Top 25 Films of the 2000s – The Final Three
The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003)
I toyed with the idea of combining the Lord of the Rings trilogy into a single entry, but ultimately decided each film deserved its own place.
Overall, the trilogy took the top three spots for a number of reasons, from general awesomeness to their influence on the world of film, to their skill at adapting Tolkien’s story to the big screen. These movies are going to be regarded as classics in time, and rightfully so.
Now, to address them individually.
#3 – Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)
As much as I love Return of the King, and as much as it owned the Oscars, I actually find it the weakest of the three movies.
My biggest problem with the film was the pacing. The theatrical cut feels rushed, almost to the point that someone who hasn’t read the books might be lost. Then, at the end, it slows to a crawl, and puts the audience through something like four different endings. The extended edition smoothed things out a bit, but even then, I thought it skipped around a lot, while managing to basically leave out some of the most emotionally powerful moments of the book (like the whole Faramir/Eowyn story).
None of this is to say I didn’t like to movie – merely that it is the weakest of the three.
#2 – Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
The movie that started it all. I have to give this movie massive credit for actually living up to and exceeding expectations. I remember 2001, I remember people crossing their fingers that this wouldn’t suck. Keep in mind that Fellowship was following on the heels of the massive letdown that was The Phantom Menace, which, if anything, taught everyone that a great trailer does not automatically = great movie.
But Fellowship delivered. It brought the goods and it blew people away.
#1 – Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
The Two Towers earns its place at the top of the heap in large part for sustaining the quality introduced in Fellowship of the Ring. So many sequels have taken things bigger, badder, whatever, and ultimately disappointed (see Matrix Reloaded, Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen…). The Two Towers upped the game and succeeded brilliantly.
The Two Towers also introduced truly revolutionary CG, from the Battle of Helm’s Deep to the animation work on Gollum (which basically remained the gold standard until Avatar’s release seven years later). In so doing, it changed film, and what film could accomplish.