I’ve found this year that I enjoy exploring the realm of movies before my time. Usually the films were released either before I was born or when I was very young. It’s fun to see what the fads were in previous decades. My favorite being the early 2000s. In 2017, I watched a handful of early 2000s movies that I know I’ll be watching in years to come!
Mona Lisa Smile (2003)
A huge thank you to Netflix for allowing me to find this gem. Mona Lisa Smile is jam packed with powerhouse actresses like Julia Roberts, Julia Stiles, Kirsten Dunst, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Mona Lisa Smile follows a woman, Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts), who gets a teaching job at a prestigious all women’s college. She finds that the students there are very intelligent, but their overall goal is to just to get married and settle down with a family. Katherine tries to inspire the female students to challenge their expected societal roles, and go against the outdated morals of the college.
I thoroughly enjoyed the performances given by all of the main actresses in this film. Kirsten Dunst, who played Betty, especially gave a great monologue about what she wanted in life. When she gets it, however, she finds out that the “ideal life” is not what she expected. Mona Lisa Smile talks about the role women play in society how some find the role constrained and forced, while others are willing to fill it. The time period gives the film a fun atmosphere filled with historic settings of the college and the student’s conservative outfits. The traditional versus liberal contrast is enough to keep your eyes glued to the screen.
Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
It’s no doubt that Bridget Jones’s Diary is a must-see early 2000s rom-com. With a sequel that premiered a couple of years ago, BJD was put on my radar. Bridget Jones’s Diary follows our leading lady, Bridget Jones, who decides to take control of her life when she turns 32 by keeping a diary. Bridget, played by Reneé Zellweger, finds herself caught between two guys and records every bit of the situation in her infamous diary. This movie is alarmingly frank and hysterical (thanks to its British humor). Bridget’s knack for saying or, writing, whatever is on her mind makes this film and rollercoaster from beginning to end.
I especially enjoyed the performance Colin Firth gave as Mr. Darcy. His calm and collective aura on screen with Bridget’s budding personality is very entertaining. Though I’m sure most of you have seen this movie by now, if you’re apart of the minority that haven’t, do yourself a favor and have a great laugh with Bridget Jones’s Diary. It’s the perfect film to watch on a Friday night all by yourself. (Don’t worry, it’s hyperlinked if you didn’t get that reference 😉
How to Lose a Guy In 10 Days (2003)
How to Lose a Guy In 10 Day is a movie with a seemingly ridiculous and cliche topic. And I love every second of it. Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson) is an advice columnist for a big-time magazine. She decides to push the envelope and write a column on how to get a man to leave in only 10 days. Ben Berry (Matthew McConaughey) is so confident in his ability to woo women that he makes a bet that he can get a woman to fall in love with him in only 10 days. When Andie and Ben meet, things don’t go exactly as they’d planned.
Another Netflix find for me, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days was everything I wanted in a movie. The cliches work extremely well and add to the film’s charm. Being set in New York City, the fashion trends of the early 2000s are seen all over this film. It’s fun to see Andie and Ben attempt to get each other into their respective traps, since we as an audience know that they will fall for each other in only a matter of time. Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey have a fun dynamic and great chemistry in this staple rom-com.
Freedom Writers (2007)
Of all the films on this list, Freedom Writers is probably the most heartfelt. This drama follows a teacher who gets a job at a racially diverse school. She teaches english to a class of at-risk teens who have very tough lives outside of school. The teacher, played by Hillary Swank, wants to inspire the students to take more interest in their education and their futures.
Freedom Writers is a film that is awe-inspiring. It’s also amazing that the movie is based on a book written about a true story. It shows the lows of the education system in tougher areas and the reality that some students face every day during their home lives. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance by Mario in this film. It’s in your face and its relevant. I liked that this movie wasn’t about stereotypes, it was about daily realities. I also enjoyed that the students were given an outlet through journaling. The teacher was able to read about their stories first hand and see them paint their own narratives. She inspired them to make their own paths and build lives for themselves. Freedom Writers is an inspiring, and uplifting, must-see film.
(P.S. Patrick Dempsey plays a small role that’s quite different than his renown Dr. McDreamy role, which is also fun to watch!)
Save The Last Dance (2001)
Of all the movies on this list, Save The Last Dance is by far my favorite. The film follows, Sara (Julia Stiles) who moves from a Midwestern town to the south side of Chicago after her mother dies and she must go and live with her father. She crosses paths with Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas), and finds herself falling for him. Both teens enjoy dance, ballet for Sara, and hip-hop for Derek. The couple attempts to tackle the difficulties of having an interracial relationship in their environment while challenging each other through dance.
(P.S. For you Scandal fans, there’s also a great performance given by Kerry Washington as her character, Chenille, Derek’s sister!)
Its not enough to say that I love this movie. Although the concept of the interracial relationship is mentioned in the synopsis, I adore how it is portrayed in this film. The relationship between Sara and Derek is normalized and fun to watch. Sara attends a predominantly black school, and I enjoyed that her character immersed herself in the culture of the area. The film has some very raw parts, and contrasts them with sweet, romantic scenes. I think everyone can find something to enjoy in this film. I can rewatch it over and over and never get tired of it. (Dear Netflix, please add this movie back!)
I hope you all were able to add some of these films to your “movies to watch” list, or just reminisce if some of these are your faves too! I have plenty of long-time favorites within this same era, so lookout for a post compiling those films sometime soon.