So, which year in the last decade was the best for film? For me, the shortlist dropped down to two years immediately, 2000 and 2006.
The year 2000 brought us: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Traffic, Almost Famous, Requiem for a Dream, Gladiator, American Psycho, In the Mood for Love, Memento
While the CGI in Gladiator might not stand up to modern standards, I think most people would agree that these films have aged well. Crouching Tiger, Almost Famous, Gladiator, Memento and Requiem for a Dream are on most critics’ decade lists (and believe me I went through a massive amount researching for my top 20 of the decade). American Psycho was a very rare occurrence of Christian Bale acting well (The others were The Machinist, The Prestige and Rescue Dawn). While the top grossing movies in the US is pretty unspectacular, there is only ONE sequel in the top ten and NO remakes, compare that to 2009 where there were six sequels or prequels and one remake. Also, 2000 and 2006 were both years when Michael Bay didn’t release a film!
On the downside for 2000, it also brought us Rocky and Bullwinkle, Charlie’s Angels and most notably Battlefield Earth, a film so bad, it won seven Razzies in 2001 – this includes a ‘prize’ for the worst on-screen couple for John Travolta and anyone who shared the screen with him.
However, despite the wealth of all time great movies in 2000 it was always going to be runner up to 2006, a year that saw 59 films gross over $100 million.
It was a fantastic year for foreign cinema -just consider the sheer quality of some of the films on offer: Volver, Tell No One, The Lives of Others, Ils (one of the best horrors of the decade) and of course Pan’s Labyrinth. Guillermo Del Toro’s fantasy drama won best-reviewed film of the decade on Metacritic.
2006 also brought us: The Departed, The Prestige, Flags of our Fathers/Letters from Iwo Jima, Children of Men, Apocalypto, An Inconvenient Truth, United 93, Little Miss Sunshine, Borat, Thank You for Smoking, The Fall, The Last King of Scotland.
It was really hard to pick a winner between the two years and I have gone for some trivial reasons for choosing 2006, it has to be said. First up, is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – just recently dropped down to the 4th highest grossing movie of the decade. This movie managed to make $100m domestically in two days! The same feat has been achieved by The Dark Knight and er ……. Twilight: New Moon and Spiderman 3.
It was also the only year you could see an actual good performance from Eddie Murphy, in Dreamgirls. I don’t know why this is a good thing, maybe I have a soft spot for him from watching Beverley Hills Cop, but I want him to do so well, and this aside, he always disappoints.
Finally it’s the year we got to see a decent Bond film. Casino Royale was possibly the only Bond film that I have enjoyed, not just met with indifference. Daniel Craig was fantastic and the lessons learnt from Jason Bourne were obvious. I consider this film to be on par with Batman Begins in its achievement – it took a film character that in the past had been basically two-dimensional and added some depth. James Bond became not just some smug git in a tuxedo who somehow manages to be drinking constantly and yet sober enough to foil a master villain’s plans, but a person with a conscience and I was hoping Casino Royale was the start of a major change in Bond films, but it turned out to be a false dawn.
So 2006 wins my year of the decade based on a large number of top quality films, no Michael Bay, Jack Sparrow, Eddie Murphy and the brief reinvention of Bond. Do you agree or disagree? Do you think a better year is worthy of the title?