' Cinema Romantico: Finest of the 00's: Celebrating The Decade In Cinema

Monday, December 14, 2009

Finest of the 00's: Celebrating The Decade In Cinema

It seems like only yesterday I returned from a showing of "Almost Famous" in the fall of 2000 and declared to my roommate and his fiancé in no uncertain terms that should the film I had just seen not win the Oscar for Best Picture I would throw things out windows while cursing the gods. (It didn't win Best Picture, nor was it even nominated, and I, of course, made good on neither threat.) "Almost Famous" was the first transcendent moviegoing experience I had of the 00's and now this decade is on the verge of saying its farewell and, thus, I find myself pondering oh so many cinematic memories of the last 10 years. Personal memories, that is, rather than wondering, say, what the film of the decade was, a question for minds far more scholarly than mine to contemplate.

Not that I won't still contemplate it. So, let's see here, what was the film of the decade? Choices, choices. "The 40 Year Old Virgin", maybe? Perhaps "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy? (OVER-RATED.) Was it "March of the Penguins"? "Borat"? One of those animated movies I haven't seen?

How about Michael Moore's "Triumph of the Will" remake? Was it "Crash", simply because, in spite of its laughably broad themes and characterizations, it has been the #1 movie on Netflix for (approximately) 3,477 consecutive weeks?

Was the seminal moment of the decade the "Pearl Harbor" preview? The greatest preview I've ever seen since it got me to see the movie even after I swore never to pay to see another Michael Bay movie again. Was it "The Dark Knight"?

Yup. That's what I think. "The Dark Knight". Movie of the 00's. Now I don't mean to claim "The Dark Knight" as the "best" film of the decade, mind you. Not even close. But it did become, I think, a legitimate phenomenon. It shattered box office records. It briefly became the #1 Movie Of All Time (!!!!) on IMDB. It single-handedly caused the Academy Awards to (idiotically) bump its Best Picture nominations up to 10. Heath Ledger's performance became mythic in the terrible wake of his much, much too early passing. It was a film that invoked passion from both sides - whether for or against.

For instance, if "The Dark Knight" does not turn up on a particular critic's Best Of list there is a faction of people that will immediately be up in arms. If "The Dark Knight" does turn up on a particular critic's Best Of list then there is a different faction of people that will immediately be up in arms. How many articles did you see after this movie's release referencing the words "greatest movie of all time", sometimes followed by a question mark, sometimes not. If critics dared to so much as lob one spitball in the direction of "The Dark Knight" it was on. Yet it went the other way, too, with critics using luminaries such as Alfred Hitchcock as a club to bash poor Christopher Nolan and his comic book epic over the head.

No film of the past decade was more divisive or generated more discussion, sometimes with fisticuffs involved. It triggers an awful lot of drawing lines in the sand, a fact I witnessed first-hand last December at a DVD viewing of the film with a large group that erupted into at least a 45 minute argument between varying sides as to its quality.

Thankfully that evening concluded with a showing of the light-hearted rom com "Love Actually" which calmed down everyone involved. Heck, I myself prefer "Love Actually" to "The Dark Knight". That's right. I said it. I'm not ashamed. It's who I am. I thought Bill Nighy as Billy Mack was better than Heath Ledger as The Joker.

You may disagree. I'm willing to wager you do. But therein lies the beauty of the movies! We are all cut of different cinematic cloth. We all have varying favorite performances and favorite movies of the decade. Personal preferences, right? Isn't that what truly matters? The films that moved you, that transported you out of your dreary workaday existence, that made you leave the theater wanting to do cartwheels and shout "Yes! That's how a movie is supposed to be made!" Those are the "important" movies of the decade, are they not? Who gives a flip about what influenced the masses. What influenced you?

So make sure you check back all week as Cinema Romantico answers that very question!

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