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Top 25 Films of the 2000s – #9

December 23, 2009

#9 – Gladiator (2000)

I have a lot of problems with Gladiator. The ending, for one (no, the Republic was not restored upon Commodus’ death). The depiction of the legions advancing into battle, for another (the opening artillery barrage is pretty accurate…the legions stumbling toward the Germans is not). Even the look of Rome seems kind of sad, after the gritty glimpses seen in HBO’s Rome.

The thing is, for all its flaws, Gladiator still works. I watched the new Blu-ray release not too long ago, and was stunned how effectively the movie pulled me in. The atmosphere, the characters, and the acting are all top notch. Maximus could easily be a flat, cliched character, but in Russell Crowe’s hands he comes alive. Robert Harris’ Marcus Aurelius crackles with life, and I still think Commodus has to count as Joaquin Phoenix’s best role to date. The malice and petulant victimhood he brings to the character is something to behold.

After the success of Braveheart in the mid-90s and Gladiator in 2000, I’d hoped this decade would see a revival of the historical epic, backed up by the ability to literally recreate lost worlds. There have been a few attempts, but sadly one of them was Troy, and it pretty much killed the whole thing dead.

#10 – The Incredibles

#11 – 300

#12 – Casino Royale

#13 – The Dark Knight

#14 – Snatch

#15 – Zombieland

#16 – Ratatouille

#17 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

#18 – Transformers

#19 – Iron Man

#20 – Monsters, Inc.

#21 – Inglourious Basterds

#22 – Hot Fuzz

#23 – Watchmen

#24 – Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl

#25 – District 9

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