Yearbook began as a column on 2000 and now it’s two columns away from closing up but before I close it out, I’m looking back at one of the most transformative moments in cinema. 2001/2002 might be the definitive moment where cinema as we know it now started to codify. Two releases at the end of 2001 and one in May 2002 changed everything in franchise cinema. I’ve got a ton of films to get to so let’s dig in. In addition to the 2001 films, I threw in 4 takes from 2000 because these deserved discussion. Also, yes, Lord of the Rings is missing. I’m going to cover it next year. Just know Fellowship of the Ring is indeed a masterpiece.
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
A Knight’s Tale
Dr. Dolittle 2
AI: Artificial Intelligence
Jurassic Park 3
American Pie 2
Planet of the Apes
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
Wet Hot American Summer
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The Royal Tenenbaums
Not Another Teen Movie
A Beautiful Mind
The lessons of the year
Franchise films had to change but if they did, the benefits were huge. Planet of the Apes 2001 feels like the final cry of the in name only franchise film that we got in the 90s, films that were basically made for people who hated the originals. Starting with Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, making films for the fans paid off and paid off hard. Those two films were steeped in the lore of the fandoms. It gave them texture and made them stand out.
Hollywood chased American Pie. Even though big budget films were a huge deal, low budget comedies like Tomcats and Slackers littered theaters. Of course American Pie itself returned with a meh sequel. Kevin Smith chased the trend with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back to great success entertainment wise though underwhelming box office. Seriously there was such money in this market.
Originality was dead. Of the top 20 highest grossing films, all of 4 were original scripts. Seriously there was so much branding and repurposing going on that it’s rather sad to see how immediate the thaw was on ideas not based on something new. Even the original ideas were questionably original, such as Monsters Inc, which came from the Pixar factory and Pearl Harbor which felt branded.
Everything felt like August for the first 10 months of the year. I seriously think virtually every major release between January and October 2001 could’ve been released in August. “OK I guess” seemed to be the year’s theme. Indeed several franchises that opened outside August (The Mummy, Tomb Raider) released followups in that month. This was so not an exciting year.
Did the Oscars Get It Right? Sure. I really do have a lot of love for A Beautiful Mind and I just dig that Lord of the Rings was even nominated. Washington and Connelly were worthy winners while Berry…look she wasn’t even good in Monster’s Ball, much less the roles that followed. So let me jump on in to the next category.
Worst of the Year: Monster’s Ball. I didn’t give this an audio review because I would’ve just repeated “this movie is mean” for 5 minutes. It’s mean though. Very, very unpleasant, mean, cruel film. Completely tone deaf too.
Best of the Year
1. A.I Artificial Intelligence
2. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
3. Vanilla Sky
5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Next, as to be expected, 2002!