Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler...Former teacher... Scientist... Published author... Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published February 21st 2020
Looking back 20 years
Now, I don't want to scare anyone, but the year 2000, the last year of the twentieth century, the year when calendars got rid of the "19" prefix, was 20 years ago.
20 years ago!!
Happy New Year (for 20 years ago)!
The people born in that year have, generally, finished high school. Some are having families. They're working. They're adults. How to feel old in one easy thought process. To be honest, this is not a new thought with me. I have been writing columns for another site on an aspect of pop culture month by month looking at the year 2000, and have been reasonably harsh on what I am writing about. Well, I recently got a message telling me the year 2000 wasn't all bad, and he cited the films Cast Away and Ready To Rumble to prove his point.
I'm pretty sure the second one is a joke. It has to be a joke. I mean, have you seen that film? I have (4 times… no, 5. Maybe 6…) and it is truly atrocious. But the first… yeah, not too bad.
Dumb as a box of spanners... but so stupidly enjoyable...
And that got me thinking – what were my favourite films from the year 2000? I hadn't really thought about it, and so I went through my DVD collection. Apart from the aforementioned Ready To Rumble, I own six films from that year. But looking at a few lists, I have seen a lot of films from then. I mean, a real lot. Now this is before there was any such thing as Superhero Universes, or a Fast And Furious franchise, or Disney killing all good will by remaking their classic films with "live-action". After The Phantom Menace (1999), no-one – and I mean no-one – was looking forward to episode 2 of the Star Wars prequels. That means the films of the year 2000 had to stand on their own.
There were., in fact, quite a few really good films from the year 2000. And this list is my ten favourites. Of course, I have not seen every film released that year, and my tastes are my own, but I think here you will find enough to have a trip down memory lane should you decide to spend a fun weekend reminiscing. Here they are in alphabetical order.
Bootmen (Directed by Dein Perry)
The standard "kids put on a show to save the town" plot with added intrigue concerning a brother who gets a girl pregnant before dying, a father who does not appreciate his son's love for dance, and a lot of set-backs. Yes, the story is thin and clichéd. But the acting is actually reasonably good and the staging is magnificent. However, what I love – love – about this film is the dancing. The dancing! Holy cow! The final dance sequence which goes on for a good ten minutes or so just had me sitting in the cinema with my mouth open. I'd seen the Tap Dogs stage show that served as a sort of a basis for the film, but this was just as phenomenal.
Bring It On (Directed by Peyton Reed)
Okay, okay, I know… you can laugh now. Finished? Finished yet? How about now? Fine. This is one of those guilty pleasure films so many of us have. I am a fan of gymsports (I am a former gymnast myself) and this film just makes the sport of cheer-leading look so incredible. In Australia we don't have this sort of level (and I doubt we will considering the way gymsports are run), but this film makes it look as amazing as it is. Add into that a subtext about racial discrimination in sport (very real), cheating, and then a final coming together, and this film is more than just a pathetic teen comedy (and the humour is generally terrible). I like it. It's fun and harmless. And the final cheers at the competition are awesome. Fun fact: Cheerleading is the biggest source of sporting injuries amongst females in the USA.
Chopper (Directed by Andrew Dominik)
This biopic about Mark "Chopper" Read, infamous Australian criminal and hard-man, and based on tales told in his series of autobiographies, is violent and nasty and vicious and the sort of film it is hard to stop watching. Starring Eric Bana as Read, it is an astonishing film. Bana carries it on his shoulders, showing just what an amazing actor the man is. I know quite a few people who find it just way too violent, but it is based on a reality than most of us just could not comprehend, and it shows that life in a way that is entertaining, but not fawning or glamourising. Definitely not kid-friendly…
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Directed by Ang Lee)
I have a soft spot for a well-made Chinese fantasy film with well-choreographed fantasy fight sequences, convoluted story-lines and deep philosophical themes. In 2000 was released one of the very best of these films I have seen. Visually, this film is just a stunning tour de force, even if it really took me two viewings to get my head around the story-line…. and it had the most depressing ending. I don't think this film could have been made in the Hollywood studio system. Maybe that's why it is so good. That and the fact it is beautiful to look at. So very good.
The Dish (Directed by Rob Sitch)
I've spoken about this gentle Australian comedy before, and it really is one of the better films of the year 2000. Telling the story of the Parkes telescope in Australia which was a vital part of the first moon landing in 1969, and how they had to overcome some technical difficulties to make sure everything was a success. The cultural clashes between the Americans and Australians form a lot of the central theme of the film, and the acting, led by the ever-reliable Sam Neill, is really top-notch. Yes, historical accuracy is a little bit shunted to the background, but the film managed to appeal to enough people that it became the highest-grossing Australian film in Australia for the year.
Gladiator (Directed by Ridley Scott)
The complete lack of historical accuracy in this film makes it one of the best fantasy films made. There is a reason Russell Crowe is regarded as a fine actor; on top of that, Ridley Scott directed one of the finest science fiction films ever in Blade Runner (1982). This film is just stunning, not relying purely on action, but also the humanity of Maximus. It won the best picture Oscar® and Crowe won the Academy Award for best actor – and both were well-deserved. Some stunning set pieces bring the Coliseum to life and we even have what could almost be considered a happy ending. Wonderful movie.
And seriously, tell me this scene doesn't send a shiver down your spine:
Romeo Must Die (Directed by Andrzej Bartkowisk)
Hated by the critics, this film starring martial arts star Jet Li and based on Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet is another of those guilty pleasure films. And, yes, it is another martial arts movie. The fight scenes – most using that wire technique that gives things a fantasy feel about them – are well choreographed and the story carries itself along at a decent pace. Yes, there are some issues, but this film is a decent action-adventure film based on one of the most depressing romantic tales ever written.
Traffic (Directed by Steven Soderbergh)
This is an incredible film. It is a little complex and the numerous story-arcs wind and twist around each other, but it is so well done that you just have to watch it. It does take some concentration to get into it, but it is so worth it. This is a film about the drug trade and the so-called war on drugs told from three different perspectives. Not all the endings are happy; not all the decisions that work out are moral. It is a film that is designed to make you think, and it works. And one of the best bits about the film is that it does not ram its message down your throat. You think about what you are seeing – a far more effective way to make people come to the conclusions you want them to. And the acting in this film is superb. This is just a great piece of cinema.
The Whole Nine Yards (Directed by Jonathan Lynn)
Another rarity – a film starring one of the cast of the sitcom Friends that is decent. With Matthew Perry and Bruce Willis, a story involving hitmen and the mob, a back-story that is strangely soap-opera-like (or maybe sitcom-like), I find the film entertaining and the sort of harmless fun that you can just turn your mind off an enjoy for what it is. Perry's character does not stray that far from Chandler, and it's almost like Bruce Willis is sending himself up a little with his portrayal of Jimmy. Things get all confusing in the end, but it is a fun way to spend a couple of hours.
X-Men (Directed by Bryan Singer)
The first and the best (Logan is second best, for those playing at home), the original X-Men film had a lot of the feel of the comics and a story-line that actually almost made sense. This is one of the blocks upon which the DCEU and MCU films were built, showing that a good story, relatable characters, well-thought-out special effects could make a superhero movie that people would want to see. It's just unfortunate that most of the X-Men films that followed were so underwhelming. But this first one showed what is possible and makes those comic book nerds of us wonder "what if…"
I think this list shows a decent variety of movies. Yes, some are not going to appeal to everyone, some, as I have readily admitted, are guilty pleasures, and some are films that appear to be liked by large chunks of the film-going public. Something for nearly everyone, maybe. I know some big and popular films were not included in this list, but there are many films others like that I don't, or that I just find mediocre, or don't do anything for me though I can appreciate them as fine pieces of cinema (for example, Cast Away). Still, you could do worse than having a year 2000 binge-watch with these movies!