Greatest Films of the 2000s
Greatest Films of the 2000s

Greatest Films of the 2000s
2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009


Title Screen Film Genre(s), Title, Year, (Country), Length, Director, Description

Aeon Flux (2005), 93 minutes, D: Karyn Kusama
This high-action, futuristic sci-fi thriller directed by Karyn Kusama might have been filmed in the capital city of Brasilia in Brazil. However, the eventual decision was to make spectacular use of Berlin's contemporary modernist buildings to evoke a post-apocalyptic society in the year 2415, and to depict the film's fictional city-state and utopian haven of Bregna. Charlize Theron portrayed mysterious assassin and trained freedom fighter Aeon Flux working for a group of anti-government rebels known as Monicans. A number of unlikely architectural locations, mostly massive concrete structures, were selected (some never before seen on film), including the Das Bauhaus Archiv Museum of Design (serving as the exterior of the apartment block complex where Aeon Flux and her sister Una lived), the Krematorium Baumschulenweg (its impressive Hall of Condolence was used for the ruling government's political meetings), the historic Waterworks or Wasserwerk (with underground brick archways of the water filtration plant), the now-unused 1935 Windkanal wind tunnel facility used for testing Nazi aircraft (the setting for the "maze" and government complex), and numerous scenes in Berlin's beautiful, privately-funded Tierheim Animal Shelter facility (the setting for the main totalitarian government complex).

Batman Begins (2005), 140 minutes, D: Christopher Nolan
See Batman series.

Brokeback Mountain (2005), 134 minutes, D: Ang Lee

Cache (2005, Austria/It./Germ./Fr.) (aka Hidden), 111 minutes, D: Michael Haneke

Capote (2005), 115 minutes, D: Bennett Miller

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005), 139 minutes, D: Andrew Adamson
See The Chronicles of Narnia series.

The Constant Gardener (2005, UK), 128 minutes, D: Fernando Meirelles
The film's engrossing plot of political intrigue, based upon John Le Carre's novel, was propelled by the mysterious brutal murder of activist wife Tessa (Rachel Weisz) - an outspoken care worker in the cluttered, AIDS-ravaged shantytowns of Nairobi. Accompanying the core story of multinational, pharmaceutical corruption and greed was husband Justin's (Ralph Fiennes) mission to discover the reason for his wife's death. The visually-powerful, on-site cinematography of Kenya was showcased in many sun-baked scenes, with the vibrant native colors strikingly contrasted with the dusty brown world of dwellings and refugee camps. A dusty car chase sequence teetered along the edge of spectacular cliffs and savannahs of the Rift Valley. A plane journey and food drop revealed colorful bursts of red-earthy African landscapes, views of volcanoes and the beautiful flat veldt dotted with wildlife and low lying brush. After learning the truth of the conspiracy and why Tessa was murdered, Justin returned to the place of her death - the dried and cracked arid shore of Lake Turkana in remote NW Kenya, to await assassins sent to kill him.

Crash (2005, US/Germ.), 114 minutes, D: Paul Haggis

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), 119/122 minutes, D: Scott Derrickson
Director Scott Derrickson's horror film (and courtroom drama) loosely documented the true story of a tragic exorcism. In real-life, German-Catholic Anneliese Michel was allegedly possessed and began to have exorcisms in September of 1975, lasting until mid-1976 when she passed away. In the disturbing film, marked by many flashbacks to tell the backstory and the failed exorcism, 19 year-old Catholic college girl Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter) died under the care of parish priest Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson), who was performing an exorcism on the demonically-possessed female. He was accused of negligent homicide. The Archdiocese decided to have Moore defended and represented by career-minded, successful agnostic lawyer Erin Bruner (Laura Linney), while the prosecution was headed by devout Christian Ethan Thomas (Campbell Scott). It was clear that Emily Rose was possessed as a college student alone in her room late one night at 3 am ("the devil's hour") during a thunderstorm. She displayed double-jointed and contortionist positions and grotesque convulsions as she moaned and screamed. In the frightening scenes of Emily's rapidly-evolving, self-destructive, demonic spiritual possession, she spoke in tongues and destroyed religious symbols. She ate bugs, starved herself, practiced physical self-abuse (tore her hair out), and saw people's faces transformed into demonic faces. She lashed out at the parish priest who wanted to rid her of the "dark, powerful forces." Medical experts testified in the trial for the prosecution that she probably suffered from both psychosis (visions) and epilepsy, while Father Moore expounded superstition. Bruner countered by having an expert claim that Emily was likely to be spiritually possessed. The audio-taped exorcism was played during the court case - it was performed on a wet and wild Halloween night, mostly in a barn, buffeted by winds and her violent screams. She ultimately revealed that there were six demons inhabiting her. With her death a few weeks later, the court prosecutor claimed that Moore ignored Emily's epilepsy and schizophrenia, and instead concentrated on superstition, letting her become emaciated from dehydration and starvation when she stopped taking her anti-psychotic medication. Although the priest was found guilty, he did not serve jail time. The epitaph on Emily's gravesite tombstone was from the Bible (Philippians 2:12): "Work out your own Salvation, with fear and trembling" - words that Emily had spoken the night before she died.

Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005), 90 minutes, D: George Clooney

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), 150 minutes, D: Mike Newell
See Harry Potter series.

A History of Violence (2005), 96 minutes, D: David Cronenberg

Junebug (2005), 106 minutes, D: Phil Morrison

King Kong (2005), 187 minutes, D: Peter Jackson

Kingdom of Heaven (2005), 145 minutes, D: Ridley Scott

Land of the Dead (2005), 93 minutes, D: George A. Romero
See Romero's Dead series.
This fourth film of the Dead series was a symbolic class struggle and posited the apocalyptic collapse of human society. Masses of poverty-stricken residents in Pittsburgh were forced to live in the empty, embattled streets and slums, where they were fed and provided with medical aid by the city. Although protected by mercenaries (armed guards) and electric fences, society had become overrun by undead walkers, nicknamed "stenches." Meanwhile, the self-serving elite lived in fortified Fiddler's Green, a zombie-free enclave (fortified condominium) protected or bordered on three sides by a large river and on the other by an electric barricade, and lorded over by powerful super-capitalist Paul Kaufman (Dennis Hopper). The city's greedy and opportunistic ruler had sponsored the manufacture of the heavily-armored Dead Reckoning - a vehicle armed with machine guns and video cameras and a fireworks-launching pad, to both control and distract-mesmerize the zombies. It was led by Riley Denbo (Simon Baker), who commanded dangerous forays and missions to look for ever-dwindling supplies for the residents of Fiddler's Green. The enclave went under siege by the marauding zombies, led by the more evolved and intelligent Big Daddy (Eugene Clark), a former gas station worker. The undead could be trained to shoot guns, use weapons, and effectively besiege the corrupt city in the inevitable climax. With a backstory of dissension and unrest between the mercenaries and the entrepreneurs, the zombies led a successful, inexorable attack against the fortified area. In the conclusion, Riley fled the city, to head in Dead Reckoning toward Canada, to find land without zombies.

March of the Penguins (2005, Fr.), 80 minutes, D: Luc Jacquet

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), 144 minutes, D: Rob Marshall

Munich (2005), 164 minutes, D: Steven Spielberg

The New World (2005), 135 minutes, D: Terrence Malick

North Country (2005), 126 minutes, D: Niki Caro
The film's tagline referred to an historic case regarding womens' rights and female empowerment: "All She Wanted Was To Make A Living. Instead She Made History." Similar to Norma Rae (1979), it was inspired by the semi-fictionalized true story of the first major successful sexual harassment case in the United States -- Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Company, lasting from 1984 to 1998. In the film's backstory, single mom Josey Aimes (Charlize Theron) (originally Lois Jenson) had been badly abused by her wife-beating husband. In 1989 with her two young children Karen (Elle Peterson) and troubled illegitimate son Sammy (Thomas Curtis), she moved back to her small northern Minnesota hometown. Encouraged by her mining trucker friend Glory Dodge (Frances McDormand) and Glory's husband Kyle (Sean Bean), she began working as one of only a few female iron miners at the Eveleth Mines (with a male/female ratio of 30:1). She was subjected to unwanted, degrading, and intimidating sexual advances from the other miners, especially from her supervisor Bobby Sharp (Jeremy Renner), her ex-HS boyfriend. Josey's dismissive, unapproving mining father Hank (Richard Jenkins) was angered at his seemingly-promiscuous daughter for bearing Sammy out of wedlock, and for causing dissension at his workplace. Josey's complaints about work conditions fell on deaf supervisory ears when she spoke to mine owner Don Pearson (James Cada), and the board of directors refused to hear her concerns or do anything. When Bobby sexually assaulted Josey, she quit - and sued the mining company for sexual harassment under a new workplace law designed to strengthen equal opportunity. She was represented by reluctant NY lawyer, Bill White (Woody Harrelson), a one-time hockey star, who urged her to receive support and backing from other disgruntled female workers with the same complaints - most of whom were reluctant to speak out. To explain her side of the issue, in the film's most dramatic scene, Josey addressed hostile union members during a union meeting who were vehemently opposed to her lawsuit, and succeeded only when her father came to her backing with an emotional speech. The mining company was represented by female lawyer Leslie Conlin (Linda Emond), while Judge Halsted (John Aylward) presided. During the trial, the mining company attempted to accuse Josey of having a long history of promiscuity, focusing on her teenage past (seen in flashback, young Josey portrayed by Amber Heard) when she was raped by a high-school teacher (resulting in her illegitimate pregnancy with son Sammy). Young Bobby Slade (Cole Williams), a witness to the rape, claimed it was consensual sex, although his testimony was declared perjured by Josey's lawyer. The case became a class-action suit when she was finally joined by others, led by Glory. In the film, the case was left unresolved, except for explanatory title cards. In fact, the judge ruled against the mining company, declaring that it should have prevented the misconduct. It was ordered to pay out compensatory damages to the plaintiffs. The company was also compelled to set up a sexual harrassment policy and educate its workers.

Pride & Prejudice (2005, UK), 126 minutes, D: Joe Wright

Sin City (2005), 126/147 minutes, D: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez (with Quentin Tarantino)

Syriana (2005), 128 minutes, D: Stephen Gaghan

Walk the Line (2005), 136 minutes, D: James Mangold

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