We’ve come to the end of 2009, so we thought we’d weigh in with a look back at the first 10 years of the 21st century in the movie world and discuss the various different “events” which shaped the decade. Obviously we can’t cover absolutely everything, but sticking true to our core movie genres on the site, we’re just going to concentrate on the comic-book, sci-fi, action (and so forth) types of movies and take a look at what films had the maximum impact over this decade.
It’s amazing to think that it’s been 10 years since movies like The Matrix, American Beauty and Fight Club (to name but a few) came out in 1999 (check out our 1999 decade highlight, if you haven’t already). A LOT of movies – somewhere in the vicinity of 5,000-6,000 – have been released since then. We’ve had the good, the bad and ugly in that time (much like every other decade, to be fair) – some we’ll look back on as classics in decades to come, and others we’ll probably look back on and wish we could forget about them (most video game adaptations, I’m looking at you).
Behind the scenes we fervently debated which areas we should discuss in this article, and eventually we came up with 10 big ones that will hopefully bring out strong thoughts and opinions from you, our loyal readers.
So without any further ado, here are the 10 events (trends, franchises – call it what you will) that we believe have shaped the decade for the types of movies we all like to revel in around here:
10. The Rise of “The Apatow Comedy”
Judd Apatow is a producer who’s actually been working since the 90s (did you know he produced the Jim Carrey dark comedy, The Cable Guy, for instance?) but it was in 2005 that we started to see the emergence of “the Apatow comedy,” thanks in large part to The 40 Year Old Virgin. It was a truly hilarious film (I can’t remember ever laughing that much in a theater) but also one with a lot of heart and relatability. Sure, you had your crude sex jokes, but you also had a sweet story at the center, brought to life particularly well by stars Steve Carell and Catherine Keener.
The 40 Year Old Virgin was a smash hit, and it led to a slew of comedies from the Apatow camp, even if (as some people often forget) Apatow himself didn’t direct most of them. Superbad, Knocked Up, Funny People, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Pineapple Express, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story – all big hits with audiences. I don’t personally find all of his movies as hilarious as most people do, but there’s no denying the impact his style has had on the comedy genre. For instance, you’ll often hear people say, “It wasn’t as funny as [insert Apatow comedy here].” And I don’t see any sign of the Apatow comedy train slowing down anytime soon.
9. “Torture-Porn” Horror Takes Over
In 2004 a fresh horror movie appeared on the scene called: Saw. It was a small, very low budget film that would shape the horror genre from thereafter. It effectively started a genre that we now know as “Torture-Porn.” That is horror films that consist of people being tortured, and we, the audience, get to see it in all its bloody, gory, detail. It’s just ironic that the original Saw has very little actual on-screen gore in it, and is actually a very smart, well-made film for what it is (it’s one I still revisit from time to time).
Unfortunately, it was the torture element that was latched onto by other filmmakers, and all of a sudden we were plagued with torture films; from Eli Roth’s Hostel and Hostel: Part II to the Elisha Cuthbert film Captivity (which was changed half-way through, with entirely new scenes shot in order to heighten the gore factor, out of fear it wouldn’t sell well to audiences otherwise – a weak box office of under $2 million opening weekend showed how bad that idea was). Saw has spawned a franchise consisting of 5 sequels already (with more coming – in 3D no less!) and is really the only torture property (with a heart of gold?) that still makes decent money. How much longer can this trend that we’ve seen grow wildly go on? Will it still be as prolific – if around at all – in a decade’s time?