A few months back, I unveiled my first installment of 40 Years of Movies. I’m turning 40 in 2021, and in honor of this milestone and my life-long love of films, I decided to look back at each year I’ve been alive and pick my personal favorite film released that year. Some decisions were easy, some weren’t.
For the first installment, I covered the first decade—1981 through 1990. Two weeks ago, I looked at the films of 1991-2000 and today I’m back with decade No. 3, 2001-2010.
Pearl Harbor (2001)
About: There weren’t a ton of movies I was passionate about in 2001. Michael Bay is known for his action films, but on Memorial Day weekend that summer, he delivered Pearl Harbor, which features the famous battle and the events leading up to it and just after it. It’s also a love triangle, featuring Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale and Josh Hartnett.
About Schmidt (2002)
About: Sometimes films just grab you out of nowhere. That’s the case with Alexander Payne’s film about a retired husband and father (Jack Nicholson) who doesn’t feel like he has anything to offer to the world. Nicholson is great, as is Kathy Bates, and this is a film with humor and a lot of heart.
About: This was a great year for Christmas films. We got Bad Santa, Love Actually and the best of the lot, Elf. It’s my favorite Will Farrell film and a great seasonal classic.
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
About: This profiled as a scrappy under dog tale about a woman (Hilary Swank) who wanted to be a boxer and turned to an aging trainer (Clint Eastwood) to help her. At the mid-point there’s a twist and the story becomes something else. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I first saw it and remains an emotional and thought-provoking journey.
About: Joss Whedon created Firefly for the small screen. It ran only 13 episodes but created a legion of devoted fans. Fortunately, he was given the money to bring the cast together for Serenity, a feature film that serves as a nice cap for the series but is accessible for those who never saw the show. I love the story, the action and the style. I had never seen Firefly when I stumbled across this film, and it quickly got me hooked.
Children of Men (2006)
About: Director Alfonso Cuaron crafts a fascinating dystopic future where women stopped having babies. A man who has lost his way in the world (Clive Owen) is suddenly given a purpose when he crosses paths with a pregnant woman and is tasked with guiding her to safety. I love the pacing and look here, it’s a beautifully crafted and emotionally engaging story.
No Country For Old Men (2007)
About: The Coen Brothers adapt Cormac McCarthy’s novel here and it’s a beauty. I love the performances from Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin and Academy Award-winner Javier Bardem. This is one of my favorites of all time.
The Dark Knight (2008)
About: There was a fantastic stretch of films to end this decade. The Dark Knight, the middle part of the trilogy from Christopher Nolan, features an iconic performance from Heath Ledger. But the whole film is pretty incredible, and it was an easy pick for my favorite of the year.
Up In The Air (2009)
About: Jason Reitman had quite a three-film stretch in this decade, beginning with Thank You For Smoking in 2006. But this film, featuring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick, is my favorite. I love the mix of humor and drama and the performances here. This is a beautiful, captivating and, at times, heart-breaking story.
About: Nolan is one of my favorite filmmakers. In between Batman films, he delivered Inception, an engrossing and twisty drama. I love the story and the debate that the ending inspired. This is a film that is fascinating to watch on many levels.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.