Embrace the apocalypse with the best films from the last twelve years of our existence.
Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron’s army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring. (201 mins.)
Here it is. One of the greatest things to come to this world. The reason I became interested in film. Three films to rule them all. When I first saw The Lord of the Rings Trilogy in 2006, I fell in love. Since then, I have watched the trilogy over twenty times, a fact that I am extremely proud of. I know every single scene like the back of my hand, and can recite almost every speech. I can play the themes on piano, I can sing the song at the credits, and of course I know every character’s name. I could write a five paragraph essay on every single scene in each film, and you would give me an A+. If you haven’t already guessed, I love this trilogy, and there are oh so many reasons why. I could go on for hours and hours on what makes this trilogy so great, but instead I will limit myself, and tell you the very best things. These movies have by far the greatest ensemble cast of the 21st century, from the wise and powerful Ian Mckellen as Gandalf to my favorite movie characters of all time, the two hobbits Samwise and Frodo, played by Sean Astin and Elijah Wood, respectively. I will not list every actor and actress here, but know that each and every one of them gives amazing performances. The soundtrack is glorious. Howard Shore composes pieces that are not only beautiful on their own, but enhance the magnificence and glory of each scene in the films. Peter Jackson adapts Tolkiens’ beloved book trilogy perfectly, not only transferring the novels to the screen with great aptitude, but surpassing the greatness of the novels completely. From the quiet green hills of The Shire to the fiery core of Mount Doom, each landscape is beautiful and every scene is completely realistic. I must stop talking about the films, or I will go all day. In short, the Lord of the Rings trilogy is epic, emotional, and will stay with you forever. They are, in short, what I consider to be the greatest films ever made.
Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates the social networking website that would become known as Facebook, but is later sued by two brothers who claimed he stole their idea, and the co-founder who was later squeezed out of the business. (120 mins.)
In 2011, The King’s Speech won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. At home, I watched in disappointment as the Academy chose the wrong movie yet again to win the award. The Social Network shrank away in disgrace, getting robbed in the Best Picture category as well as the Best Directing and Best Actor categories. Directed by David Fincher, The Social Network is a powerful work of art, telling the story of betrayal, revenge, and friendship behind the creation of Facebook. I cannot say much to persuade you to go see this movie, besides the fact that it has some of the best dialogue ever written. The scenes flow perfectly, bound together by quick, witty, and insanely clever dialogue. Jesse Eisenberg is fantastic, portraying the genius and flaws of Zuckerberg perfectly. Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake also give awesome performances, and both contribute to the power of the film. Once you watch The Social Network, you will see the reason it is so high on my list. It will not only change your view on Facebook, but make you realize that a great script can drive a film to places other films rarely go.
When Batman, Gordon and Harvey Dent launch an assault on the mob, they let the clown out of the box, the Joker, bent on turning Gotham on itself and bringing any heroes down to his level. (152 mins.)
Whoops. Looks like I lied about the Nolan thing. Well, here’s the fourth and final Christopher Nolan film on my list, and the height of his filmmaking. The Dark Knight reinvents the superhero movie, from a dorky genre involving dumb catchphrases and capes to a genre to be taken seriously. The Dark Knight is propelled by great directing, diverse and interesting characters, awesome music, and a fantastic story. First of all, let me just say that I was outraged when The Dark Knight was not nominated for best picture in 2008. Not only was it the best movie of 2008, by far, but it was also a huge blockbuster. Second, let me talk about the wonderful cast. Christian Bale is awesome as the caped crusader and Bruce Wayne, giving a believable and interesting performance. Aaron Eckhart is fantastic as Harvey Dent, Maggie Gyllenhaal is great as well, and all the other actors and actresses manage to play their roles quite well. But the real powerhouse behind The Dark Knight is the Joker. Heath Ledger, who is known to completely immerse himself into his character, is absolutely fantastic. His performance is mystifying, realistic, and completely disturbing. One of the reasons I did not find The Dark Knight Rises as good is because Tom Hardy and his character, Bane, could not even come close to touching the skill and mastery of Ledger. The Dark Knight is very dark. If you were planning on letting your ten-year-old see it, you should watch it yourself first. Overall, with a fantastic cast, epic music, and a great and original story, The Dark Knight is a must watch for everybody, and is the greatest superhero movie ever made.
Remy is a young rat in the French countryside who arrives in Paris, only to find out that his cooking idol is dead. When he makes an unusual alliance with a restaurant’s new garbage boy, the culinary and personal adventures begin despite Remy’s family’s skepticism and the rat-hating world of humans. (111 mins.)
I find myself in the strange position of critiquing a movie that does not really belong among all the other brilliant Pixar films. It doesn’t have a witty, brave, or symbolic protagonist, nor does it have any scenes which many people will remember. It’s much too slow and thoughtful for kids to love it, yet some adults may find particular scenes to be too kiddy. It’s an animated film, with a G rating, but it’s always seemed out of place to me. And that’s what makes Ratatouille so fantastic. Both the young and old will feel attached to it in some way. Ratatouille is driven by an excellent set of characters, realistic animation, wonderful directing by the great Brad Bird, and an absolutely flawless soundtrack. Michael Giacchino, the composer, brilliantly makes the viewers hear, feel, and most importantly of all, taste Paris. Ratatouille, the simple story of a rat and a garbage boy, is, in the end, not very simple at all. It touches viewers off all ages in completely different ways, making it, in my opinion, the strongest Pixar film, and the best animated movie in the 21st century.
An extraterrestrial race forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth suddenly finds a kindred spirit in a government agent who is exposed to their biotechnology. (112 mins.)
District 9 is a movie that will definitely please many viewers, but repel some as well. It is not epic, it is not full of futuristic explosions, and it does not have a large cast of well-known actors. It is dark, gritty, realistic science fiction at its absolute best. District 9 is a half-documentary, half-drama about an alien species living in future Johannesburg. District 9 starts off like any documentary, with interviews, and footage from a diplomatic excursion. Then, when things start to fall apart for the protagonist, Wikus, the movie leaves the documentary style to focus only on the protagonist and his struggle. Normally, this shift would disorient me, but it doesn’t in District 9. Although this movie does start slow, it builds up to a truly fascinating conclusion, that leaves viewers satisfied, but still craving more. On top of all this, director Neill Blomkamp uses many points in the story to reflect the South African apartheid. I highly recommend this film to any sci-fi fans, and anybody who enjoys realistic fiction. It’s a truly unique and emotionally powerful film.
6. Elf (2003)
After inadvertently wreaking havoc on the elf community due to his ungainly size, a man raised as an elf at the North Pole is sent to the U.S. in search of his true identity. (97 mins.)
Elf is one of the only four movies that I have seen over ten times. This movie may not look like it belongs near the top of the list, but there are many reasons. Reason number one: it is the greatest Christmas movie ever made, by far. I have voluntarily watched and been forced to see many feel-good Christmas movies, and none of them can even compare to Elf. All of them run on too long, get sappy and corny, and try to hard to impact emotionally. Reason number two: it is the funniest movie I’ve seen in the past twelve years. Sure, there are some moments in movies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and The Hangover when I giggled at some shock humor, but no movie is filled with as much genuine, clever humor as Elf. Reason number three: it is a tradition. Every Christmas since 2003, I have watched Elf. I feel like if I don’t watch Elf, something terrible will happen to me after Christmas. Elf is charming, funny, classic, and actually heartfelt. It has become a part of the Christmas season for me, and if you watched it, it may become part of yours as well.
The toys are mistakenly delivered to a day-care center instead of the attic right before Andy leaves for college, and it’s up to Woody to convince the other toys that they weren’t abandoned and to return home. (103 mins.)
Go see Toy Story 3, they said. It will be nice and happy, they said. In early summer, 2010, a fourteen year-old boy cried in a theater while watching a children’s movie. No, he wasn’t tearing up. He was sobbing uncontrollably. I used to think that crying at a movie was a little silly, since it wasn’t real, and I would sometimes mock the girl and occasional guy who would tear up at an emotional scene. When I saw Toy Story 3, everything changed. This absolutely fantastic Pixar film is the perfect end to a wonderful trilogy. It’s poignant, funny, entertaining, and so bittersweet it’s crazy. If you just filmed my face while I watched the last fifteen minutes of Toy Story 3, you would think I was from an insane asylum. I’m sobbing one minute, then smiling and laughing the next. If you’ve ever doubted Pixar’s ability to make a bunch of toys make men cry, then you were wrong. These toys deal with insanely complex and deep themes of letting go. All my powers of recommendation go to you to see this movie. The last great Pixar movie stands tall over its two predecessors, and many of the other films Pixar has made.
In a world where technology exists to enter the human mind through dream invasion, a highly skilled thief is given a final chance at redemption which involves executing his toughest job to date: Inception. (148 mins.)
I promise, this is my last Christopher Nolan movie. Inception, a thriller involving dreams, is thought-provoking, pulse-pounding, and just flat out awesome. If you are in to psychological thrillers, but don’t want to sit through a slower, more atmospheric movie, Inception is the best thing that will ever happen to you. First of all, let’s talk about the cast. With Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Michael Caine, and Marion Cotillard, this has got to be one of the best casts in recent years. Although none of them give oscar-worthy performances, they work perfectly as a unit, each character completely unique from another. Next, lets talk about the soundtrack. Wow. Just wow. Hans Zimmer composes some of his best work for this movie, from the tame and beautiful “Time” to the epic and intense “The Dream is Collapsing”. If you’ve ever heard somebody say “BWAAAAAAAAAAAH”, and you didn’t know why, you should probably see Inception. Finally, the story. The story is clever, engaging, and truly unique. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll let you see for yourself. All in all, I can’t stress enough that you have to see this, as soon as possible.
A paraplegic Marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home. (162 mins.)
Now, this is a movie that doesn’t really fit the category of “best movies” but rather “movies you have to see”. No, Avatar is not one of the greatest movies of the 21st century. It doesn’t have excellent acting, or a compelling story line, but its other qualities outshine its weaknesses. Avatar is the most ambitious movie ever made. With its five-hundred million dollar budget, its diverse and skilled actors, and the fact that it is directed by James Cameron, Avatar is hugely entertaining, and gorgeous to look at. In the past twelve years, nothing has even come close to the beauty and wonder that Avatar gives us on the planet Pandora. 95% of the things we see on Pandora are completely CGI, which is incredible. There was not one moment in the film where I said to myself, “This looks unrealistic”. Everything is pitch perfect, from the multitudes of foliage to the diverse species of animals. As I have said before, Avatar is not a masterpiece. But if you haven’t seen it, you are missing out on a lot.
10. 50/50 (2011)
Inspired by a true story, a comedy centered on a 27-year-old guy who learns of his cancer diagnosis, and his subsequent struggle to beat the disease. (100 mins.)
I never thought I would feel touched by a film starring Seth Rogen. But, I was wrong. 50/50, a somewhat dark comedy about a young man suffering from spinal cancer, is one of the funniest and sweetest movies I have seen in the past 12 years. Every single character in this film is unique and interesting, and that’s what makes the movie so great. Seth Rogen plays the best friend who tries to lighten the blow of a potentially fatal cancer. Anna Kendrick plays the therapist-in-training, doing her best to help the patient through his pain. And finally, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is becoming a favorite actor of mine, gives an oscar-worthy performance. This film balances an insanely dark topic of cancer with some genuinely funny and heartwarming scenes. It never goes overboard with Seth Rogen and his vulgarity, nor does it overuse the sadness in each scene. 50/50 treads the thin line of comedy and drama perfectly, and that is why I was completely amazed that it was not nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards. If you’re turned off by the humor of Seth Rogen, or feel offended that a comedy uses the concept of cancer for many of its jokes, don’t let that stop you. This movie, in my opinion, was the best in 2011, and is one that you certainly should not miss.
The brash James T. Kirk tries to live up to his father’s legacy with Mr. Spock keeping him in check as a vengeful, time-traveling Romulan creates black holes to destroy the Federation one planet at a time. (127 mins.)
In an onslaught of Science-fiction movies that have come to us in the 21st century, only a few films truly stand out. Star Trek is one of them. Star Trek, a seemingly doomed franchise, got one of the best reboots I have ever seen. This new Star Trek movie, directed by J.J. Abrams, does not try to outshine the previous movies and series, nor does it recycle old plotlines to give homage to diehard fans. Star Trek takes the word “reboot” to a whole other level, and changes the Star Trek universe. Literally. I have seen this movie several times now, and I like it even more after each viewing. The cast is stellar, the music is emotional and epic, and the special effects are nothing less that mesmerizing. In fact, I believe that Star Trek eclipses all other movies for the franchise so far. If you were a fan of the original or the next generation show, and are afraid that this movie will not live up to your expectations, I urge you to watch Star Trek. It is absolutely fantastic.
A fading movie star with a sense of emptiness, and a neglected young wife meet as strangers in Tokyo and form an unlikely bond. (101 mins.)
I don’t usually like romances, but I can say that this is one of the most unique and powerful I have ever seen. Poignant, touching, and bittersweet, Lost in Translation is one movie that you definitely should not miss. Of all the actors and actresses of this century, I never would have thought that Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson were absolutely perfect together. These two lost souls find themselves in Tokyo, Japan, with similar sadness in regard to their relationships and their occupations. They find happiness and peace in each others company, and end up spending the majority of their time in Tokyo together. I can’t really describe the reasons this movie is so charming. You simply have to see it for yourself. It is one of the sweetest films I have ever seen.
The rivalry between two magicians is exacerbated when one of them performs the ultimate illusion. (130 mins.)
Dark. Suspenseful. Mystifying. Haunting. The Prestige is one movie you will not forget. Definitely Nolan’s slowest film, the first half of The Prestige tells the story of two rival magicians, each trying to discover the other man’s secrets, while bettering their own tricks. But, as the film progresses, the darkness of the men begin to show, and Nolan once again displays his brilliant and twisted cleverness. The Prestige is full of great dialogue, and great actors as well. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale give some of their best performances, and the end result is fantastic. On top of all of this, the ultimate twist ending awaits unsuspecting viewers, which is why I love this film. I adore the looks people have on their faces when the final scene rolls around. I don’t really know how else to convince you to see this, but I will tell you this: whether or not you like slow, atmospheric movies doesn’t matter; the end result is worth it. I promise.
A family of undercover superheroes, while trying to live the quiet suburban life, are forced into action to save the world. (115 mins.)
If someone were to go back to the beginning of the 21st century and tell me that The Incredibles, an animated flick with a child-oriented audience, would be one of the best superhero movies ever made, I would not have even considered that they might be telling the truth. But, truthfully, it is completely true. The Incredibles, directed by the always fantastic Brad Bird, and made by Pixar, is no less than absolutely fantastic. This is the only film I have ever seen that accomplishes the “super family” task with any success. The Incredibles mixes action, humor, and pure entertainment all into one movie. I don’t think I have met one person that does not like The Incredibles. If you want to see Pixar near its best, see this movie.
In his first mission as 007, James Bond must win a poker game at The Casino Royale, in Montenegro, to stop a criminal who works as a banker to the terrorist organizations of the world, from financing crime and terrorism across the globe. (144 mins.)
In the last fifty years, there have been Bond movies upon Bond movies. Some are very entertaining, and some are just terrible. But none have impressed me as much as Casino Royale did. Not only was my interest in the older movies reinvigorated, but I was extremely excited for what Bond would give me in the next film. Casino Royale is not grandiose. It doesn’t have evil masterminds who are planning to destroy the whole world. Instead, Casino Royale has a different villain, one that does not have enormous plans. In case you have not seen it, I won’t tell you more. The action is great, Daniel Craig is fantastic, and everything just falls into place perfectly. Not only is Casino Royale the best James Bond movie ever made, but it is one of the best action movies in the past fifteen years.
A man, suffering from short-term memory loss, uses notes and tattoos to hunt for the man he thinks killed his wife. (113 mins.)
This is the first of the many Christopher Nolan movies that you will see on my list. You will soon discover that I am a huge fan of his movies. I love his film style, his choice of actors, the soundtracks for his movies, and his extreme cleverness. Memento, Nolan’s first major film, is not his best, but it definitely is his most confusing, by far. To see an entire story backwards is extremely headache-inducing, but a very fun experience. No, this movie is not expertly visualized, nor does it have Oscar-quality acting. But no matter what anybody says, Memento has an extremely interesting and unique concept that truly lets it shine. Before you tackle this movie, however, be prepared to focus for the entire time.
Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods. (95 mins.)
I have heard many people say that The Cabin in the Woods is the best horror movie in the 21st century. I completely disagree with that. Not because it isn’t absolutely fantastic, completely clever, or highly entertaining, but because it simply doesn’t fall into the category of horror. In fact, it couldn’t be farther from the genre. The Cabin in the Woods takes every scary movie from recent years, and rips them apart in the most hilarious way possible. When I first bought my ticket to see this movie, I was honestly there to have a good laugh and to pass the time. Not only did I laugh, but the film exceeded every expectation I could have had for it. I refuse to spoil this film for anybody, for the last twenty minutes of the film has got to be some of the entertaining film I have ever seen. Not surprisingly, The Cabin in the Woods shines as one of the best films (if not the best) of 2012, which has been a relatively weak year. Perhaps the only film that outshines it is Argo, but the two really cannot be compared. Either way, see this movie. As soon as possible.
18. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
A couple undergo a procedure to erase each other from their memories when their relationship turns sour, but it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with. (108 mins.)
Sneaking in at the eighteenth spot is a movie I hadn’t seen until earlier this year. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, is by no criteria a normal movie. Dealing with love, hate, regret, loss, dreams, and memory, this film touches on the many different aspects of a complicated relationship in a very Nolanesque way. Picture Inception as a romance, and you may already have a good idea. Winslet gives a very good performance, but the real surprise comes from Jim Carrey, who strays way out of his comfort zone and is fantastic. Eternal Sunshine is gripping, thought-provoking, and some scenes are absolutely heartbreaking. This film is definitely not the best you will ever see, but with its great uniqueness and clever story, it will not disappoint you.
Blacksmith Will Turner teams up with eccentric pirate “Captain” Jack Sparrow to save his love, the governor’s daughter, from Jack’s former pirate allies, who are now undead. (143 mins.)
I cannot give anything but great praise for this film. Although I did enjoy Dead Man’s Chest greatly, barely anything can compare in terms of pure entertainment to The Curse of the Black Pearl. There is swashbuckling, skeletons, sex, and of course, the infamous Jack Sparrow, who is undeniably one of the most well known movie characters of this decade. Johnny Depp quite literally carries this movie to my list, with brilliant charm and witty humor. Again, just as in Finding Nemo, there are so many memorable characters and scenes which set it apart from other movies. I cannot recommend this movie enough. No matter who you are, you will enjoy Pirates of the Caribbean.
After his son is captured in the Great Barrier Reef and taken to Sydney, a timid clownfish sets out on a journey to bring him home. (100 mins.)
The twentieth best movie of the past 12 years is a childhood favorite of mine. Although definitely not Pixar’s best film, Finding Nemo is an example of a perfect universally admired movie. Kids love it for its adventure, and its comedy. Teens and adults find that despite its kiddie overtone, Finding Nemo shows genuine heart, and lots of charm. Every character is unforgettable, from the memory-deficient blue tang Dory to the bloodthirsty great white Bruce. If somebody were to tell me to name off every character in Finding Nemo in one minute, I do not doubt that I could succeed easily. It is entertaining the whole way through, and even those who are somewhat bored by animated flicks will find a soft spot for the characters. If for some reason you have not seen Finding Nemo, see it now.
21. Drive (2011)
A mysterious Hollywood stuntman, mechanic and getaway driver lands himself in trouble when he helps out his neighbour. (100 mins.)
Beginning this list is Drive, definitely one of the most violent films I’ve seen in my life, which tells the story of a young man who works as a stunt driver in the day, and a highly skilled transporter at night. One of my favorite movies from 2011, Drive transforms from an atmospheric drama to an extremely intense revenge film. It is both genuinely terrifying and fantastically beautiful, due to some great casting and wonderful cinematography. Ryan Gosling strays out of his usual comfort zone giving a great performance, and Carey Mulligan is as great as always. Drive is haunting, gory, intense, and hugely entertaining. I highly recommend it to anyone who can stomach what it has to offer.
Originally posted on IMDB.