30. Hustle & Flow – No only did it teach us that it’s hard out there for a pimp, but it proved that a hip-hop dominated film, about the trials and tribulations of a pimp trying to make it in the grueling world for mainstream black music, could be gripping, and simply terrific. Backed by great performances from Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, and Anthony Anderson, this little gem really proved to be a truly underappreciated diamond in the rough.
29. Wall-E – Only Pixar could take a story with almost no words, about a love story between two robots, and turn it into a fanciful, compelling, and superbly funny, lace it with a great message about the environment, and then turn it into one of the biggest movies of 2008. This, along with the previously mention Ratatouille, were Pixar’s shining stars that would have made the cut if there had been ten nominees, and once again, it’s a shame they missed the mark.
28. City of God – This shocking and sometimes disturbing piece of art, showed how brutal the streets of Rio can be, and just how good of a movie, Academy Awards nominee Fernando Meirelles can make. This film managed four Oscar nominations, but no wins, and missed out on the Best Picture race, which is truly a shame. While it was a hard movie to watch, it was simply brilliant and utterly compelling.
27. Juno – Here we have yet another little comedy that could. With a simply delicious performance from its young leader, Ellen Page, combined with a great script by former stripper Diablo Cody, and a great supporting cast (Especially the hilarious couple of J.K. Simmons and Allison Janey), this proved to be one of the best films of 2007, and one of the best comedies of the decade. Stocked full of quirky mannerisms and hilarious zingers, Juno managed to take teenage pregnancy and turn it into an incredible story about love, acceptance, and growing up.
26. Pleasantville – Before Spider-Man and Legally Blonde, Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon were two teenagers on opposite ends of the social spectrum, who find themselves transported into the plastic, Stepford-esque world of 1950’s television. The best part about this odd movie is that it taught all of us about the dirty skeletons in people’s closets, the need for social change, and most importantly the importance of family. Oh, and it didn’t hurt that it was absolutely hilarious at times.
25. Million Dollar Baby – This film came out of nowhere in 2004, and made Marty wait another two years to finally win his Academy Award. The dark horse of that race, turned out to be a dark, and conflicted movie that, like all Eastwood films, had an unexpected ending, and more importantly, an unexpected emotional effect that lingered long after I left the theater.
24. Iron Man – While The Dark Knight was pure movie greatness, Iron Man was pure movie fun. While not as deep and emotionally complex as most of the recent comic book/graphic novel movies, it definitely was a hell of a lot of fun. Robert Downey Jr. fit perfectly in the lead role, and turned it into the perfect summer blockbuster.
23. Fahrenheit 9/11 – This may just be the liberal in me coming out, but I like Micheal Moore’s movies; Michael Moore the person, not so much. Like Bowling for Columbine before it, Moore took on a controversial subject, and created an interesting, and brutally truthful reality that made conservatives across the country shutter, and me smile.
22. My Big Fat Greek Wedding – I always thought that my family was dysfunctional, and then I saw My Big Fat Greek Wedding. While Nia Vardalos has not been able to repeat after this break out success, at least she has one gem in her collection. This wedding romp, maybe me laugh all night, and taught all of us that no matter how big or crazy your family is, they are always there for you.
21. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl – Like Iron Man, this was pure summer movie magic. While its two successors didn’t amount to their potential, the first part was a lot of fun, and made us all feel like kids again. The real reason for its success was its star Johnny Depp. His hilarious and constantly drunk Jack Sparrow is now one of the most iconic characters of our time.