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Volume 4, Issue 3                                    University of Houston


'Vanilla Sky,' 'Memento,' 'Heist,' 'Ali' stand out among 2001 movie releases

By Geronimo Rodriguez
Breaking News Staff

With the new year comes an endless parade of top 10 lists. So let's take this moment to look back at the year that was in film; let's take a look at some of the year's memorable films. While they won't all win awards, they are movies that were good: compelling, artistic or just funny.

Not Another Teen Movie knocked teens films ranging from She's All That to Pretty in Pink. Some will compare the movie's idea to Scary Movie, but Not Another Teen Movie entertains more like a teen version of Airplane or even Naked Gun. In other words, there are more clever barbs than there are inane. It was also more daring with the material that made American Pie and Scary Movie much talked-about films.

Just remember not to be shocked to see the foreign exchange student's uniform. The R-rated film stars Chyler Leigh, Eric Jungmann, Jaime Pressly, Mia Kirshner and Cerina Vincent.


Frank Connor/Columbia Pictures


Ali, starring Will Smith in the title role, showcased the rapper/actor's ability to tackle a meaty dramatic role.

Heist, a crime drama, appealed to most of those who enjoyed films like The Score. It wasn't as entertaining as Michael Mann's Heat, but Heist had the sharpest dialogue of any of the year's films. Writtten and directed by David Mamet, the modest movie starred Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito, Delroy Lindo and Rebecca Pidgeon.

The Others was 2001's version of The Sixth Sense. The story about a mother and her two children living in a mysterious mansion wasn't accepted well by many critics. But the film about the supernatural was instilled with quality storytelling by Alejandro Amenebar. Nicole Kidman gave a solid performance as the neurotic mother. 

Lost and Delirious was by far the most engaging teen drama movie theaters have shown in a while. In the film, three young teens searched for ways to fulfill their emotions. Two of the girls were in love with each other while the other tried to understand them. Lea Pool gave a worthy English-language directing debut helped by a memorable acting performance from Piper Perabo. The film also starred Jessica Pare and Mischa Barton.

Shrek was one of those rare kid's movies that transcended age barriers. The witty story, an ogre's unconventional fairy tale, raised the bar for future animated features and "children's movies." The filmmakers did such a good job that Shrek may get mentioned when award ceremonies roll around.

In The Pledge, Sean Penn directed Jack Nicholson through a psychological story about a detective who promised the parents of a young girl that he'd find the person responsible for their daughter's murder. Based on a novel, the compelling drama unfolded with excellent directing and acting.

As far as best overall films of the year, Vanilla Sky was second only to Memento. Other critics may think otherwise, but director Cameron Crowe outdid himself with this film about a man who dares to live life without burdening consequences. Tom Cruise -- flanked by Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz -- shone in the lead role.

With Memento, Christopher Nolan gave audiences a jolt of entertainment that never stopped until the end credits. Moviegoers couldn't ask for anything more from what Memento had to offer. Guy Pearce played Leonard Shelby, a man who suffered from short-term memory loss and searched for his wife's killer at the same time. The kicker was that the film was told backwards.


Danny Rothenberg/Newmarket Presentation


Guy Pearce starred in one of 2001's best films, Memento. The unique movie's story was told backwards.

Steven Spielberg caused a stir this year with his adaptation of Stanley Kubrick's vision of robots feeling love, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. The film spoke for itself, and shouldn't be a bad choice for a movie rental. The movie starred Haley Joel Osment and Jude Law.

No year-end list would be complete without Moulin Rouge. Publicists would die for the kind of word-of-mouth attention the film received. Anyone who saw it had to see it again. Kidman and Ewan McGregor really did a number on audiences with this love musical directed by Baz Luhrmann.

December brought with it a rush of late Academy Award contenders. In the Bedroom, The Man Who Wasn't There and Ali were bona fide tickets to entertainment. 

Todd Field's latest film, In The Bedroom, has already been mentioned in the same breath as "Oscar." It was considered a heavy film about family and loss and In The Bedroom may be the toughest film of the year to get through. Sissy Spacek, Nick Stahl, Tom Wilkinson and Marisa Tomei starred.

In The Man Who Wasn't There, Billy Bob Thorton, Francis McDormand and James Gandolfini starred in this black and white story about a barber blackmailed by his wife for the murder of her boyfriend. If this premise wasn't appealing enough, the Coen Brothers were behind it all.

Directed Mann, Ali was the eagerly anticipated bio-pic about Muhammad Ali, the legendary boxer with an unforgettable personality. Will Smith's portrayal of Ali showed he can go the distance in a more dramatic role. With Mann's stylish approach and Smith's potential, Ali was a good bet.
 
 

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