Top 10 Oscar Winners of the 2000s
This is it. The last "category"-based Top 10 list. Tomorrow will be a virtual cornucopia of lists looking at one year at a time... but we'll get to that tomorrow. As for now, I'm sure over the last week and a half, you've been wondering where the heck all those Oscar-worthy films were on my lists, and why the majority of my choices were either major blockbusters or never-heard-of-it's. It's mostly because I find a lot of Oscar-bait films to be either way too serious for my liking or way too depressing. And sometimes they're just too pompous and/or full of themselves to be enjoyed. So while they might be the cream of the crop, the best of the best, the "reason films are made," they make it hard for me to like them. However, every now and then, a movie is nominated (or wins) and they're not your typical Oscar films. However, since I've most likely included those in other lists already (see: Chicago and Lord of the Rings), I have to include the next best thing. And what is that, you might ask? Well... they're like the movies on this list.
Note: Before I get into it, though, I want to explain what my reasoning was for choosing the films I did. These films either won numerous awards or was incredibly popular for the win of its year, but they didn't necessarily win Best Picture. There are only 2 exceptions to this process, and I'll make note of them when I get there. So let's wrap this up.
10. Milk (2008)
Gus Van Sant pissed me off with the overrated, artsy, self-absorbed, P.O.S. abomination that is Elephant. Luckily, Milk is more mainstream, so he couldn't pull off the stuff he attempted in Elephant. So how did this fare? Pretty much as I expected it would. It's a really good political drama about gay rights/activism. It's acted amazingly well. But it wobbles on that line between entertaining and boring melodrama that I dislike about Oscar films (no offense to the life of Harvey Milk, who is an utterly fascinating individual and a hero to not only the GLBT community, but human rights activists everywhere). But mostly, it's an inspiring film. Match that up with the acting, and you have my reason why it ended up on this list.
9. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
I don't care what people say about this movie, the next movie, or my #3 movie, I like them. OK? I like them. A lot. Which is why they're on this list. You say they're overrated. I say you're face is overrated. Yeah, I said it. Anyway, it's a good film with good acting and a good story. And it launched both Abigail Breslin's and Paul Dano's careers (the latter of course having done quite a bit of work beforehand, but nothing to really catch people's attention this much). And if it weren't for this film, a certain other film on this list probably wouldn't be as good, seeing Dano probably wouldn't have been cast. I realize I haven't really said anything specific about this movie, but... well... let's just leave it at me liking it.
8. Juno (2007)
Yes, Juno. People don't like it for its unrealistic dialogue, quirky humor, indie music... pretty much everything that made it popular. I think this movie really suffered from the very populist culture that most high school students, as well as the Juno character, live by: It's only good while it's relatively unknown... the second it's popular, it's immediately crap and overrated. I love the dialogue, the humor, and even the music. This was practically the only movie that's ever caused me to go out and immediately buy the soundtrack after seeing the film. But besides the humor, it has heart. And it launched the mainstream careers of Ellen Page and Michael Cera.
7. No Country For Old Men (2007)
This movie had the potential to be one of my favorites ever. And then the last 20 minutes started. I don't believe I've watched the movie since theater (maybe a snippet here or there on a movie channel, but that's it). The majority of the movie is great, and it introduces a great (Oscar-winning) villain. But you know what, Coens? Sometimes it's better to make changes to the ending of a book in favor of action. Just ask the Twilight films. It's sad that the script adapters of the Twilight Saga know that the climax of certain genres needs to show the action... but you don't. Don't be Stephenie Meyer, Coens. Don't just say it happens and expect your audience to be satisfied. But forgive my tangent. Besides the ending, this was a great film that deserved to win.
6. There Will Be Blood (2007)
I believe I was in the minority that wanted There Will Be Blood to win over No Country. I also feel that while Daniel Day-Lewis proved to be one of the best actors today in this film, Paul Dano got screwed out of an Oscar nom for supporting role. He was my favorite part of the movie, and I found myself not enjoying the movie as much when he wasn't in the scene. Sure, the movie has its faults, but don't they all just get negated with one simple line? I. Drink. Your. Milkshake!
5. Man On Wire (2008)
This is the first exception to my choosing process. This was a documentary, so it was really only eligible for one category (it was also mostly in French, which is kind of a double whammy there). But the film is presented like a heist film, and we all know how I love my heist films. I usually don't go out of my way to see documentaries, but this really is one of my favorites. And I couldn't do an Oscar list without adding this movie (especially since I didn't do a documentary list--I apologize, King of Kong).
4. Michael Clayton (2007)
I recently saw this film just the other day, and I was surprised. The acting between George Clooney and (especially) Tom Wilkinson is fantastic. It started to lose my attention around the last third of the film, which isn't too hard to do these days, but it still grabbed me overall, which is why it made it so high up on this list.
3. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Wow, that was weird. Literally the second I started to type this section, I hear M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" start on the TV. Anyway, I know this movie gets a lot of flak for being overhyped and/or overrated, but I think it deserves the praise. Danny Boyle presents us with a overly simplistic complex story as a mainstreamed Oscar-bait film... and any other paradoxical oxymoron (redundant?) statements I can make. It's a modern fairy tale with a Middle Eastern setting using a spin-off of an American game show. I love the concept, love the visuals, love everything about the movie. It's a fairy tale, people. Go with it.
2. The Wrestler (2008)
Another film I just saw recently. I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't what I ended up seeing. I guess I figured I was going to see your average depressing Oscar-bait film that I didn't care for. But it wasn't. I figured it was going to be a movie about an unlikable a-hole. But it wasn't. Mickey Rourke's Randy "The Ram" was not only likable, but you could feel his pain when he was told he couldn't wrestle anymore. The movie kept me engaged throughout. I was totally into the character and his story. And I even cringed a couple times during a couple brutal matches, regardless of knowing it was fake (both for the character and the actor). Great film all around.
1. Inglorious Basterds (2009)
This is the second movie on the list that doesn't follow the choosing process. Why? Because, well, the Oscars haven't even happened yet, and we don't know at this point whether or not it was even nominated. But you know it will be. At the very least, it's going to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor - Christoph Waltz... for giving us one of the best villains in recent years. He frightened me even more than Hitler (who really wasn't menacing at all). But I also predict a screenplay nomination and possibly a Best Picture nomination (seeing that the category stretched to 10). Overall, a fantastically made film, one of the best of the year, and I'm looking forward to rooting for Christoph at the Oscars next year.
End Note: You'll probably notice that the earliest film on this list is 2006. Here's why: Gladiator (a fine film, but I'm not a huge fan of Mr. Crowe). A Beautiful Mind (see: Gladiator). Million Dollar Baby (the kind of depressing Oscar-bait I don't care for). The Aviator (haven't seen it). Crash (The only thing I really liked was Ludacris' performance... which says a lot about my opinion on the film). Brokeback Mountain (yet to see it). The Departed (I swear, I'm probably the only person on the planet who hasn't seen this movie... but I'm working on it...). All the other films I'd choose were already on other lists, as I previously said. And that about catches us up.