Must-See Movies of 2001
by Karl Bowman

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of critics lamenting what a terrible year for movies 2001 has been. Isn’t that what they said last year? And the year before? I don’t necessarily disagree, but instead of adding my own grievances to the pile, I have hand-selected ten Must-See Movies of 2001, especially for you, loyal Meridian readers.

Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone
Warner Bros.
Rated PG-13 (for scary moments and mild language)

Story: Orphaned Harry Potter finds out his deceased parents were powerful wizards and enrolls in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to fulfill his exciting destiny.

Why See it?

Because if you haven’t read the fantastic book by J.K. Rowling, you really should.

Because Hollywood didn’t ruin the book.

Because three upstart kids stole the movie from a cast of acting legends.

Because director Chris Columbus fulfilled incredibly high expectations.

Because we have six more Harry Potter films to look forward to!

Spy Kids
Dimension Films
Rated PG

Story: Carmen and Juni Cortez learn that their parents are really secret agents and have to rescue them from an entertainer bent on world domination.

Why See it?

Because a rebel filmmaker made a fun family movie without all the bad stuff.

Because families not only matter, but are worth fighting for. Yes, even little brothers.

Spy gadgets and gizmos!

Because you might spot George Clooney.

Because the villain is a children’s TV show producer gone bad (which might explain those frightening Teletubbies on PBS).

Monsters, Inc.
Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Studios
Rated G

Story: When a little girl crosses the threshold into Monstropolis, the top-scaring monster and his one-eyed sidekick must get her back home before the boss finds out. Why See it?

Why See it?

Because Pixar is 4 for 4 (after Toy Story, A Bug’s Life and Toy Story 2).

Because 3-D computer animation is light years ahead of traditional animation.

Because John Goodman and Billy Crystal make hilarious buddies.

Because you actually feel the depth of love a hairy monster has for one special girl.

Didn’t you see the advertisements? It’s an “instant classic!”

Rated PG (sometimes ogres can be a little crude)

Story: Shrek, an ugly green ogre, goes on a quest to rescue beautiful princess Fiona, but falls in love with her before they can return to vertically-challenged Lord Farquaad.

Why See it?

Because adults enjoy it just as much as kids, if not more.

Because it is an amazing work of art.

Because it is favored to win the first ever Oscar for Best Animated Film.

Because DreamWorks Animation is finally giving Walt Disney Pictures a run for their money.

Because Eddie Murphy is a lovable jackass, gingerbread men speak, and ogres have hearts of gold.

Brigham City
Excel Entertainment
Rated PG-13 (thematic elements are not meant for kids)

Story: When a dead woman is found in a small Utah town, the stunned sheriff, who is also the Mormon bishop, sets out to find the murderer.

Why See it?

Because Richard Dutcher bravely explores a touchy subject: murder in a Mormon town.

Because this is a powerful and provocative film.

Because Dutcher sets his climactic emotional scene during a Sacrament Meeting – and succeeds.

Because this is a powerful and provocative film by an LDS artist.

The star of God’s Army, Matthew Brown, is in it (just ask your daughters).

The Princess Diaries
Walt Disney Pictures

Rated G

Story: A fifteen-year-old discovers that she is the princess of a small European country.

Why See it?

Because it was panned by critics and still became a $100 million blockbuster.

Because it proves that family audiences still have power in Hollywood.

Because it proves that G-rated, live action movies are valid (as long as they’re good).

Because Julie Andrews is in it.

Because you would rather support this than American Pie 2.

The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition
Cowboy Booking International
Rated G

Story: In 1914, twenty-eight explorers set out for Antarctica, but when they lose their ship to the ice and abandon ship, survival goes from unlikely to impossible.

Why See it?

Because it is one of the most impressive survival stories you will ever see.

Because this documentary uses actual footage shot by Shackleton’s men.

Because Sir Ernest Shackleton is a model of courage in the face of utter failure.

Because documentaries can be so much more than the snoozefests you saw in high school. You will be engrossed by this one. Trust me.

Because you will appreciate your warm, comfortable bed more than usual.

The Road Home (Wo de fu qin mu qin)
Sony Pictures Classics
Rated G

Story: After his father’s death, a son recalls how his provincial mother and educated father fell in love in rural China.

Why See it?

Because Chinese filmmaker Yimou Zhang does not make bad films.

Because this is Zhang’s second G-rated film that deals with sophisticated themes.

Because, in filmmaking, sometimes less is more.

Because love, loyalty, sacrifice and home are very good things to value.

Because I needed a foreign film to round out this list.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings
New Line Cinema
Rated PG-13 (for epic battle sequences and scary images)

Story: With eight companions sworn to protect him, innocent hobbit Frodo embarks on an epic quest to destroy an evil ring that has come into his hands.

Why See it?

Because J.R.R. Tolkien’s 100 million readers aren’t wrong.

Because a little-known, independent filmmaker from New Zealand put an entire studio on the line and, in the process, restored the magic to Hollywood epics.

Because heroes aren’t always the biggest and strongest, but the pure in heart.

Because good will triumph over evil in the end.

Because director Peter Jackson didn’t ruin the book and still blew diehard fans away.

The Other Side of Heaven
Excel Entertainment
Rated PG

Story: In the 1950’s, John Groberg leaves his sweetheart to serve a mission to the people of Tonga.

Why See it?

Because it is the most mainstream Hollywood film about Mormons since Brigham Young: Frontiersman (1940). And it is better.

Because it will make you laugh and cry (a lot).

Because you will fall in love with Tonga and its people.

Because story always comes first – and this is a dramatic, inspirational and true story.

Because the LDS filmmakers will surprise you with their taste and their talent.

Because it needs your support. Check for release dates.

Maybe 2001 wasn’t such a bad year after all. One could even argue that it was a banner year for LDS filmmakers. If you see only one film on this list, see The Other Side of Heaven. It may not be the most expensive or even the most flawless, but it is the most personal. It is a beautiful reflection of what it means to be a Latter-day Saint and a missionary. It is also an exciting sign of things to come. Line by line, rung by rung, our Latter-day Saint filmmakers are being heard and climbing ever higher. Onwards and upwards. I’ll see you at the movies in 2002.


2001 Meridian Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.