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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Top 10 Films of 2001

The year is 2001, and a lot has happened in the movie world. To help take you back in time, here's a look back at some of the film-related events that took place:
Two major film franchises (Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings) release their first installments.

Hollywood power couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman get divorced.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
becomes the highest-grossing film of the year, earning over $974 million at the worldwide box office.

A Beautiful Mind
nabs four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.

The world loses the likes of Jack Lemmon, Aaliyah and George Harrison.
I've been able to see 50 films released in 2001, and from those, I've compiled my own top ten list. As one can imagine, some great films had to be left off the final list. Here's a look at some of the movies (listed alphabetically) that just missed the cut:


Monsters, Inc.

The Royal Tenenbaums

Training Day

But enough about the runners-up; here's the list you've been waiting to see! Counting down from number ten to number one, I've listed each film and have given the principal cast list as well as if and how fared at the Academy Awards. Also, I've listed the film's rank on my "Best Films of All-Time" list, if applicable. So without any further delay, here's my top ten movies of 2001!


10. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Rated: PG-13
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Sean Bean, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis, Christopher Lee, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan
Academy Awards: 13 nominations, 4 wins
The first installment in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy proved to be the best of the bunch, in my opinion. Because no one really knew exactly what to expect from the franchise, we were all pleasantly surprised to see that Jackson was able to capture the spirit of the novels and create an entirely new world for audiences to enter and enjoy.


9. A Beautiful Mind
Rated: PG-13
Directed by: Ron Howard
Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Christopher Plummer, Paul Bettany
Academy Awards: 8 nominations, 4 wins
Although I don't necessarily share the sentiments of the Academy in naming this film as the best of 2001, I still have to applaud Ron Howard and company for making a solid film that managed to portray a serious type of mental illness in a beautiful way. The acting is top-notch, and although there are a few moments that are going to leave you scratching your head, it's ultimately a very good movie that's worthy of your enjoyment.


8. Gosford Park
Rated: R
Directed by: Robert Altman
Starring: Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Kristin Scott Thomas, Camilla Rutherford, Charles Dance, Geraldine Somerville, Tom Hollander, Ryan Phillippe, Clive Owen, Kelly Macdonald
Academy Awards: 7 nominations, 1 win
A Best Picture nominee at the Academy Awards, I actually hadn't heard of the film upon its initial release, and it wasn't until years later that I had the opportunity to give it a view. It's a cleverly-crafted whodunit that's going to keep you guessing until the very end of the film, just as any good mystery should do. The fact that it's chalk full of fantastic actors doesn't hurt, either.


7. Donnie Darko
Rated: R
Directed by: Richard Kelly
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze
One of the first films that I ever recall calling "trippy," Donnie Darko still proves to be one of the oddest films I've ever had the chance to see. Mixing drama and romance with a bit of science fiction, we're getting an offbeat story that's complemented exceptionally well by a fantastic performance by Jake Gyllenhaal in our leading role. Aided by a number of big-time actors in supporting roles, this movie has easily earned the title of "cult classic."


6. Amélie (Le fabeleux destin d'Amélie Poulain)
Rated: R
Directed by: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Starring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz
Academy Awards: 5 nominations
All-Time Ranking: 141
One of the first foreign films I had the opportunity to watch and fully understand, Amélie is a film that's going to hook you from the moment it starts and not release its grip until long after the final credits have rolled. It's a quirky romantic comedy that takes you through the streets of Montmarte in Paris, and Audrey Tautou is so incredibly charming that you'll be hard-pressed not to fall in love with her character as well.


5. Black Hawk Down
Rated: R
Directed by: Ridley Scott Starring: Josh Hartnett, Eric Bana, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, William Fichtner, Ewen Bremner, Sam Shepard, Gabriel Casseus, Kim Coates, Hugh Dancy, Ron Eldard, Orlando Bloom, Ioan Gruffudd
Academy Awards: 4 nominations, 2 wins
All-Time Ranking: 118
This is another film that it took me quite a while to see, but I'd heard enough to know that I was going to be in for quite an experience. This is about as gritty and realistic as war movies come, and the all-star cast and pitch-perfect acting only accentuates the film's realism. I'd only say be wary if you're not ready for an all-out, wartime experience. This one's not for the faint of heart.


4. Shrek
Rated: PG
Directed by: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson
Starring: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, John Lithgow
Academy Awards: 2 nominations, 1 win
All-Time Ranking: 102
The first-ever winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, Shrek offers quite the story of fairy tales gone awry. It takes the fairy tale idea and turns it on its ear, offering laugh after laugh. A spectacular voice cast brings the characters to life, and it's no wonder that this film managed to spawn four sequels as well as a number of short films, none of which come close to matching the brilliance of this original.


3. Amores perros
Rated: R
Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Starring: Emilio Echevarría, Gael García Bernal, Goya Toledo
Academy Awards: 1 nomination
All-Time Ranking: 69
I had heard quite a few things about this film around the time of its release, and it's nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards only heightened my interest. Although it's gritty and downright brutal at times, it still offers a rather brilliant tale of three lives that intersect after a fatal car accident. As I said, it's brutal, but it's incredibly moving as well.


2. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
Rated: PG
Directed by: Larry Blamire
Starring: Larry Blamire, Fay Masterson, Andrew Parks, Susan McConnell, Brian Howe, Jennifer Blaire, Dan Conroy
All-Time Ranking: 68
A low-budget film of which most people will have never heard, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is one of the funniest films I've ever had the chance to see. The filmmakers created a perfect spoof of 1950s sci-fi B-movies, and it's so wonderfully crafted that you almost forget that all of their jokes are intentional. This film is, from top to bottom, one of the most complete efforts in filmmaking that I've ever seen.


1. Moulin Rouge!
Rated: PG-13
Directed by: Baz Luhrmann
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Nicole Kidman, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent, Richard Roxburgh
Academy Awards: 8 nominations, 2 wins
All-Time Ranking: 10
I've always been a bit of a sucker for romances, so when you create a film that centers around the unlikely romance between a struggling writer and a high-class escort, you can be sure I'll be interested in seeing it. Add a soundtrack that riffs and remixes high-profile songs from popular culture, as well as a screenplay that's going to make you laugh and cry, then you've got the makings of something truly profound.

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