2000 - Almost famous
Music is an important topic to me and many others. Almost Famous was the film created for music lovers everywhere ,especially classic rock fans. One of the standouts is the amazing soundtrack which is a significant part of the story, and good music always makes a good movie even better. We always have films about rises & falls of crime lords or the politically corrupt but Almost Famous was the first film to take that formula & tackle Rock N roll. You get to see the glamour of being a rockstar but the flaws that come with it. It’s a honest film written from the heart of Cameron Crowe (based on his stint as a reporter for Rolling Stone magazine) as love a letter for all of us lovers of music and there was no way I could say this wasn’t my favorite film of 2000.
Runner ups: Traffic, Gladiator, Requiem for a Dream
2001 - Donnie Darko
Donnie Darko is one of the most personal films I’ve seen. I never identified with a character so much until I saw Donnie Darko. The film came out at a perfect time in my life where in my early teens going through teenage angst. I related to it on so many levels from school problems, to family problems and being the constant outsider but I grew watching this film as Donnie grows up and is willing to take more responsibility and Donnie Darko taught me a lot in that time period. Donnie Darko wins as my 2001 film because it was like seeing a movie about yourself.
Runner ups: Royal Tenanbaums, Muholland Dr., Vanilla Sky
2002 - Road to Perdition
When I first saw Road to Perdition my mind was absolutely blown. The cinematography, the magnificent score, the gloomy incredible performances and captivating story about father & son, I was in love with the movie.In this dark sad world you have the story of a father & son trying to survive due to consequences of both father & son. At times I could relate with my father but the the film also inspired me on film making basis that constant dialogue isn’t needed to tell an emotionally gripping tale. Sometimes it’s the atmosphere and performances you create that do. I find Road to Perdition perfect on so many fronts and I can watch it over and over again.
Runner Ups: Adaptation, Minority Report, Insomnia
2003 - Mean Creek
Mean Creek is a life changing film that I recommend every youth or anyone should at least see once in their life. A major issue in the world is bullying and the hate that comes with it. That’s a topic Mean Creek explores. What’s the point of revenge? What’s the point of bullying? Are all bullies evil? Are we as virtuous as we think? Mean Creek is tragic answer to those questions. Mean Creek’s end result leaves you thinking is being mean to others even worth it? Mean Creek is an important & relevant film about bullying and it’s a film that everyone should see and that’s why it’s my favorite of 2003.
Runner Ups: Th Last Samurai, Finding Nemo, Love Actually
2004 - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Love is one of the most beautiful parts of being human but it’s one of the most painful parts as well. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was a peculiar take on love. The story of two lovers break up with each other and erase themselves from each others memories is something everyone has considered once in their life after a terrible heartbreak. But is that really as good as it sounds? Eternal Sunshine shows us that we all have our ups and downs in love and we just have to fight for that. Depending on your interpretation on the end, it’s a testament to your belief on love. I saw the film at a painful moment in my life and it helped me get through it but at the same time it inspired me to be a better writer and to never hold back on my imagination. Over repeat viewings, I discovered new things making it a different experience every time. It got to a point where I ended up adoring this film that’s it’s my second favorite film of all time.
Runner Ups: Collateral, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
2005 - The 40 Year Old Virgin
It's an odd choice to pick a comedy but to this very day, it's one of my most watched comedies and a classic for future generations.
Runner Ups: Munich, Batman Begins, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut)
2006 - The Fountain
The Fountain is one of the most beautiful films that I have seen. You can’t help but want to ball tears after watching it. Even though at first I was confused at what I saw, I felt the heart of the movie and knew there was more to it than meets the eye. It was like a unique puzzle that just needed to be solved. It took me a couple of views to understand the film but once i understood it, I loved it even more. It’s a film about coping and it helped me in understanding death and dealing with it better, I can’t really go into much details without ruining it but it’s a must see film. It’s emotionally captivating and it’s a film that has stayed in my memory for years.
Runner Ups: The Departed, Children of Men, The Prestige
2007 - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Assassination of Jess James was my most anticipated film of the year as I found the story of Jesse James & Robert Ford to be one of the most interesting relationships of history. With high expectations I had a feeling it might have let down but i loved it even more than expected. It was an interesting character study of one man’s envy & desire to be a somebody and another man losing his mind. It could be a metaphor for hollywood and celebrity idolization and that’s how I look at it. This wasn’t like any other Western, Jesse James is symbolic tragedy of what our actions can do to us and others.
Runner Ups: No Country for Old Men, Zodiac, Sunshine
2008 - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button wasn’t what most people expected to it to be. Even I expected it to be different but the beautiful thing about Benjamin Button is it’s the epic telling of a man’s life even though he’s born different than others that doesn’t make him any lesser or more of a man. He’s just like everyone else and goes on this journey of life. Curious Case of Benjamin Button is an allegory for life. It wasn’t a film about an extraordinary man and how he’s different from us, it’s how he’s similar to us. Life has its ups and downs. We have our painful moments in life but we have our happy times in life. Curious Case of Benjamin Button just had me thinking and examining my own life and that’s important. Sometimes we need a film that makes us reflect on ourselves.
Runner Ups: Synedoche, New York; The Dark Knight, Wall-E
2009 - Moon
It was a toss up between these two films but I enjoyed them both for different reasons each. Moon was an interesting tale of man on the moon alone who’s slowly losing his mind. I appreciated it for it’s take on low budget films but it was one of the most thrilling & smart films I saw all year. In an age of big blockbuster action filled science fiction flicks, Moon was a refreshing movie to see because of it’s emphasis on characters & story.
2009 - (500) Days of Summer:
500 days of Summer is the king of breakup films. It was absolutely funny but heartbreaking too. Usually romantic tragedies are told from the perspective but here’s an honest film from a guy’s perspective. I thought it was such a refreshing concept we get same the joys Tom does in the beginning of the relationship and the same pains when it ends (reminding some of us of our worst heartbreaks) What works for 500 Days of Summer is it’s beautiful touching script that’s an original take on relationship movies.
Runner Ups: Up, Up in the Air, Fantastic Mr Fox
2010 - The Social Network
A film about Facebook? That can’t be any good or even enjoyable. That was the thought going around when the film was announced but I knew Fincher picks his projects carefully and always has a reason for making them and they end up being good films always. Instead of being a typical biopic, Fincher & Aaron Sorkin took the story and made a semi fictional take on it. They made characters out of real life figures while still telling the core true story. Social Network reminded me heavily of the classic Godfather with how all the events played out, there were stakes and compelling characters all at each other’s throats. David Fincher is a story teller so the sleek stylish cinematography in his films is present but Fincher finally got Trent Reznor to do the full soundtrack to his film and it’s some of Trent’s best work. The end result is this gripping tale of betrayal and friendship, at the same time telling us how one of the biggest websites came to be. I found everything about Social Network to be near perfection and it really stood out in a strong year of films. It was unique and daring.
Runner Ups: Black swan, Blue Valentine Toy Story 3
2011 - Drive
One of the bigger surprises of the year and a movie I ended up loving more than I did. Drive was originally advertised as a generic action movie with a unique cast but the end result turned out to be deeper than the simple concept. Drive took a minimalistic approach compared to the action films of today, each & every character is flawed and the villains are real small time crime bosses. It’s a throwback to 80s action films that’s set in modern times. The film boasts an excellent soundtrack from indie artists like Kavinsky, College, The Chromatics. Musicians who I always thought would fit in a movie about driving in the night. Drive is pure film making but it’s love story was refresher. It was about two broken people trying to connect in this world of chaos. I found everything about it to beautiful and it was a film that influenced on how I write and direct films.
Runner Ups: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Kung Fu Panda 2, Source Code