The last few weeks have been extremely draining for me. The least amount of time I’ve clocked working on my job is 60 hours (counting both at home and at the office), and I even managed to break 80 hours this most recent week. Needless to say, I’m exhausted and want nothing to do with thinking.
I have a more detailed, business and professionalism-related post coming in the next week or so. Some of you may have even been helping me with it on Twitter recently. For the moment, I need something to clear my head. I need a post I can write without extreme levels of critical or analytical thinking. And thus, I bring you this post.
I don’t consume a ton of video-based media. Television and movies take a backseat to books, music, radio, and blogs on my list of things that help me to relax. I believe that part of that comes from the fact that I don’t get drawn into the hype of the summer blockbuster film. If you look at the list of the highest grossing films of the 2000s, you’ll have to look all the way down to #10 (Shrek 2) before you find a movie I’ve seen, down to #16 (Finding Nemo) to find a film I saw in theaters, and #49 (The Day After Tomorrow) to find a film I’ll actively go out of my way to rewatch. I am not movie makers’ target audience.
With that, there are definitely films I think were overlooked for one reason or another that deserve greater attention. For a film to make this list, it cannot be one of the top 50 grossing films of the 2000s, nor can it be in the top 10 grossing films in the year it was released. Sorry, Bond films. I love you, but you’re not underrated. Films that didn’t do well in the box office, but are widely loved for various reasons — be that as a cult classic (Super Troopers, Talladega Nights, Zoolander), as a piece of great film making (Kill Bill 1/2, Requiem for a Dream), or because of their critical acclaim (Chicago, The Wrestler) — were considered, but ultimately left out, with two notable exceptions.
6. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
While the aforementioned Finding Nemo and Shrek were the most successful animated titles, and though Spirited Away is probably the best known Studio Ghibli film to come out in the 2000s, Howl’s Moving Castle is easily my favorite Hayao Miyazaki film. It’s a bit overlooked thanks to two major animated films (Shrek 2, The Incredibles) as well as one all-time bust (Shark Tale) coming out the same year. When it comes to quality of the story being told, only The Incredibles is even in the same league as Howl’s Moving Castle.
5. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)
Exception number one comes here. I’m a huge fan of campy comedies. If they made a new Batman film in the style of the Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze film of Batman and Robin, I could die happy. But that’s not happening because superhero movie fans want action, not comedy.
Dodgeball is the epitome of campy comedy. Stupid jokes, ridiculous caricatures, deadpan snark, Vince Vaughn’s only tolerable character ever — Dodgeball did a lot with a very simple formula. The jokes are wearing and becoming less funny as they age, however if you’re looking for a movie that describes mid-2000s campy comedy, it’s hard to overlook Dodgeball‘s relevance.
4. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
Time to discuss the first of two films that are largely hated by internet movie watchers. Did you realize that The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was Sean Connery’s final film? It’s true. While I’ve heard that this film has a small cult following, I’ve only met one other person who liked this film besides me. I get the dislike — people expected more from those in the cast, particularly with Connery leading the film. If you’re looking for a film that plays the ridiculous superhero trope straight, you’re in the wrong place. If you, however, want a superhero film that doesn’t take itself seriously, here’s your solution. It’s not a movie worth universal acclaim, but taken at face value, it’s an enjoyable watch.
3. The Number 23 (2007)
Ah, yes. Jim Carrey’s last film before he went completely off the deep end, both in terms of his career<a href=" " title="You could make the argument Carrey's last great film was The Majestic in 2001, but he followed that up with Bruce Almighty and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. You know what came after this film? Yes Man. That’s right. The film that tried to be Liar Liar, but with shitty writing.”> and his need to agree with his then-girlfriend Jenny McCarthy’s absurd anti-vaccination claims. I’ve always preferred serious Jim Carrey to funny Jim Carrey, and in The Number 23, Carrey nails both serious and creepy to the letter. The movie is widely panned as one of the worst movies of 2007, though many of the same people who said that thought Transformers was a great film. I find it difficult to take them seriously.
2. Rigged (2008)
In 2008, director Jonathan Dillon must have said to himself, “I want to mash up Million Dollar Baby, Fight Club, and a seedy D-List mob movie and see what happens”. The results should have been terrible. Apparently no one told that to Rebecca Neuenswander (now Rebecca Welsh) who plays a better, more gritty version of Hillary Swank’s Maggie Fitzgerald character from Million Dollar Baby. A quick bit of internet searching lead me to find that this was Welsh’s only film, as she primarily works with the HALO Foundation (an organization she founded). She’s got a pretty good blog too, for those of you who are into that sort of thing. Rigged is easily one of my favorite movies of all time, though there’s one movie that beats it out for the top spot on this list.
1. Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)
Seriously though. How in the blue hell can people realistically say that Syriana was the best film George Clooney was involved with in 2005? Nothing against Syriana, a fine film in its own right, but Good Night, and Good Luck was a cinematic masterpiece. Test audiences found the film’s actual work so well intertwined with stock footage used that they actually complained that the actor playing former Senator Joseph McCarthy was too unrealistic — only to later find out that the stock footage was actually McCarthy. If that doesn’t speak volumes about a movie, I don’t know what does.