30 From 1: My Top Favorite Movies Of 2001
435 6.5 6.630. Session 9 (2001)
A small group of professional asbestos removers find out what can be even scarier than having a job as asbestos-removers:
"cleaning out" an old abandoned mental state hospital, where the walls have a tendency to whisper out your name & old patient session tapes that reveal the darkness that lays not only within those same walls, but also the darkness that dwells within your soul.
85 6.1 6.329. Made (2001)
Real life friends Jon Faveau & Vince Vaughn portray movie life friends in a film that shows that if you can make it in the mob,
then you've really got it made.
This is a movie that tends to get overlooked because of the more well-known Faveau/Vaughn indie efort, Swingers.
And while I like that film too, I thought this one was just a tiny bit better, story-wise & especially comedy wise.
3668 6.7 728. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
An uneven film that contains separate moments of good stuff. Enough of 'em, that, despite it's unstitched story flow, hits on a few certain plot points that were interesting enough to keep my attention. As a big fan of Stanley Kubrick's work, I can't help but look at this movie with the potential that it held if the original director had lived to make it.
But despite that, Steven Spielberg's effort at keeping A.I. alive is the main reason why this movie makes an appearance on this list.
1197 6.3 6.527. Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
I'm not usually a fan of Disney movies, particularly their animated stuff. Their stories are usually a bit too saccharine for my tastes, despite the smoothness of their art style.
However, Atlantis came along near the end of the their 2-D run, & at a time when the company seemed to decided to add a bit of edge to their house style with some inspiration from comicbook illustrator Mike Mignola. And just when they had me stating to warm to their stuff, they finally pull the plug to the hand-drawn animation.
1148 7.1 7.526. Enemy at the Gates (2001)
3003 6.4 6.725. Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
Yeah I know that this is a straight-up chick-flick. But still, as a guy, I really felt that, more than about romance, this move was really more about the road of self-discovery that Bridget goes thru via the reflective entries in her diary, as she writes about her ideas of relationships & whatnot.
Or maybe it is mainly just a romance film.
It's a friggin' chick flick & I'm a guy, so, what da hell do I know....
1110 6 6.224. Kate & Leopold (2001)
A light & airy love tale starring the ever adorable Meg Ryan, & featuring not only the concept of time travel, but also, the two guys who, in a later film, would portray two mutants characters from the X-Men, Wolverine & Sabretooth. Which I guess is enough to make a comicbook nerd such as myself to be cool with this movie (though the fact that is pretty decently written could be another reason of why it's on this list).
584 7.4 7.523. The Devil's Backbone (2001)
Guillermo Del Toro's tale of how an orphanage-turned-temporary safe-haven begins to show signs of a haunting after one of the orphan boys disappears (can you see why I stressed the comparison to Del Toro on my Orhanage entry?).
A story that may seem somewhat simplistic at first,
but when combined with the background dramas of both the lead characters, along with those hinted at of the supporting characters, along with the blatant "not-so-blatant" metaphors that are the director's strong-suit (that is, it's his strong-suit only if he isn't directing a Hellboy movie),
The Devil's Backbone turns out to be a satisfyingly rich movie that goes more for creepy metaphysical melodrama than it does for in-your-face scare tactics.
242 6.8 7.322. Manic (2001)
After making a name for himself as a kid start on the TV series 3rd Rock From The Sun, Joseph Gordon-Levitt started the new millennium by setting to hone his big-screen acting skillz by starring in a series of high quality indie films such as Manic.
In this one, he portrays a teen who is committed to a juvenile psychiatric ward of a hospital after nearly beating to death a baseball teammate with a bat during one of their games.
Now he must learn to come to terms with his tendency toward short but violent outbursts, and in the process, finds himself forming relationships with the other patients, either as friends or as enemies.
4052 7.6 8.121. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
63 6.3 6.720. An American Rhapsody (2001)
In this same year, I saw movie called Ghost World, which quickly became one of my fave flix of '01. And while there are several reasons why I liked that film, my eyes could not help but bulge at the beauteous actress that Scarlett Johansson was sprouting into. And I also noticed that, during this time period she seemed to be quite the darling of the indie film circuit.
Which prompted me to see An American Rhapsody when I saw that her name was in the credits.
Also starring the ever rapturous Nastassja Kinski, this movie tells the tale of the difficulties that can result from cultural assimilation, even if the move is from the greyness of oppressive communism to the more sunny sided liberation of Democracy.
3419 8.4 8.619. Spirited Away (2001)
Really cool childlike fairytale visuals with a level of creativity that reminds us why mythic tales fascinated us so much during our young ages, yet with enough of a few dark undertones to keep the interest of that part of our spirits that were crushed by the reality of becoming an adult. Fantasy fun with a slight twist of macabre for the whole family.
679 6.7 718. Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)
A really cool blockbuster epic from France that is half historic film, half horror adventure.
A beastly creature is terrorizing the locals of the southern French province of Gévaudan. But is it an actual werewolf of many a folkloric legend 0r just an oversized man-eating wolf?
There are only two men who can find out,
and one them is the dude who hosts Iron Chef America!
Not since the Wolf-Man took on Abbott & Costello has there been such a clash of legendary titans!
1183 6.7 7.217. K-PAX (2001)
In K-Pax, Kevin Spacey is "Prot", a "wandering spirit" who is either a mental patient masquerading as an alien
an alien masquerading as a mental patient.
As a film, K-PAX weaves through it's various "less epic" identities of E.T., Starman, and even of a fluffier version of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.
But, as with most sci-fi movies with the "aliens walking amongst humans to better understan humankind" theme, it tries to end with a life-lesson that teaches us more about us than it does "them".
In this case, no matter how crazy our individualized inner-scars can make us,
sometimes, all we need is a hopeful hand extended in friendship to help brings us back down to Earth.
And if that lesson comes off sounding as a bit too "spacey-headed", please take into account what Hollywood writers of these types of scripts have in common with people from K-Pax: They both tend to be a buncha distant souls that live amongst the stars.
4709 7.7 8.116. Donnie Darko (2001)
161 5.7 615. Knockaround Guys (2001)
This movie originally was supposed to go straight to DVD, but after Vin Diesel started becoming popular, it was then decided to be given a wide theatre release. It still didn't do any business, but it is a good movie that was worth the effort.
And to be honest, prolly the best one the ol' Vinster has starred in up to date. However since dis list is about my fave flicks of 2001 ( I don't have a list of Vin Deisel films), then it only comes in at #12.
And sure, maybe it's not the top ten, but still, it made it on this list. And that's still pretty good.
4470 8.1 8.514. Amélie (2001)
2289 7.3 7.513. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
1599 7.1 7.612. Training Day (2001)
A new cop finds out that the best way to learn the beat on the streets is to get as down & as dirty as the lining on that paves their way.
And with a partner who's just as down & as dirty, the only way to determine whether or not you've got a passing grade is if you're still alive at the end of the day.
2472 7.8 7.911. Mulholland Drive (2001)
Another weird/surreal modern film noir by the modern master of the genre, David Lynch.
Mulholland Dr. is a road whose journey leads down the kind of very dark & dreamlike path that only Mr. lynch can provide.
Done very much in the same flair of Twin Peaks. But this time, with lesbians!
Actually, while I consider David Lynch to be the modern master of surrealism, the truth is, when I look over this list, I noticed that with films like Waking Life, Amelie, Donnie Darko, Spirited Away & this one, 2001 seems to be the year of surreal spiced cinema. And if not full-fledged surrealism, then with the addition of Ghost World, The Man Who Wasn't There, Session 9, From Hell, even Spieberg's A.I. (with it's slight Kubrick aftertaste), it's definitely a year with it's fair share of quirk.
65 5.9 6.210. The Anniversary Party (2001)
One of those great movies that seems to have gone underneath the radar for everyone else.
A Hollywood anniversary party that shows how underlying surpressed feelings can just suddenly bubble up & reveal themselves to those who spend years emersing themselves into the Tinsletown culture of shallowness & the L.A. style of distorted political correctness.
8204 8 8.89. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the... (2001)
A movie about a famous fantasy novel series that I've never read. And even though I felt a bit lost through out certain plot elements, there was enough in this thickly layered tale of wizards, faeries, hobbits & bug-eyed emo moppets to allow me to loosely fill in the blanks to make at least, an over-all blanketed sense out of the whole damn thing.
Not to mention a whole boatload of cool effects & stunning art direction, at the high level of which, IMO, should always be expected from films of this genre.
I remember within the first ten minutes of the first movie, that even with the hype that preceded it,I could see that the effects & visuals on this thing were gonna be even more amazing than could be expected. Even the set-up of many of the scene shots seemed meticulously thought out. The only reason this movie series isn't at the very top of my list is because, the book was so chock-full of detail, that it was impossible to try & capture even of third of it's various plot-themes on film. As an end result, the entire trilogy had a feel much more of a detailed synopsis than it did of a complete story. A minor quip that still doesn't diminish my ability to enjoy this masterpiece with the grandness that is it's purpose.
5500 7.1 7.38. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
My intro in the world of wizarding world was not with this film, but with the Prisoner Of Azkaban movie. After being pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed a story of magicks, monsters & mystic mysteries that I originally assumed was geared just towards a tweener audience, I
decided to check the rest of the series that had been released up to that time.
And while this first chapter isn't as tightly molded in it's story as it's follow ups, as part of the whole of the Harry Potter film series,
The Sorcerer(Philosopher's) Stone still has more than enough to be enjoyed even by those of us whose adolescence would require a lot of twists on the ol' time-turner pendant.
171 6.7 7.17. L.I.E. (2001)
While there are many changes that comes with the coming of age, the hardest has to be the psychological. Reality tends to hit hard at this point in any young person's stage of growth, but especially if life decides to throw some of it's hardest knocks at this same time. And it's during times like this that a pliable adolescent mind can become easy prey for anyone with more predatory motives. Unless, amidst the chaos, that young person can find a way to deal with the barraging uncertainties of the situation & try to decipher between what is real and what is a lie.
L.I.E. is a exemplary example of the potential that can be reached with the type of stories & themes that can only be captured through the use modern independent films. And along with other indie flicks that were released in the early 2000's (Ghost World, Tape, Manic, Donnie Darko, etc.), it showed the particular kind of promise that, IMO, laid ahead for those movies that prefer to journey through the road less traveled.
182 6.9 7.26. Tape (2001)
Tight and terse dialogue drive the story of Tape, a film about three old high school friends who meet up in a motel room to reminisce about old times. The reunion soon turns to reveal deep secrets with deep consequences that have yet to be settled and threaten not only the ties that bond their friendships, but the future pathway of their lives.
750 7.4 7.55. Waking Life (2001)
There's something about creating philosophical discussions on film that usually comes off as kinda arrogant, to me. Maybe it's b'cuz I feel that any kind of communication on a philosophical level has evolved nowadays to the point where it is so individually subjective, that any talks about philosophy should leave some kind room for everyone listening to it to contribute in some fashion. And even if not all can, the space should at least be there. But when it's captured on film, that is not possible for a viewer.
But I guess that for me, this flick does a well enough job of being interesting enough with it's subjects, not to mention with it's visuals, that I found my pimp-ass sufficiently engaged in all of it's various ideas an' sh#t.
836 7.4 7.64. The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)
The ironic thing about this movie is
that the man in question was there.
I know, cuz I saw this movie.
And don't worry, I'm not giving anything away by saying that.
Let me also add that, as far as the rating for this movie goes,
Billy Bob's performance is great, as usual,
James Gando is cool, as usual
& Scarlett Jo is simply gorgeous, as usual.
Over-all, a top notch quality pic from the Bros. Coen.
622 6.3 6.83. The Score (2001)
I really enjoy hiest movies & the mark of a good quality one are the twists & unexpected turns that tend take place during the central caper-theme of the movie. For me, this movie delivers in those aspects but with the additive of performances by Robert DeNiro, Marlon Brando & especially a stand-out by Ed Norton.
1495 7.2 7.52. Ghost World (2001)
First, let me start off by saying that while I had seen Scarlett Johansson before in other movies, this was the first one where I had actually "fallen in love" with her.
I always liked Dan Clowes' comics. His work definitely subscribed to the idea of having a "style that was all his own". And for my money, this style fits in even more effectively in the medium of film than it does in the comicbook version of what is known as the "alternative" genre (a genre that his printed works mold into quite successfully). Dan Clowes' movies bring a well-welcomed shot of something new & different to watch just as effectively as his comics bring to the experience of reading.
4656 7.2 7.71. Ocean's Eleven (2001)
How hard is it to put George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia, Don Chido, Bernie Mac into a Steven Soderberg movie & not have it ending up being cool?
(Actually, now that I think about it, it's not all that hard really. Just make it 2 sequels later, add the typically overblown acting antics of Al Pacino into the mix, dump Julia Roberts & scrap together a story that barely makes any sense & wha la, there you have it....
the death of a forced fed franchise. One that should've been left alone in the 1st. place. Anyways....)
While I'm not sure if the popular comparison between Clooney & Cary Grant truly holds up, if there was a movie that could come close to that comparison, IMO, it would be this one.
A great heist movie that really feels like a true update of the genre, The casually cool Clooney is supported by an incredible cast, including veterans Elliott Gould & Carl Reiner, not to mention what I consider to be an under-rated performance by Don Cheadle.
Ocean's 11 is truly a top quality remake & provides just the right amount of escapist-fare that one might expect when it comes to plots centered around get rich quick schemes with complex plans.