The 10 Best 2000s Movies Currently On Netflix
5. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Barry Egan (Adam Sandler) is a small business owner who sells novelty plungers, is ridiculed by his seven overbearing sisters, and is prone to outbursts of rage and crying fits. One morning, Barry witnesses a horrifying car crash, followed by a harmonium mysteriously being dropped off on the side of the road. He takes the harmonium into his office, and soon after he meets a woman, Lena, who is dropping off her car to get fixed at the garage across the way.
One night, Barry calls a phone sex hotline, which plunges him into an extortion scheme of which four henchmen are sent after him for money. He also has discovered a loophole in a pudding promotion that involves frequent flier miles.
After getting rid of one of his sisters–who’s trying to set Barry up with Lena–he personally asks her out to dinner. He and Lena go on a date and hit it off, despite Barry having a violent outburst in which he smashes up the restaurant’s bathroom. When she informs him that she’s going to Hawaii for business, and Barry continues to be harassed by the extortionists, he impulsively flies to Hawaii to be with Lena. And that’s only half the story.
Punch-Drunk Love is one of the most beautiful and strange films ever made about falling in love, mostly because it’s just as much about loneliness and anger and what they have to do with the want and need for love in the first place. Besides this, Sandler is a revelation as Barry Egan, a put-upon man who eventually finds enormous strength and courage from falling in love and whose pathos seemingly bleeds off the screen.
Of course, director Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterful artistic flourishes and longtime Anderson collaborator Robert Elswit’s off-kilter cinematography have just as much to do with the expressiveness of the film as the acting and story. Although not a hit upon release, Punch-Drunk Love is an underrated and overlooked small masterpiece from one of America’s best filmmakers–and it proves that Adam Sandler can do more than just play silly man-children.
4. Hot Fuzz (2007)
Police Constable Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is an uptight, by-the-book police officer that was doing such a good job in London his superiors decided he was making everyone look bad in comparison, so they transferred him to the quaint village of Sandford, Gloucestershire. At first glance, the town seems idyllic and crime-free, but Angel sees the local police as complacent and lazy, while the Neighborhood Watch Association (NWA for short) seems to rule the town with an iron fist.
After a spate of unusual deaths, Angel and his new partner Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), an action movie junkie, begin to investigate further, finding a sinister conspiracy underneath the picture-perfect Sanford, including a cult-like group devoted to keeping the town spotless through murder, a demented monosyllabic trolley boy, and an escaped swan that ends up becoming central to the film’s conclusion. Cornetto?
This fantastic spoof hits all of the stylistic marks of your standard action film, often applying over-the-top editing and cinematography to mundane situations until ramping up into becoming a true action film in its own right. A sly satire of suburban conventions and with outstanding performances from not only Frost and Pegg but all supporting characters, including Timothy Dalton as the sinister proprietor of the local grocery store, Hot Fuzz is a comedy that action movie fans will appreciate and the kind of action film comedy fans will enjoy.
3. Memento (2000)
What if you woke up every day not knowing who you are, who anyone else is, or what’s going on? What if your memory reset every 20 minutes, so you could be in the middle of a fight and not remember why? Such is the premise of 2000’s Memento, following the trials of Leonard (Guy Pearce), a man who suffers from anterograde amnesia from an attack and as a result can no longer form new memories–or hold on to short-term ones. Instead, his memory resets every 20 minutes or so, leaving him in the dark about much of what’s currently happening to him.
Instead, Leonard relies on Polaroids he takes with notes he writes on the back of them, so that when he inevitably blanks out he has at least some frame of reference to what’s happening. Also, his entire body is also tattooed with information, so when he wakes up in the morning he can piece together his past and current situation.
Even worse, he’s in the middle of trying to solve his wife’s murder, depending on a number of untrustworthy characters to help him out and of whom he cannot remember meeting or what their relationship is to him from one moment to the next. And neither can the audience, as the film is told backwards, leaving the viewer as much in the dark from one scene to the next as Leonard.
This astonishing feat of storytelling and structure could only come from one director: Christopher Nolan. Just the director’s second feature film, Nolan proved that he could make a puzzle of a film work, which has since become his signature. A success at the box office for an independent film and lauded by critics, for those who have enjoyed Nolan’s subsequent films such as The Prestige and Inception will find Memento as fresh and original as the day it was released, and see the great promise that led Nolan to become one of the world’s biggest directors in time.
2. Zodiac (2007)
The Zodiac Killer is a serial killer that was active in the late 1960s and early ‘70s in Northern California. With five confirmed kills, two injured survivors, and claiming to have killed between 20 and 28 more, the Zodiac Killer is infamous for two reasons: 1) he communicated directly with the press, sending taunting letters to them complete with cryptograms, and 2) he was never caught.
After an unknown man shoots two people on July 4, 1969 in Vallejo, California, the San Francisco Chronicle receives a letter written by the killer, who calls himself “Zodiac” and taunts the police to find him.
The paper publishes the letters, which kicks off an investigation by police, reporters, and amateur detectives alike to decipher and figure out who the killer is. Meanwhile, Zodiac keeps killing and writing letters, along with souvenirs of his crimes, to the paper. Over the next decade, Zodiac continues to taunt the police and murder innocent people, as suspects are questioned and investigators grow increasingly frustrated at their lack of progress.
Tautly directed with style and atmosphere by David Fincher, Zodiac is a meticulous study of how the investigation of how the Zodiac Killer occurred. Fincher spent 18 months investigating the case to reproduce every nuance and detail, which shows in the final product. A labyrinth of mystery where each new development only leads to further questions, Zodiac is a top-notch procedural by a master filmmaker.
1. No Country For Old Men (2007)
While in custody, terrifying hitman Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) gruesomely strangles a deputy sheriff with his cuffs to escape custody, later using a captive bolt pistol to kill a driver and steal his car. So begins the seemingly unstoppable force of Chigurh and the victims that will eventually bob in his wake in the Coen Brothers’ No Country For Old Men.
After Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) comes across a drug deal gone bad while hunting in the Texas desert, complete with a number of dead from a gunfight, a large shipment of drugs, and a satchel full of money, he takes the satchel with him but makes the mistake of going back to bring water to a dying man.
This kicks off Llewelyn’s flight for survival as Chigurh tracks his every move and destroys everyone that comes between him and his target. Parallel to this is Sheriff Ed Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), a soon-to-be retired officer investigating the matter and finding himself increasingly horrified at the lengths Chigurh will go to catch his prey.
Possibly one of the best films ever made, No Country For Old Men is a stylish, tense, and altogether brilliant adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name. It’s a film whose visual style and grammar are so coherent one could watch it with the sound off and still understand the entire story through visuals alone. A fascinating, gripping neo-noir thriller, No Country For Old Men features one of the most malevolent villains in film history–one that other “bad guys” are scared of (as they should be)–and is easily the Coen Brothers’ best film.
Author Bio: Mike Gray is a writer whose work has appeared on numerous websites and maintains a TV and film site at MeLikeMovies.com.
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