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Best Movies of 2000

By Michael Scrutchin

One of the best films I saw this past year I wouldn't hesitate to call one of the scariest movies ever made. It came as a shock to me that half of the audience I saw this film with seemed to think it was a comedy -- and not just a comedy, but the most side-splittingly hilarious thing ever captured on celluloid. Is a 12-year-girl spouting obscenities and doing gruesome things with a crucifix really all that funny? After a year of mediocre films, seeing The Exorcist (the version I'd never seen) in September 2000 was easily the most powerful moviegoing experience I'd had in a long time. That is, until a movie about the destructive power of addiction blindsided me, leaving me to stagger out of the theater in a weary daze. But since The Exorcist is technically a 1973 film, even with the new footage, it won't be included in my Top 10 of 2000. Here are my picks.

1. Requiem for a Dream. Every once in awhile a film comes along and just knocks you to the ground with it ferocious power... then it keeps beating you as you lay there, in dumbfounded shock, wondering why you're subjecting yourself to such pain. Darren Aronfsky's Requiem for a Dream is such a film. Watching the film's merciless villain -- addiction -- destroy the lives of the four principal characters (played by Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans, and Ellen Burstyn) is a wrenching ordeal, but even during the unbearably intense climactic montage I couldn't pry my eyes away from the screen. Burstyn deserves an Oscar for her unforgettable performance here. An electrifying triumph, Requiem isn't just a movie -- it's an experience.

2. Almost Famous. Cameron Crowe's ode to rock 'n' roll is the most purely enjoyable, poignant, and inspiring movie of the year. Even with a minimal amount of screen time, Philip Seymour Hoffman steals the show as rock critic Lester Bangs. And while the merits of Kate Hudson's performance are debatable, it's impossible to deny: she glows.

3. You Can Count On Me. What a wonderful surprise. It's a poignant drama with insightful humor in spades. Great movie.

4. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Now this is movie magic. Ang Lee's epic romantic adventure is one of the most blissfully entertaining films of the year, containing some of the most breathtaking martial arts sequences ever filmed and a dash of exciting romance. One love story is played out between Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh, who can't show the love they have for one another; another between Zhang Ziyi and Chang Chen, whose love may be doomed because she is arranged to married to someone else. Was there a more beautiful film this year?

5. The Gift. A much better film than any thriller this formulaic and predictable has any right to be. The screenplay by Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson is filled with characters that fit right into backwoods redneck stereotypes, but the excellent cast -- most notably Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi -- makes them heartbreakingly human. Sam Raimi's exquisite direction delivers some efficient shocks and keeps the suspense building even though we have a good idea of who the killer is long before our "psychic" heroine does. Emotionally moving, wonderfully creepy, and truly gripping, The Gift is a wonderful old-fashioned thriller.

6. Nurse Betty. After starring in abysmally awful Me, Myself & Irene alongside Jim Carrey, Renée Zellweger redeemed herself by doing this delightful and occasionally dark comedy in which she plays a waitress who is traumatized after witnessing the murder of her sleazeball husband. She heads off to L.A. to find Dr. David Ravell, who she believes to be her ex-fiancé -- but he's actually a character from her favorite soap opera, played by an arrogant actor named George McCord (Greg Kinnear, of course). Have I lost anyone? Nurse Betty shows us a more charming side of director Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men) and is probably the most original and refreshing comedy of the year.

7. American Psycho. "I like to dissect women. Did you know I'm totally insane?" So chirps Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) in Mary Harron's bitingly funny adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' controversial novel. This is witty satire at its most vicious. Bale is terrific here -- and dig that 1980s pop soundtrack.

8. Unbreakable. M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable is subtle, elegant, and beautifully stylish. I'm willing to bet that it will skewer any preconceived notions you may have about it -- so, the less you know about the plot beforehand, the more rewarding the experience will be. It's slow moving, but it's so self-assured and intriguing that it kept me in its gentle grip to the very end.

9. High Fidelity. John Cusack is one of the most likable actors on the face of the earth. And High Fidelity is one the smartest and most likable comedies about relationships and that tricky pathway to adulthood in recent years.

10. The Virgin Suicides. Lyrical, hypnotic, quiet, and utterly fascinating, The Virgin Suicides, directed by Sofia Coppola, is a film where the central mystery remains elusive. It leaves a haunting resonance that few films can match.

Honorable Mentions: The Beach; Cecil B. Demented; Croupier; Eye of the Beholder; Final Destination; Human Traffic; The Ninth Gate; Time Code; Waking the Dead; Wonder Boys.

Article published 02.01.2001.

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