The year 2001 ended up kind of weird for films, for one particular reason I don’t feel like getting into. We’re still in the midst of a disconcertingly lengthy national tragedy, after all. It was also a bad year for the Oscars, but I will get there. I’m still in the current millennium with this look back, a time of sequels and adaptations, but the market had not been oversaturated with those sort of things just yet. What stands out about the movies of 2001? Let’s dig on in!
OK, so maybe 2001 wasn’t a huge year for sequels, but it was for movies that started series. The top-two highest-grossing films of 2001 were Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. Oh, also Ocean’s Eleven and Shrek. Yes, this was the start of the Shrek phenomenon. I kind of liked that first movie at the time. It briefly made my dad obsessed with parfaits. Speaking of sequels, I bet they were hoping there would be a sequel to Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes. Then it turned out terribly.
I complained about the Oscars in the intro, because this was the year they decided to reward A Beautiful Mind and Ron Howard. Has an Oscar winner ever been such a shrug? Not bad enough to get really riled up about, but also not good. Not that there were many other good nominees from the Academy. Moulin Rouge! is nothing special. Gosford Park is a Robert Altman film, but not a particularly good one. I don’t remember anything about In the Bedroom. If Fellowship of the Ring had won here, then Return of the King probably doesn’t take home so many Oscars two years later. At least Denzel Washington won for Training Day.
Not that there weren’t worthwhile films. The Royal Tenenbaums is many people’s favorite Wes Anderson film. For me, it’s probably third, but to be fair Anderson is maybe my favorite director. This was a really good year for comedies, though. Wet Hot American Summer is a deserved cult classic. Zoolander is one of my favorite big studio comedies of the last 20 years. Then, there’s Josie and the Pussycats. That movie rules. It’s really good and really fun and Rachael Leigh Cook is a delight. Ergo, 2001 is a great year for movies. Case closed.