When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looked back at 2000, it gave its Best Picture award to a sporadically watchable CGI-fest called Gladiator. I've picked something else:
1. The Gleaners & I Directed by Agnes Varda
An essay-film about people who glean food from the fields after the harvests are over; and urban scavengers who find sustenance in the trash, sharing their leftovers with the neighbors; and artists who make assemblages from trash-picked materials; and the director herself, near the end of her life, making a movie filled with serendipitous moments she gleaned from all the hours her camera happened to be rolling. Above all, though without being obvious about it, Varda is documenting a gentle kind of anarchism -- finding, as the slogan goes, the seeds of a new world in the shell of the old.
2. Yi Yi Written and directed by Edward Yang
As rich a portrait of a family as you'll ever see at the movies.
3. You Can Count On Me Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan
Another sort of family, another sort of portrait.
4. Dark Days Directed by Marc Singer
This documentary could be screened as a darker, sadder companion to Gleaners. It's a film about the world built by homeless people in the tunnels beneath New York -- sort of like that book The Mole People, only Dark Days is actually true.
5. Rejected Written and directed by Don Hertzfeldt
"My spoon is too big."
6. Memento Directed by Christopher Nolan Written by Nolan from a story by Jonathan Nolan
"Maybe it's time you started investigating yourself."
7. High Fidelity Directed by Stephen Frears Written by D.V. DeVincentis, Steve Pink, John Cusack, and Scott Rosenberg, from a novel by Nick Hornby
Jack Black has been in so many terrible pictures since this one came out, it's easy to forget how good he was here, how effortlessly he steals the show when he takes the stage to sing "Let's Get It On." At the time it looked like his breakthrough; today, sadly, it looks more like his peak.
8. Sexy Beast Directed by Jonathan Glazer Written by Louis Mellis and David Scinto
Ben Kingsley plays the anti-Gandhi.
9. Almost Famous Written and directed by Cameron Crowe
"The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we're uncool."
10. Code Unknown Written and directed by Michael Haneke
The last decade has seen a lot of big-cast, multi-story, everything-is-connected movies, some of them so ham-fisted and didactic that it's easy to forget how great the genre can be when it's done right. Haneke does it right. This window on a set of interlocking lives in Paris, Mali, and Romania is an antidote to Crash, Syriana, and the rest of the heavy-handed tedium that came later.
11. Panic (Henry Bromell) 12. Brave New World (Theo Eshetu) 13. Wonder Boys (Curtis Hanson) 14. Amores Perros (Alejandro González Iñárritu) 15. The Heart of the World (Guy Maddin) 16. Faithless (Liv Ullmann) 17. Tragos (Antero Alli) 18. The Cell (Tarsem Singh) 19. The Boy Who Saw the Iceberg (Paul Driessen) 20. George Washington (David Gordon Green)
Of the movies of 2000 that I haven't seen, the ones that interest me the most are Mysterious Object at Noon and Gangster No. 1.