Sunday, January 30, 2005

Best and worst of 2004

As I mentioned, movie release dates here in the UK are a bit out of sync with what I'm used to back home in the US. Sometimes this can be annoying (getting The Phantom of the Opera a month early), other times it can be even more annoying (not getting Kinsey for another month now). I usually put together these year-end lists just in time for New Year's Eve, but with all the big end-of-the-year award grabbers finally getting here all January long, I decided to put it off until I could check them all out. Anyway, here's my late, mini-sized 2004 wrap-up...

Best of 2004

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Intensely surreal exploration of a failed relationship through a man’s attempt to erase it from his memory -- literally. Abandoning linear narrative in favor of dreamlike image association for much of its duration, Sunshine taps directly into powerful emotions connected to all stages in the arc of any relationship.

2. I ♥ Huckabees. “What the fuck did I just watch?” But in a really, really good way. That rare movie that will make you seriously question the meaning of your existence while laughing until you pee.

3. Code 46. Try to imagine a science-fiction version of Lost in Translation. The story of two individuals connecting in a cold, sterilized (yet frighteningly plausible) vision of the future. Haunting and atmospheric.

4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Brave enough to sacrifice large sections from the book in order to make the best film possible -- most importantly, one willing to grow up with its main character.

5. Million Dollar Baby. The first two thirds make it really, really good. The last third makes it great.

6. Bride & Prejudice. Bollywood take on Pride & Prejudice filled to the bursting point with great music, comedy, and GORGEOUS visuals. I enjoyed plenty of movies this year, but this one made the happiest.

7. A Very Long Engagement. Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s brilliant (and sometimes bizarre) style is applied to the story of a young woman who clings to the hope that her fiancé has survived the war.

8. Japanese Story. Simple and heartbreaking, with a wrenching performance from Toni Collette.

9. Primer. Microbudget time-travel thriller that seriously backs up its ideas -- and doesn’t bother waiting for us to catch up, making it chillingly believable.

10. Mean Girls. The smartest, funniest teen movie since Clueless. Lindsay Lohan rules. Tina Fey’s screenplay rules slightly more.

Plenty of great movies I saw this year couldn’t make the list as a result of my attempt to spread out my choices between lots of different types of films. So here are ten of the best from the rest (in alphabetical order):

The Aviator
The Bourne Supremacy
The Incredibles
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Spider-Man 2
The Village

Worst of 2004

1. The Raspberry Reich. As a lover of cinema, I am bound to identify it as by far the worst film of the year. As Eric, a weirdo, I have (almost) nothing but love for it. At least I can make it #1 at something!

2. Soul Plane. Not that I saw it or anything. Or paid money to do so. Um, it was Greg’s idea.

3. Exorcist: The Beginning. The only horror this film inspired in me was the realization that I actually couldn’t think of anything the filmmakers could have done to make it any worse.

4. The Phantom of the Opera. Maybe it’s because I expected so much from it. Maybe it’s just because it sucked.

5. Shark Tale. Not as bad as I was expecting. And yet, still shit.


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