Superheroes flex cinematic muscle as Dark Knight becomes film of decade
One of the dominant trends in movies from 2000-09 was the rise of the superhero movie. While 1997′s “Batman and Robin” left the form dormant for a few years, the success of films such as Bryan Singer’s “X-Men” and Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” made the exploits of costumed characters all the rage at cineplexes. The best of the lot was the decade’s best movie: “The Dark Knight.” But that’s not all the decade was about: There were revamps, thrillers, pregnancies and love stories. Animation underwent a revolution; fantasy epics were redefined.
The following is a list of the best films of the past decade.
1. “The Dark Knight” (2008) — Director Christopher Nolan made a crime epic disguised as a comic-book caper. Heath Ledger’s death drew more attention to the film, but his performance as the Joker was one for the ages. While the Joker ostensibly is working for Gotham City’s criminal powers, his real goal is chaos. The Joker’s greasy hair and painted-on smile covering scars make for an interpretation that’s fresh and original. Batman’s alter ego, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), yearns for a normal life in a city that doesn’t need his alter-ego as a protector. The Joker doesn’t want a return to normalcy; he wants a city mad enough to need Batman for a defender. Chaos and order and the meaning of rules in society are all explored beneath the surface of Nolan’s greatest filmmaking achievement.
2. “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003) — You could argue for any or all of Peter Jackson’s sprawling epics re-creating the fantasy stories of J.R.R. Tolkien. But Jackson here provided something that’s rare with trilogies: a satisfying ending. This is the fantasy epic to which all future fantasy epics must aspire.
3. “Almost Famous” (2000) — Written and directed by Cameron Crowe, “Almost Famous” is a semi-autobiographical tale of journalism and rock ‘n’ roll. Teenage aspiring rock journalist William Miller (Patrick Fugit) follows the band Stillwater on the road as he discovers the rock landscape of the 1970s. Crowe, who directed a near-perfect teen movie in “Say Anything …” has done so again here, making a film that feels completely earnest and completely authentic.
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