Colin Farrell, stealing the show in "American Outlaws".

I used to enjoy making year-end lists of my favourite movies and records of the year, until I started looking back at them. When I wrote them, I believed in the rankings I assigned, but as time passed, I changed my mind about a lot of my choices. Really, it takes a while to know which films and records are truly great, and really stand the test of time. And so, I will now undertake a dumb challenge: For the next few weeks, I’m gonna make retroactive top 10 lists, arbitrarily picking years, and picking THE GREATEST CINEMATIC CREATIONS from those years. Suck it, Oscars.

Colin Farrell, stealing the show in "American Outlaws".

Colin Farrell, stealing the show in “American Outlaws”.

THE TOP 10 FILMS OF 2001:

#10: Saving Silverman
One of several brilliant comedies to make this list, and an instant classic upon its release, Saving Silverman takes slot #10. Who could forget this film’s wonderful plot? Jason Biggs plays in a Neil Diamond cover band, and dates an abusive girlfriend. In order to fix his life, his bandmates kidnap his girlfriend, and force Biggs to reunite with his high school sweetheart, who is about to take her final vows as a catholic nun. Pure genius through and through, and it most certainly holds up 14 years later.

#9: The Glass House
Whatever happened to Leelee Sobieski? She was making tremendous career choices in 2001, starring in two movies from this very list. In The Glass House, she played a 16-year-old whose parents die, forcing her to move into a house made of windows with estranged neighbours of the family name Glass. Get it? It’s a Glass House, in every way. The new guardians turn out to be creepy drug addicts who steal her inheritance. Such poetry, such wonder. A natural hit.

#8: One Night at McCool’s
Take one story, tell it from three different perspectives, and try to make every perspective funnier than the last. Try as you may, you will never succeed quite as much as Stan Seidel did when he wrote this masterpiece of a crime-based comedy. And with Paul Reiser taking third billing in this splendid cast, who would have expected any less?

#7: Shallow Hal
Jack Black gets hypnotized in an elevator and now sees skinny beautiful people everywhere, instead of regular or bigger folks. Because of this, he falls for Gwyneth Paltrow, despite her weight. A true work of genius, this film manages not to make it seem like only skinny people are attractive, and certainly doesn’t encourage the notion that hypnosis can solve all your problems. Total gold.

#6: American Outlaws
With the tagline “Bad is Good Again”, this film had every indication of excellence, and did not disappoint. This one’s an easy standout from the era when Ali Larter was in a thousand wonderful movies, with every one of her releases blowing our collective minds. This attempt at telling the story of Jesse James is, quite easily, the best one that ever made it to film.

I'm sure many people caught baseball fever in the summer of 2001 because of this guy!

I’m sure many people caught baseball fever in the summer of 2001 because of this guy!

#5: Summer Catch
Freddie Prinze Jr. dreams of playing big-league baseball, but is constantly distracted by Jessica Biel. It’s a true underdog story full of ups and downs, and crammed with delightful romance. Hey, with Hank Aaron and Ken Griffey Jr. in your list of cameos, you know it’s got to be a great baseball film.

#4: What’s the Worst That Could Happen?
It’s no surprise to see this film making the cut. After all, the chemistry between Martin Lawrence and Danny DeVito in this film was such and incredible sight, that the pair went on to star in a plethora of further comedies after this juggernaut debut. I’m sure you’re all quite familiar with its sequels, “What’s the Worst That Could Happen 2: Even Worse” and “What’s the Worst That Could Happen 3: Children of the Worst”, both of which enjoyed tremendous box office success.

#3: Get Over It
Time and time again, people attempt to adapt Shakespearian works for the screen, and while many of those attempts fail horribly, this one absolutely soared. Ben Foster stars as a high school student who lands the lead role in a play in order to impress an ex-girlfriend. He is, of course, aided by his two best friends (Sisqó and Colin Hanks). Throw in a stellar performances by Carmen Electra and some malfunctioning pyrotechnics, and you’ve got the recipe for a classic!

#2: Joy Ride
Leelee Sobieski strikes again! This time, she’s one of three teenagers who play a prank on a trucker named Rusty Nail who turns out to be a murderer. If you somehow missed this one in 2001, get your hands on a copy now, and prepare to spend 97 minutes on the edge of your seat – this one’s a nail-biter!

#1: Sugar & Spice
How this one was Oscar-snubbed is beyond me. Five teenage cheerleaders watch a flurry of heist movies, and decide to commit a few robberies themselves, since one of them is pregnant and in desperate need of money. I have to applaud the writers on this one, for managing to make these crimes and all following criminal procedures perfectly legitimate and realistic in this absolute blow-out of a thriller (with comedic edges). I make a point of re-watching this one every year around homecoming, as should you!

2001 was a hell of a year. What year should I re-visit next?

-Al

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