Every generation has culture-defining movies. From the '80s, movies such as the Star Wars (which I personally am not a fan of, but that's not my point so let's just keep going), Indiana Jones, the Caddy Shack, ET, Scar Face, and so on and so on are the movies we (well, I, really) think of when we (again, I) consider the era or generation. The '90s had movies such as The Shawshank Redemption, Usual Suspects, Tommy Boy, Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction and Fight Club.
All this got me thinking....what are this generation's cultural icons? What is our Godfather? What is our Psycho? Well, this is the list, in my opinion. Feel free to chime in, I'm sure I left some good ones off the list (perhaps even on purpose). Also, these are in no particular order other than in which order I typed them in to the list. Finally, I'm defining the era for this list as between 2000 and now. Enjoy. (The titles are YouTube links, FYI)
1. Anchor Man. Arguably Will Ferrell's best work. Which, as some could argue, isn't all that great (Ferrell's work, not the movie). Sure, he's essentially the same character in every movie. Sure, he runs around in his tighty-whiteys (or less) a little too much. But, he is funny and this was his best movie. You really can't go a day without hearing somebody make reference to this movie. Truly classic. I also include Step Brothers, Blades of Glory, Talladega Nights, Wedding Crashers, Zoolander, Old School and Elf in this category. For the most part, these are the all the same movie. Think about it. I'm right, aren't I?
2. 300. Much like Sin City, this movie is based on Frank Miller graphic novels. Both of these are spectacularly violent. Both of these are great movies. 300 was insane in the IMAX theater. If it doesn't get you pumped up, you might not be normal. Great fighting scenes. I didn't think there was any anti-Persian sentiment in the movie, other than what was historically fairly accurate. This was not about East vs. West in today's political scene. This was about the Battle of Thermoppylae. Enough said.
3. Batman Begins. The return of Batman to this generation. Watching the old (well, from the 80s and 90s) makes me laugh now. Not because they're funny, but that they're so bad. Those are closer to the Adam West TV Batman than the newer Batman movies of the 2000's. Laughable.
4. Memento. This was the first movie with what I consider to be an anti-hero. What I mean by that is somebody who the viewer roots for and pulls for, but is not a "good guy" so to speak. The anti-heroes push moral and legal lines, but, nonetheless, are compelling characters. I think this movie paved the way for 24. Not at all in terms of going backwards, but because of the anti-hero angle. Feel free to disagree.
5. The Royal Tenanbaum's. Perhaps the funniest movie of the era, and one of my all time favorite movies. From an all-star cast, to a great story, to brilliant one liners, this movie has it all. Absolutely hilarious. Even though Bottle Rocket and Rushmore were so good, The Darjeeling Limited and The Life Aquatic were not enjoyable. At all.
6. Lord of the Rings Triology. These were good. You can admit you liked them. I never read the books, but I thoroughly enjoyed these movies.
7. City of God/Hotel Rwanda. I'll also include any other movie that made Americans feel bad about being Americans and not impoverished and uneducated people in third world countries. I haven't seen it but I would include Slum Dog Millionaire. I do include The Constant Gardener and Blood Diamond, to some extent. These were sad movies, but were good movies. This was part of the cultural overtones of the era, even if that sounds somewhat pretentious.
8. Mystic River. Another movie with an all star cast. This movie had it all: murder, revenge, drama, suspense. Great movie.
9. Pan's Labyrinth. I'm not the biggest fan of subtitles. I find them distracting. I think I miss things going on visually if I'm reading subtitles. This movie was still great. A mixture of fantasy, horror, and politics, this Spanish movie makes my list.
10. Training Day. Denzel Washington, one of the finest actors of the past 20 years, finally breaks from his holier-than-thou mold and plays (very well, I'll add) a bad guy. Another anti-hero, Denzel plays one of his best roles in this movie.
11. Snatch. (hey look, a bonus #11 on the list [and you were expecting 10]) is probably the best movie of this era. This is in my top 5 movies of all time. It has comedy, action, suspense, gangsters, British accents and a dog. An all star cast, again. Try watching this movie with subtitles (even though I said I don't like them, once you've seen a movie enough to know what's going on, it's ok) and you'll get at least 8 to 10 more jokes that you didn't get earlier because of British slang or accents. Every scene is great. Every line is great. Truly incredible movie.
12. Super Troopers (another bonus movie). Does anything need to be said about this movie? Hilarious. If you haven't seen it, you need to. Immediately. I struggle to trust people who haven't seen this movie.
That's it, that's the list.