Yikes, I'm not that impressed to see that four of the five highest rated films for 2000 at IMDb are Memento, Gladiator, Snatch, and Amores Perros (Requiem for a Dream is the lone standout, ranked second), but how about this for a Best Non-English Language Film race (or even a Best Picture race): In the Mood for Love, Werckmeister Harmonies, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Yi Yi, and Eureka. And that top five doesn't even include Devils on the Doorstep, Battle Royale, J.S.A.: Joint Security Area, Nine Queens, In July, Divided We Fall, Il Mare, A Time for Drunken Horses, Songs from the Second Floor, Together, La commune (Paris, 1871), Platform, The Circle, and Blackboards. That's a pretty exciting list. And English language cinema has its moments, too: Almost Famous, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Traffic, Before Night Falls, Dancer in the Dark, You Can Count on Me, Billy Elliot, High Fidelity, Remember the Titans, Cast Away, American Psycho, George Washington, Wonder Boys, Best in Show, X-Men, Unbreakable, Thirteen Days, Erin Brockovich, Pitch Black, Meet the Parents, etc. Not a bad documentary race either: Sound and Fury, Into the Arms of Strangers, Dark Days, Paradise Lost 2: Revelations, and The Gleaners & I. And maybe something from Japan could keep either The Emperor's New Groove or Chicken Run from walking away with an undeserved Animated Feature Filmspot.
What a problematic but fascinating year! IMDB has Hotel Rwanda, Million Dollar Baby, and The Sea Inside as three of the top ten films? Was decent screenwriting that out of vogue in 2004? I guess that would explain how Crash and Sideways won all those Oscars. It's okay. At least there was also Fahrenheit 9/11 and The Passion of the Christ to bring us all together. Seriously, what a weird year. And yet, buried beneath the titles above, you find these: Alone in the Wilderness (smirnoff!), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (everyone!), Downfall (YouTube!), Howl's Moving Castle, 3-Iron (roujin!), Nobody Knows (me!), Before Sunset (me again!), The Incredibles (Melvil!), Shaun of the Dead (Junior!), Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (someone!), Head-On (a second notable German film in the same year!), The Notebook (pretty people!), Mysterious Skin (roujin again!), Kung Fu Hustle (Chow!), The Chorus (VmSoze!), Vera Drake (smirnoff again!), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (people whose love of Cuarón makes them forgiving!), Maria Full of Grace (roujin yet again!), Duck Season (me! me! me!), Kings & Queen (jbissell!), The Woodsman (Bondo!), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (sdedalus!), 2046 (sdedalus again!), Brothers (oneaprilday?), and Tropical Malady (flieger!). Plus these other interesting (or semi-interesting selections): A Very Long Engagement (I've always meant to see this), Turtles Can Fly (has its moments), Mind Game, Finding Neverland (always intrigued by this despite Friend That I Trust's promise that I'll hate it), The Motorcycle Diaries (curious), The Machinist, Control Room (not bad), Dig!, Dead Man's Shoes (has its fans), The Butterfly Effect (lol), Garden State (divisive!), The Bourne Supremacy, Collateral (sabotaged!), Saw, Man on Fire, Ryan, House of Flying Daggers, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, The Edukators (it's an epidemic!), The Aviator, Spider-Man 2, Super Size Me, Darwin's Nightmare, Bad Education, Layer Cake, Closer (lol), Mean Creek (nice debut), The Terminal, Team America: World Police, Friday Night Lights, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (I could finally see this, I guess), and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (ditto). Yep, an interesting year.
There are more than a few films from 2006 that would likely be ineligible for the Retro Filmspots because they already earned nominations in the 2007 and 2008 Filmspots: Away from Her, Rescue Dawn, The Namesake, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, The Lives of Others, Paris, je t'aime, Offside, Paprika, Once, Black Snake Moan, 300, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, This Is England, and The Fall. Even with all those titles out of the equation, there's still an awful lot to see here. Here's one possible slate of Best Picture nominees: Pan's Labyrinth, Children of Men (yay!!!), United 93, The Departed, and Miami Vice (damn that cabal!). And here's another set of five films that could challenge the first five: The Prestige, After the Wedding, Little Children (this film used to have a ton of support here; is that still the case?), Volver, and Syndromes and a Century. Then there's these reportedly underlooked gems: The Island (per Sam the Cinema Snob), Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (per 1SO), Blame it on Fidel (per roujin, I think but he was wrong), Wristcutters: A Love Story (per Entertainment Weekly), Infamous, Brand Upon the Brain!, and Lake of Fire (per StarCarly) — the last of which would compete for Best Documentary with God Grew Tired of Us, Deliver Us from Evil, Deep Water, An Inconvenient Truth, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, Shut Up & Sing, Jesus Camp, Wordplay, The Bridge, Manufactured Landscapes, and possibly Borat and Jackass Number Two, if voters decide to go in that direction. I'm also happy to see a decent selection of films that I missed but would like to catch up with: Apocalypto, The Fountain, The Science of Sleep, Triad Election, 12:08 East of Bucharest, and The Host. And I like the idea of something like Tekkonkinkreet or A Scanner Darkly maybe keeping keeping Cars from winning a Filmspot. By the way, how the hell are Blood Diamond and Lucky Number Slevin rated 8.0 and 7.7, respectively, at IMDb. Is that legit? Other titles of note: Little Miss Sunshine, Letters from Iwo Jima, Casino Royale, Black Book (ugh), The Pursuit of Happyness, Stranger Than Fiction, Inside Man, The Illusionist, Fearless, Babel, Tell No One, Notes on a Scandal, The Painted Veil, Clerks II, Akeelah and the Bee, The Queen, Half Nelson, I Served the King of England, Reprise, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, The Yacoubian Building, Rocky Balboa, Flags of Our Fathers, Climates, I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK, and Crank. All in all, a pretty good option.
I'm having a hard time picking just two of these three. I like that 2000 is the most distant; but in a way I also like that 2006 is the most recent. I think the presence of Miami Vice
could be good for energy (like the semi-villainous character on a reality show), but 2004 is so damn interesting.
Guess I'll go with the same strategy as the 90s. Top films by year that I'd be excited to (re)watch:2000
American Psycho (though I need time to read the book first)
The Taste of Others
Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors
Devils on the Doorstep
Requiem for a Dream
La commune (Paris, 1871)
Kings & Queen
Kung Fu Hustle
Alone in the Wilderness
Children of Men
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Syndromes and a Century
The Science of Sleep
12:08 East of Bucharest
I guess I'll go with 2000 and 2004.