As I feared, slim pickings (which get worse in the teens). These fillms are fine, but except for 2001 and 2006, none of these would have been real contenders eve in the nineties, which was much weaker than the three decades preceding.
I don’t think this Decline of Civilization thing is all in my head. If I ever start to doubt myself, I’ll just go back and read the long lists of titles of the films released since 2000. It’s not conducive to any pretty pictures, either on-screen or in my head.
But I’m soldiering on as there are still some worthwhile films and we must do what we must do…Civilization won’t be resuscitated by failing to finish what we start!
2000 Nurse Betty (Neil LaBute) (over Proof of Life…speaking of fallen civilizations, don’t watch this movie unless you’re prepared to witness a completely gratuitous and hyper-realistic scalping scene…the compensation is stellar work from Renee Zellweger and Morgan Freeman plus Chris Rock justifying his fame)
2001 Me Without You (Sandra Goldbacher) (nothing close…and no shame on the year, which can’t be said for some other years in this decade)
2002 Ripley’s Game (Liliana Cavani) (over The Good Girl…not quite as good as The Talented Mr. Ripley from the previous decade, but further proof that Miss Highsmith’s terrifying age as arrived and a career defining role for John Malkovich even if he’s about as far from the Ripley Highsmith imagined as it’s possible to get without bringing spacemen into it.)
2003 Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton) (fun movie, but you know things are going south when something like this stands alone)
2004 The Incredibles (Brad Bird) (and ditto)
2005 Walk the Line (James Mangold) (over Proof…and I’ll say this much, it’s been an excellent century for musical biopics and small blonde actresses)
2006 Infamous (Douglas McGrath) (over The Break-Up…an unlikely step up from the previous year’s more celebrated and excellent-in-its-own-right Capote…with Toby Jones narrowly besting Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Truman Capote and Sandra Bullock, earning the Oscar they later gave for some hokey nonsense or other, ever-so-quietly laying Catherine Keener’s Harper Lee in the shade)
2007 The Brave One (Neil Jordan) (over Zodiac and Michael Clayton, which isn’t saying much)
2008 Appaloosa (Ed Harris) (over Iron Man and The Dark Knight, which might be saying even less…good western which, in the fifties, would have been one of a thousand)
2009 My One and Only (Richard Loncraine) (fun road trip movie, loosely based on George Hamilton’s childhood, with a rare turn by Renee Zellweger–who also lit up Appaloosa–as a style of southern belle who has rarely been portrayed as accurately or sensitively….over The Hurt Locker and Up…if Up had been released as a short, consisting of its first fifteen minutes, it would have quadrupled the national suicide rate and been the film of the new millennium…which still wouldn’t have deserved it)