Dan King gives us a year with films so good they’ll echo in eternity
Remember the year 2000? Back then DVD players were the newest craze for home entertainment, you couldn’t use the internet and a landline at the same time and social networking meant talking to people face to face. It was a simpler time, it was a better time. It was also a year which spawned many significant film releases. Gladiator marked the resurgence of the ‘Sword and Sandals’ genre and set the standard for epic historical dramas with powerful performances from Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix and precision direction from Ridley Scott. Sadly, films that have been made due to the success of Gladiator have failed to match up, for example Troy, 300, King Arthur and Kingdom of Heaven. Gladiator also went home with the Oscar for best film of 2000 and best actor award for Crowe.
In hindsight the most ironic film of the year has to be What Women Want. As a rom-com vehicle for the talents of Mel Gibson the film follows his character as he is gifted the ability to hear, and therefore understand women’s thoughts. Given his record of alcohol fuelled domestic abuse and racial hatred it’s probably safe to say a sequel is unlikely. Film goers who were aching to watch a man slowly go insane whilst talking to a volleyball were in luck with the release of the painfully slow Castaway which also came in at number three in the list of top grossing films at the box office. The number one spot went to Mission: Impossible II and Tom Cruise’s haircut which was nearly as offensively bad as the film.
The year’s best films include Memento and Traffic. Memento signified the arrival of Christopher Nolan, future director of The Dark Knight Trilogy, onto the scene with his first major motion picture production. Starring Guy Pearce Memento is a psychological neo-noir film which plays in reverse chronological order and proves to be deeply gripping and original. Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic was a winner at the Oscars and is an intricate dramatic portrait of the US-Mexico border drug trade from several perspectives.
2000 was also significant for re-popularizing Chinese martial arts movies with Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, a film, like Gladiator, that spawned many mainstream copies e.g. House of Flying Daggers. 2000 also reminds us of X-Men and Meet the Parents, good films that resulted in poor sequels, an all too common theme in Hollywood.