s Diary, the casting choice was controversial (could the Texas-born Zellweger play the so British Bridget?). But Zellweger gave her all, allowing us to empathize and laugh along with (and sometimes at) Bridget.
Ocean’s Eleven (Steven Soderbergh)
As Out of Sight attests, Soderbergh knows how to make a heist movie. In Ocean’s Eleven, the boys try to take down a Vegas billionaire. The chemistry between these eleven thieves, especially the buddy chemistry between George Clooney and Brad Pitt, draws one in and makes this a fun and entertaining movie.
The Tailor of Panama (John Boorman)
What a fine, sly and leisurely spy movie this is. Pierce Brosnan brilliantly plays an anti-James Bond who, upon his banishment to tropical Panama, decides to have a little fun with some of the locals, most of all, tailor Geoffrey Rush. Against a backdrop of sex, booze, and tropical climate, Brosnan certainly seems to be having more fun playing this roguish spy than the debonair, flawless James Bond.
Shrek (Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson)
Shrek overturns the fairy tale notions with which we all grew up: the beautiful princess waits patiently for her Prince Charming or knight in shining armor to ride up on his white horse and save her from her banal existence, basically, everything that Disney fairy tales shoved at little girls (and boys) for decades. Shrek pokes fun at these antiquated notions and asks its audience to laugh at the silly idea that only the beautiful can find love.
Amélie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
Amélie is fun and thoughtful and at times fanciful. It’s about a woman who, because of her lonely childhood, decides to inject some form of happiness into the lives of the people she knows (all without them knowing that she’s behind the interferences). Amélie is so quirky and whimsical that it’s hard not to walk away from it with a smile on your face.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/best2001-tucker/