Matthew Hoemke

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The Cell - This wicked, weird and distinctly unique crime thriller may not be for everybody but you do have to tip your hat to the film's ingenuity.  There really is nothing else like it.  The film delves into the mind of a mad man when a detective must use a special device to literally enter the mind of a serial killer in an effort to uncover where his final victim is hidden.  Filled with provocative imagery and rather strong performances from Jennifer Lopez and Vincent D'Onofrio.  The movie uses the tools at its disposal to make for a captivating experience, but I acknowledge that if you are unwilling to cooperate with the base premise, this film will leave you cold.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - A whimsical martial arts film that is part philosophy lesson and part action masterpiece.  Strong visuals abound in this film that went on to be nominated for Best Picture, and while it lost (to a vastly inferior film) it would take home the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.  This film, along with The Matrix, is responsible for bringing the 'action on wires' trend that seemed to captivate action filmmakers for much of the early part of the 2000's.  I, myself, find the weightless defying of gravity approach to action rather gutless, but I do have to acknowledge the excellent use of it in this specific film.  Under the right direction and coupled with the right story, it can carry with it a dreamlike and mythic quality to the action scenes and this film soars in its presentation of action.  Also, this cast is extraordinary.  Chow Yun Fat is spectacular and Michelle Yeoh and Ziyi Zhang have a screen presence that is unrivaled for the year of release.

The Gift - Sam Raimi directs Billy Bob Thorton's engrossing script in what I would argue is handily the best film of 2000.  The film follows a young mother (played by Cate Blanchett) who is trying to make her way through life and raise her kids in a small southern community.  Unfortunately the community shuns her for her profession for she makes her money as a psychic.  Donnie Barksdale (played by Keanu Reeves, in what is easily his strongest performance) is especially aggressive with her because she keeps urging his wife to leave him because he is a violent man who she feels might be cheating on her.  It is when a young woman goes missing that she begins to have psychic visions that this young woman may have been murdered and all evidence turns to Barksdale as the killer, that the community is fully tested because they now have to turn to this shunned woman and recognize her as a reliable source of information or expose her for being a fraud.  The film is disturbing and unnerving when it blends fantasy and horror, and gripping and emotionally charged when being a work of dramatic fiction.  The film has some stellar performances, from the aforementioned Blanchett and Reeves, as well as Greg Kinnear, J.K. Simmons, and Hilary Swank.  But it is Giovanni Ribisi who steals the show and gives a performance that should have earned him an Oscar.  This is a moody little thriller that will leave you thinking about it for days.

O Brother Where art thou? - The Coen Brothers bring to life a modern fable by adapting Homer's The Odyssey into the 1920's American south.  The film is witty and creative with a magnetic performance from George Clooney and a striking visual style.  This is another film where you either go with it and love it or you just don't get into it, but I happen to think this is one of the stronger works from the Coen's.  The film also has a killer soundtrack and that is probably how the film will be best remembered by history.

Requiem for a Dream - This film is a mind-fuck and genuinely one of the hardest films to try and endure.  It is an incredibly immersive ( and often invasive) exploration of several people who are deeply embattled with drug addiction.  The film is unrelenting and powerfully real to the point where it can be triggering for some.  The performances are exceptional and I applaud the fearlessness of the filmmaker to never pan away from a moment that may be too uncomfortable.  This is a challenging film and one that, while exceptionally good at accomplishing what it set out to do, is not one that will be viewed multiple times.

Best Picture : Gladiator - Ridley Scott helmed what I consider to be the worst film to win Best Picture in the modern era.  He effectively killed how action pictures are directed with this choppy, over-edited film that relies on an undeniably magnetic performance from Russel Crowe and maudlin story contrivances.  It is also one of the sloppiest films I have ever seen in terms of continuity gaffs and general in camera mistakes.  All I will say is watch Crowe's beard throughout the film.  You will go mad.

Biggest Box Office - Dr. Seuses' How the Grinch Stole Christmas - This film, while visually stunning, had no business being as popular as it was.  It is obnoxious and mean spirited and in a weird way pays a disservice to the original source material.