Justin Lovell, Staff Writer
Movies can define a generation. As an escape from reality, the art of film is truly influential. “Star Wars,” “The Terminator” and “Titanic” are just some of the classic films that people associate a specific time period with. My age group’s defining generation of movies is the time period from 2000-2009, a time when current college students were going through their younger years and becoming who they are today. Whether people admit it or not, the movies we grew up with have had a major influence on our lives, and for that reason I have compiled a list of the five best, most influential and important movies of our generation.
First on the list is “Shrek” (2001). This might be surprising to some but for me, it was a clear choice. “Shrek” was the first winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. During its run, “Shrek” made almost $485 million at the box office, which during 2001, was a tremendous amount of money, especially for an animated film. The film also had some star-fueled voice acting, with major actors and actresses such as Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz being cast. After the surprise success of the movie, it spawned three sequels, TV specials, merchandise and a spin-off, making “Shrek” a highly successful franchise. One of the lasting impacts of this film for me is that this was the last movie I ever bought on VHS since the switch to DVDs occurred in the early 2000s. Shrek will forever be remembered as an important film, not only for the movie industry but also for kids and our generation alike.
The second movie on this list is “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003). This film is the highest grossing in the series, earning over $1.1 billion, making it the fifth highest grossing film of all time. “The Return of the King” is the only fantasy film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, as well as having the distinction of being the most successful film in the Awards’ history, winning all 11 of its nominations. This film as well as the entire series showed that fantasy movies not only have staying power and marketability but also have the ability to be great by critical standards. When this movie came out, I was in the seventh grade and it made me a fan for life. I am sure many other students feel the same way. This film has a lasting appeal that will never fade because of loyal fans such as myself and will forever be remembered as a crowning achievement in motion picture history.
The third film on this list, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (2005), was the most difficult for me to choose. The entire Harry Potter series is memorable for this generation, so to chose just one film in particular is hard to do, but after some research I landed on the fourth film. Of course, this film made a ton of money, making almost $900 million, placing it as the 21st highest grossing film of all time. In terms of the franchise, it is the second highest acclaimed in the series following last year’s memorable finale, “The Deathly Hallows: Part 2.” While growing up, I read all the books and to this day, “The Goblet of Fire” remains to be my favorite book and movie. The overall appeal of this entry in the series is the progression it makes in taking Harry and his friends from pre-adolescence to the dark reality of growing up. This film serves as a bridge for the franchise and does it amazingly. The growth within the characters and the actors in the movie alike, plus the dark tone and themes of the movie are what makes it so significant. My generation grew up with Harry, Ron and Hermione throughout the film series, but during this movie, we grew up a little bit more than expected.
As we reach our fourth film in this list, we start to reach my college years. A film came out during the summer of 2008 that changed the landscape of the movie industry forever. This film is known as “The Dark Knight” (2008). As most know, in the months before the release of “The Dark Knight” Heath Ledger died as a result of a drug overdose. Many people thought it was because the role of the Joker had taken a serious toll on him, and with the mass news coverage of his death, the public’s anticipation of the film grew with unprecedented speed. Luckily for Director Christopher Nolan, he delivered an amazing work. The film made over $1 billion and ranks as the 11th highest grossing film of all time. Ledger won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor posthumously and everyone knew how much he truly deserved it. Overall, it is seen as one of the best superhero films in filmmaking history and one of the best films of this generation without question.
The fifth and final film in this series is a film I have a love/hate relationship with: “Avatar” (2009). This film was released in 2009 to much hype; however, it went on to destroy the box office in ways never seen before. “Avatar” is not only the highest grossing domestic film but is the highest grossing film worldwide with almost $2.8 billion. That is almost 900 million more than the second highest film, “Titanic.” “Avatar” was nominated for several Oscars, including Best Picture, and was an early front-runner to win (but in the end it didn’t). However the impact of “Avatar” was felt; it established sci-fi genre as a legitimate award winner for something other than just special effects. It also created the 3D trend that has been spreading like wildfire in Hollywood. “Avatar” is one of the most visually captivating films ever made, and made excellent use of 3D animation, whereas films now just use it even though it may be unnecessary. This film is amazing visually to watch, but its story has been done so many times before. Regardless, it stands as a film that will be remembered forever in Hollywood.
Three years into this new decade, films such as “Avatar” and its effects are still being felt. When this decade comes to an end in eight years films will have advanced incredibly. Film will continue to have an impact on every generation that sees them; that is why the motion picture remains a tremendous media tool even 120 years after its inception.