Top 10 Movies of 2001

It's time to look back at this past year's movies and pick out my favorites. Last year must have been a record movie watching year for me. Not including classics like "Jaws" and "The Terminator," I saw over 75 films that I had never seen before. Some were great while others were just plain bad.

There were many films that I saw that were not released in the year 2001 so it makes my "Best Of" list very difficult to write. In last year's list there were a lot of great films that didn't make the cut because I just hadn't seen the movie yet. "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is a great example of a film that would have been in my top 3 if I had just seen it before the end of the year. This year's most notable absence is "Lord of the Rings." I blame this dilemma all on the Oscar's and the movie studios trying to capitalize on winning a statue by releasing a film late in the year. The studio execs believe, and rightfully so, that the Academy and their short memories will only remember the most recent releases. But a lot of these films are released so late in the year that I only get the opportunity to see them in January or February. So how do I handle this problem? Well, I've come up with a solution.

I have composed a few lists this year. The first one is Best Of 2001. It is a top ten list of movies that were released in 2001. The second list is called Honorable Mention. This list will be for films that were either "left overs" or were on the list for other reasons. I have also created a Best Players list. This list combines actors and actresses into one big category and is basically a list of who I thought had the most impact on me as an audience member. The movies they were in did not have to be in 2001. I have also created a Worst Piece Of Junk Award. I think you can figure out what that's all about.

So have a look at my lists and remember, when you go to the movies, SHUT THE HELL UP! Others may be trying to enjoy the film. Thank you.

Best Of 2001:

1. Memento (2000) - Although technically released in 2000, "Memento" was re-released in hopes of a bigger audience. Well, I couldn't have hoped for a more interesting movie to pick as my number one of the year. Although I liked another movie a lot more than this one, "Memento" had a strange twist. The movie was played in small increments but from the end of the movie! You were basically seeing the end of the movie first. You needed to figure out how on earth did the movie end up where it was. Each segment's end would lead into the previous segment's beginning until the film fit together as a puzzle. This was a truly original idea and a good movie to watch. The main character had no short term memory and in order to remember who he was and what he was involved with, he needed to leave himself notes and sometimes get himself tattooed! There are numerous twists and turns in this film and it was a delight to watch.
2. The Deep End - Another low budget independent film. Tilda Swinton plays a mom trying to cover up what she believes is a murder committed by her son. The mother desperately tries to help but a bad situation only turns much, much worse.
3. Shrek - My first in my many family films to make the list. This movie had everything and so much more. It was a fun film to watch and was hilarious at times. It is a true classic. My favorite part of the film involved a bluebird and its eggs.
4. Atlantis: The Lost Empire - My next family film to make the list. This Disney outing had less of the song and dance and more of a story and plot. Some of the animation was stunning and despite the characters' square fingers, the only element of the animation I found to be a little distracting, this movie had it all. It is a beautifully animated film.
5. Monsters, Inc. - It is truly amazing that so many family movies made my list this year. Can the folks at Pixar do no wrong? I am beginning to wonder. All of their movies have become instant classics. "Monsters Inc." is no exception. The plot was more involved than most Pixar movies and I bet most young children just didn't understand the film. But despite all that, it was still a fun adult movie and the short before the feature was hilarious.
6. The Score - It was a film with a very deliberate pace. But to the director's credit, the pace was perfect. Robert DeNiro and Ed Norton, who I believe are two of the finest actors to ever hit the big screen, are perfect in this film. My only complaint is the love interest with Angela Bassett. As good as she is, there was no need for her to be in this film.
7. Hearts In Atlantis - Another great Stephen King adaptation brought to the screen. Although not nearly as good as "Shawshank Redemption", "The Green Mile" or "Stand By Me," this film had a sweetness about it that could not be ignored.
8. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Well, I am not going to go into this movie as much as my review. It is a good film that could have been better.
9. Ocean's 11 - A stellar cast and a great ending made this one of my favorite sleeper hits of the year.
10. Enemy at the Gates - Ed Harris is one of the best and most under appreciated actors in Hollywood. If you like graphic war movies, this one is for you.

Honorable Mention:

1. The Road Home - Wo de fu qin mu qin (1999) - I got to see "The Road Home" in a small one screen movie theater called The Screening Room in Newburyport Massachusetts. This particular theater shows mostly independent and foreign films. "The Road Home" was by far my favorite film in 2001. I was in awe of the picture in every possible way. Ziyi Zhang from "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was spectacular as a villager enamored with a school teacher. I was totally impressed with the way director Yimou Zhang was able to portray true love and devotion without having the actors say a word. The story was wonderful and touching. The cinematography was stunning and Ziyi Zhang was amazing.
2. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000) - Ang Lee's masterpiece. It would have been in my top 3 last year had I seen it before the end of the ear.
3. The Closet - Placard, Le (2000) - This movie was a hoot! Released in France in 2000, Daniel Auteuil starts as an ordinary guy who's luck turns sour. After hearing that he is about to get laid off, a neighbor convinces him to tell his company that he is gay. The result of which could lead Auteuil's company into a lawsuit. Gérard Depardieu is really funny as a homophobic bigot who befriends the Auteuil character.
4. Widow of St. Pierre (2000) - Another great foreign film starring Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil. The fate of a convicted killer and the death penalty is the background for the period piece. Auteuil and Binoche are wonderful in a film about forgiveness and compassion.
5. Finding Forrester (2000) - A great movie on writing starring Sean Connery. This film was grossly overlooked by the Academy last year.
6. Shadow of the Vampire (2000) - Is this film a documentary or not? It's a question that you must answer for yourself. Great performance by Willem DeFoe who should have won the Best Supporting Actor award last year.
7. Traffic (2000) - A well made movie about the war on drugs told from a few different angles.
8. Thirteen Days (2000) - Another overlooked movie from 2000. It is a retelling of the Cuban Missile Crisis starring Bruce Greenwood and Kevin Costner. How close did we really come to World War 3?
9. Chocolat (2000) - Another sweet movie starring the beautiful Juliette Binoche.
10. Everlasting Piece (2000) - Another foreign film about two friends, a Catholic and a Protestant in Ireland, and their bright idea to start a hair piece company.

Best Players:

1. Ziyi Zhang - "The Road Home"/"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"/"Rush Hour 2" - Two of my favorite movies of the past year starred Ziyi Zheng. She was also in "Rush Hour 2," a surprising improvement over the original starring the great Jackie Chan. She was fun to watch in every film despite not knowing a word of English.
2. Tilda Swinton - "The Deep End" - Tilda should get an Academy award for her role in "The Deep End." She was believable in her role as a mother trying everything possible to protect her son.
3. Daniel Auteuil - "Widow of St. Pierre"/"The Closet - Le Plecard" - Daniel was in another two of my favorite films of the past year. He is a big star in Europe and it shows with his great performances.
4. Jeff Bridges - "K-PAX" - Jeff has the Ed Harris Syndrome. He is one of the most under-rated and under appreciated actors in Hollywood. See "K-PAX" just for his and Kevin Spacey's role. Also check out "The Contender" with Joan Allen. Jeff was great in that too.
5. Guy Pearce - "Memento" - Guy will probably win the Oscar this year and rightfully so. He was awesome in "Memento."
6. Ben Kingsley - "Sexy Beast" - Talk about a character you loved to hate. I hated this character more than any other this year. You would be challenged to find a Ben Kingsley line in "Sexy Beast" that didn't have profanity in it.
7. Gérard Depardieu - "The Closet - Le Plecard" - Hilarious!
8. Juliette Binoche - "Widow of St. Pierre"/"Chocolat" - What a little beauty! I love Juliette as an actress. Without a doubt, she is one of my favorite actresses.
9. Denzel Washington - "Training Day" - Another character that you loved to hate. Will Denzel finally win his Best Actor statue?
10. Anthony Hopkins - "Hearts In Atlantis" - The venerable actor is perfect as Ted Brautigan.

Worst Piece Of Junk Award:

"A.I." - Steven Spielberg owes me the price of admission, the cost of gas in my car and the money I spent on the soda and popcorn. But more importantly, Steven Spielberg owes me three hours of my life back. What a waste of three hours! What a waste of perfectly good film! I would have rather seen "Battlefield Earth" again! Bad! Bad! Bad! Take the first forty-five minutes of the movie, dump the next hour of the movie, take the end of the movie, re-shoot a middle that looks and feels like the beginning and end, splice the beginning with the new middle and the end and you might have a decent film. Why did Mr. Spielberg agree to do this project? There isn't a single Kubrick film that I like. "2001" made no sense, he ruined "The Shining" so bad that Stephen King had to make a new movie and what the hell was "A Clockwork Orange?" The film world is much better off without Stanley Kubrick. If only he could have taken "A.I." along for the ride.

The Movies I Saw In 2001:

5 - Excellent
4 - Good
3 - Fair
2- Poor
1 - Terrible
0 - What In God's Name Were They Thinking? - (New for 2001 for AI)

A.I. - 0
Along Came A Spider - 3
America's Sweethearts - 3
AntiTrust - 4
Art Of War (2000) - 3
Atlantis: The Lost Empire - 5
Battlefield Earth (2000) - 1
Blow - 4
Cecil B Demented (2000) - 3
The Cell (2000) - 3
Chocolat (2000) - 4
The Closet Placard, Le (2000) - 5
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000) - 5
The Deep End - 5
The Dish (2000) - 4
Domestic Disturbance - 3
Dragons Forever (1987) - 4
Enemy at the Gates - 4
Everlasting Piece (2000) - 4
Evolution - 2
15 Minutes - 3
Finding Forrester (2000) - 5
From Hell - 4
The Golden Bowl (2000) - 2
Gorgeous (1999) - 3
Hannibal - 1
Harry Potter - 4
Heart of Dragon (1985) - 2
Hearts In Atlantis - 5
Hedwig and the Angry Inch - 2
Hollow Man (2000) - 3
House Of Mirth (2000) - 3
Jurassic Park 3 - 4
K-Pax - 4
Keep The River On Your Right (1999) - 3
The Kid (2000) - 3
Legend of Bagger Vance (2000) - 3
Magnolia (1999) - 3
Memento (2000) - 5
The Mexican - 3
Miss Congeniality (2000) - 2
Mission Impossible 2 (2000) - 3
Monsters, Inc. - 5
Mummy Returns - 3
The Musketeer - 3
Ocean's 11 - 4
One Night At McCools - 2
Pearl Harbor - 4
Planet Of The Apes - 2
The Pledge - 4
Police Story (1985)- 4
Police Story 2 (1988) - 3
Project A (1983) - 3
Quills (2000) - 4
Reindeer Games (2000) - 3
Replacements (2000) - 3
Requiem For A Dream (2000) - 4
The Road Home (1999) Ziyi Zhang - 5
Rules of Engagement (2000) - 3
Rush Hour 2 - 4
The Score - 4
Sexy Beast (2000) - 4
Shadow of the Vampire (2000) - 5
The Skulls (2000) - 3
Shrek - 5
State and Main (2000) - 3
Taylor Of Panama - 2
Thirteen Days (2000) - 4
3000 Miles To Graceland - 2
Tomb Raider - 4
Traffic (2000) - 5
Training Day - 3
Under Suspicion (2000) - 3
Under The Sand (2000) - 3
The Virgin Suicides (1999) - 3
Waiting for Guffman (1996) - 3
Widow of St Pierre (2000) - 5
With A Friend Like Harry (2000) - 4

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