The guiding emotion in the year’s best films was despair—and that’s not meant as a reflection of what was, by and large, a lackluster 2000. Nor does it preclude the humor of The Wind Will Carry Us (much of which plays as droll comedy of manners); Water Drops on Burning Rocks (deranged commedia dell’arte); The Virgin Suicides (somehow managing not to prioritize the hysteria of adolescence over the goofy kicks until it absolutely has to); Me, Myself & Irene‘s (dis)assembled martyrdoms and poignant body/brain horror; Pola X‘s slaughterhouse of mirth. Even Terence Davies favored us with a moment of priceless kitsch: the tragically diffident suitor Selden posed heroically against a preposterous Pantone 292 sky, gazing down on Lily Bart like he held the key to her great blue beyond in his houndstooth coat. And Claire Denis’s Beau Travail is, as an admiring friend put it, “the greatest Abercrombie & Fitch ad ever”—and Abercrombie & Fitch ads are pretty funny.
True enough, an unusually thick and stinky pool of dreck seeped steadily out of theaters. But 2000 was my first calendar year living in New York City, and I’m constantly dazed and gratified by the ridiculous amount of movie booty there for the taking on any given day (I should pay rent to BAM, Film Forum, and the Walter Reade). We have nothing to complain about. Nor would we if the year’s sole mitigating factor had been Denis’s masterpiece—a film to make the most devoutly atheist cinephile believe in something like divinity.
|‘The Wind Will Carry Us’|
|‘Water Drops on Burning Rocks’|
|5||‘The House of Mirth’|
|‘Me, Myself & Irene’ PETER AND BOBBY FARRELLY, U.S.|
|10||‘The Virgin Suicides’ SOFIA COPPOLA, U.S.|
SECOND HELPINGS, IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER Cast Away; Chicken Run; Dude, Where’s My Car?; Lies (I saw it without subtitles—try it!); New Waterford Girl; Set Me Free; Shanghai Noon; Wonder Boys. Special mentions for Guy Maddin’s five-and-a-half-minute chef d’oeuvre The Heart of the World and to 1999’s Topsy-Turvy, which I caught just after the New Year.