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Category Archives: aughts faves

fave films of the 00s

“We have a limit, a very discouraging, humiliating limit: death. That’s why we like all the things that we assume have no limits and, therefore, no end. It’s a way of escaping thoughts about death. We like lists because we don’t want to die.” — Umberto Eco


Twenty slots, twenty-five films. How did I do it? Simple, I cheated.

  1. No Country for Old Men (2007). About halfway through my first viewing, I knew this was one of the best movies I’d ever seen, technically and thematically. Three or four rewatchings later, I still find new things to admire and think about. Dammit, I want to watch it again right now!
  2. Cowards Bend the Knee (2003), Brand Upon the Brain (2006) and My Winnipeg (2008). I don’t think individually any of these three Guy Maddin films would place this high (though My Winnipeg would make the top ten — it’s a straight-up masterpiece), but as a group, they make up a kind of alternate-universe cinema that branched off from our timeline circa 1928 but kept developing for another 80 years, and became something strange and pretty damn entertaining.
  3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). Funny, original and endlessly clever, this film reaches for emotions no other film has, and succeeds. I love the holy living fuck out of this movie.
  4. Grizzly Man (2005). Werner Herzog uses the vast amount of footage shot by Timothy Treadwell to tell not only the story of Treadwell’s life and death, but to give the most clear and profound presentation of his own ideas about nature, folly and filmmaking to date. The end result is a kind of conversation between two slightly-unhinged philosopher filmmakers, one living and one dead.
  5. Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007). Easily my two favourite straight-up comedies of the decade. Also marks the strongest big-screen debuts of the decade, by writer/director Edgar Wright and writer/actor Simon Pegg, who wring humour and pathos out of the most unexpected places.
  6. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) Eli: “I always wanted to be a Tenenbaum.” Royal: “Me, too. Me, too.” Yeah. Me, too.
  7. Oldboy (2003). I can’t argue that it’s a perfect film, but it packs so many brilliant scenes and ideas into its running time that really, who cares? This would make my list for the hammer fight alone. Or the squid-eating scene. Or the rooftop freedom-in-a-suitcase scene.
  8. Inglourious Basterds (2009). I truly do not understand why the critical response was only mildly positive instead of enthusiastic. I predict that in ten years, conventional wisdom will place this alongside Pulp Fiction, and nobody except a few contrarians and haters will bat an eyelid.
  9. 3-Iron (2004). South Korean movie about two lovers who never speak, not to each other and not to anyone else. Probably the gentlest, most joyful film imaginable about loneliness and nihilism.
  10. WALL·E (2008). Aside from Cars, every Pixar film has been either great or a masterpiece, but I give WALL·E mad props for it’s silent first half : the cinematic equivalent setting the bar even higher than usual and then vaulting over the mofo blindfolded just to show they could.
  11. The Dark Knight (2008). The first real “graphic novel” movie, as opposed to a “comic book” movie gets right everything I still enjoy about superhero funnybooks — an utter unwillingness to condescend, a deep love and respect for the mythology, and a good half-dozen Crowning Moments of Awesome, all built on a framework of black-and-grey morality.
  12. Mulholland Dr. (2001)
  13. Zodiac (2007)
  14. Children of Men (2006). The politics are so heavy-handed it could have been a Red Dawn for liberals, but it’s so goddamn passionate and articulate that it never devolves into eyerolling territory.
  15. American Psycho (2000)
  16. The Fountain (2006). Even liking this movie seems to set me apart from pretty much everyone else, and I’m not sure how well it will stand up to repeat viewings, but I walked out of the theatre absolutely loving it, and thinking it is possibly the most beautiful movie I’d ever seen. Since then, it has only grown in my mind.
  17. Battle Royale (2000). “So a classroom full of Japanese schoolkids are put on an island and forced to fight until only one is left alive. But it’s way better than it sounds!” Trying to convince people to watch this ends up being either a really, really hard sell, or a disturbingly easy one.
  18. Donnie Darko (2001). Richard Kelly’s embarrassing commentary tracks, “director’s cut” and subsequent work have convinced me this is a kind of accidental masterpiece, more subtle, mysterious and poignant than he ever intended. But hey, that’s art for ya.
  19. Spirited Away (2001)
  20. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003). The eleven purest hours of cinema I ever expect to see.
  21. thefountain

    And thirty more! You lucky, lucky people!

  22. Encounters at the End of the World (2007)
  23. Ghost World (2001)
  24. Lost in Translation (2003)
  25. The New World (2005)
  26. The Incredibles (2004)
  27. Capturing The Friedmans (2003)
  28. Songs from the Second Floor (2000)
  29. The Departed (2006)
  30. Primer (2004)
  31. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… And Spring (2003)
  32. Adaptation (2002)
  33. City of God (2002)
  34. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) and Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)
  35. Synecdoche, New York (2008)
  36. Fog of War (2003)
  37. Let the Right One In (2008)
  38. Man on Wire (2008)
  39. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
  40. The Proposition (2005)
  41. A History of Violence (2005)
  42. Clerks II (2006)
  43. The Hurt Locker (2009)
  44. Together (2000)
  45. Twilight Samurai (2002)
  46. Wendy and Lucy (2008)
  47. Collateral (2004)
  48. A Serious Man (2009)
  49. Serenity (2005)
  50. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
  51. Last Life in the Universe (2003)


And a few more I considered, but ultimately cut from the top 50. I really spent an embarrassing amount of time on this whole thing.

4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days (2007)
The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
American Splendor (2003)
Amélie (2001)
Apocalypto (2006)
Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner (2001)
Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans (2009)
Before Sunset (2004)
Brick (2005)
Caché (2005)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
The Death of Mr Lazarescu (2005)
The Descent (2005)
The Fall (2006)
Ghost Dog (2000)
Ichi the Killer (2001)
In The Mood For Love (2000)
Into the Wild (2007)
Iron Man (2008)
Juno (2007)
The King of Kong (2007)
Knocked Up (2007)
Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)
Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)
Memento (2000)
Miami Vice (2006)
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
Once (2006)
The Orphanage (2007)
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Rescue Dawn (2006)
School of Rock (2003)
There Will Be Blood (2007)
Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2005)
Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)
The Wrestler (2008)
Yi Yi (2000)

fave books of the 00s

Unlike movies, which I follow pretty closely, and the token effort I make to follow what happens in the realms of TV and music, I don’t really pay attention to what’s new in books. I do read a fair bit, but I get most of my books in second-hand bookstores, picked from a lengthy, half-remembered mental list of things I vaguely think I’d like to read. So basically, there are a lot of gaps, even among books that I’m pretty sure I’ll really enjoy when I read them. But hey, maybe in 10 or 15 years, I’ll be able to put together a proper list. Until then, what we got is what we got, and here’s what we got. Feel free to tell me what else I should have read by now.

  1. Nixonland, Rick Perlstein. Covering the rise of the the brilliant and amoral Richard Nixon and the not-unrelated fracturing of American politics and society, this is one of the most fascinating history books I’ve ever read.
  2. Herzog on Herzog, Paul Cronin and Werner Herzog. A series of long interviews with German auteur/professional daydreamer Werner Herzog, in which he talks about his life, films and idiosyncratic philosophy. And chickens.
  3. Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth, Chris Ware. Incredibly dense and painfully sad, even as a lifelong comics reader, this was a real revelation about what a graphic novel could be.
  4. 2666, Roberto Bolaño. A degree in English literature has left me with a distinct distaste for the explicitly “literary”, something this massive novel flirts with, but ultimately leaves behind in favour of pulpy mystery. It’s like walking the streets of a strange city alone late at night.
  5. The Terror, Dan Simmons. Chilling historical horror novel about the doomed 1845 Franklin expedition, which sailed into the arctic aboard the aptly-named HMS Terror and met an ignoble end of madness, starvation and cannibalism. Impossible to read unless buried under warm blankets with a hot mug of tea in hand.
  6. All-Star Superman, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. After a lost decade of continuity obsession and “darker-and-edgier” wanking, superhero comics have been making steps toward readability again, as writers like Morrison, Millar and Bendis have been rebuilding the stories and characters that made superheroes appealing to begin with. This is the best of what I’ve read, a stripped-down and poignant new myth of Superman.
  7. Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, Jon Krakauer. Krakauer juxtaposes the story of modern fundamentalist offshoots of Mormonism with the bloody history of the LDS to look at the dark side of religion in America.
  8. Scott Pilgrim, Bryan Lee O’Malley. O’Malley’s brilliant ongoing series of graphic novels uses his obsessions with videogames, manga and Canadian indie pop to inform this unexpectedly moving and original story of a Toronto slacker who must defeat his new girlfriend’s seven evil exes.
  9. Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, Suketu Mehta. An Indian-American writer revisited Mumbai after a decades-long absence and sought out the entrepreneurs, gangsters and transvestite dancers that have made the city, and recorded their stories.
  10. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers. Definitely attracted its share of detractors, and a lot of the criticisms are valid, but I still enjoy this book immensely for its wit, humanity and way with language.


Do we have honourable mentions? Yes, we have honourable mentions!

World War Z, Max Brooks.
Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography, Chester Brown
A Brief History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon.
JPod, Douglas Coupland
American Gods, Neil Gaiman.
The Elegant Universe, Brian Greene.
On Intelligence, Jeff Hawkins
Areas of my Expertise, John Hodgman.
Born Standing Up, Steve Martin
Asterios Polyp, David Mazzucchelli
Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami.
The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan
Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser.
Y: The Last Man, Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra
Fables, Bill Willingham et al

fave albums of the 00s

Making my TV of the decade list made me realize just how many incredible shows the last decade has produced. The 00s have not been as good for music, though. The decade isn’t a write-off, of course, but I could easily rattle off half a dozen albums from the 90s that I preferred to the best of the 00s. However, there was some brilliant electronica happening from about 2000-2003, a wave of great indie pop/rock/folk (much of it Canadian) in the middle of the decade, and… kind of a holding pattern these days, it seems, though maybe I just don’t have sufficient perspective on 2008-09 yet. (I’m secretly hoping the next decade produces an IDM revival. It could happen!)

Anyway, without further ado, my Top 50 Albums of the 00s. Feel free to post your own list in the comments, but be aware that my list is, oddly enough, completely correct and entirely objective, so there’s not really a lot to be gained by disagreeing with it. I expect it to be taught in music history classes by 2030.







  1. The Arcade Fire – Funeral
  2. Low – Things We Lost in the Fire
  3. Boards of Canada – Geogaddi
  4. PJ Harvey – Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
  5. Radiohead – Kid A
  6. Modest Mouse – The Moon and Antarctica
  7. Cat Power – You Are Free
  8. Caribou – Andorra
  9. Blonde Redhead – Misery is a Butterfly
  10. Four Tet – Rounds
  11. The Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
  12. Add N to (X) – Loud Like Nature
  13. Nicola Conte – Bossa Per Due
  14. Mouse on Mars – Niun Niggung
  15. Low – Trust
  16. Amon Tobin – Supermodified
  17. Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
  18. William Shatner – Has Been
  19. Explosions in the Sky – Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever
  20. Sons and Daughters – This Gift
  21. TV On The Radio – Return To Cookie Mountain
  22. The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
  23. The Field – From Here We Go Sublime
  24. The Flashbulb – Kirlian Selections
  25. Iron & Wine – Our Endless Numbered Days
  26. The New Pornographers – Mass Romantic
  27. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
  28. Sunset Rubdown – Dragonslayer
  29. Bj̦rk РVespertine
  30. The Knife – Silent Shout
  31. Bonobo – Dial M for Monkey
  32. Yo La Tengo – And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out
  33. Sigur Rós – Ágætis Byrjun
  34. Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
  35. Sun Kil Moon – April
  36. Daft Punk – Discovery
  37. Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
  38. Beck – Sea Change
  39. Kid Koala – Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  40. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
  41. Blonde Redhead – 23
  42. Plaid – Double Figure
  43. Manitoba – Up in Flames
  44. Sons and Daughters – The Repulsion Box
  45. Sufjan Stevens – Seven Swans
  46. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever to Tell
  47. The Dandy Warhols – Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia
  48. Junior Boys – Last Exit
  49. Holy Fuck – Holy Fuck
  50. Xploding Plastix – Amateur Girlfriends Go Proskirt Agents

Whew! And here are some more that I really liked but didn’t quite make the cut. You can consider them tied for 51st:

Andrew Bird – Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs
Aphex Twin – Analord, vols 1-11
Autechre – Quarstice
Beirut – The Flying Cup Club
Black Mountain – Black Mountain
Black Mountain – In the Future
Blonde Redhead – Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons
Boards of Canada – The Campfire Headphase
Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
Buck 65 – Talkin’ Honky Blues
Burial – Untrue
Cat Power – The Covers Record
Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles
Cul de Sac – Death of the Sun
Deadbeat – New World Observer
The Decemberists – Picaresque
Elliott Smith – Figure 8
Explosions in the Sky – All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
Explosions in the Sky – The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place
The Field – Yesterday and Today
The Flashbulb – Soundtrack to a Vacant Life
Four Tet – Pause
Franz Ferdinand – Tonight
Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Raise Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
Hol Baumann – Human
Iron & Wine – The Creek Drank the Cradle
Junior Boys – So This is Goodbye
Ladytron – 604
Low – The Great Destroyer
Metric – Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?
Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before the Ship Ever Sank
Mouse on Mars – Idiology
Mouse on Mars – Radical Connector
M̼m РFinally We Are No One
Neko Case and Her Boyfriends – Furnace Room Lullaby
The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema
The Organ – Grab That Gun
Pole – 3
The Postal Service – Give Up
Prefuse 73 – Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives
RJD2 – Dead Ringer
Radiohead – In Rainbows
The Strokes – Is This It?
Sufjan Stevens – Illinoise
Sunset Rubdown – Random Spirit Lover
Thievery Corporation – The Mirror Conspiracy
Wolf Parade – Apologies to the Queen Mary
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz
various artists – Clicks + Cuts

fave TV series of the 00s

Okay, I know I said that I would be posting here less, but The AV Club has started a month-long feature of the best pop culture of the 00s, and since I’m both a huge geek and a narcissist, it’s inspired me to make and share my own lists. So for the next 4 weeks, I’ll post my own favourite TV, music, book and movies of the past decade. If you want to post or link to your own lists in the comments, that would be cool, too. First up, television, or TV for short.


The 00s are the decade that TV really came into its own — they don’t call it the New Golden Age of Television for nothing. Assuming they call it that, which they probably don’t because it sounds pretty dorky, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that they are cooler than me.

Bragging about not watching TV has gone from making you a pompous wanker to a clueless fool. TV in the 00s is a little like the New Hollywood of the 1970s, when a medium that was dismissed by the cultural elite started to really matter, there was just a massive wave of creative energy and for a while, all these brilliant people were able to do what they wanted, how they wanted, and get away with it. These are my favourite series of the past ten years (counting shows that started in or after 2000). More or less in order, though really, it’s just The Wire in first place and the rest could be moved around without upsetting me.

  1. india Aurogra The Wire (2002-2008) Just an amazing achievement. Not just the best TV show, I enjoyed this more than any book I read or movie I saw from the past decade, too.
  2. norfloxacin with Lurasidone Deadwood (2004-2006) It’s frustrating that it never got a proper ending, but it still makes it to the #2 slot for its contributions to fine art of profanity as poetry and the character of Al Swearengen.
  3. Arrested Development (2003-2006) Probably the densest, most quotable sitcom ever.
  4. The Office (UK version, 2001-2003) The last word in everyday social discomfort and humiliation as comedy.
  5. Planet Earth (2006) Does for the nature documentary what The Wire does for the police drama.
  6. Firefly (2002) In just a few well-told stories, managed to create a collection of characters I still miss to this day.
  7. The Office (US version, 2005-present) Once it stopped trying to duplicate the UK version, it managed to really come into its own as a comedy which even at its wackiest, is rooted in the personalities and shortcomings of its characters.
  8. Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009) There’s no denying that the show made some missteps in later seasons, but when it was good, God, it was epic.
  9. 30 Rock (2006-present) Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin are an incredible comic duo, and when the script and supporting players help them out, it’s the funniest show on TV.
  10. Flight of the Conchords (2007-2009) Who knew that what the world needed was a quirky musical/sitcom about two kiwi musicians in New York? But it did, and now we have it.

Tentative late addition: I’ve only recently started watching The Venture Brothers, and I am floored by how brilliant it is — an animated action comedy that manages to be a parody of, homage to and deconstruction of superhero comics and cartoons (among other things), with intricate plotting and three-dimensional characters. Oh, and it’s fucking hilarious. I need to see more episodes before I can place it, but it will probably make somewhere onto my top 10 by the time I’m caught up.


The next ten, alphabetically: The Colbert Report, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Extras, Generation Kill, Mythbusters, Peep Show, Project Runway, Summer Heights High, Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job and Trailer Park Boys.

Honourable mention: Da Ali G Show, Dollhouse, First Person, House, John Safran Versus God.

Why this list is invalid: I kind of suck as a TV critic because I don’t actually go out of my way to see most shows until they’ve been on (or even over) for a few years. I need there to be a critical mass of people telling me to see a series, so I don’t end up wasting my time. So as a result, there are still quite a few beloved shows I haven’t got around to seeing yet. Feel free to tell me which are worth seeing/skipping, though. It all goes into my internal scoring system and once the threshold is passed, it is on. These are just some of the beloved series I’ve been meaning to watch one day — some of them I’ve seen a few episodes, but most I’ve never seen: The Shield, 24, Dexter, Lost, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Friday Night Lights, Undeclared, Metalocalypse, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Rome, Carnivale, Heroes, Pushing Daisies, Burn Notice, Band of Brothers, The Corner, The League of Gentlemen, Black Books, Jam/Jaaaaam, The Mighty Boosh, Frisky Dingo, The Thick Of It, Sons of Anarchy.

Incidentally: 1999 was a pretty awesome year for TV, too. Angel, Futurama, The Sopranos, Spaced, Home Movies, Freaks and Geeks and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart all would have had to find a place on the list if they has started a year later.