As we move another year further away from the noughties, Emma Kiely recommends films of the decade that are worth revisiting.
What comes to mind when someone mentions the 2000s? For some, it may be the boozy trio of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Britney Spears. A time of low cut jeans, peroxide straightened hair and ‘mysteriously’ leaked sex tapes. For others, it’s a much darker time, with Fahrenheit 9/11 and Capitalism: A Love Story.
The decade may have been a time of social and political upheaval and disastrous fashion sense; however, these issues didn’t stop great films from being made. From the first time we came face to face with our beloved Harry Potter to Heath Ledger’s chilling laugh in The Dark Knight, the 2000s saw the release of hundreds of films that we’ll be telling our grandchildren to watch.
There’s no denying that this decade saw the release of some great major blockbusters. However, many of the independent films that were released will surely stand the test of time. For the majority of the decade, it was small budget, independent movies taking home Oscars and black comedy skyrocketed. With Alexander Payne’s painfully hilarious Sideways and Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, audiences had moved on from the guy-gets-girl narrative.
Throughout the decade, animation stayed afloat amongst the successful dramas and thrillers.
The crowning jewels of the noughties are undoubtedly Juno and Little Miss Sunshine. Both films address harsh yet universal issues such as abortion, adoption, infidelity, bankruptcy, suicide, unrequited love; the list is endless. However, they both do so in the most heartbreaking yet hilarious way. The eccentricity of the characters is placed in the trusting hands of some of the best actors of our time (Allison Janney and Paul Dano in particular), and they deliver. These two films are simply unforgettable and will be the new Pulp Fiction wall poster must-haves for generations to come.
In 2001, franchises began sprouting everywhere and children and adults alike finally got to see screen adaptations of their favourite literature. Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy raked in over $2 billion, won Oscars, and rebooted the fantasy genre. In the same year, a boy in a cramped cupboard with a lightning scar took over our screens and gave the new generation their own hero. Harry Potter reminded the world that nobody is too young or too old to believe in magic.
In 2005, Christopher Nolan commenced what is arguably the greatest superhero trilogy with Batman Begins. Nolan changed the game by bringing a superhero into the crime thriller genre. His version of Gotham City was grounded in reality and made audiences believe that this caped crusader could actually exist. Followed by The Dark Knight, the world witnessed a performance like no other with Heath Ledger’s unforgettable final performance as the insane Joker. Marvel can spend as many millions of dollars as they want, and Jared Leto can repeat ‘method’ all day every day, but no one will be able to emulate Nolan’s genius trilogy or Ledger’s legendary performance.
Throughout the decade, animation stayed afloat amongst the successful dramas and thrillers. DreamWorks’ Shrek proved to be the beginning of a monumentally successful franchise. Pixar gave us The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and Monsters Inc. To be honest, though, there really is no film like 2009’s Up. Up gave us a more in-depth and complex love story in five minutes without any dialogue than Twilight managed in four books and in five films. Sometimes, simplicity really is key and an old widower, a chubby scout boy, a talking dog, and an exotic bird proved to be the perfect combination.
Rom-coms were being made every other day in the 1980s and 1990s, so it was no surprise that audiences looked for something on the slightly more serious side at the turn of the millennium. Romance began to accompany important social issues with the relationship between two cowboys explored in Brokeback Mountain and Ewan McGregor facing the complexities of love and prostitution in 1900s Paris in Moulin Rouge.
In 2004, we were given the gift that is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, arguably the greatest and most complex love story of the 2000s.
In 2004, we were given the gift that is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, arguably the greatest and most complex love story of the 2000s. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet melted our hearts and reminded us that memories are the most important things that we own, plus no one had to drown in freezing cold water for it.
The drama and thriller genres both upped their game in the 2000s. Daniel Day-Lewis gave us his second Oscar-winning performance in the intense There will be Blood. A friendship between two men on opposite sides of 1980s Germany who never meet pulled at our heartstrings in the 2006 German picture The Lives of Others. Javier Bardem terrified the world in No Country for Old Men and Quentin Tarantino rewrote history so brilliantly in Inglorious Basterds that we should start telling our children that that’s how the war really ended.
Not too shabby for a time when Uggs were considered cool.