04 November 2009

Tops of the Millennium: Narrowing down the Candidates

About a month or so ago I introduced my preliminary candidates for the Highly Esteemed Honour of Norwegian Morning Wood's Top 15 Films of the Millennium. This was basically an initial survey of 38 potential candidates I wanted to start thinking about, hand-picked mostly based on my own personal interpretations of legacy, memorablility and awesomeness. I wanted to find some arbitrary factors to narrow down my selection. I found a good way of doing this was three-fold: Firstly I looked at their Awards haul, Oscars in particular, if no Oscars than I looked for whatever else was best. I'm not taking this whole way, you'll notice I didn't even select a film like Crash (2004) or Slumdog Millionaire (2008). Like any of my three criterion, the Award Haul doesn't mean a whole lot but it certainly means something. I mostly used the Internet Movie Database and Wikipedia in this endeavour.

I wanted both critically and commercially popular films, knowing that the truly best of the decade will inevitably share both. Thus using BoxOfficeMojo.com I research all my films' lifetime grosses. Finally, I wanted a good mix of critical and common reviews, especially to determine some cult status or otherwise see a movie that wasn't treated well on its first release but has become popular or renowned since. Thus I researched each films' Rotten Tomatoes score. The Top 15 films in each category follows, what will come next is a final, human deduction:

Academy Award Haul:

#1 - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003): Won 11/11 Oscars, including big ones Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay and about anything else you can think of.
#2 - Gladiator (2000): Won 5 out of 12 nominations, including Picture, Actor (Crowe), Costume, Sound, Special Effects.
#3 - The Departed (2006): Mastered 4/5, comprised of Picture, Director, Editing and Adapted Screenplay.
#4 - A Beautiful Mind (2001): Got 4/8 including Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay and Supporting Actress (Jenny Connolly).
#5 - No Country for Old Men (2007): 4/8 including Best Picture, Director, Adpated Screenplay and Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem).
#6- Brokeback Mountain: 3/8 winning Best Director, Score and Adapted Screenplay.
#7- Pan's Labyrinth (2006): 3/6 with Art Direction, Make-Up and Cinematography.
#8- There Will be Blood (2007): Won 2/8, Best Actor (Dan Day-Lewis) and Cinematography.
#9- The Dark Knight (2008): Got 2/8 nods for Supporting Actor (Heath Ledger) and Sound Editing.
#10- Mystic River (2003): Won 2 out of 6 Awards for Actor (Sean Penn) and Supporting Actor (Timmy Robbins).
#11- Wall-E (2008): Out of six noms only won Best Animated Feature.
#12- Sideways (2004): One win out of five for Adapted Screenplay.
#13- Almost Famous (2000): A single win out of four for Original Screenplay.
#14- Finding Nemo (2003): Like Wall-E, four noms but only winning Animated Feature.
#15- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004): Won one out of two nominations, Best Original Screenplay.

Box Office Performance (Domestic):

#1- The Dark Knight (2008): $533 Million
#2- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003): $377 Million
#3- Finding Nemo (2003): $340 Million
#4- Cast Away (2000): $233 Million
#5- Wall-E (2008): $224 Million
#6- Gladiator (2000): $187 Million
#7- Ocean's 11 (2001): $183 Million
#8- A Beautiful Mind (2001): $170 Million
#9- Knocked Up (2007): $149 Million
#10- Gran Torino (2008): $148 Million
#11- The Departed (2006): $132 Million
#12- American Gangster (2007): $130 Million
#13- Borat! Cultural Learnings of America to Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006): $128 Million
#14- Tropic Thunder (2008): $110 Million
#15- Mystic River (2003): $90 Million

Rotten Tomatoes Aggregate Scores:

#1- The Wrestler (2008): 98%
#2- Finding Nemo (2003): 98%
#3- Sideways (2004): 97%
#4- Wall-E (2008): 96%
#5- Pan's Labyrinth (2006): 95%
#6- The Dark Knight (2008): 94%
#7- No Country for Old Men (2007): 94%
#8- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003): 94%
#9- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: 93%
#10- Memento (2000): 93%
#11- Children of Men (2006): 93%
#12- The Departed (2006): 92%
#13- Borat! Cultural Learnings of America to Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006): 91%
#14- There Will be Blood (2007): 91%
#15- Knocked Up (2007): 90%

So the goal here is to find a good list of movies that are critical, commercial and popular hits that had a great influence on not only film culture but contemporary zeitgeist as well. You should notice quite a few things here, typically the Top 15 each had at least one Oscar, over or very close to $100 million box office and a 90% or above RT rating. No matter who you are those are pretty good stats, supremely so for the select films that nailed all three. Now over the next month I will narrow the following supreme list of 25 down to 15 for the Official Greatest Films of the Millennium. For your continued reading pleasure, dear readers, here are the Preliminary Top 25:

#1 - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

#2- The Dark Knight (2008)

#3- Finding Nemo (2003)

#4- Wall-E (2008)

#5- The Departed (2006)

#6- No Country for Old Men (2007)

#7- There Will Be Blood (2007)

#8- Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

#9- Gladiator (2000)

#10- A Beautiful Mind (2001)

#11- Mystic River (2003)

#12- Borat! Cultural Learnings of America to Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006):

#13- Sideways (2004)

#14- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

#15- Knocked up (2007)

#16- Gran Torino (2008)

#17- Cast Away (2000)

#18- American Gangster (2007)

#19- Ocean's 11 (2001)

#20- Tropic Thunder (2008)

#21- Children of Men (2006)

#22- The Wrestler (2008)

#23- Brokeback Mountain (2005)

#24- Almost Famous (2000)

#25- Memento (2000)

Phew. Now this is of course no where near the final order, nor probably even all the possible nominees as we've still got a few months left to go here. The last thing I want to point out then is that hopefully some of these choices will be new and controversial and cause a lot of hooplah in the online film-snob community, which is exactly my intention. As arbitrary as we want to be as critics and ego-filled pretentious cinephiles, everyone is always going to have vastly different opinions on what is "good" or "art." Hell, ask any 14-year old boy this July what the best movie of the decade was and he'll give you one response: Transformers: Revenge of the Fucking Fallen (2009) .

I'd like to think my list is slightly better than that. Just slightly though. Good morning.

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