The 2000s: 7 Movies
1. Pollock (2000)
Ed Harris both starred in and directed this study of the famous painter. It's a very understated film, but it's very well done, with with a lot of attention to detail. Those looking for a more action-oriented film will probably be bored by this one, but it's a solid drama that deserves the awards it received back in 2000.
Like Warren Beatty's Bugsy, this movie was a long term passion project for its director and star. Fortunately for Ed Harris, this film was a lot better received.
2. World Trade Center (2006)
Damn this movie is depressing.
Directed by Oliver Stone, and starring Nicholas Cage and Michael Pena, this film focuses on two police officers trapped under the rubble of the World Trade Center.
Despite their best intentions, this movie feels overlong, and quite boring. The actors involved give it their best effort, but there's just not enough story to justify the length of the movie.
If you're a fan of comic book movies, however, this movie is a who's who of familiar faces. Ghost Rider, Amanda Waller, Zod, the Punisher, Ant-Man's pal, and even the priest from Daredevil!
3. The Blind Side (2009)
Sandra Bullock stars in this movie about a young, black football player adopted by a white family. It feels a lot like a TV movie, and the writers were very careful to desexualize the football player, but it has some funny moments and its heart is in the right place.
It was nominated for both Best Picture and Best Actress. Bullock won for Best Actress.
4. Gosford Park (2001)
Murder mystery set in an English manor. Clive Owen gives a brief but memorable performance, but this movie just crawls by.
The TV show Downtown Abbey was originally intended as a spin-off of this film.
5. Blindness (2008)
People throughout the world are mysteriously struck blind, and a small group of survivors struggle through the aftermath. Mark Ruffalo and Julianne Moore star as an ophthalmologist and his wife. Danny Glover costars.
If you've read the book, you'll know that there is a huge difference between doing this story as a film and doing it as a novel. In the novel, words are used to characterize people and situations that can't be seen, while in the film - an inherently visual medium - camera tricks are used to portray what certain characters aren't seeing.
I'm happy to say that Blindness works as a book and as a movie, though I think the book looms much larger in the imagination. In the book the reader is, in a sense, struck blind along with many of the characters. The movie is quite faithful to the novel, but lacks the sense of dread that made the book so memorable.
Fun Fact: Several groups and associations for the blind protested the portrayal of blind people in this movie. Honestly, how would they know? Did they somehow manage to see the movie?
6. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
I heard about this movie a lot in 2002, but didn't bother to see it until last week.
The title is fairly self-descriptive, but to elaborate it's also the story of a Greek woman, who marries a non-Greek. In the end - of course - they have a big (fat) Greek wedding.
It's a bit corny at times ("I came alive when I saw you."), but it's also funny and very heartwarming. Adapted from a play, it is by some accounts the highest grossing romantic comedy of all time. A sequel came out in 2016, but was not well received.
Fun Fact: Many Greeks in both North America and Greece were offended by the way in which Greeks are portrayed in this movie. If you ask me, I think they were a bit too easily offended.
7. Sideways (2004)
Two men go on a tour of southern California's wine country? Really? And they're not gay? Maybe it's a so-Cal thing, and I wouldn't understand.
Anyway, Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church are great together, and Giamatti gives one of his best performances. He's been one of my favorite actors since Barney's Version, which I saw just after its release in theaters.
Apparently this movie, a sleeper hit, had a huge impact on southern California's wine industry. Sales of pinot noir, a type of wine praised repeatedly in the film, improved considerably, while sales of merlot, a type of wine that the main character considers inferior, took a big hit.