erasing clouds

2001: A Cinematic Odyssey

by Jerry Salisbury

Statistics for the year

Number of 2001 releases seen: 97
-In Theater: 79
-On Video: 18

Effective Dates: Feb 10, 2001 - Feb 9, 2002
List of Eligible Movies

Top 10 Movies

10. Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring

Easily the most hyped and anticipated movie of the year, and it did not fail to deliver. Tolkien's tale of a young hobbit's journey of discovery and realization, became the grandiose epic that everyone wanted to be. Peter Jackson and company have not only built anticipation for the sequels, but have delivered one for the ages

9. The Man Who Wasn't There

Film noir got a breath of smoke filled rejuvenation with the Coen brothers simple tale of a barber, his wife, a store owner, and UFO's. With its soon to be award-winning cinematography, and award worthy turns from Billy Bob Thornton and Tony Shalhoub, The Man Who Wasn't There becomes a film that we are thankful, actually is.

8. Memento

Easily the most original film to come along in quite awhile, Christopher Nolan's retrospectively told revelatory tale of a man who can't retain memories, searching for answers is one to be seen multiple times for comprehension and true appreciation. The storytelling method captures perfectly the methods of recollection. While the character may not remember much past the recent, this is a film whose memory will stay with you for a long while.


At first glance, this appears to be yet another carbon-copied, youthfully targeted salvo in the animation wars between Disney and Dreamworks, but as many of this years films proved, looks can be deceiving. Shrek not only boasts a wisely satirical script, mocking social status, the Mouse House, and classic fairy tales, but at it's core is the message that you should not judge a book by its cover. In this, the first year of the animated film category at the Oscars, there is no competition that this modern day mature fairy tale towers above the rest.

6. Moulin Rouge

Baz Luhrmann gives us a sensory overload of visuals, dancing, music, costumes and sets, wrapped tightly around a simple story of love, truth, beauty and power all set against early 1900s Paris, but dipped and twisted into present times. Buoyed by strong leads from Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, and a boisterous supporting job from Jim Broadbent, this is truly a feast for the whole body and mind to absorb.

5. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone

After Lord of The Rings, this was one that so many were waiting for, and the adaptation fans were more strict on this one, due to it being recent and more familiar. Director Chris Columbus did not leave anything to chance, staying as true to the original story as any adapted movie ever has, and he does it to near perfection. The origin of the boy wizard, the discovery of a past, the acceptance of the presence, and the anxiety for the future are all captured in a stunning, effects-laden thrill ride that takes the viewer back to the innocence of youth, while never forgetting that the at the heart of every truth, is love. Combined with John Williams score, Alan Rickman's delicious sneering performance, and that darned 3-headed dog, Harry casts a spell on all those who let him. Those who don't, need to remember their youth, put away their critical nature, and enjoy the ride.

4. Hedwig and The Angry Inch

A late entry into the Top 10, due to an initial hesitancy and prejudice, Hedwig roars, or should I say, sings, its way into your heart as one of the most touching, yet brutally honest self discovery stories ever told. Forget that it's a story of a transsexual, whose botched surgery has left him two halves of one person (in more ways than just physically) and let the true heart and emotion of the story capture you. Writer/director/actor John Cameron Mitchell takes us along, through Hedwig's journey forward to find her place, while helping us understand how she came to embark on this journey. The simultaneous unraveling of the past through songs and flashbacks, combined with a catchy, yet powerful soundtrack (reminiscent of of Pink Floyd's The Wall) make this one to see, hear, and let become a part of you.

3. Amelie

It is absolutely impossible not to fall in love with this tale of a French do-gooder with the heart of gold, the smile of a cherub, and the gleeful spirit that most seem to lack. Director Jean Jeunet has captured elements of every film from Breakfast at Tiffany's to Emma to Slacker to Magnolia in this tale of a young woman who only wants to be the Pied Pieper of good deeds while inadvertently finding herself along the way. Audrey Tautou's energetic performance will make you smile, and this film will make anyone who absorbs it, feel better, and realize that making the world a better place can be as simple as a random act of kindness.

2. A Beautiful Mind

A beautiful cinematic journey, of love through the eyes of madness, and the power of the human mind and soul. The tale of recluse schizophrenic John Forbes Nash may have taken some liberties with the Nobel genius's life, but there is no denying its emotional power and message. Director Ron Howard may have created his masterpiece, and at the center of it, are the two strong performances from Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connolly, who could bring home gold for this wonderful journey which leave you crying and cheering simultaneously.

1. Mulholland Drive

The crown jewel in the resume of the master of the twisted story, David Lynch. His viscerally stimulating, twisted, mind-bending simultaneous construction and destruction of the Hollywood dream was far and away the years most unique ride. Lynch's tale of a young dreamer and those she encounters, both in reality, and in her imagination, uses stylish cinematography, haunting music, eclectic casting, and an odd assortment of character to create the years most cerebral cinematic ride. Those who see it, may not understand it, and those who understand it, may not agree completely, but there is no denying that his dream-like interpretation of days in the lives of a Hollywood starlet, a struggling director and a mysterious cowboy, must truly be seen and experienced.

Honorable Mentions

Oceans 11
Riding in Cars With Boys
The Deep End
Enemy at The Gates

Guilty Pleasures

American Outlaws
Save The Last Dance
Two Can Play That Game


Russell Crowe - A Beautiful Mind
John Cameron Mitchell - Hedwig and The Angry Inch
Denzel Washington - Training Day
Tom Wilkinson - In The Bedroom
Will Smith - Ali
Honorable Mentions: Sean Penn - I Am Sam, Billy Bob Thornton - The Man Who Wasn't There and/or Monsters Ball


Naomi Watts - Mulholland Drive
Sissy Spacek - In The Bedroom
Audrey Tautou - Amelie
Tilda Swinton - The Deep End
Halle Berry - Monsters Ball
Honorable Mentions - Nicole Kidman - Moulin Rouge, Thora Birch - Ghost World

Supporting Actor

Tony Shalhoub - The Man Who Wasn't There
Ben Kingsley - Sexy Beast
James Gandolfini - The Mexican
Jim Broadbent - Moulin Rouge
Steve Zahn - Riding in Cars With Boys

Supporting Actress

Jennifer Connelly - A Beautiful Mind
Marisa Tomei - In The Bedroom
Cameron Diaz - Vanilla Sky

Best Song from a Movie

Come What May - Moulin Rouge
Wig in A Box - Hedwig and The Angry Inch
Origin of Love - Hedwig and The Angry Inch
Love Don't Love Me - The Brothers

Best Use of a Song in a Movie

Allstar (Smashmouth) - Shrek
It's Raining Men (Weather Girls) - Bridget Jones Diary
Macho Man (Village People) - One Night At McCools

Best Use of a Song in a Trailer

Novocaine for the Soul (The Eels) - Novocaine
Drops of Jupiter (Train) - K-Pax
Connected (Stereo MC's) - Blow

Best Lines of Dialogue

"I gave a piece to my mother. I gave a piece to my man. I gave a piece to the rock star. He took the good stuff, And ran" - Hedwig and The Angry Inch

"You should never underestimate the predictability of stupidity." - Snatch

"Ted Nugent called, he wants his shirt back." - Oceans 11

2001 may indeed have been an odyssey, as prophesized by Arthur C. Clarke stated in his title book, but for different reasons than anyone could have imagined. We, as a nation, changed. We changed for the better, we found ourselves again, and we move forward, bigger, stronger and prouder than ever. Some stated recently that this was not a good year for movies, and it was difficult to argue until November, and with the fighting spirit and consistent resiliency, it rebounded and finished quite strongly. As we enter Y2K+2, movies, the country, and the world move onward and upward towards a brighter tomorrow. (Note: I apologize for the soapbox editorial commentary, but it's hard not to these days.)

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