The Best of 2001?
2001 turned out to be a momentous year, in ways the great Stanley Kubrick could never have anticipated. For film lovers, this was the year that we finally had to concede that everything we thought we knew about space and time was, in fact, open to debate.
Although both widely traveled in our youth (as described in MEET YOUR
HOSTS, Rich grew up as a State Department brat, while Jan had a fellowship to do research in Europe & the Middle East after her college graduation), we’d settled into a comfortable mid-life as workaholic professionals. So we were as shocked as most Americans to learn again just how small our world was on 9/11. We turned to film for solace, reviving our appreciation of the
“American Dream” as represented in such great films as
AVALON, DO THE RIGHT
THING, FUNNY GIRL, GODFATHER
II, and REMEMBER THE TITANS, and renewing our commitment to world citizenship as represented by such great films as
AMORES PERROS, BREAD &
ROSES, EARTH, LA
STRADA, and WORLD OF APU.
The “time dimension” was even more difficult to comprehend, and the debate came to a head when we began work on this “Ten Best” list. We realized we had no idea how to describe when “this year” began and ended. If you think we’re kidding, do a compare and contrast of the flood of year end summaries already at your disposal. For example,
MEMENTO & ENDURANCE both came out in 2000 & you’ll see them listed that way in the Internet Movie Database (www.IMDb.com), but
MEMENTO is considered a top Oscar contender for 2001 because it wasn’t released in the U.S. until last year.
ENDURANCE, on the other hand, will not be nominated in the documentary category next month because, well, its initial release was on British TV, even though it’s opening this month in U.S. movie theaters... (& a lot of people are irate about that).
POLLOCK was nominated for several Oscars last year because it had a one week “qualifying run” (in LA & NYC) last December (’00), even though it didn’t open nationwide until February (’01).
And here’s the most provocative question of all: where do you put APOCALYPSE NOW
REDUX? With its 49 new minutes, Rich places it at the very top of his list for 2001. Attentive readers of this site will know that Jan disagrees with his assessment overall, but she would be happy to see Martin Sheen nominated for Best Actor this year. He’s in almost every one of those new minutes (minus a Bunny or two), & if we’d had this site in 1979 we would have listed him in our “Egregious Omissions” category.
So, with all of these caveats, as of today, 1/7/2002, here (in alpha order) are our
Top Picks for 2001:
One final thing:
We both agree that one of the most important, touching, and well-made films of 2001 was Mike Nichols’
WIT starring Emma Thompson and Audra McDonald. But this film was “made for TV” by HBO, and never intended for theatrical release. Nevertheless, it now sits on the shelf in your video store, right between the T’s & the Z’s. So should it be considered a contender for this year’s Oscar? Roger Ebert put it on his “Ten Best List,” and we agree. Bravo HBO!
Here are some of the mainstream films (appearing on many critics’ lists for 2001) that have yet to open in Chicago:
BLACK HAWK DOWN, CHARLOTTE
GRAY, IRIS, and MONSTER’S
BALL. Unfortunately, we saw very few documentaries or foreign films in 2001. We promise to do better this year. OK. Let’s Roll.