Top Ten: 2001 Films

A couple of weeks ago on a Facebook film discussion page someone posted a challenge for me to name my Top Ten films of 2001. I could have just left a comment on the page with the list but thought why not go the whole hog and actually write a post. 2001 wasn’t a classic year in film and saw the release of Freddy Got Fingered, Pearl Harbor and Planet of the Apes. There are also a number of movies out in 2001 that I haven’t seen which may or may not have made this list including Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Ali and A Beautiful Mind. It’s not a classic list, most of the films on here are included for their fun value and the fact that all stand up to repeated viewing.

1. A.I. Artificial Intelligence

I wasn’t quite sure of A.I. the first couple of times that I watched it, but over the years the story of a robot child with the capacity to love has somehow stayed in my mind. It’s not Spielberg’s best film, but there are a couple of genuinely heartbreaking moments.

2. Gosford Park

Downton Abbey wasn’t Julian Fellowes first foray into writing about the English aristocracy and their staff. This Agatha Christie-like ensemble piece stars luminaries such as Dame Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren, Kristin Scott Thomas, Alan Bates, Clive Owen, Michael Gambon and Stephen Fry and is bit of a joyous old romp. Fellowes won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

In retrospect this isn’t the best of the Harry Potter films, the young cast are still a bit raw and the tone is a bit more childish than the source novel perhaps deserves but it was one of the best cinema experiences of the year. I was working in Ipswich with my then boyfriend and some other friends and as big fans a couple of us insisted on going. The moment the Hogwarts Express appears on the big screen for the first time was truly memorable.

4. A Knight’s Tale

I love this film, it’s pure fun enjoyment. Heath Ledger is hugely charismatic as the pauper squire William Thatcher who poses as a knight to enter jousting tournaments. Along the way he encounters Geoffrey Chaucer and the Black Prince of Wales, Edward of Woodstock, makes an enemy of the villainous Count Adhemar and falls in love with the beautiful Jocelyn. If you don’t enjoy this daft film then you’re just not having enough fun at the cinema.

5. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

I’m not a Tolkien fan, I’ve never read The Lord of the Rings and while I have read The Hobbit it didn’t do much for me. Fantasy is not my genre, yet I love Peter Jackson’s Middle-Earth trilogy. I seldom think to put the films on to watch but when I do I curse myself for leaving it so long since last viewing. But please permit me a second to skip ahead one film and go off on my favourite LoTR tangent – why the hell would Aragorn fall for weepy, weedy Arwen when the beautiful Eowyn is available?

6. The Man Who Sued God

This is a small Australian film which I’m not sure many people are aware of. I’d like it to become better known. Billy Connolly plays Steve Myers, a lawyer turned fisherman whose boat is destroyed in a storm. As the insurance company refuses to pay out Myers decides to sue God and his representatives on earth. It’s a slight story but it’s nicely played and has the best denouncement of a cockatiel on film.

7. Monsters Inc

A Pixar classic this may be my absolute favourite film of 2001. The animation is stunning and still, 12 years on, better than many films today but that’s not the film’s true genius. Pixar’s gift is in picking the thoughts of childhood – our toys come to life, we might get separated from our parents, there are monsters under the bed – and bringing them to life. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen this but the final goodbye between Sully and Boo always makes me cry. Its sequel, Monsters University, just doesn’t have that same emotional punch.

8. Moulin Rouge

Hooray for musicals and hooray for Baz Luhrmann at his best. Neither of the stars, Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, have the best voices in the world but both threw themselves with gusto into this story of a doomed love affair between a courtesan and a writer. The choice of familiar songs as the soundtrack was inspired, even more so than in A Knight’s Tale.

9. Ocean’s 11

A fun remake of the 1960 Rat Pack caper sees George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and a crew of con artists and thieves come together to rob a group of casinos owned by Andy Garcia. Directed by Steven Soderbergh the cast are clearly having a blast and that comes over on screen. It’s a much better film than its sequel, Ocean’s 12, which is dreadfully self-satisfied and the cast have much more fun than the audience.

10. Shrek

Every studio wants to rival Disney and Pixar when it comes to animation and Shrek made sure that Dreamworks was right there competing with the House of Mouse and their CGI genius friends. The story of a disgusting ogre on a quest to save the beautiful princess is a delight and pokes gentle fun at traditional fairy stories. Shrek won the inaugural Oscar for Best Animated Feature but unfortunately (like others on this list) the original was the high point of the series and the sequels just disappointed.

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  1. What a fun list (I might have to steal the idea for myself :)).
    And Aragorn’s heart was already taken when he met Eowyn, it’s a testament to him that he wasn’t tempted 😉

    • Steal away – this was just a challenge on Facebook that I expanded because I don’t know how to keep things short and simple :-)

      Suppose you’re right about Aragorn, and that does make it sound quite romantic but Arwen’s just so drippy

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