2000 Continued: Movies July 20, 2010Posted by Matt in movies, top ten.
Tags: 2000, American Psycho, Amost Famous, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Gladiator, High Fidelity, Memento, movies, O Brother Where Art Thou, Snatch, top ten, Traffic, X-Men
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We continue our time machine series today with a look at the best movies of 2000. Please join me on this 10 year leap back in time…
10. American Psycho
This violent, disturbing cult classic is definitely a different breed of movie. Christian Bale plays a yuppie businessman afflicted with an insatiable blood lust who becomes a serial killer. Though the film is loaded with graphic violence, it is the black comedy and satire interspersed throughout that make this movie great.
Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of this Best Picture winner from director Ridley Scott and star Russell Crowe, but, while it is a run-of-the-mill epic, the film is a superbly acted, well-done piece of work.
8. Almost Famous
There is something about a well-done coming-of-age film that really strikes a chord with me and there are few of them done better than this great work from director Cameron Crowe about a teenage journalist traveling with a fictional band in the 1970′s. It’s really a great movie, especially if you are like me and you’ve long fantasized about following around a rock band.
The first installment of this hugely popular comic book series adaptation is a bit weaker than the second, but it is still very good as it introduces the world to the mutant characters and to their struggle for acceptance. It’s a good movie, though it’s greatest role is in setting up the second chapter in the series.
6. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
I would be lying if I said that I ever paid much attention to martial arts films prior to this one, or for that matter, after this, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this Ang Lee-directed foreign language epic. If nothing else, it gave me a much better appreciation for movies of this genre.
5. High Fidelity
What can I say? The concept of nerdy, snobbish collectors of vinyl records really appeals to me – probably because I can see so much of myself in them. Based on the hilarious novel by Nick Hornby, this film starring John Cusack, Jack Black, and a laugh-out-loud turn by Tim Robbins is a must-see.
Without a doubt, this is director Guy Ritchie’s best work to date. Jason Statham and Benicio del Toro star in this crime-comedy along with a very funny Brad Pitt as a gypsy with an indecipherable accent. The plot itself is sort of twisted and I couldn’t do it justice in these few sentences, so make sure and see this if you never have.
Sporting an all-star cast – Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, Catherine Zeta-Jones, etc. – this crime drama was probably my favorite of all the Best Picture nominees in 2000. It is a gritty, well-acted, and well-shot film that certainly deserved all of the praise it received.
2. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
I’m a huge fan of everything Coen, so when I heard they were recreating The Odyssey in Depression-era Mississippi, I could hardly wait to see it. It has all of the eccentric characters and funny scenes that you would expect to find in a Coen film, along with one of the best soundtracks in years.
Director Christopher Nolan hit gold with this film, employing a nonlinear narrative in a psychological thriller setting to make an instant classic. In the movie, Leonard Shelby (played by Guy Pearce) suffers from amnesia and is trying to solve the mystery of who killed his wife. Due to his defective memory, he tattoos facts regarding the case onto his body, so that he can read and remind himself each day. The plot is twisty, but never to the point that you might lose interest in this incredible piece of work.
Ten for Tuesday: 2000 July 20, 2010Posted by Matt in top ten.
Tags: 2000, Coldplay, Eminem, Johnny Cash, music, O Brother Where Art Thou, Outkast, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Ryan Adams, Steve Earle, The White Stripes, top ten
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Today we step back in to the metaphorical time machine to take a quick trip back to 2000, the year that marked the beginning of a new millennium. In 2000, I was 23 years old, graduated from Harding University, and began my first failed career as a public school teacher. My music collection was quite large, for I had high speed internet and no qualms about using whatever method of file sharing I could get my hands on, from Napster to Kazaa to others. I quit participating in music thievery long ago, but at that time it was not a big deal to me, especially since I had massive student load debt and a job that paid barely over $20K a year.
But I digress, 2000 also marked our entrance into a new age, one of uncertainty and unrest, with a once-booming economy starting to show some strain and threats to safety looming just over the horizon. Today’s list will look at the entertainment defining that year – specifically in music and film.
Top 10 Albums Released in 2000
10. Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP
Say what you want about Eminem, but in 2000 he set the standard for shock-rock, incurring the wrath of parents across the country as rapped, with a delirious exuberance, about doing drugs and killing his girlfriend. Sure it was twisted stuff, but few artists had ever truly captured youthful angst in a violence-obsessed culture the way he did then.
9. Steve Earle – Transcendental Blues
In the 1980’s Steve Earle was riding high as a new breed of country-rocker with hit songs like “Guitar Town,” but drug problems and a prison stint in the early 1990’s quickly put a hold on his burgeoning career. He returned with several excellent works in the second half of the 90’s, but it was Transcendental Blues that truly blew me away. Mixing country music pain with a Beatles-esque psychedelic sound, Earle made an early decade masterpiece that continues to astound today.
8. The White Stripes – De Stijl
Though their big mainstream breakthrough was yet to come, this nugget marks the period when music fans started paying attention to the duo of Jack and Meg White. On De Stijl, the Stripes blaze through a number of blues-rock cuts with such insistent fervor that you cannot help but be impressed. The cover of the blues standard, “Dead Letter,” is an incredible piece of work – particularly if you ever see it live.
7. Pearl Jam – Binaural
As all of you are probably aware, I’m a huge Pearl Jam fan, have been for nearly 20 years and probably will be until Eddie and company finally hang it up, but I was not that impressed with this work upon its release. It wasn’t until after I saw them live again that year that I came to really appreciate this more experimental sound.
6. Various Artists – O Brother, Where Art Thou?
This collection of revivalist folk/bluegrass music was probably the surprise hit of the year and helped old-timers like Ralph Stanley enjoy a career resurgence and younger artists like Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch to be propelled into the American mainstream. The most recognizable songs, though, belonged to the film’s fictional band, The Soggy Bottom Boys. A great movie (more on that later) and a great soundtrack.
5. Coldplay – Parachutes
Coldplay rightly deserves some of the criticism they receive for being derivative, unchallenging, and a bit boring, but that doesn’t mean all of their music is bad. Parachutes, the band’s full-length debut, is one of their better works, with great songs like “Don’t Panic,” and the piano-driven “Trouble,” leading the way.
4. Johnny Cash – American III: Solitary Man
The late-life run of The Man in Black and producer Rick Rubin is the stuff of legend and introduced him to a whole new generation of fans. This collection of original tunes and unlikely covers is the type of thing that will touch a nerve with anyone. In particular, you should check out his versions of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” U2’s “One,” and the amazing cover of Nick Cave’s “The Mercy Seat.” This is powerful stuff.
3. Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker
When Ryan Adams is on, the guy is among the best young singer-songwriters working today and this, his solo debut, is without a doubt the greatest musical achievement of his young, but prolific, career. “Oh My Sweet Carolina” is quite possibly one of the best country songs from the past decade and the fact that it received little to no country radio airplay is a sad reminder of what the genre has become.
2. Outkast – Stankonia
If rap music is art, this is a masterpiece. The Georgia-bred duo of Andre “Andre 3000” Benjamin and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton blew everyone away with this, their fourth and probably best album. Together they mash up a variety of styles, from Sly and the Family Stone-style psychedelic funk to classic rap to the funky rock sounds of Prince. This was an instant and unavoidable classic.
1. Radiohead – Kid A
After two universally acclaimed, era-defining albums in the 1990’s (“The Bends” and “OK Computer”), all eyes were on Radiohead as the millennium turned. When they finally emerged, the product they offered was so different, so out of the ordinary, and so not radio-friendly, many of their past fans, myself included, did not know what to make of it. Ten years later this challenging and strange work, incorporating electronic sounds, danceable beats, and few guitars, is the stuff legends are made of. This was the perfect album, fraught with fear and uncertainty, to usher in the new millennium.
Next: The top movies of 2000.
Best of the Decade – Music Edition (71-80) December 2, 2009Posted by Matt in Top 100 of the Decade.
Tags: 2000s, Bonnie Prince Billy, Bright Eyes, decade, M. Ward, Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris, My Morning Jacket, O Brother Where Art Thou, The Decemberists, The Raconteurs, The Shins, The White Stripes, top 100
80. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Master and Everyone (2003)
Will Oldham, the artist also known as Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, has been a fixture on the folk music scene for over 15 years, releasing slice after slice of dark Americana while never quite breaking through to the mainstream. This album was my introduction to his acoustic styling, which sounds simultaneously wistful and sad, several years ago and I have been a fan ever since. Songs like “The Way” and “Ain’t You Wealthy, Ain’t You Wise?” are great additions to the alt-country canon.
79. My Morning Jacket – It Still Moves (2003)
It Still Moves was my introduction to the decidedly Southern, reverb-drenched sounds of MMJ and I’ve been a big fan ever since. Taking a cue from Crazy Horse, Jim James and company have put together a sound that is simultaneously mired in the stoned-out 70’s and distinctly modern. Take my word for it, songs like “Mahgeetah” and “One Big Holiday” will have you dancing and leave you wanting more.
78. Bright Eyes – Cassadega (2007)
You can count me among the people who like Conor Oberst’s trembling, perhaps overly-earnest vocal styling and, though they have been quite prolific over the past decade, this is probably the Bright Eyes album that I listened to the most. The cryptic lyrics are a bit Dylanesque and the heavily reverbed music oftentimes sounds like the aforementioned MMJ, but Bright Eyes have constructed an interesting sound all their own in today’s music landscape. Check out “Four Winds” and “If the Brakeman Turns My Way” for a taste of what these guys are all about.
77. Various Artists – O Brother Where Art Thou (2000)
Both among the best movies and soundtracks of the decade, O Brother reintroduced many Americans to the almost forgotten styles of folk music. This album of songs taken from the Coen brothers’ great film turns to artists like the legendary Ralph Stanley and a great trio of Americana songbirds – Gillian Welch, Allison Krauss, and Emmylou Harris. In addition, the soundtrack also employs the fictitious Soggy Bottom Boys (played in the film by George Clooney, Tim Blake Nelson, and John Turturro), who are credited with two of the more memorable songs from the film, “I am a Man of Constant Sorrow,” and “In the Jailhouse Now.”
76. The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely (2008)
This project of the 2000’s greatest guitar god, Jack White, may not be on the same level as his work with The White Stripes, but it still rocks like few others can. Consolers of the Lonely does a great job in showing that White’s blues-rock guitar works well in a full band context as well as in a duo. Turn on songs like “Salute Your Solution” or “Many Shades of Black,” crank up the volume and enjoy.
75. Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris – All the Roadrunning (2006)
Guitar maestro Knopfler, of Dire Straits fame, and Americana songstress Harris may seem like a strange pairing on the surface, but this work is one of the best in recent folk music. The combination of styles makes for a nice, easy-to-listen-to album, and their familiar voices blend together on songs like “I Dug up a Diamond” and “This is Us,” to form a near-perfect union.
74. The White Stripes – Elephant (2003)
This was the album that first turned me on to the White Stripes and the incredible Jack White, so it holds a special place in my music collection. The running bass line at the beginning of the “Seven Nation Army” is one of the most inescapable pieces of the past decade, which is actually a good thing, and songs like “Ball and Biscuit” display White’s proficiency in the blues. While its not my favorite work of the Stripes, it is an excellent album and definitely a must-have.
73. The Shins – Oh, Inverted World (2001)
The Shins may not have changed my life like Natalie Portman promised they would, but I do really like their brand of indie pop. Their subsequent albums have not grabbed me like this one from the early part of the decade, but Oh, Inverted World is a release that everyone interested in the music of the decade needs. The collection contains a number of excellent catchy songs, from the best-known ones like “Caring is Creepy” and “New Slang,” to those that are perhaps less played like “Know Your Onion!” and all of them are very good.
72. The Decemberists – Picaresque (2005)
I first heard The Decemberists on Radio Paradise, following the release of this album in 2005 and quickly became a fan. Their style is unusual and original, sounding often like a relic from some past time. Though vocalist Colin Melloy can sometimes be a bit over-earnest, his tales of barrow boys and other strange characters are quite appealing to me. The song “16 Military Wives” was their breakthrough hit from this release and it is great, but I think my favorite is “We Both Go Down Together.” Overall, it’s definitely an interesting work that deserves to be heard.
71. M. Ward – The Transfiguration of Vincent (2003)
Nostalgia is a powerful driving force in the world of music, but there are few artists whose works would sound at home on a transistor radio like M. Ward. This album is soothing, comforting in a familiar way. Just put on songs like “Vincent O’Brien” and “Undertaker,” and be transported back to another time. Take it from me, it’s worth the ride.