Well it’s late January and I’m finally unveiling my top ten movies of the year. I know it’s a little late, but there were a few movies I still had to see so that the list would be justified (in my mind) and so when someone post on GeoBoards about why a certain choice is wrong I can respond and let ‘em know what’s what.
10. Hellboy – Admittedly I am a comic book fan, since the days of Silver Surfer comics have fueled my love of the written word. Lately I’ve seen film after film bastardized the comic genre they supposedly are inspired from (Punisher anyone?). Hellboy is a comic book fan's wet dream. The characters are true to the comic and Ron Pearlman’s teenager angst performance captures the essence or Hellboy, kudos to the production team for bringing the Hellboy world to life.
9. Man on Fire – Revenge flicks are my guilty pleasure. I think because this movie came out so early in the year it missed most critics’ lists. But since I have the memory of an elephant, Man on Fire ran its charred broken body on to mine. Denzel per usual is awesome and exudes pure intensity as the alcoholic suicidal Ex-Navy Seal. Dakota Fanning for her age is a tremendous talent and (with the exception of the deplorable Cat in the Hat) has brought a quiet dignity to a role I think few young actress or older ones for that fact could pull off. Their relationship is believable and therefore the extremes Denzel’s character goes through are believable in theory. Director Tony Scott’s editing style and over use of the grain filter all add to the over the top fun thrilled rollercoaster that is Man on Fire.
8. Collateral – I knew Jamie Foxx had talent because it peeked through in his performance in Ali and Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday, but he was a tour de force (sorry for the cliché) in Collateral. His scenes with Jada Pinkett-Smith are so genuine and you feel a connection was made between the two and Will Smith should start looking for wife number 3, while Tom Cruise is pure bad ass and hasn’t been this good since Magnolia. This has definitely been Foxx’s year and he should walk away with an Oscar or two.
7. Hero - The only foreign film on this list because I don’t get invited to the Cannes Film Festival and Maria Full of Grace was sold out at the Ritz, but in know way does that negate Hero’s rightful position on this top ten. Director Yimou Zhang’s use of color is awe inspiring and Jet Li’s performance shows why he should never make a movie with DMX in this or any other lifetime.
6. Machinist – The slow methodically paced film plunges viewers into the deepest recess of a helplessly sick and sleep depraved man. Christian Bale lost 60 pounds for the role and looks worse then any crack head I’ve seen since 1988. His performance chilled me to the core, while the plot toyed with my sanity.
5. Fahrenheit 9/11 – Another documentary on the list, that while not sparking a national day of celibacy on November 11 th (No Bush, No Dick) it did make people talk and debate the merits of Moore’s pseudo documentary. Everyone from Disney to the Republicans in Capitol Hill was scared of this film. Any film that can make the average America have an opinion on something deserves to be in a top ten because if Bush lost the election Fahrenheit 9/11 would become required viewing in schools across America.
4. Super Size Me – There are so many wonderful documentaries out in 2004 that I didn’t have enough money to see them all and the few Philly Premiere tickets that graced my desk got lost in the paper shuffle or more pressing issues arose (sorry guys from Yes Men I heard the film was awesome). Still I did see Super Size Me and never before did a documentary inform me as much as it induced side splitting laughter. The results of filmmaker Morgan Spurlock’s 30 day diet shocked most, but also put Ronald McDonald’s ass in a sling and whether directly or indirectly forced the corporate giant to do away with Super Size Meals and create a more health conscience menu, that my friend is powerful filmmaking.
3. Sideways – I like wine, hell after this movie I became a wine connoisseur. Every glass of wine I’d stick my nose in it to inhale the grapes, then swirl my glass around because that’s how you oxidize wine. No, the reason this is on the list is because it’s one of the funnier movies of the year and all the characters were all well written that I couldn’t help, but become enthralled by their universe. Thomas Hayden Church walked away with this film and his character should be a lesson to men everywhere.
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – I was truly floored when I saw this movie. While this love story can be pushed into the Sci-Fi category, its accurate depiction of the ups and downs of relationships made me nod my head like a bobble head. The petty fights the break-ups to make-ups to break-ups all press us to forget or try to excise the memories (good or bad) of a relationship that hurts so much to recount. Eternal Sunshine takes this idea and presents us with the question, what if we could actually excise the memory of love failed? What if some one erased us from their memories? This overlooked gem of a movie is currently available on DVD a must see with a loved one or once loved.
1. Baadasssss! – WOW! To begin last time I saw Mario Van Peebles in a good movie was ummm… New Jack City (1991) and last time he directed a good movie was… right again New Jack City (sorry Panther just didn’t do it for me)! But who would have thought 13 years later Mario would hit one out of the ball park? I surely didn’t. Van Peebles tells the story of the making of Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song his father’s independently made film known for being the first Blaxploitation Film. More than a rehashing of events Baadassss is one of the most inspirational movies to come out in a very long time. A film that shows with immense passion, drive, and a clear vision anything can be accomplished. A great movie and 2004’s best.
Movies I didn’t see, but wanted to that might have bumped these other guys down a notch or completely off:
Ray, Maria Full of Grace, Old Boy, Garden State, The Aviator, House of Flying Daggers, The Incredibles, Control Room, Before Sunset, Kill Bill Volume 2, and
Shaun of the Dead.