Favorite Films Since I Was Born: ’00-’04

Onward and upward!

The ’00s



American Psycho, dir. Mary Harron

Battle Royale, Dir. Kinji Fukasaku

Billy Elliot, Dir. Stephen Daldry

Cast Away, Dir. Robert Zemeckis

The Emperor’s New Groove, Dir. Mark Dindal

Ginger Snaps, Dir. John Fawcett

O Brother, Where Art Thou?, dir. Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Unbreakable, Dir. M. Night Shyamalan

Yi Yi, Dir. Edward Yang


Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Dir. Ang Lee — A moving and romantic wuxia epic, and one of the most gorgeous films ever made. Sublime action underscores how helpless the characters feel to change their fates. All the bold swordplay in the world can’t save you from unhappiness, or from the constraints of a society built on suffocating honor. Any other year, and this would have been an easy favorite.

My Favorite Film of 2000


In the Mood for Love, Dir. Wong kar-Wai — Even more than kar-Wai’s Chungking Express, my favorite film of 1994, In the Mood for Love is a brilliant, beautiful, and difficult evocation of unconsummated love. It is deeply romantic, but compelling because, like its characters, it resists getting too close: kar-Wai’s camera is always peeking at our characters, around a corner or through a door, as they circle each other, trying desperately to decide if they love each other enough to overcome the disappointments that bring them together. A bold and compelling masterpiece, and one of the greatest films ever made.



A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, Dir. Steven Spielberg

Amelie, Dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Donnie Darko, Dir. Richard Kelly

Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Dir. John Cameron Mitchell

A Knight’s Tale, Dir. Brian Helgeland

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Dir. Peter Jackson

Monsoon Wedding, Dir. Mira Nair

Mulholland Dr., Dir. David Lynch

The Others, Dir. Alejandro Amenabar

Wet Hot American Summer, Dir. David Wain


Spirited Away, Dir. Hayao Miyazaki — Another beautiful, poignant, wildly creative Miyazaki film, well deserving of its Oscar for Best Animated Film.

My Favorite Film of 2001


The Devil’s Backbone, Dir. Guillermo del Toro — In my opinion, this is del Toro’s finest film: a great ghost story, with terrifying human villains and an unforgettable setting. It made an indelible impression when I first saw it, and some images (like the one above) continue to haunt and mesmerize me to this day.



28 Days Later…, Dir. Danny Boyle

Catch Me if You Can, Dir. Steven Spielberg

City of God, Dir. Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund

Lilo and Stitch, Dir. Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Dir. Peter Jackson

Minority Report, Dir. Steven Spielberg

Road to Perdition, Sam Mendes

Signs, Dir. M. Night Shyamalan


The Pianist, Dir. Roman Polanski — I am by no means a Polanski apologist, but The Pianist remains a gut-wrenching masterpiece, a story of the Holocaust told on a deeply intimate scale, with a shattering performance by Adrien Brody.

My Favorite Film of 2002


The Ring, Dir. Gore Verbinski — That rare horror film that is not only terrifying, but also absolutely beautiful. Sequences here stick with you because they are shot in a stunning melancholy way that burrows right under the skin and scrapes along your bones.



Elf, Dir. Jon Favreau

Finding Nemo, Dir. Andrew Stanton

House of Sand and Fog, Dir. Vadim Perelman

Hulk, Dir. Ang Lee

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Dir. Peter Jackson

Oldboy, Dir. Park Chan-wook

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Dir. Gore Verbinski

The Station Agent, Dir. Tom McCarthy

The Triplets of Belleville, Dir. Sylvain Chomet

X2: X-Men United, Dir. Bryan Singer


Big Fish, Dir. Tim Burton — A timeless fairy tale tinged with that Buron darkness. His last masterpiece, and a very, very close runner up this year. But how can I say no to…

My Favorite Film of 2003


Kill Bill, Vol. 1, Dir. Quentin Tarantino — A demented symphony of blood and honor, featuring killer dialogue and sublime action. Far and away my favorite Quentin Tarantino film for the way it distils his excesses to their very essence for 111 minutes of pure cinematic expressionism. The sequel is also good, but somehow less pure. They stand together as some of the best action cinema since Die Hard.



Dawn of the Dead, Dir. Zach Snyder

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Dir. Charlie Kaufman

Hellboy, Dir. Guillermo del Toro

Howl’s Moving Castle, Dir. Hayao Miyazaki

The Incredibles, Dir. Brad Bird

Kill Bill Volume 2, Dir. Quentin Tarantino

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Dir. Brad Silberling

Mean Girls, Dir. Mark Waters

Shaun of the Dead, Dir. Edgar Wright

Spider-Man 2, Dir. Sam Raimi


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban — A rain-drenched fantasia that manages to deftly combine whimsy with despair: the Dementors, J.K. Rowling’s greatest inventions, are not simply “fear itself,” they are potent metaphors for depression, something Harry is feeling a lot of. More than any other film in the series — which I thoroughly enjoy, and which will continue to pop up on the rest of my list (albeit never quite in the #1 spot) — Azkaban understands the power of magic — and the terror of feeling alone even in a magical world.

My Favorite Film of 2004


Before Sunset, Dir. Richard Linklater — In a very,  very tough year, I ultimately had to go with one of my all-time favorites, a brainy, romantic walk-and-talk that is just about the purest expression of Linklater’s slacker aesthetic that you could imagine. Featuring appealingly vulnerable performances by Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, this bold cinematic experiment in the nature of time began with the perfectly constructed Before Sunrise and found its natural apotheosis in the earth-shattering Before Midnight. Let this perfect middle movie stand in for the whole perfect –yes, perfect — trilogy.


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