Ah, the aughts. The new century started out with the terror of 9-11 and it ended with the collapse of the world’s economy. In between, a lot of films were released. Some of them were really good. A few of them were nominated for Best Picture. Most of them were not.
Still, let’s not focus on the negative. Instead, here are 6 times that the Academy got it right in the aughts!
- Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Wins Best Picture in 2003
A fantasy film winning best picture!? Before this decade, that would have been unthinkable. The Academy might be willing to nominate the occasional fantasy or sci-fi film but it would have been nearly impossible to imagine that they would actually honor one of them. The entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, however, changed that.
Now, of course, the legacy of LOTR has been damaged by far too many imitations and also by the lukewarm response to The Hobbit. People tend to roll their eyes whenever they hear that a movie is going to be split into multiple parts. That said, Peter Jackson’s original epic still holds up marvelously well.
2. Bill Murray Is Nominated For Best Actor
Murray received his first, long overdue Oscar nomination for his performance in 2003’s Lost in Translation. Personally, I wish he had won. But, even though he didn’t win, the nomination still transformed the way that people viewed Bill Murray and help him go from being a somewhat erratic comedic actor to being one of our best interpreters of 21st century ennui.
3. Martin Scorsese Finally Wins Best Director
Though it’s really not even his best film, The Departed is the film for which Martin Scorsese finally won the directing Oscar that he should have previously won for Goodfellas. No longer would cinema lovers have live in a world where Sam Mendes had an Oscar but Martin Scorsese did not. And, of course, Scorsese being presented his award by his three biggest friend in the industry — Spielberg, Lucas, and Coppola — only made the moment all the more special.
4. Kathryn Bigelow Wins Best Director….
….and makes history as the first woman to ever win the Oscar for Best Director! Even though I wasn’t a particularly huge fan of The Hurt Locker (my favorite films that year were An Education and A Serious Man), I cheered out loud when Bigelow’s name was called. That her main competitor was her ex-husband made her victory all the more satisfying.
5. David Lynch is Nominated For Best Director
It will always be interesting to me that one of the most acclaimed films of this century, Mulholland Drive, was originally meant to be a pilot for a television show. Only David Lynch could direct an Oscar-worthy pilot. The Academy, to their credit, acknowledged that with a deserved Best Director nomination in 2001.
6. No Country For Old Men Wins Best Picture
Based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy and directed by the Coen Brother, 2007’s No Country For Old Man was a masterpiece. It had some fierce competition and there’s still some debate today as to whether or not it should have defeated There Will Be Blood. Personally, I think that Paul Thomas Anderson is one of our greatest living directors but I also think that, in this case, the Academy made the right choice. Plus, the Coens finally won the Oscar that they should have won for Fargo!
Up next: the 2010s!