74th Annual Academy Awards
NPR's Bob Mondello: Oscar Raves and Rants
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Bob Mondello's Top 10 (Plus 9) Movies of 2001
Though 2001 was Hollywood's biggest year in box office history -- with movies bringing in more than $8.3 billion -- NPR's Bob Mondello says there weren't very many high-quality movies among those blockbusters.
Still, he found more than enough other films to fill his own personal 10-best list.
Shrek -- "In a year when observers not only can't find a front-runner in the Oscar race but can't even settle on a field of probable contenders, there is still one thing on which everyone can agree, from small children to the most jaded critics: Shrek was a hoot. A humane and very funny family film about a lovable ogre who sets out to make the world safe for fairy-tale characters, Shrek marked notable advances in computer animation."
Shrek review by Kenneth Turan, May 18, 2001.
Lord of the Rings -- "There may be a box office battle between the two big wizard franchises, but there's no question that Lord of the Rings is the better movie. Imaginative, well-acted and frequently thrilling, its three hours fly by in a whirl of adventure that leaves audiences panting for more. Alas, we'll have to wait a year for the second installment."
Lord of the Rings review by Bob Mondello, Dec. 18, 2001.
Memento -- "Smaller films also offered adventure, none more so than a movie that took the unusual tack of telling its story backwards as a way of putting the audience in the same predicament as its hero. Memento is about a guy who's trying to solve a crime but who has suffered an injury that keeps him from forming new memories, so every time he meets someone it's as if it's for the first time."
Memento review by Bob Mondello, March 16, 2001.
Amores Perros -- "This Mexican film told three interlocking stories involving dogs, blending Tarantino-style action with a lively surrealism. Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu even used the film's structure to examine class issues, cramming everything he could into the movie as if he realized being a first-time director that he might not get a second chance."
Amores Perros review by Bob Mondello, March 30, 2001.
Divided We Fall -- "Another foreign language film, Divided We Fall took a more measured, realistic approach to chronicling the efforts of a Czech couple to hide the son of a Jewish neighbor from the Nazis. By being carefully non-judgmental in its treatment of a host of complicated characters, the film worked new wrinkles on familiar subject matter."
Divided We Fall review by Kenneth Turan, June 8, 2001.
Amelie -- "If you don't like subtitles and are using that as an excuse not to see Amelie, you're depriving yourself of the year's sweetest romantic comedy."
Amelie review by Bob Mondello, Nov. 2, 2001.
L.I.E. -- "The haunting, low-budget film L.I.E. -- which stands for Long Island Expressway, but also obviously for what those letters spell -- watches a bond forming between an essentially parentless adolescent boy and an older man who enjoys the company of adolescent boys more than society allows. The film's strength lies in how it makes audiences as queasy about their own reactions as about those of the characters."
L.I.E. review by John Powers, Oct. 5, 2001.
In the Bedroom -- "A tragedy about parents who sense trouble brewing in their son's romantic life but feel they shouldn't interfere. Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson head a cast that never once strikes a false note."
In the Bedroom review by Bob Mondello, Nov. 30, 2001.
Black Hawk Down -- "This film tells the story of a tragic 1993 U.S. military mission in Somalia, a quick surgical strike that was supposed to take 45 minutes and that instead turned into a pitched battle on the streets of Mogadishu when a Black Hawk helicopter was downed by enemy fire. Eighteen American soldiers and hundreds of Somalis were killed, and director Ridley Scott puts you right at the center of the action. It is not an easy movie to sit through, but it's certainly visceral filmmaking."
Black Hawk Down review by John Powers, Jan. 11, 2002.
No Man's Land -- "If Black Hawk Down takes a painfully realistic approach to establish that war is hell, No Man's Land is every bit as effective, taking an absurdist approach. It places three soldiers in a trench in the Balkans and marvels at how no one can figure a way to get them out -- especially not the United Nations. No Man's Land is a cross between M*A*S*H and Waiting for Godot, at once funny and wrenching, with an ending that'll send you out of the theater with nerves jangling."
No Man's Land review by Bob Mondello, Dec. 7, 2001.
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