Written by Emma Mayeux
Compiled by Emma Mayeux and Cameron Galvin
Top Five Movies of the 2000s
This decade was met with groundbreaking films that defined 2000-2009. Directors broke through the mainstream with innovative films that experimented with structure, genre, and found new ways to tell a story. Honorable mentions go to Almost Famous (2000), Children of Men (2006), Inglorious Basterds (2009), The Dark Knight (2008), and the Royal Tenenbaums (2001).
5. Memento (2001)
Christopher Nolan gained notoriety with his captivating film with a concept that had never been given light before. Memento follows a man named Leonard who has amnesia from an accident that left his wife raped and murdered. This film is unconventional because it is told entirely in reverse, leaving the audience to decipher who killed Leonard’s wife and why, along with him. The structure of memento imitates Leonard’s state of mind and his inability to remember crucial details from his past. Nolan presents the film in two storylines, one in black and white and one in color, having them meet at the end to form one cohesive story. Nolan provides the audience with clues, allowing them to discover the mystery on their own. This film is not just a story, but a presentation of what amnesia feels like, giving the audience the ability to relate to Leonard. Physicians even praised the film for its realistic depiction of retrograde amnesia. Nolan started the decade with one of the most innovative films ever made, making it a lifelong classic.
4. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Darren Aronofsky also had his big start in the early 2000s with his drug filled epic. Requiem for a Dream chronicles the tales of four people, all suffering from some sort of addiction. The characters let their addictions control them as they resort to inhumane acts to keep their addictions alive. Aronofsky does not just explore drug addiction, however, but weight loss addiction. The most disturbing character to watch is Sara Goldfarb, an elderly woman whose dream is to be on television while wearing her favorite dress from her youth. Her appearance and her beauty are all that matter to her and she is will to starve herself to regain her image. This film is not about drug addiction, but the consequences of addiction, and giving into hedonistic desires. The ending is designed to shock and scare the audience, in order to show the horrors addiction leads to, making it a more effective anti-drug PSA than an egg and a frying pan.
3. There Will Be Blood (2007)
Paul Thomas Anderson is incapable of making a bad film. There Will Be Blood is his masterpiece. Anderson’s historical drama is about an oil tycoon named Daniel Plainview who intends to profit off of the California oil boom in the early 20th century. Anderson took inspiration from Upton Sinclair’s novel, Oil!. This film is dedicated to showing Plainview’s degradation from a humble, working man to a greedy, capitalistic businessman. Anderson really looks at how competition and money can drive a man to create an empire from nothing, but also drive away the people who love him. Plainview is determined to eliminate everyone who stands in the way of his fortune, resorting to vile acts. There Will Be Blood is a grand tale with a powerful score, epic sets, and thrilling action sequences, as the audience watches a man’s downfall.
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a perfect marriage between scifi and romance. It’s about Joel and Clementine who fall in love with each other, but when they break up, Clementine is so distraught that she decides to participate in an experimental study to erase all memories of Joel. Like Memento, this film explores the memories of the main characters by telling its story in a nonlinear fashion. This film pushes the boundaries of the romantic comedy genre, creating realistic characters and a smart story, while retaining humor and the turmoil of romance. The two leads struggle with heartbreak and regret, as they have to decide if sorrow is worth repressing.
1. No Country for Old Men (2007)
The Coen Brothers demonstrated exception filmmaker with their adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s modern western, No Country for Old Men. This film follows an epic chase between a rancher named Llewelyn Moss and a hitman named Anton Chigurh, as the local sheriff tracks the pair. The story is very simple, Llewelyn finds a suitcase full of drug money and Chigurh must hunt him down and retrieve the money. Immediately upon watch, you notice something off about this film; there is no score. Tense scenes are played out in complete silence, putting the audience on edge. This film presents two characters driven solely by greed and themselves. Llewelyn wants the money, and Chigurh wants the thrill of catching him. The Coens faithfully adapt McCarthy’s work, making this film feel like a novel unfolding on screen.