2000: The Year in ReviewFeature article by Matt Heffernan <email@example.com>
January 31, 2001
Now that January is coming to a close, I suppose it's about time to look back at the year 2000 before it is forgotten. It wasn't the best year at the movies -- some critics claim it was the worst since 1930 -- especially after an exciting year like 1999. In my review of that year, I said it was a great year to become a film critic. Now, after the first full year of operation at FilmHead.com, I can see that it only set me up for a disappointment. Still, I now have a full year of reviews to look back on, and my choices for what were the best and worst films of the year can be more comprehensive. Yet this year also saw additional contributors to FilmHead.com, so I did not personally see everything that was reviewed. Some films, like Quills, Bounce, and Snatch, drew high praise from my other writers, but I have not seen them myself, and therefore cannot add them to my list. I have selected twenty films that were true diamonds in the rough, and this year it was difficult to come up with that many. First, let's look at what I see as the ten best films of 2000.
1. Wo hu cang long (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
2. Requiem for a Dream
4. Dancer in the Dark
5. Joe Gould's Secret
6. Almost Famous
7. Before Night Falls
8. Chicken Run
9. Shadow of the Vampire
10. High Fidelity
Honorable MentionsOf course, several other films deserve mentioning. I've decided to organize this list like the college rankings in U.S. News. Consider the following ten films to be the "second tier", listed in alphabetical order.
There were a couple other great films that I saw last year, but I couldn't count them as "2000" films because of 1999 releases that started very slowly. They were Kadosh and Girl on the Bridge -- two foreign gems that would have easily made last year's top ten list if only I had seen them in time. No doubt other "2000" films have slipped under my radar, and my review of 2001 will have to note them.
And on the other side of the tracks...Now, let's see some examples of what made 2000 such a bad year for going to the movies. I only gave two films less than one star, but there were plenty under two stars. Of those two wretched films, only one had the honor of no stars at all. This inhumanity is called...
Horrible, just absolutely horrible. In my review, I said, "Nobody with an ounce of intelligence could possibly enjoy this film." Well, that resulted in many letters from stupid people who were offended because they actually like the film. I give my sincere condolences to the families of these people, who will no doubt have to support them financially for the rest of their lives.
If only they had stopped there!
Other films also deserve dubious mention. But instead of dwelling on the very worst, I'll focus on some films that were either misguided or should have never been made.
Battlefield Earth - This half-star disaster looked like it was going to take the crown until Dude, Where's My Car? reared its ugly head. Nobody disagreed with this negative review, yet John Travolta is still planning on a sequel.
Bait - If this film had been any more popular, it would have set race relations back about fifty years.
Charlie's Angels - This film is the prime example of Hollywood conceit in 2000. The hype told everybody that they had to see it, and then they did. Expect this tactic to be repeated.
I could keep going with the negativity, but let's move on.Picking the best new faces in the film world was a little easier this year, mostly because there weren't that many. 1999 was full of fresh voices, while 2000 was just a retread of earlier years. Luckily, there were some exceptions.
So, here are my choices for the most welcome additions to the art.
Best New Director: Sofia Coppola. The girl can't act, but she has filled her daddy's shoes quite nicely. The Virgin Suicides shows where her true talent lies, and I expect even better things to come.
Best New Screenwriter: Stephen Gaghan. I was so amazed with Traffic, I thought I was watching a film from another time, when filmmakers were willing to assume that their audience was at least somewhat intelligent.
Best New Star: Zhang Ziyi. Her turn in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon looks like the beginning of a hugely successful career. She's already shooting her first American film: Rush Hour 2, with compatriot Jackie Chan. Expect more prestigious projects in the future -- films that are entirely free of Chris Tucker.
Best New All-Around Talent: Kenneth Lonergan. The Broadway playwright first found Hollywood success in 1999's Analyze This, but it was his work in writing, directing, and even acting in You Can Count on Me that has made him one of the hottest prospects in the industry. He also wrote the screenplay for the megabomb Rocky and Bullwinkle, which I happened to enjoy very much.
What, no flying cars?As a child, I looked to the year 2000 as a mythical time. Movies and comic books predicted amazing things, providing images of a world that has yet to appear. It turns out that 2000 was a rather mundane year -- a big anti-climax after the big hype leading up to it. The films that came out during those 366 days covered a great range, but they were concentrated on the low end of mediocrity. I still remain hopeful as ever about 2001. Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick made this year famous long ago with their brilliant Space Odyssey. So far, the films of January 2001 have turned out better than those of January 2000, which may be a good sign. I hope I can keep this site going for another full year, and with several active contributors, it looks like a definite possibility.
Video Pick of the Week
© 2001 Matt Heffernan