I’m creating my annual movie lists retroactively. See all of them.
As a freshman/sophomore in high school, this year provided me several memorable theater experiences, including the last great M. Night Shyamalan movie, some surprisingly excellent sequels, and a romance that inspired one of my very first blog posts.
But chief among these theatrical outings were Anchorman and Dodgeball. Both were instrumental to the development of my comedic sensibility (for better or worse), having hit me and my peers at the exact right age for maximum effect and quotability. A shocking amount of lines remain lodged in my subconscious to this day, just waiting to be deployed—much to my wife’s puzzlement or annoyance.
I can’t defend everything about them. A recent rewatch of Dodgeball confirmed just how much of its comedy wouldn’t survive into today. But dammit, if “We’re better than you, and we know it!” and “I immediately regret this decision!” and countless other references are wrong, then I don’t want to be right.
On to the list…
1. Before Sunset
The Before series is one of four trilogies I own on DVD, the others being Back to the Future, Die Hard (4 and 5 don’t count), and Lord of the Rings. Unlike with those series, this second movie is the best of the trilogy.
2. The Incredibles
This is at #3 in my Pixar rankings, behind WALL-E and Toy Story. Such a beautiful, exhilarating vision from Brad Bird.
3. Shaun of the Dead
I think about this film essay on Edgar Wright’s visual comedy a lot. While my opinions vary on his films, there’s no denying his filmmaking prowess, which is nearly Wes Anderson-esque in its distinctness.
4. The Village
The last great M. Night Shyamalan movie. I know the twist is divisive, but it worked for me, as did the gorgeous James Newton Howard score, the crackling chemistry between Joaquin Phoenix and Bryce Dallas Howard, and the murderers row of character actors.
Within Pewit’s Nest gorge in Baraboo, Wisconsin, you can wade down Skillet Creek and jump off small cliffs into pools within the creek. I was there several years ago with a few people when I clambered up one of these cliffs and, right before jumping, delivered Ron Burgundy’s poolside monologue to those nearby, punctuated with a cannonball into the water just like in the movie. To my chagrin, no one understood the reference and therefore probably considered me a disturbed weirdo. I should have capped it with “Don’t act like you’re not impressed…”
Tom Cruise needs to play more villains.
Not all live-action Disney sports movies work, but this one just straight-up does. And like most good sports movies, you don’t need to know much about the sport.
8. Ocean’s Twelve
Saw this with a group of friends, and we decided to get dressed up for a fancy night at the movies just to emulate the suaveness of the cast. This is usually ranked last in the trilogy, but it’s not far behind Thirteen.
9. Friday Night Lights
The show was good, but this was great. My introduction to the music of Explosions in the Sky.
10. I, Robot
This holds up, not only as sci-fi dystopian action but as a Will Smith vehicle during his late prime.
- National Treasure
- Team America: World Police
- Spider-Man 2
- Vera Drake
- 50 First Dates
- Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- Kill Bill Vol. 2
- Kung Fu Hustle
- The Notebook
- Shrek 2
- Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!