9 Characters of the '00s Who Changed Movies Forever
While the '00s -- or the Aughts, or whatever you want to call the decade almost past -- end at midnight Thursday, they leave a spectrum of legacies for us to consider heading into the '10s. Not a lot of them were very good for movies, unfortunately, but filmgoers can still find some pretty significant influences in all the debris and disappointments. And love them or hate them, some of the most important influences came in convenient character form. Read on for an assortment of the essentials, and of course add your own after browsing.
[In order of appearance]
· Leticia Musgrove (Monster's Ball, 2001)
Prior to Halle Berry's death-row widow -- who seduced her husband's executioner between whipping her obese son's hide -- it wasn't quite so fashionable for mainstream glamour actresses to go in search of uglified indie roles that might help validate them through awards-season attention. After Letitia changed Berry's life (however briefly), a similar tack worked for Nicole Kidman (The Hours), Charlize Theron (Monster), Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) and Kate Winslet (The Reader). And those were just Oscar winners; Naomi Watts (21 Grams), Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married) and who knows how many others carried their films to prominence on the strength of performance and Oscar-worthy self-degradation.
· Jar Jar Binks (Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, 2002)
Yes, fans, I know the mincing, much-hated Gungan prat was introduced and received the majority of his franchise screen time in 1999's The Phantom Menace. Which is exactly the point: Prior to 2002, despite George Lucas's reedting, souping up and indiscriminately plundering the Star Wars universe to within an inch of its life, fans had to mount a global repudiation of Jar Jar Binks before the aloof filmmaker ever took their considerations to heart. Clones's reduction of Jar Jar to a minor role -- plus its reinstatement of C3PO as comic relief -- proved that even if Lucas wasn't always listening, he could be gotten to.
· Joel Barish (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004)
It was some kind of miracle that Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman got to make another movie after their maligned 2001 collaboration Human Nature. But there it was: Eternal Sunshine, their classic experiment in love, memory, medicine and narrative that has endured to become many critics' favorite film of the decade. As its principals shared a screenplay Oscar, the film's semi-autobiographical lead character made the '00s safe for both Gondry (who'd revisit similar themes on his own, and not quite as successfully, in The Science of Sleep) and Kaufman, whose Synechdoche, New York emerged as one of the most confounding and underrated films of this or any decade. Moreover, Barish's downbeat romantic represented the last (the only?) memorable character Jim Carrey would play in the '00s -- and maybe even a career peak.