One Notable (Short) Film from 2000
I have a huge soft spot for animation and once again, I will be discussing an animated film-the difference is this time, it’s from a solo animator, and one of the most unique voices in filmmaking of his generation. Today, we look at Don Hertzfeldt’s breakout animated short, Rejected.
Rejected came about as a germ of an idea Hertzfeldt had after the success of his previous short, Billy’s Balloon (a movie shown in competition at Cannes and winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance about balloons gaining sentience and deciding to attack children)-he was offered work doing commercials. Hertzfeldt, being the violently anti-corporate man that he is, turned them down but jokingly in the back of his mind thought about accepting the jobs only to create the worst cartoons possible and see if they would make it to air. This led to Rejected, a 10-minute animated short about an animator making commercials for companies that keep getting rejected for being too surreal and eventually leads to the animator’s full-on mental breakdown.
It became one of the most popular and oft-bootlegged cartoons during the early days of the internet because it was endlessly quotable, surreal and extremely violent. Amazingly enough, it was nominated for an Academy Award despite it’s style and content. Rejected is still very enjoyable and entertaining, but it feels like the closing chapter on the first part of Hertzfeldt’s career (and couples well with Billy’s Balloon in tone and content), although Lily and Jim, his excellent 1997 short about a blind date that goes wrong, sticks out as something of a preview for his later work.
So how do you follow up an extremely popular violent and goofy animated short? With a completely different direction-a series of abstract looks at subjects like humanity, mental illness and life itself. The culmination of which was his most recent short, the thought provoking but still humorous World of Tomorrow, which was also nominated for an Academy Award (with many were sad that it didn’t win). Hertzfeldt is an uncompromising iconoclast in all the best ways and his work is well worth seeking out, no matter where your tastes lie.
Other Notable Films from 2000
In the Mood for Love
Best in Show
Battlefield Earth and Dungeons & Dragons
Requiem for a Dream
2000 in Review
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: B
Gladiator: C+ (Won Best Picture)
Erin Brockovich: C+
2000 was one of the worst years for nominees in ages, the first since 1988 to not have a movie rated above a B by my standards (and I would take Working Girl over either Traffic or Crouching Tiger without hesitation). Gladiator really is a redux of Braveheart, an above average movie that made big money and had an epic enough feel that it somehow won Best Picture; at least it didn’t rob anything especially memorable for the award. It was also a year where movies like Almost Famous, Requiem for a Dream, even Cast Away were better BP options among those that received nominations in other categories. At least 2001 looks much better in comparison, so I’m looking forward to that.
For 2001: Russell Crowe continues to dominate the Oscars, starring in his third straight BP nominee and second straight winner; Downton Abbey was originally conceived as a spin-off of this movie; it made $43 million despite never entering the Top 10 at the box office; this movie made so much money for New Zealand that they created a Minister position to take advantage of all the economic opportunities the film series provided them; and the first live-action musical to get a BP nomination in 22 years.