R2D2's Ultimate Top 10 Countdown Of The 2000s #10 - Oscar Winners.

[For the last 10 days of the decade, I'm doing a Top 10 list a day, all culminating into an ultimate post of Top 10 lists. We have previously seen Top 10 Comedies, Dramas, Animation, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Foreign, Musicals, Action/Thrillers, and Decade Specials. Now we're moving on.]

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.


R2D2's Ultimate Top 10 Countdown Of The 2000s #9 - Decade Specials.

[For the last 10 days of the decade, I'm doing a Top 10 list a day, all culminating into an ultimate post of Top 10 lists. We have previously seen Top 10 Comedies, Dramas, Animation, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Foreign, Musicals, and Action/Thrillers. Now we're moving on.]

Note: Today was originally going to be big Oscar-related films, and I've been trying to catch up with those I hadn't seen yet (for instance, in the last couple days, I watched both Michael Clayton and The Wrestler (reviews forthcoming)). But I still have one more I need to watch (Milk), which I'll be doing later today, but I don't want to delay the list, so I'm gonna go ahead and post the list I was going to do tomorrow, and then do my Oscar list tomorrow. So let's get to it.

Top 10 Decade Specials of the 2000s

What does this mean, exactly? Well, if the 2000s were anything, they were known for certain types of films. It's been known as the decade of the superhero, as well as the decade of remakes (and, occasionally, remakes (and/or reboots) of superhero films). So this is the list that takes the best of the remakes and the superhero fare of the past decade and puts them all together in one list. So let's go for it.

10. Disturbia (2007)

A modern remake of Hitchcock's Rear Window. It has a pretty good cast list, led up by Shia LaBeouf, Carrie-Anne Moss, and David Morse. Instead of the broken leg, we have a a kid under house arrest (with one of those little ankle bracelet things). It's a fun little thriller where, at times, you're really not sure if Morse is a bad guy or not (I mean, you know he is, but still. It's similar to this year's A Perfect Getaway... the ending is obvious, but it still makes you second guess yourself). It also has some nice eye candy in the form of Sarah Roemer who, unfortunately, hasn't really done anything else major.

9. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Some might disagree with me here, but I really enjoyed this movie. It was also infinitely better than the other Hulk attempt a few years prior, which was a total snooze-fest. Great cast with Edward Norton, Tim Roth, Liv Tyler, William Hurt, and Tim Blake Nelson. There's even a fun cameo by Lou Ferrigno (and Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark at the very end). Will Edward Norton be along for The Avengers? Let's hope so. But either way, this film had some good action, humor, and special effects.

8. Sky High (2005)

Call it a guilty pleasure if you must, but this was an original take on the superhero genre. It's also light and fun for the whole family, if need be, so you don't have to worry about the darkness of a lot of the more recent superhero films. It's like Harry Potter with superheroes instead of wizards, and it's full of fun appearances, such as Bruce Campbell, Lynda Carter, Dave Foley, and Cloris Leachman, along with its more main cast of Michael Angarano, Kurt Russell, Kelly Preston, Danielle Panabaker, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. For those who don't know, think of it like a live-action Incredibles, but without superheroes being banned/in-the-closet. Michael Angarano's parents are super famous, but he has no powers to speak of, and ends up going to Sky High (superhero school), only to end up in sidekick classes. He makes friends, enemies, and even a potential love interest... who might be more than she seems. A great film I recommend if you've never seen it.

7. Watchmen (2009)

Now this would be the complete opposite of the previous film. It's about as dark as they come. I was a fan of the original comic (except the squid-tastic ending, which I was incredibly happy they changed for the movie). Jackie Earle Haley was brilliant as Rorschach, and I'd even say deserving of an Oscar for his role, though that ain't gonna happen. Regardless of what you thought of the movie, his was one of the best performances of the year... and you rarely even saw his face.

6. Ocean's 11 (2001)

An all-star cast in this remake of the 1960 film of the same name, this is a great heist film... most would say (and I'd agree) one of the best. The cast totally works off each other well, and you can tell they're having fun. Not much else to say about the film. I love heist films, and I love this one.

5. Spider-Man 2 (2004)

This is the best of the Spider-Man flicks, and most would agree. Doc Ock is a great villain, but it also leads into the eventual transformation of Harry into the Green Goblin 2 (in the less-than approved third film). This has a lot of good action and great special effects. I'm still not sure how I feel about (spoiler alert if, for whatever reason, you haven't seen it yet) Doc Ock turning good at the end of the movie and sacrificing himself. It kinda took away a "Sinister 6" potential for future films (yet they let Sandman live in number 3. Go figure). Regardless, this is still in the top tier of superhero films.

4. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

I'm no fan of westerns by any means, nor do I go out of my way to see Russell Crowe, but I certainly loved this movie. (And no, Fletch, it's not simply because of Ben Foster... though that helps.) It has good character building, as well as a good anti-hero in Crowe's Ben Wade (well, anti-hero by the end of the movie). And speaking of the end... while a lot of people didn't like it, I loved it. I thought it was moving and it worked. An all-around great film.

3. Dawn of the Dead (2004)

In this remake of the Romero classic, the cast is larger and the zombies are faster. Sure, there are problems (with such a large cast, most of which don't come in until halfway through, there isn't a hell of a lot of character development). But when you have characters like Andy who you can't help but feel for, even though you see him up-close only once in the movie... or a guy like Steve, who makes you (love to) hate him almost right after you meet him. Or the character who has the best evolution throughout the movie, Michael Kelly's CJ, who goes from a grade-A ass to a likable hero over the course of the movie. From the brilliant opening to the heartbreaking (and then ironic) ending, it's fun all around. The movie is bloody, suspenseful, and action-packed. And what other movie can get away with shooting a baby in the face?

2. Iron Man (2008)

One of the biggest surprises of its year, Iron Man breathed life into a genre that was slowly dying. Mostly, it was thanks of Robert Downey Jr.'s quick-witted performance. The movie did fall prey to "origin story"-itis, where it takes a while to get to the hero action, and then the villain is more-or-less an alternate/evil version of the hero. But it all worked, and it worked well.

1. The Dark Knight (2008)

If you didn't know this would be at the top of the list, you've probably lived under a rock for the last couple years. Heralded as the best superhero movie ever made, The Dark Knight gave us Heath Ledger's final (brilliant) performance as The Joker. There's really nothing to say about this film that hasn't been already said by everybody and their mother, so I guess I'll just leave it at that.

End Note: I realize that I didn't include X-Men, the film that began the superhero craze, or its sequel, which is also placed pretty high on the superhero tier. But just to calm your nerves, X2 would probably fall at #11 on my overall list, if for anything, its fantastic opening sequence.


R2D2's Ultimate Top 10 Countdown Of The 2000s #8 - Action/Thrillers.

[For the last 10 days of the decade, I'm doing a Top 10 list a day, all culminating into an ultimate post of Top 10 lists. We have previously seen Top 10 Comedies, Dramas, Animation, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Foreign, and Musicals. Now we're moving on.]

Top 10 Action/Thrillers of the 2000s

No, they aren't the same thing. But I decided to put them in the same category because they both involve action and both involve thrills/suspense. And there's always a ton of them each year. But are they all good? That's the question. Here's my Top 10 list of action films and thrillers of the past decade.

10. The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Talking about the original, of course (hence the definite articles in the title). It was the first and still the best. The latest of the films did come close, but it lacked the character development of the first. I remember when this film first came out, the theaters were packed, and when it came out on DVD, they had trouble keeping the shelves stocked. I'm not sure I remember another major film where they had trouble keeping the DVD in stock during its week of release. So I think that's a testament to why this film ended up on this list. It's good action with fun characters, and it's also the film that shot Vin Diesel (and Michelle Rodriguez) into stardom.

9. Crank (2006)

This was the action movie to end all action movies. Story? Pfft, who cares? Logic? Throw it out the window. Realism? Nope. It's a live action video game starring Jason Statham as a guy who has to keep his adrenaline pumping to avoid a fatal poison from stopping his heart. And he does everything from headbanging to Achy Breaky Heart to drugs to standing on top of a motorcycle... and on and on. It's an hour and a half of the craziest stuff ever. And it's tons of fun... if you shut your brain off.

8. Taken (2008)

Written (in part) by Luc Besson and directed by one of his new go-to guys, Pierre Morel, Taken shows us why you should never mess with daddy's little girl... especially if daddy used to torture and kill people for a living. Liam Neeson is a forced to be reckoned with. Of course, the film has its flaws, but it's still a lot of fun.

7. Kill Bill (2003-2004)

Fletch of Blog Cabins recently got on to me about putting a "series" in one spot, but I think he'll forgive me for this one, considering it was meant to be one film anyway. Quentin Tarantino's revenge opus gives homage to a ton of other revenge films, samurai films, spaghetti westerns... and who knows what else... all in one (two?) film(s). The two halves are really different in nature, however, and depending on your taste, you probably prefer one to the other. I think both have their ups and downs (and as much of an anime fan as I am, I have to say one of Vol. 1's downs is its anime sequence). But it's still a great (set of?) film(s).

6. Unleashed (2005)

I think this film is incredibly underrated. Another film written by Luc Besson, this film stars Jet Li, Morgan Freeman, and Bob Hoskins. I believe this is one of Jet Li's best American films, because it actually has him acting and showing emotion rather than just being a badass. Bob Hoskins plays the villain, a guy who takes in Danny (Li) as a boy and raises him like an attack dog. But after an accident, Danny escapes and ends up in the home of a blind piano tuner (Freeman) and his daughter, who try to help him be more human. It's a film that plays to Pavlovian psychology (almost literally with the 'dog' aspect). Along with the really good action, it has a lot of heart, and I don't understand why the film isn't as discussed as it should be.

5. Hostage (2005)

Bruce Willis playing a cop! Surprise! But what's even better than that? Ben Foster playing a villain (and he can do crazy real well). Kevin Pollack playing morally ambiguous. This is a great little thriller all around, and it's full of good acting. It's essentially a heist-gone-wrong film, wherein a bunch of kids attempt to steal a car from a rich guy's house, but things spin out of control when their quiet friend (Foster) shoots a cop and forces the other two brothers to take the family hostage. Willis plays a former hostage negotiator turned small-town cop after failing to save a family in the big city... and of course, he's forced to become the negotiator of this little situation. I love this movie, which is why it's in at #5.

4. Memento (2000)

Clearly in the thriller category over action, this movie is another Christopher Nolan masterpiece. Played in reverse, Memento tells us the story of a guy with short term memory loss who is out for revenge on the man who killed his wife. There's really not a lot to say about the movie... great concept, good twist, good acting... overall great film.

3. Training Day (2001)

Give it up to the acting in the movie, or its overall intensity, but this movie is crazy good. One of Denzel Washington's best performances, hands down. There's really not a hell of a whole lot to say about this movie other than that. It's intense, and Denzel is amazing in it. 'Nuff said.

2. Collateral (2004)

Along with The Last Samurai and Minority Report, this is one of my favorite Cruise films. In fact, of the three, it's probably my favorite. Cruise plays a hitman who hires a taxi driver (Jamie Foxx) to drive him around to his hits. But Foxx, the good guy he is, tries to stop Cruise when he realizes what's going on. And from there, it spirals into more than just another night on the town. Great acting, great cinematography, great script... I love this movie.

1. Inside Man (2006)

I'm a total fan of heist flicks, especially when done right. And this one was done very right. Clive Owen is the head of a band of thieves who take over a bank and mess with the heads of the police, including the detective on the case played by Denzel Washington. The first couple times I saw it, I didn't care for the Jodie Foster character, but she eventually grew on me. It's deeper than your average heist film, and it has a great ending. The movie is stylish, well written, brilliantly acted, and total fun. And it's one of my all-time favorite movies.



From the trailers, I was never sure what to make of this movie. I'm not an avid fan of Sherlock Holmes or anything, so it wasn't an issue of staying true to source material or whatever. I guess it just made it seem a pure action movie with slow motion visuals and little on the mystery. I suppose this is a case where the trailer wrongfully portrays a film.

Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) is the greatest detective of his time. He and his partner and friend, Dr. Watson (Jude Law), have just stopped Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) from killing another person. Blackwood is then tried and hung for his deeds. But then he rises from the dead and boggles the minds of the Scotland Yard. Around this same time, an old 'flame', Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), arrives to stir up a bit of trouble in Holmes' life. But while working on her case, he gets mixed up in the new case of Blackwood's resurrection. And it's up to him and Watson to solve the case before it's too late.

First, the movie wasn't just all action as I had feared. There is plenty of it there, but there's also a good bit of mystery involved, as well. And as for my much-feared slo-mo fighting, it worked in the context of the movie. Basically, it's Holmes slowing down the situation and thinking out his points of attack, rationalizing it, before he does it. And it only happens a couple times. Other than that, the action is pretty good.

The mystery, on the other hand, is (from what I hear) classic Sherlock Holmes. By that I mean that there is no way for the audience to figure it out beforehand. You know what bits and pieces are important when you see them, but there's no way (unless you're a scientist or genius) to figure out what the pieces mean or how they fit together. Usually I hate that kind of mystery, as I think the point of a mystery is to be able to figure it out yourself (thus becoming the detective), so taking away that ability and giving it a "out of nowhere" response is a bit of a letdown. Not necessarily the case here. I think they kept it entertaining enough and shot well enough that it didn't really bother me.

As with most Guy Ritchie films, the dialogue is heavy and fast, making it sometimes hard to follow. Though, unlike his other films, it doesn't permeate throughout the entire film. It's just in a few places here and there. But also, like other Ritchie films, the cinematography and overall visual style was great. There were some really beautiful shots in the movie.

I don't have too much to say about the film, really. I liked the visuals, the music, and (as expected) the comedy. I suppose the biggest surprise was Jude Law. I don't go out of my way to see Jude Law films, but I really enjoyed his portrayal of Dr. Watson and wanted him back when he wasn't on screen. Anyway, an all around fun film. It was good entertainment, and I'll definitely be seeing the sequel (because there's gonna be one).

A Keanu 'Whoa'

P.S. The biggest disappointment? The McAdams cleavage shot from the trailer isn't in the movie. Boo.

R2D2's Ultimate Top 10 Countdown Of The 2000s #7 - Musicals.

[For the last 10 days of the decade, I'm doing a Top 10 list a day, all culminating into an ultimate post of Top 10 lists. We have previously seen Top 10 Comedies, Dramas, Animation, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, and Foreign. Now we're moving on.]

Top 10 Musicals of the 2000s

I grew up with a musical family, and, as such, with musicals. However, while, say, my mother is more into the classic musicals such as The Sound of Music, I like more quirky musicals, musicals with interesting concepts and catchy songs. And now that I've seen Nine, I can officially release this list. So, that being said, let's get on with it.

10. August Rush (2007)

Not a musical in the classic sense, this is more of a movie--a fairy tale--about music. With a couple exceptions, most of the music doesn't even have words. But it's a great story/modern fairy tale surrounding the magic of music. But as it isn't a musical in the classic sense of the word, I placed it in the #10 spot.

9. Nine (2009)

Yeah, a mixture of purposefully clever placement and coincidence, my #9 spot goes to none other than Nine. It's a movie about movie making and thus has some clever cinematography. The movie is lax in the plot department, and it suffers because of it, but it has some decent musical numbers, especially Fergie's number, "Be Italian."

8. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

Tim Burton's adaptation of the blood-thirsty barber out for revenge. Sure, the singing is decent at best, and only about half the songs are overtly catchy, but it's still a fun movie. And who doesn't love the delectably humorous song "A Little Priest"?

7. Chicago (2002)

Rob Marshall, whose other big musical has already been on this list, gave us this Oscar-winning film about murder and the attempt at getting away with it. Beautiful and scantily clad women dance around singing numerous catchy songs, the best of which include "The Cell Block Tango," "And All That Jazz," and the surprisingly good performance by John C. Reilly, "Mr. Cellophane."

6. Enchanted (2007)

There are really only 3-4 main songs in this movie, the two biggest being "Happy Working Song" and "That's How You Know." After a while, the singing dies down to correlate with Giselle adapting to the real world. So it's mostly a pseudo-musical, but that's enough musical to make my list. The movie was a lot better than I expected, too, with its homage to previous Disney films and their cliches. Self-deprecating humor while still respecting the source material. It's like Shaun of the Dead, but without the zombies.

5. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Based on Homer's "The Odyssey," this film by the Coen Brothers is also not your typical musical. But there is enough singing interspersed throughout that I would label it as such. Between the song of the Lotus Eaters (baptism folks), the song of the Sirens, and all the Soggy Bottom Boys stuff, it's a fun little musical. Granted, it's really not the musical aspect of the film that makes me love it, but the modern adaptation of a classic story. Oh, and it's funny ("Damn! We're in a tight spot!"). But ever time I watch it, I can't help but get "Don't leave nobody but the baby" (the Siren Song) stuck in my head... catchy tune.

4. Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical (2005)

If you've never heard of it, the original Reefer Madness came about in the 30s (then titled "Tell Your Children") to warn people that weed will cause you to play the piano at excess and want to have giant orgies. It spawned an off-broadway musical adaptation which was then adapted into a film... and it's freakin' hilarious. It takes a couple prim-and-proper, overly naive 50s-esque teens and introduces them to marijuana, resulting in a funny chain of events that involves selfishness, forgetfulness, sex, and murder. And the cast is great, too. It involves Kristen Bell, Christian Campbell, Neve Campbell, Alan Cumming, Ana Gasteyer, Steven Weber, and John Kassir (AKA the voice of the Crypt-Keeper, actually reprising his stage performance for the movie). It's hard to pinpoint my favorite songs, but they'd have to include "Jimmy Takes a Hit," "Little Mary Sunshine," and "Murder."

3. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008)

I wasn't sure whether or not to include this on the list, considering it was more of a web-based, 3-episode long movie/mini-series. But it's just so good I couldn't not include it (double negative and all). Directed by Joss Whedon, the story follows a wannabe supervillain named Dr. Horrible played by Neil Patrick Harris. He's in love with a woman from his laundromat named Penny (Felicia Day), but she starts seeing his arch-nemesis, the self-absorbed Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion). It also has an ending that, well... that I can't spoil. If I absolutely had to pick a favorite song (which is near impossible at this point), I'd have to say "Brand New Day." But I haven't even mentioned the greatest part of all this. If you purchase the DVD, there are a couple different commentaries for the movie, one of which is a musical in and of itself. Yes, they made a musical commentary. Now that is brilliance right there.

2. Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)

Brought to us by the guy who did Saw 2, 3, and 4, Repo! The Genetic Opera is a gory rock opera about a future where there is an epidemic of organ failure, and a company is set up to loan you organs. But if you can't pay up, they send out Repo Men to come kill you and take the organs back. And yes, if you've seen the recent trailer for the film Repo Men with Liev Schreiber, Jude Law, and Forest Whitaker, it's a complete and total rip-off of this musical... but without the music, and more action-based. It has a totally interesting cast, and its biggest shock is that Paris Hilton is actually good in it (because she's basically playing herself). Practically the entire movie is sung (it is an opera, after all), but the sung dialogue is just like an interlude in between the big musical numbers... the best of which include "Legal Assassin," "At the Opera Tonight," "Chase the Morning," and, the best song in the movie, "Zydrate Anatomy." It's full of fun acting, cartoonish humor, great songs, intense moments, and a great (operatic) story.

1. Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Interesting that my number one on the list has the most creative songs, yet they're (mostly) songs that have already been written... and not for musical purposes. It's a fantastical (and visually stunning) film about love and the bohemian lifestyle. It takes big, popular songs of the past and uses them in a musical setting. Some of the most creative uses are the medleys, like the "Elephant Love Medley" and "Zidler's Rap." But my personal favorite, in correlation with the drama of the scene, is "El Tango de Roxanne." It's a beautiful, powerful, and chilling scene that always gives me goosebumps. So, great acting + great visuals + great music + great story = great movie, and my #1 musical choice of the decade.

End Note: This list would be much different had it been a list of "Top 10 Songs from Musicals of the 2000s." In that case, "Falling Slowly," the main song from Once, would have topped the list... because while I think the song is incredibly beautiful, I didn't care all that much for the movie itself. Hence, why the movie didn't make the list, so go ahead and shoot me now.



As a fan of musicals (I was raised with them and come from a pretty big musical family), I knew I was going to see this. It also didn't hurt that it was fully of people (both behind and in front of the camera) who either won or were nominated for an Oscar. But then reviews started coming out, a lot of them stating that the film was somewhere between pretty good and great, and most leaning toward merely "pretty good." I suppose this is the part where I usually do my plot description, but that's really the film's primary fault: there really isn't one. If I had to try, I'd say it's the following: a famous filmmaker, Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis), is having a bit of writer's block for his upcoming film. So he tries to just get away from his crew (including Judi Dench) whilst cheating on his wife (Marion Cotillard) with Carla (Penelope Cruz). There's also a reporter for an American fashion magazine (Kate Hudson), visions of his dead mother (Sophia Loren), as well as daydreams about a prostitute from his childhood (Fergie). All the while trying to figure out a script to be able to give to his leading lady and muse (Nicole Kidman).

Basically, it's more of a character study than anything. And if you couldn't figure it out on your own, over half the songs constantly repeat the name "Guido," making sure you understand this is all about him. And I don't mean this as a bad thing... I suppose one of the movie's main themes is Guido's selfishness and possible narcissism and how it affects everyone around him.

But really, there is absolutely no real plot to carry the movie, and I think that's where it suffers the most. Well that and the fact that about a third of the songs are kinda boring. I had a couple friends at the movie, too, and one of them had the complete polar opposite opinion in one regard. But as she tends to have worse taste in films, I'll go ahead and say I'm probably right in this case (and the fact that most of the reviews out there share the same thought as me). And the opinion? (Mine:) Kate Hudson's performance wasn't the greatest in the film, while Fergie blew them all out of the water (My friend: But Fergie just sat in a chair, and Kate Hudson danced around! Me: *le sigh*). Fergie had the best and most memorable scene in the film, the best choreographed number, the best edited scene, and the best song (which I suppose is why they used it in the trailer). It's just unfortunate that all the songs weren't at that same level. I'm not saying that was the only good song, though. No, there were a lot of good songs, and a lot of the songs were filmed really well. I just mean that that one was the best (in my humble opinion).

The acting was outstanding, of course, with all these great actors and actresses. Though with all these great people in one movie, you can't have them all with big parts. There are tons of beautiful women in the movie, but only a couple of them are in the movie more than 5-10 minutes (these being Penelope Cruz and Marion Cotillard. Nicole Kidman comes in third, then Kate Hudson and Fergie). Judi Dench is also in it quite a bit, and she does really well with her role. Sophia Loren only seems to be there so the movie can go "Hey, look, we have Sophia *beepin'* Loren!" Will this one be another Oscar nom for Day-Lewis? Probably not, but he still did brilliantly as usual. And he was surprisingly funny. I wasn't expecting the amount of humor he brought to it.

Overall, the movie is gorgeous in every way possible. The cinematography is superb (and you wouldn't expect any less from the director of Chicago). The women are beautiful and scantily clad (and you wouldn't expect any less from the director of Chicago). The musical numbers are dream-like and fascinating (and you... OK, you get it). Good music, good acting, decent writing, poor plotting. In other words, it could have been better, but it was still pretty dang good.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

R2D2's Ultimate Top 10 Countdown Of The 2000s #6 - Foreign.

[For the last 10 days of the decade, I'm doing a Top 10 list a day, all culminating into an ultimate post of Top 10 lists. We have previously seen Top 10 Comedies, Dramas, Animation, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and Horror. Now we're moving on.]

Top 10 Foreign Films of the 2000s

As I've stated before, if any film was made in another country and speaks another language other than English (and thus has subtitles), it ended up here (with the exception of anime, which went under Animation). This is also the only Top 10 list that will have a tie. Luckily, it's the first on the list, so I can just get right to it. That being said...

10. Let The Right One In (2008) and Thirst (2009)

In an age where America's most known vampire story is Twilight, Sweden and South Korea give us two vampire films that show you how it should really be done. These films are absolutely nothing alike, but they both deserve to be on the list for, obviously, different reasons. I didn't want to leave off Let The Right One In from this particular list or face the wrath of, well, potentially everybody. Hence the tie. It's a quiet, emotional film about the friendship between a female (?) vampire and the boy who needs her (?). It's a total slow burn film, focusing on the boy's tortured school life and then his building relationship with the vampire. It all builds up to a stunning and violent (though not really shown) climax. While I really liked the film, I think I had taken in way too much of the hype by the time I had seen it, resulting in a bit of a let down.

This is why I think I enjoyed Thirst more. The first film on my list directed by Chan-wook Park, as well as the first film on my list starring Kang-ho Song, Thirst takes a much different approach to the vampire story. Though beginning a bit rocky, the film introduces us to a priest who catches a deadly virus and must obtain a blood transfusion to live (at least a little longer). But after the transfusion, he slowly begins to realize he's become a vampire, and he must drink blood frequently or else the deadly virus will return to finish him off. Of course, there is a female he gets involved with, as well. Anyway, what I loved about the movie is that, as with all Chan-wook Park films, there are multiple layers and heavy themes. This movie deals with the concept of sin and what is right and wrong. There is a good amount of eroticism in the film, but there's also a good amount of dark humor. Not to mention the film is visually stunning (as are all Park films) and has some good visual effects. And, as always with a Park film, there are many clues that help answer potentially unanswered questions at the end of the film... you just gotta look for them. But what I loved the most, I think, is how they dealt with learning and dealing with vampire abilities (and setbacks)... strength, speed, sunlight, etc. Very good stuff.

9. Wasabi (2001)

The first film on my list where Luc Besson was involved (in this case, as writer). The film stars Jean Reno as a cop who discovers he has a daughter from an old love who has just died. There's really not a lot to say, but I think the tagline really says it all: Quite Possibly The Greatest French-Language, English-Subtitled, Japanese Action-Comedy Of All Time.

8. The Host (2006)

This is the second film on my list with Kang-ho Song. It is essentially a horror/comedy/family drama version of Godzilla (but with a smaller monster). After toxic chemicals are dumped into a nearby river, a mutated monster emerges and wreaks havoc on the city. And when the creature takes away a young girl, her crazy family must try to find her and rescue her before it's too late. Like Cloverfield, this movie focuses more on the people than the monster (though I'd say that's one of the only comparisons). And what's really great is that the "kidnapped" girl isn't a total damsel in distress. She's actually smart, and you get to see moments where she attempts to escape or just stay alive. The movie also has some pretty good special effects (up until the end, when it becomes painfully obvious the creature is CGI). But it's all-around a great creature-feature.

7. Angel-A (2005)

After Leon, Angel-A has to be Luc Besson's best film (that he directed). It's basically It's A Wonderful Life, but a bit more... adult. It stars Jamel Debbouze (who is in another movie on this list, as well) as a down-and-out guy who owes a bit too much money to the wrong guys. In an attempt to kill himself to avoid getting killed by the bad guys (fate in his own hands and all that), he sees a beautiful young woman attempting the same. When he saves her life, she says she owes him a debt. So she attempts to help him as best she can (gambling, sex, etc.) to get him the money he owes. Oh, and there's another thing... she reveals herself to be an angel, actually sent down to help him out. It's an interesting take on an old story, but it's also a visually gorgeous film. It's in black and white, and I couldn't see it any other way.

6. Re-Cycle (2006)

It begins as a supernatural horror film, a really freaky one at that, but then turns itself into a dark fantasy instead. The change is a bit jarring at first, but you get used to it fast. It becomes a bit like MirrorMask--visually fantastic and a bit strange. But then there's also the bit of social (moral?) commentary that comes in around the third act. Some may like it. Some might be put off. For me, I didn't care. I thought the movie handled it well. Oh, and then there's the final twist ending that totally caught me off guard. Always love it when that happens.

5. The Orphanage (2007)

A couple years ago, we got a little Spanish film that redefined the ghost story. It's mostly a supernatural mystery/creepy thriller. But the acting is superb, and there's a nice twist that you don't see coming until right before it happens. Don't have a ton to say about it except that it is exceptionally good, and one of my favorites of its year.

4. I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK (2006)

Not many people have heard of this film, I'm sure. It's the second Chan-wook Park film on the list, and it stars South Korean pop star Rain (Ninja Assassin, Speed Racer). It's the tale of a young woman who checks herself into a mental institution because she believes she's a cyborg. There, she meets a young man (Rain) who may or may not be crazy, but who steals the "souls" of the other patients and allows them, at least until he returns their "souls," to not have whatever quirk it is they have. And while he has their confliction, he wears a mask that he'd made based on their own faces. It's brilliantly acted, visually stunning, and bizarrely quirky. And, again, as is the like with Mr. Park, the ending is ambiguously fantastic.

3. Amelie (2001)

Another quirky comedy, this time from France, and starring the beautiful Audrey Tautou (and co-starring aforementioned actor, Jamel Debbouze). It seems to do what in most films might not work... but somehow pulls it off magnificently. It's most likely due to the draw of its leading lady. It's hard not to enjoy this film, and I dare you not to smile or feel good at least once while watching it.

2. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Had this been an American film, it would have run the gamut of the Academy Awards of its year. It's beautiful in more ways than one. It's deep in theme. It's heavy. It's sad, yet somehow uplifting in its fantasy aspects. And it simultaneously has a sad and happy (as well as clear yet ambiguous) ending. Amazing film.

1. Oldboy (2003)

The third and final Chan-wook Park film of the list (obviously). It has thrills, mystery, romance, action/violence, and anything else you'd want in a movie. Not to mention the incredibly hardcore, twisted, demented, and heartbreaking twist at the film's climax. I needn't mention the ending, as I've mentioned the endings twice already. It has a great concept, that of a guy getting kidnapped and held hostage for years before being suddenly released... and then given 3 days to figure out why he was kidnapped in the first place. It's a revenge tale to beat all revenge tales, and it is Chan-wook Park's masterpiece. And I didn't even mention the famous Hallway Fight done in one shot. Not only one of my favorite foreign films, but one of my overall favorite films of all time.


R2D2's Ultimate Top 10 Countdown Of The 2000s #5 - Horror.

[For the last 10 days of the decade, I'm doing a Top 10 list a day, all culminating into an ultimate post of Top 10 lists. We have previously seen Top 10 Comedies, Dramas, Animation, and Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Now we're moving on.]

Top 10 Horror Films of the 2000s

The day after Christmas... crazy sales... more shopping... going to wal-mart is like a horror film in and of itself. So it's only fitting that I discuss the best horror films of the decade now. Let's get it goin'.

10. Identity (2003)

Basically 10 Little Indians with a psychology twist. What I will always remember about this movie is that I was able to call the killer based on the trailer alone. Not because it was easy, but because I decided that the killer would be the least likely character. Granted, it actually made sense in the context of the movie. Anyway, it had one heck of a cast, too. John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, Alfred Molina, Clea DuVall, John C. McGinley, Jake Busey, and Pruitt Taylor Vince. I also love the ending, especially how it ties back in a poem repeated earlier in the film. It's quiet and creepy. Love it.

9. Planet Terror (2007)

Robert Rodriguez's half of Grindhouse (the better half, if I say so). It's wild and crazy and totally fun. Mutant "zombies." Fuzzy screens. Missing reels. A chick with a machine gun leg. Bloody action. It's almost too awesome for its own good. I put it this low on the list because it's really not scary whatsoever. I wouldn't even say it's marginally scary. But it's a horror film nonetheless. And, therefore, it's on my list.

8. Silent Hill (2006)

Video game movies aren't known for being the best films ever created, but sometimes you get something at least halfway decent. Silent Hill is one of those. Sure, it has some flaws. If you know anything about the making of the film, it was originally going to be an all-female cast, but the production company didn't think that'd work. So what'd they do? They forced them to re-write the script and give the husband character a bigger role. And you can tell in the movie. Pretty much every part of the husband's part of the story is meaningless and somewhat boring (I always wanted to go back into the "Silent Hill" world when it flipped to the husband). Also, the ending is terrible and demands a sequel (which, luckily, I think they recently greenlit). But every other part of the film is fantastic and creepy. Pyramidhead is scary, as are all the other creatures. And the climax gets surprisingly violent. Fun stuff.

7. Frailty (2001)

So... have you seen this movie? It's freaky. Not really much more to say after that. It has Matthew McConaughey in a role that isn't his usual. Is also has Bill Paxton (who also directed). It's a religious horror film, and you're never quite sure if all the religious stuff is true or not. But either way, it's unsettling. That's probably the best way to put this movie. Unsettling.

6. The Mothman Prophecies (2002)

Most horror films these days are all about the shock factor. The jump scares. The blood and gore. The Mothman Prophecies has virtually none of this. And I don't know about you, but this movie scares the living crap out of me. What does it have? Creepy occurrences, telephone conversations, unexplained scenarios, and subtle scares that you have to be paying attention to get (the mirror lag, anyone?). Not to mention those red eyes. I always get scared to drive at night whenever I watch this movie. I know the first time I saw it, I had to drive home at night afterward, and at that time, I lived out in the middle of nowhere. So at one point, in the pitch black, my brake lights reflected off these two, well, reflectors that stood on either side of this little bridge... and in my rear-view mirror, they looked JUST like the two red eyes. I about had a heart attack. So it might not have the blood. It might not have the overt musical cue scares. But this is by far one of the most terrifying movies I've ever seen. So why, if it's so scary, do I have it at number 6 on the list? Because sometimes "fun," "concept," or even "depth" can trump ultimate scares.

5. Final Destination (2000)

Talking about the original here, of course. This is the case where "concept" and "fun" can trump scares. Is this movie scary? Not really. But its concept is super fun, and I love the heck out of this little film. It has some wickedly dark humor. It has creative kills. It's also the film that, believe it or not, really first introduced the world to Seann William Scott. And who didn't go "oh crap!" when you see the plane explode in the far background outside the terminal, right before the windows explode?

4. Feast (2005)

One of my favorite horror/comedies, and I place it under horror, as I believe there are more scares than laughs (though there are some good laughs). This is a film that totally takes the horror genre and turns it on its head... and then laughs mercilessly at it. From the opening moments with the "title cards" to the breaking of all horror rules, this movie is hella fun. It's just incredibly unfortunate that its two sequels are two of the most disasterous, unholy abominations ever put on celluloid (and I'm not being hyperbolic here).

3. 28 Weeks Later (2007)

It's rare to get a great sequel to a great film, but this was apparently one of the exceptions. It starred none of the original cast, nor did it have Danny Boyle behind the camera. But after the brilliant opening scene, you know you're in for a good ride. Sure, it doesn't have the depth of the original, but what it lacks in overall social commentary (I mean, it's there, but it's not as explored, I suppose), it totally makes up for in suspense.

2. Saw (2004)

Unlike the previous choice, this began a series wherein the sequels never quite lived up to the original. I mean, there's been some pretty good ones (2, 3, and 6 being the better ones), but there have also been a couple... not so great (4 and 5). Ironically, movies 4-6 were written by the same dudes who wrote Feast (and its sequels). So I suppose their record is for every good film they write, they also write two... well... not so good ones. But also, the guys who wrote and directed the first one didn't do that for any of the others (well, they acted as executive producers and helped with script ideas, but that was about it). Long story short (too late), the first Saw had a brilliant story and a jaw-dropping twist ending that's gone into the history books. I've seen this movie a ton of times, and I'll probably see it a ton more. And I love the main theme song, too. So... yeah.

1. 28 Days Later (2002)

I don't think I'll get a lot of arguments here. Danny Boyle created a horror film with complex characters, heavy themes, and strong social commentary. With a brilliant (second) opening that is essentially 15 minutes of Cillian Murphy walking around an empty London saying "hello?", the movie starts out artistically fantastic. It also had the balls to show full-frontal male nudity (Yes... yes... pun intended). I also love the main theme for this film, as well (the whole thing is nearly 30 minutes long in and of itself, but it has great pacing from slow and steady to fast and chaotic). And no, for the bajillionth time, they are not zombies.


R2D2's Ultimate Top 10 Countdown Of The 2000s #4 - Sci-Fi/Fantasy.

[For the last 10 days of the decade, I'm doing a Top 10 list a day, all culminating into an ultimate post of Top 10 lists. We have previously seen Top 10 Comedies, Dramas, and Animation. Now we're moving on.]

Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Films of the 2000s

Nothing says Christmas like aliens, dystopian futures, wizards, and elves. I'm not saying Sci-Fi and Fantasy are the same thing. I just didn't have enough of either/or to make two separate lists. So why not put them together? Most people do that anyway. But I have to say, this was one of the toughest to put into a list format. But let's get to it.

10. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001 - 2003)

To not include this on the 'fantasy' list would be near blasphemous. There's really not much to say about these films. Between the visuals, the characters, the story, the Oscar wins... it's the definition of epic. I tried watching all 3 extended editions back-to-back once. I got through the first two and gave up... but I plan on attempting it sometime again in the future. Who would have thought three movies "about people walking... even the trees walk in these movies" (as Clerks II puts it) would be so entertaining?

9. Equilibrium (2002)

It's essentially 1984 and Farenheit 451 rolled together and dipped into an action movie. And it's really all about the action. Kurt Wimmer has a fantastic, action-packed imagination. The action is even arguably up there with The Matrix, but without the slo-mo. And then there's Christian Bale... back before people started obsessing over him (and before every one of his movies had a "Batman" voice).

8. Pandorum (2009)

One of my favorite films of the year, Pandorum gave us a classic space Sci-Fi film that we hadn't had in a while. It's also the third film on my list (and not my last) thus far with Ben Foster in it. Similar (but better than, in my opinion) the film Event Horizon, at least in feel/tone, Pandorum has a couple guys wake up from cryo-sleep completely disoriented and with some memory loss. They also seem to be two of the only guys left. They had been on a journey to a new planet when something happened... and that something quickly starts coming around the corner to kill them. It wasn't without its flaws, but it was still pretty dang good.

7. Avatar (2009)

The primary reason this made the list was its outstanding visuals. Yes, the story is nothing to shout over. But the visuals are. And the imagination of the film, ironically taking place on the planet "Pandora," is astounding. From the flora and fauna to the whole mythos of the film, it was just imaginative and fantastic.

6. Star Trek (2009)

J.J. Abrams' re-envisioning of the series was a risk, but it worked out. With enough to please the past fans, but keeping it fresh enough not to alienate newcomers, Star Trek found a middle ground that appeased everybody. It was funny and dramatic, and the special effects were fantastic. And it had Simon Pegg. It quickly found itself in my top sci-fi list of all time from the day I saw it.

5. Minority Report (2002)

Maybe I'm just crazy, but I could have sworn this got only so-so reviews when it came out, but then later started being loved (or maybe I just read the wrong bunch of reviews). But I always loved this movie. I loved the concept, the visuals... everything. But I'm a fan of Philip K. Dick films, as they're always entertaining. And this one in particular was helmed by Stephen Spielberg, so that makes it twice as good. I remember it really stood out to me, as it was one of the first films I'd seen that had a specific color tint throughout (silvery-blue). But anyway, it's a pretty good sci-fi thriller, which is why it made my list.

4. Pitch Black (2000)

Remember when I said Titan A.E. was one of the earliest films on my list? Well, this one beats it, originally released in February of 2000. This is the film that introduced one of my favorite film characters, Richard B. Riddick. It's also one of my favorite Vin Diesel films... and probably his best film to date. Its follow up, Chronicles of Riddick, was a bit of a let down, as it completely changed the tone and scope... but since a third film has been announced (and not only that, but announced as going back to a tone and scope of Pitch Black), I'm pretty excited once again. Thankfully, the sequel wasn't able to destroy my love for this film. A great sci-fi/horror film.

3. The Harry Potter Series, 1-6 (2001-2009)

There are still a couple movies to go (as the final book is being split into two films), but the bulk of the series has finished, and it's quite an achievement. Of course, there have been some downfalls (the third and fourth film, in my opinion). But even the worst movies of the series have outstanding moments (the visuals and overall tone of the third, and the graveyard scene of the fourth). For the most part, the series has been faithful to the books, either nearly page-for-page (the first two) or in spirit (the 5th and 6th). It has every top British actor, and because of that, some of the greatest casting for any film ever. Overall, it's a fantastic series, and the final films are promising to blow the rest of the series out of the water.

2. MirrorMask (2005)

For those of you who know me, not only excluding Harry Potter from the fantasy top spot, but putting over it a relatively unknown film is so preposterous that you'd have to see it to believe it. In other words, that says a lot about this particular film. If ever there was a film that was to delve into the realm of imagination and show it for its pure absurdity and craziness, it's this one. MirrorMask comes from the mind of Neil Gaiman and is about a young girl fed up with her life working in a family circus. But then her mother gets really sick and ends up in the hospital. Similar to the girl in Pan's Labyrinth, she takes refuge in her imagination, and you can never quite figure out whether the events of the movie are real or not. It's pretty much left up to you. But she ends up in a world different than her own, one with an evil queen and fantastic creatures, all drawn in her own style... very similar to the drawings she has all over her walls.

In fact, I find this movie so imaginative that whenever I have writer's block for my fiction, I pop in this movie, and it almost always helps. It's funny, quirky, insanely creative, and an all-around bizarre time. I wasn't sure whether or not I liked it the first time I saw it, but come that second time, I adored it. Fun note, the girl who plays the main character in this movie is sisters with the girl who played Katie Bell in the 6th Harry Potter film (always fun to tie films back to HP).

1. V For Vendetta (2005)

A holiday movie if there ever was one... just not for Christmas. It brought people everywhere to celebrate Guy Fawkes day AKA The Fifth of November. Produced by the Wachowskis (The Matrix) and directed by James McTeigue (also known for the recent Ninja Assassin), V For Vendetta is brutal, honest, metaphorical, heartbreaking, mysterious, thrilling... and probably a hundred other adjectives. I think, overall, the best adjectives would be "beautiful" and "powerful." And who doesn't wanna pop this guy in come November 5th?

End Note: For those curious, Sunshine barely missed my list. While I really like the movie, that last third still irks me too much for me to put it on the list. But it probably would have made #11 had there been more.


R2D2's Ultimate Top 10 Countdown Of The 2000s #3 - Animated Films.

[For the last 10 days of the decade, I'm doing a Top 10 list a day, all culminating into an ultimate post of Top 10 lists. We have previously seen Top 10 Comedies and Dramas. Now we're moving on.]

Top 10 Animated Films of the 2000s

It's Christmas Eve, a day children everywhere want to wish upon a star and believe in magic and the fantastic. So what a better genre to discuss on this most wishful of days than animated films? Sure, animation can span many genres and many languages. But no matter if it was sci-fi, fantasy, foreign, or whatever, if it's animated, it's on this particular list. That being said, let's get to it (as a note, it was surprisingly easy to list these in 'countdown' order... until the top 3).

10. Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children (2005)

I place this in the #10 spot for one simple reason: it's geared only towards those who've played the video game. If you've never played FF7, you probably wouldn't understand (nor would you be watching) Advent Children. But I wanted to include it on this list. Why? First, because it was a long-time coming, highly anticipated story. Second, because regardless of whether or not you understand the movie, the animation is freakin' amazing. Advancing on the technology used in Spirits Within, Advent Children takes it to a whole new level, making it much more realistic. And for those who have played the game, the movie is a real treat. The action is stunning, the music is great... the story itself is so-so, but who cares? It's an FF7 movie with amazing animation.

9. The Incredibles (2004)

I know this movie would probably make a bunch of a lists. It's a good one. Families of superheroes and the drama around them keeping quiet. Jason Lee as a villain. Jokes about capes. It's all here, and it's a wonderful film.

8. Shrek (2001)

Can you make this list without including Shrek? Of the series thus far, I've really only cared for the first one. It's your classic fairy tale turned on its head, making the monster a hero, the 'hero' an idiot, the sidekick a donkey, and the princess... well, you know. And you gotta love all the fairy tales walking around. If you're any kind of fairy tale fan, this movie is great just for that aspect. But what's really at the heart of the film is the friendship between Shrek and Donkey. I think if they hadn't made it as heartwarming as it was, the film would not have worked like it did.

7. Titan A.E. (2000)

This is probably one of the 'earliest' films on any of my lists. It'll probably not show up on anybody else's either (I seem to have a knack for picking those kinds of films). But it's one I really enjoy. I love the sci-fi aspect of it, trying to create a new world after the old one was destroyed. There's action, comedy, romance... it's all there. The animation is really good, too. And the voice cast is excellent: Matt Damon, Bill Pullman, John Leguizamo, Nathan Lane, Janeane Garofalo, Drew Barrymore, Ron Pearlman... hell, even Tone Loc is in this (remember him?). Not to mention Jim Cummings, who has a voice role in another film on this list, as well. It's just an all-around fun film with great animation. Completely underrated, in my opinion.

6. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)

This was one of the first movies I rented through Netflix. Now usually, I watch a movie once and send it back. I think by the time I sent this film back, I had watched it at least 3-4 times. This is the first anime film on my list, as well. The story is, apparently, a well-known one in Japan. It's the story of a girl who, after having an incredibly bad day ending with almost dying, finds she has the ability to throw herself back in time. At first, she keeps redoing the same day over and over until she likes where she's at. Then she gets to the point where she just does it with important things. There are funny little moments where she tries to stop certain things from happening (like a friend telling her he loves her). But, of course, there are consequences to her actions that she must face. And there is so much more to the story I'm not saying. It sounds like a sci-fi movie, but it's really a drama. The film's main focus is on the relationship between the girl and her friends (and a bit on her family). The first time I saw it, I was a little confused toward one character (the 'aunt'), but I later found out this is kind of a sequel to the actual story, while being the same story anyway, but the 'aunt' character was the original girl. That made parts of the film make much more sense. Still, it's an amazing film with gorgeous animation... and I dare you not to feel emotional at the end.

5. Kung Fu Panda (2008)

I remember when this movie came out, I thought it was going to be one of the stupidest movies ever. But I was bored one day after it had been out for many weeks and decided to check it out. Boy, was I surprised. I totally loved the movie. The action was surprisingly fun, much like any other kung fu film. And while some of the secondary characters weren't very developed, their interactions were funny. I also remember sitting through this movie going "I recognize some of these voices..." and not being able to figure them out (besides the obvious Jack Black and Seth Rogen). And then when the closing credits started, I sat in awe at the star cast of vocals this movie had. Very fitting for such a good movie.

4. The Princess and the Frog (2009)

I didn't want to do this list until I had seen this movie. But now that I have, I went ahead and did this list. Similar to the previous film, I wasn't exactly hopping (no pun intended) out of my seat to go see this. But, yet again, I was wrong. The movie had some surprisingly adult moments, some incredibly sad moments, some really fun/funny moments, and some amazingly creepy/scary moments. The animation is classic. The songs are great. The villain is both fun and scary. The movie was a throwback to some of the more classic Disney films, but it made itself a new classic in the process.

3. Up (2009)

This is a film that would probably be on many people's lists, if not #1 spots. They took a risk with this film... centering a movie around a geriatric and a young, overweight Asian kid? But they somehow pulled it off. The film is highly emotional, and the first 10 or so minutes is incredibly sad and moving... probably more moving than some entire films as of late. The film is bursting with imagination, but more importantly, it's bursting with heart. And I think that's why it's so good.

2. WALL-E (2008)

Another film that's gonna end up on a lot of lists, possibly some #1 spots. In fact, it almost made my #1 spot, and it was tough trying to decide some order here. Similar to Up, they took some risks here. A children's movie with virtually no dialogue, especially in the first 20 or so minutes? A children's movie centering around a robot love story? A children's movie with a strong environmental message (I mean, we all remember Fern Gully)? But it worked. It all worked. Children and adults alike sat enthralled, completely taken in by WALL-E's naivety and childish wonderment. And then when EVE shows up, our hearts jump with glee to see WALL-E trying to impress this female robot. And in an age of sex and violence, we sit on the edge of our seats, just waiting for these two lovable robots to hold hands. Oh, not to mention the animation is astounding.

1. Spirited Away (2001)

It was tough trying to decide whether I should put this over WALL-E or not, but in the end, I think it deserved it. This is one influential little film... the first, if I recall correctly, anime to not only be nominated for an Academy Award, but win. Miyazaki is a genius at what he does, and it really all culminated together in this film. The animation is great and fills you with wonderment. The story is fantastic. The characters are complex. The morals aren't shoved down your throat, but are present. Even if you don't like anime, you should check out this film. If there was any anime film to see before you die, it's this one. And even if you don't like reading subtitles, I would actually go so far as to say that, for once, the dubbing isn't bad. They actually did pretty well with it, and I'll watch this movie either way. It's just full of imagination and completely inspiring. An all-around great film.

End Note: Please don't kill me for not including the likes of Finding Nemo or Ratatouille. Nemo's good, but doesn't really stick with me, and I've only seen Ratatouille once... a while back.


R2D2's Ultimate Top 10 Countdown Of The 2000s #2 - Dramas.

[For the last 10 days of the decade, I'm doing a Top 10 list a day, all culminating into an ultimate post of Top 10 lists. We have previously seen Top 10 Comedies. Now we're moving on.]

Top 10 Dramas of the 2000s

We start with comedy and go straight to its opposite, the drama. I'm not typically a big fan of the drama. For me, there has to be something a little extra to go with it. Whether it's a bit of comedy or a pinch of the fantastical, dramas need a little extra besides, well, drama to keep me invested. Otherwise, they're typically too depressing. For this reason, this category was tough to come up with. But I believe my choices, while mostly compiled of cross-genre films, are moreso dramas than their co-genre, which is why I placed them here. But then, once I got 10, it was tough putting them in a Top 10 order... but I somehow did. This being said, let's get to it.

10. Adventureland (2009)

This was one of my favorites of this year. It was advertised as a comedy; it was everything but. It did have some funny moments, but this is no ha-ha comedy. It's also one of those "crazy" movies that actually proves Kristen Stewart can act. And having Ryan Reynolds in it doesn't hurt, though he's not playing his usual shtick. If you're not going in thinking it's a comedy, you should go out loving it, much like I did.

9. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Leo DiCaprio isn't one of those actors I go out of my way to see. He's good, for sure, and I'm pretty excited for his upcoming Shutter Island. But in the middle of his rise to stardom, he starred in this flick alongside Tom Hanks and Christopher Walken. On the surface, it's essentially a drawn-out heist/chase flick. But at its core, it's a character drama, a drama between the relationships between a boy and his father, as well as a boy and the FBI agent chasing him. But that heist/chase aspect is what draws me in, and the reason it made this list.

8. Driving Lessons (2006)

The adults of the Harry Potter films aren't the only ones that can act. While Dan Radcliffe has shown his chops on stage and in a few other things, I've always said that two of the better younger actors were Rupert Grint (Ron) and Matt Lewis (Neville). While Matt hasn't really done anything outside the Potter flicks, Rupert has, and Driving Lessons is the best of what I've seen (I've yet to see Cherrybomb or Wild Target). Tonally, the film is similar to Adventureland, but with a slight bit more comedy. However, like Catch Me If You Can, it's a character drama more than anything... a film that focuses on the relationships between a boy and his mother, a boy and the opposite sex, and a boy and the crazy old retired actress he has to take care of. Funnily enough, Grint was cast in this movie (opposite Potter mom Julie Walters) because the director felt he wasn't given enough in the Potter films for what he knew Grint could do. And I have to agree. Grint is great in the film, and thus the film itself is great.

7. Finding Neverland (2004)

What a cast! Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Dustin Hoffman, Radha Mitchell, Freddie Highmore... telling the story of J.M. Barrie and how he came up with the idea of Peter Pan. This is a truly wonderful and magical film. On the surface, it's a fantastical film about imagination... a film with great visuals and wonderful acting. But at its core, it's about the dramas of a childish man with marital issues and his innocent friendship with a dying woman and her children. Great stuff.

6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Speaking of Kate Winslet, she has another on my list. Some might say this is Jim Carrey's best film (that award still goes to The Truman Show for me). This film was hard to place. I knew it was going to go on one of my lists, but it could honestly fit in numerous places. It could go under sci-fi/fantasy, due to its "in the head/erasing memories" nature. It could go under comedy, as it does have moments of a dark comedy. But I think at its core, it's a total drama. A couple want to forget about each other because being with one another is too hard. A young woman is in love with her boss, who is married... and other relationship dramas. It's all over the place in this film. But the character depth, even for the secondary characters, really helps this film shine.

5. Black Snake Moan (2006)

There's nothing fantastical about this movie... and you'd be hard-pressed to label it a comedy. So what draws me in with this one? I love the atmosphere. The deep south bluesy feel that emanates from every pore of this film keeps it going for me. And Christina Ricci mostly naked throughout... but I digress. It's a highly sexualized film, but there's a lot of metaphor thrown about it. There's a ton of great acting in it, too, including Sam Jackson and Justin Timberlake (believe it or not). It's not a movie you wanna watch with your momma, but I do recommend it if you love deep south culture or blues music (especially if you like blues music).

4. The Last Samurai (2003)

I'm usually not one for period dramas, but I have a soft spot for Japanese culture. I loved this film from the day I saw it in theater. Love or hate Tom Cruise, this is one of his finer films (and I'll have my other favorite on another list later). Many were skeptic about Tom Cruise being "the last samurai," but most people took it out of context of the film. Yes, it's basically your Dances With Wolves story, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable (looking at you, Avatar haters).

3. The Prestige (2006)

Another film that could have gone into a couple different categories. It could have fit under the Sci-Fi/Fantasy list, as it does have Sci-Fi aspects (particularly the sub-genre of steampunk). I could have also put it under my action/thriller section, as it has many mystery/thriller aspects. But I placed it under drama, as at its core, it's the story of a bitter rivalry and what either of these two men would do to outdo the other (and/or gain revenge). It's the study of man vs. man and the degradation of man in the process. And that's totally dramatic.

2. In Bruges (2008)

I went back and forth on this one. Drama... dark comedy... drama... dark comedy. I ultimately chose drama, because I always found this film much more dramatic than funny. Sure, it had funny moments ("Ah! A bottle!"), but the movie was way too serious to label it fully under comedy. It's pretty much the study of the lives of hit men and how they deal with life. This is probably Colin Farrell's best film, as well. It also stars three Harry Potter alums, all of which were ironically introduced in the same film. And, strangely, it's the second film in my Top 10 lists so far that stars a dwarf actor. Huh.

1. Bang Bang You're Dead (2002)

This was practically the first movie I put on my drama list, and it was automatically my #1, no matter what. This is what I feel to be one of the best and/or most important films ever made, and a film hardly anybody knows about. It's also actor Ben Foster's finest/strongest performance to date. There are no magic tricks, no fantastical trips into the imagination... there's hardly even comedy. This is straight-up drama if there ever was one. It tells the story of Trevor, a troubled boy who threatened to blow up the football team. He comes back to school the following year to even worse situations and a Zero Tolerance policy. Nobody trusts him except for his theater teacher, played by Tom Cavanagh, who gives him the lead role in a (real) play titled Bang Bang You're Dead, a play about a school shooter. Of course, this brings up a ton of controversy throughout the community. The movie is brilliant and powerful. It delves into the mind of a teenager and shows us what really brings out troubled kids... and I'll give you a hint: it's not the movies or the video games. I highly recommend this movie to anybody... really... go try to find a copy. (And don't tell me to go see "Elephant," or I'll punch you in the face.)



I wasn't planning on rushing out to see this, but after all the "best animated film in years" reviews, I knew I had to check it out, if just for my "Top 10 Animated Films of the 2000s" post. So I went out tonight on a whim and checked it out. And I have to say... I was pleasantly surprised. It takes place in Jazz Age New Orleans. Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) comes from a poor family, but it was her father's dream to open up a popular restaurant and run it with her. But her father dies before making it come true. Tiana continues to grow, trying to make this dream become a reality. But she's an ultimate realist who thinks you have to purely work hard to get what you want, as just wishing upon a star will get you nowhere. That is, until carefree Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) comes into town with his British man-servant, Lawrence (Peter Bartlett). They stumble across Dr. Facilier AKA The Shadow Man (Keith David), a VooDoo witch doctor with a devilish plan up his sleeves. He turns Naveen into a frog and gives Lawrence the ability to look like Naveen, so that when the right time comes, Facilier can use him to take over the town and fulfill a deadly deal he had made to those "on the other side." Long story short (too late), Naveen escapes and comes across Tiana, thinks she's a princess, and talks her into kissing him. But because she isn't a princess, she turns into a frog herself. They end up on a crazy journey to try and get themselves back to normal, and they come across a couple of new friends, including a jazz-loving alligator, Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley), and a Cajun lightning bug in love with a star, Ray (Jim Cummings). The movie also shares the vocal talents of John Goodman, Terrance Howard, and Oprah.

I know, that's a lot of plot... but it's really not all that complicated. But if I were to complain about anything with this movie, it would deal with plot-related things. For instance, there's either too much story going on or not enough. The beginning moves way too slowly for my liking. It was right before the first song when I started thinking "OK, is this movie gonna, you know, start yet?" It feels like it takes about 30 minutes (and it probably does... I didn't look at my watch) before we even get to the frog stuff. But then the singing starts, and I start to feel better (I'll get into the singing momentarily). Though it really isn't until the frog stuff comes in that I felt the movie really started. But then there's the other side of the spectrum. What kind of debt did the Shadow Man owe? How did some of these characters figure out specific information that hadn't been shared yet? Who the heck said anything about having to be kissed before "midnight" so that the curse could be broken? Naveen didn't even know the kissing thing would work until he saw the fairy tale book and got the idea. And I know "before midnight" isn't in that story, because I researched different fairy tales for a book. And, (SPOILERISH), didn't Naveen explain to Tiana that there was a Human-Naveen impersonator... and if so, why did she react the way she did near the end? (END SPOILERISH).

The only other real issue I had was that I didn't quite buy into the quickness of the falling-in-love of the two central characters. In past Disney films, there's always a passing of time or a musical montage. Sure, there's one in this movie, but there's a difference. I think the difference is that in previous films, the characters have actually liked each other for a bit before the montage so that the "falling in love" sequence works. Here, it feels as if Tiana goes from being highly annoyed by Naveen to being all Ga-Ga over him and falling for his Love Game while Just Dance-ing (sorry, I really couldn't help it). And the musical montage isn't even that long... nor is it much of a montage. It's just the two of them dancing for a brief song. I want another "Kiss the Girl" or "Whole New World" or "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" or "Beauty and the Beast (main theme)." But maybe it's just me.

But speaking of the music, it really was wonderful. Sure, it takes a while for the singing to start in the movie, but once it does, it doesn't let up. I already love the music of New Orleans and the whole Jazz Age thing, so that was actually one of my only initial draws to the film (for instance, one of my favorite things about True Blood is the fact it's based in deep south Louisiana. I'm just fascinated by the culture). I'm not sure there was a song I didn't like.

The characters were good, too. The Shadow Man is a great villain... and actually pretty creepy. I honestly think he might be a little too scary for some small children. But his whole voodoo thing, as well as how they portrayed him and his "shadow" were great. Louis and Ray are good side characters, as well. I particularly loved Ray's neverending love for Evangeline... it was such a sweet aspect of the film, and it really added a whole other layer. It's just upsetting that it had to start so late in the film (I'd say about halfway). Of course, we have Naveen and Tiana, as well. Naveen is the spoiled prince who has never worked in his life, and Tiana is the workaholic waitress who knows nothing but work. So of course their personalities are going to clash. I particularly liked Naveen. He had some pretty funny lines.

And I haven't even talked about the animation yet. As you probably know, this is the first hand-drawn Disney film in 5 years (since Home on the Range)... but it harkens back to the good 'ol films, the myth-and-musical films of Disney, the last of which was arguably Mulan over a decade ago. I would argue that this film, especially the best parts of this film, ranks up there with those late 80s/early 90s films of Disney (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, etc.).

The animation is gorgeous. The characters are fun. The story is good. The music is great. It has a few issues here and there, but don't most films? I went in not knowing what to expect fully, and I came out really enjoying it. It could have started faster, and it seems they cut out a couple things that maybe they need to put back in. But for the most part, it was a really good movie.

A Keanu 'Whoa'