Part 2 Moriarty's Best of 2001
TEN to THREE
10. THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE
dir. Joel Coen
10. MULHOLLAND DRIVE
dir. David Lynch
I hope you like your film noir good and strange, because that’s how two of the most iconoclastic filmmakers in modern American cinema were serving it up this year. Joel Coen, working as always with his brother Ethan, gave Billy Bob Thornton his best role since A SIMPLE PLAN with the story of Ed Crane, barber, blackmailer, and murderer. Meanwhile, David Lynch took the mood and style of his earlier head trips like BLUE VELVET and LOST HIGHWAY and managed to transform a failed television pilot into a masterful feature that tied real life and reel life in a beautiful, impenetrable knot.
There are very few filmmakers I trust with the same sense of total devotion as Joel and Ethan Coen. Since the first time I saw one of their films in the theater (RAISING ARIZONA), I have been completely smitten, head over heels. This latest effort defies easy description in the same way their films always do. It doesn’t fit into any one category, or even any two categories. In fact, despite the trappings of film noir, defining this by its surface appearance would be futile, since the original and inventive script by the Coens confounds expectation at every turn. I remember turning to Harry Lime halfway through the film and shaking my head. "I have no fucking clue where this thing is going," I said, and I could barely wipe the smile off my face.
This is the feature film equivalent of a shaggy dog joke, a clever goof on the part of the Coens, and that sense that they’re just barely biting back a laugh is the one thing that keeps the film from really sticking to me. I’d certainly have nothing but praise for the work by James Gandolfini (as good here as he was terrible in THE LAST CASTLE), Frances McDormand, and Tony Shaloub. I just wish I thought the film added up to more. If it did, I might have it higher on this list in a spot of its own.
Instead, it’s the perfect companion piece for Lynch’s latest slice of crazy. Neither film is perfect, but they both offer a lot for your entertainment dollar. I’m genuinely fascinated by the idea that MULHOLLAND DRIVE could have been another series for Lynch a la TWIN PEAKS, and I wonder what he would have done with an opportunity to skewer this town with that alien intellect of his week after week. By reshaping the material and shooting scenes that altered the overall meaning, Lynch ended up crafting something that makes some very strong and wrenching points about what it is that happens to starlets when they’re all dreamed out in a town like Hollywood.
Lynch is only fun if you’re willing to do the work, if you’re willing to play along by his rules. It’s not the kind of thing that will play for every viewer. And I don’t say that as an elitist thing, either. It’s not about being smart. Lynch’s films work more on an intuitive level. They either feel right as they unfold, or they don’t. Explanations don’t have to make literal sense as long as they make emotional sense. That’s where MULHOLLAND DRIVE succeeds in a way that I don’t think LOST HIGHWAY or WILD AT HEART did. For the first time since BLUE VELVET, I find myself nearly heartsick after watching one of Lynch’s films. There’s something about the first half with Rita (Laura Elena Harring) and Betty (Naomi Watts) that lulls you into a sense of almost understanding, only to be shattered after the scene at Silencio. What happens then both puzzled me and tore me apart, and it was only when I figured out why I reacted the way I did that the film fell into focus for me. Personally, I love the way Lynch put it all together, and I’m glad I had the experience.
READ MY ORIGINAL REVIEW FOR MULHOLLAND DRIVE HERE!!
09. GOSFORD PARK
dir. Robert Altman
God bless Robert Altman. I hope that when I reach my 70s, I’m making movies, and I hope I retain the ability to confuse everyone who thinks they have me figured out. Here’s a guy who zigs every time you think he’s going to zag, and who has redefined himself and revived his career more times than can be counted. With GOSFORD PARK, he’s made a sleek, sophisticated slice of adult entertainment that is more effortlessly witty than anything else on display this year. This is the old-style definition of wit, too... like Oscar Wilde or Voltaire. This is a comedy of manners, a glimpse at upstairs mores as filtered through downstairs observations.
It’s also a remarkably complicated bit of staging, and the ease with which Altman pulls it off is due in no small part to the experience he has with large ensembles and multiple storylines. As a piece of entertainment, I preferred GOSFORD PARK to even NASHVILLE, Altman’s ‘70s classic. This reminded me of MCCABLE & MRS. MILLER, a personal fave, or CALIFORNIA SPLIT, and also managed to remind me of just why I was an Altman fan in the first place. As long as he can turn out a film this good from time to time, I’ll forgive him all the DR. T & THE WOMENs he wants to make.
08. IN THE BEDROOM
dir. Todd Field
I’ll admit I had some sort of bias against when I started watching this. It happens sometimes, especially when you haven’t seen a film and it’s already winning awards and people are hyping it up to you and all you hear is about how good it is. You build up a resistance to the film, a skepticism. Sometimes, especially with delicate, personal films, they can’t withstand the anticipation. It’s a risk a studio undertakes when they try the platform release schedule. Open the film too fast, they might not be able to build enough word of mouth to give it fair play in smaller markets. Open the film too slow, there’s a chance the buzz will backfire, creating unrealistic expectations. "Well, it wasn’t as good as they said."
So for whatever reason, I had that sort of chip on my shoulder when I put IN THE BEDROOM into the DVD player the other night. I sat back, arms crossed, and dared the movie to impress me. I dared Todd Field and Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson to move me. I hardened my heart and dared the experience to get past my defenses.
That’s why I’m doubly impressed by what it is Todd Field and his co-writer Rob Festinger, working from the short story "Killings" by Andre Dubus, have created. This is a smart, sharply observed film with a sad, dark little heart. It surprised me not because of any overly clever structure on its part, but because of the almost unflinching eye with which it is observed, and because of the exquisite taste shown by Field as a director. This feels like the work of someone who’s had many years behind the camera, but it’s a debut feature. It seems that Field has been holding out on us. Yes, he’s been very good in films like BROKEN VESSELS and EYES WIDE SHUT and WALKING AND TALKING, but I never saw any of his short film work. I didn’t know he was turning into someone with a precise, almost surgical sense of detail, someone who is able to direct our eye to the smallest of gestures in search of a larger, even universal truth.
IN THE BEDROOM tells its story in fits and starts, with time slipping away like sand, leaping forward weeks or months, then slowing to a crawl to observe something when the mood strikes. It could be compared to other movies about parental loss like THE DEEP END or ORDINARY PEOPLE, or stories about ragged personal justice like JOE or HARDCORE, but IN THE BEDROOM creates a tone that marks it as an individual story, something special. The work by Nick Stahl and Marisa Tomei and William Mapother is strong and subtle and potent, and Sissy Spacek gives good chill as a mother in free fall, a woman unmoored by her grief. But it is Tom Wilkinson who emerges from this film a true giant, and it is his unsmiling face over the last 20 minutes, his sad and haunted eyes, that I will remember always. This one snuck up on me, and I’m confident it will leave its scars.
07. THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS
dir. Wes Anderson
Just to double-check: we are all aware that Wes Anderson is a national treasure, right?
What else can you call someone who has given us BOTTLE ROCKET, RUSHMORE, and now this? Working with co-writer Owen Wilson, Anderson seems to be creating a world a few degrees away from our own peopled entirely with these wonderful, watchable eccentrics, all of them living these great, ambling stories. His films don’t feel like they’re the only stories his characters have to tell, and I think that’s the draw of them. Instead, it feels like we’re just getting a window into particular moments from much larger timelines. Max Fisher and Herman Blume, Dignan and Anthony and Bob and Futureman, or Royal and the other Tenenbaums... these are not just characters in single stories. They are all living somewhere right now, all of them involved in ongoing stories that we would be lucky to see. Creating characters with as much rowdy life as this is a gift, and Anderson’s got it.
This is a film overstuffed with pleasures, so crammed full of good and even great performances that it’s hard to know how to break it down, hard to know who to praise first or most. Luke Wilson and Ben Stiller both do work here that stretches their onscreen personas in ways I didn’t expect, and I never would have expected to react so strongly to the simple declaration, "It’s been a really hard year." I also wouldn’t expect characters who seem at first glance to be almost cartoons to take on such weight for me by the end of the film, but even supporting turns like the one by Owen Wilson or the work by Danny Glover start to take on the added dimensions of real life thanks to those little touches that Anderson can’t help but add.
And then there’s Gene Hackman as Royal Tenenbaum. Simply put, this is one of those roles that Gene was born to play. There’s no one else who could make the distinction between an asshole and a sonofabitch so clear and so important, but Gene does it with such force of personality that he becomes impossible to deny. It’s no wonder his wife (Angelica Huston) and his adopted daughter (Gwenyth Paltrow) and the rest of his sprawling, unusual family all find themselves letting him back into their hearts despite knowing better. Hackman is what makes this film’s somewhat unbelievable premise into something that seems entirely possible, if not urgent. If Anderson keeps this up, he’s going to turn into the best filmmaker we’ve got, an altogether plausible idea at this point.
READ MY ORIGINAL REVIEW HERE!!
06. HEDWIG & THE ANGRY INCH
dir. John Cameron Mitchell
06. MOULIN ROUGE
dir. Baz Luhrmann
If there is one film I have written about more than any other, it would have to be New Line’s HEDWIG & THE ANGRY INCH. It started with Sundance last year, where I not only reviewed the movie but also wrote about the live show the band played. Then when the film was released this summer, I took advantage of the moment to write a two-part interview with the writer/director/star of the film, John Cameron Mitchell. Funny, then, that I almost skipped out on seeing it at Sundance based on the first few stills I saw. I wasn’t sure I was in the mood for some draggy campy ROCKY HORROR-esque musical about a guy with mutilated genitals. Didn’t really sound like my idea of a rockin’ Friday night.
Instead, it was the cornerstone of what I consider my single best day of moviegoing last year, a day that also included CHAIN CAMERA as well as a film that weighs in at number four on my list. It wasn’t draggy and campy at all, but was instead as achingly human a story as I saw in any theater all year. HEDWIG is about finding your voice in this world, no matter what it is you have to say. At a time when so many people in the world feel so powerless, HEDWIG feels even more relevant than when I first saw it. It’s one of the first movies to deal with explicitly gay material that I feel transcends its subject matter. I would show HEDWIG to anyone, no matter what their background or personal sexuality, because I think the things it says are things anyone can relate to. The song "The Origin of Love" has to be the most inclusive, open, and comprehensive worldview of how the heart works that I’ve ever encountered, and by the end of my first viewing of that scene, I knew this film was a classic.
It’s strange to have a year where there’s not just one musical worth talking about, but two. MOULIN ROUGE is as artificial as HEDWIG is real, as polished as HEDWIG is grimy, and it’s as bubblegum pop as HEDWIG is punk. The two films go about things in totally different ways, yet they both manage to reinvigorate the genre with their approaches. This, if nothing else, should prove to anyone paying attention that the musical is just as vital and important a genre as it ever has been in American film. Here’s hoping Rob Marshall’s upcoming CHICAGO, with a screenplay by Oscar-winner Bill Condon, continues this trend when it hits theaters Christmas of 2002.
MOULIN ROUGE is bolstered by two superheroic performances. Three, if you count Jim Broadbent, which you probably should. His "Like A Virgin" number is unlike anything else I saw in a theater this year, hysterical and almost unbearable and daring and silly all at once. What ultimately makes the film work, though, is the way Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman play off of one another. They are magic in this movie, and it’s impossible for me to separate the performances. They are so tightly entwined, so dependent upon one another, that I can’t imagine what either actor would have done if faced with a different co-star. Nicole is sexy and warm and funny here in a way that is very rare for her, and Ewan is allowed to just be a leading man, all charm and fresh-scrubbed sex appeal. They belt their numbers out with all the conviction anyone could ask, and there are a few moments where they are simply perfect. When Ewan first lets loose with "My gift is my song!" and all the lights in Paris come on, it’s one of those moments you know you’re going to see in highlight reels from now till after he’s gone. There’s no doubt... McGregor’s got The Force for real. So does Baz Luhrmann, as far as I’m concerned. I took a lot of heat for putting ROMEO + JULIET on my list for 1996, but looking back at that film now, it feels like a trial run for this, his critically lauded work. So does STRICTLY BALLROOM. In each of his films, Luhrmann makes a daring stylistic decision that means that his film is not set in the real world, and I think in each case, it’s paid off to different degrees. STRICTLY BALLROOM has some of the most audience-inclusive dance scenes ever, ROMEO + JULIET invigorates the Bard’s language with an energy so many performances lack, and the music here feels like raw emotion, bottled just for us, the viewers.
Musically, the two films couldn’t be more different. HEDWIG is rock music, and it’s one of the few rock musicals I’ve ever seen that really has the balls to be called rock’n’roll. This isn’t like Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice writing "rock music" that’s really just gussied up show-tunes. RENT is in that tradition, and it made me howl to see a running RENT joke in HEDWIG. The songs by Stephen Trask make me think of Iggy and the Stooges or early Velvet Underground. It’s all exciting, with a hell of a pulse to it, and it’s all original, composed for the stage version of HEDWIG. By contrast, most of MOULIN ROUGE’s music is repurposed pop, hit songs that have been dressed up in new ways for their use here. The one new song, "Come What May," is quite striking, and the work that Craig Armstrong had to do in putting this entire tapestry of pop music together is overwhelming. He’s managed to make it all sound like it was written for the film, though, and it pays off in all sorts of great ways. I love that no particular era in pop is treated as "better" than any other. In MOULIN ROUGE, all pop music is created equal. The film quotes the Beatles right next to Madonna and Kurt Cobain and KISS and The Police and Dolly Parton and the theme to "An Officer And A Gentleman." It’s all just a way at getting to what these characters think and feel. And HEDWIG isn’t above a few wry quotes of its own.
Overall, these films are about daring. They both dared to be something that is considered passe, impossible to sell, irrelevant, and that courage is what marks them as important movies. They would not have existed if someone hadn’t taken a major leap of faith somewhere, and the fact that they both worked so well should send a very clear signal to the creative community: taking chances can pay off. If more people laid themselves on the line like this, there’s no guarantee films would be better on the whole, but they’d definitely be more interesting. If you haven’t seen both films yet, make an evening of it, and get ready to be surprised by what you missed.
READ MY ORIGINAL REVIEW OF HEDWIG HERE!!
READ MY ORIGINAL REVIEW OF MOULIN ROUGE HERE!!
05. THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE
dir. Guillermo Del Toro
Talk about taking a step up. Here’s a filmmaker who has been quietly building a reputation in town for crafting great scripts that don’t get shot, a guy who had his last film taken away and ruined by a studio, a guy whose early promise seemed to be fading with each year that went by without him making a film. I was almost resolved to the fact that Guillermo Del Toro was a director whose best work was going to go unrealized until I got a look at EL ESPINAZA DEL DIABLO, his declaration as a world-class filmmaker. Now I feel almost embarrassed about doubting him. This movie is good enough to immediately put him shoulder to shoulder with any of his peers currently working in dark fantasy or horror cinema. I can’t think of another film of this type in recent memory that has hit me quite so hard while watching it, or which has stuck with me to this extent. It is a major genre entry, but also a great film by any standards.
Set during the Spanish Civil War, this is the story of a group of children coping with life in a sort of makeshift orphanage. It’s also the story of several ghosts. It’s also a very sad commentary on the way innocents get caught in the crossfire of war. And the real accomplishment of the film is that it is almost impossible to describe easily. Textured like a good novel, THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE is a film that you can savor. There are layers worth peeling away here. Unlike THE SIXTH SENSE or THE OTHERS, films that would bear some comparison to this one thanks to the presence of children and ghosts, this film holds up without a reliance on a twist ending. There’s no great, sudden secret revealed at the end of the movie. In fact, it’s just the opposite. This movie knows full well where it’s going. So do you. But nothing stops it, and you end up just staring, helpless, sickened by your own ability to stop it.
Guillermo gets remarkable work out of his cast, young and old, and he gets points for pulling no punches towards the end. In fact, he never pulls a single punch in the film. He has children do things that would never be allowed in an American film. He allows shades of grey to exist. He seems to be playing by his own rules, determined not to make a film of easy moral character.
It’s nice to see a movie that trusts us as viewers to have complicated emotional reactions, and to be able to process those reactions. In a year where pablum like A BEAUTIFUL MIND is embraced as "inspirational" and "daring," it’s nice to see something that reminds us what "daring" really is, and what remarkable dividends it can pay when put to the right service. This isn’t a film about cheap shocks or easy payoffs. Del Toro earns every scare, every brutal revelation or kink in the plot. This movie may leave marks on the viewer, but it’s not for cheap effect, and it’s not just to shock. There is a very real feeling of dread that hangs over the movie, and when the real terror is revealed, it is human, not supernatural. Because of that, it feels much more dangerous. We can shake off the supernatural, dismiss it as untrue, but it’s impossible in a post-September 11th world to dismiss the potential for cruelty in man.
04. DOGTOWN & Z-BOYS
dir. Stacy Peralta
dir. Doug Pray
As I said, I love documentaries, and one of the reasons is because they allow you to slip in and out of other cultures. At their best, documentaries feel like a window into someone else’s life or world, a window that doesn’t distort or glamourize or stylize, but which simply allows observation. This year, two documentaries made me feel like I was at ground zero for explosions of personal style and expression, and both of them are brimming over with life and energy and wit in such overwhelming measure that they’re impossible to sit still during. More than almost any fictional films, these movies left me almost vibrating in the theater, wanting to leap to my feet to testify, aching to dive into the screen and be part of what I was watching.
It’s one thing to go to a great party to celebrate the Sundance screening of SNATCH. It’s quite another to see the film and be inspired by the artists whose work makes up this audacious journey through the turntablists movement of modern American music.
And I can tell you what it’s like to watch the rise and fall of the skateboarding scene in Venice, but that can’t prepare you for the visual poetry of DOGTOWN & Z-BOYS. I can’t explain the way the film draws you in using primarily archival footage, or fully do justice to the way physics simply cease to exist when these kids start skating. Words fail me when faced with something so completely visual.
One documentary is almost pure sound. The other is almost pure image. But they both are about groups of American teens who are drawn together by a common love, who spur each other on through competition and a co-mingling of ideas and a sense of community. These are films about people doing something that they love, and doing it well. And when I find myself surrounded on a daily basis by cynicism and a sort of casual selling-out of ideals and beliefs, it is not just refreshing but essential to remind myself that some people are able to be happy by simply doing what they love in life.
It has been said that the only original American art form is Jazz. If that is true, then it can be said that there is a little bit of Jazz in every American pursuit, and what we see in both these films are portraits of people who chase their inner muse, who are able to turn their bodies into Jazz, or who can turn found sounds and recycled beats into something new, something wild and improvisational, Jazz by classic definition. These films capture these divergent scenes, but in doing so manage to make arguments that lead me to see very little difference between them at all. People following their passions all tend to have that same happy, satisfied air about them.
If these films weren’t so great, I’d almost be jealous. As it is, it feels like I’ve shared, like I’ve been able to be part of these great little movements in style and energy, and that’s enough to make these both among my very favorite viewing pleasures this year.
READ MY ORIGINAL REVIEW OF DOGTOWN & Z-BOYS HERE!!
READ MY ORIGINAL REVIEW OF SCRATCH HERE!!
dir. Jean Pierre Jeunet
Maybe I’m just a sucker for a pretty face. I don’t think so. There’s plenty of films that featured beautiful leading ladies that didn’t bowl me over last year. I’d hate to think that just because I fell under the charm of Audrey Tautou’s gamine charms that I was willing to give a pass to a less-than-great film. Then again, that wouldn’t explain the reaction of my girlfriend when I took her to the theater to see the movie. On the way out, I mentioned that I owned a copy of the film on tape, and she shook her head. "No, you don’t. I do. Because you’re going to give it to me when we get to your house, and I’m not giving it back."
This seemed to be a real love-it-or-hate-it affair, as are so many of the films on this list, and I more than surrendered myself to the movie’s great wit and generous heart. There are few things I enjoyed more in a movie theater this year than the ongoing subplot about the garden gnome on a world tour. I don’t know why it makes me smile even now, just thinking about it, but that seemed like the greatest way to gently prod someone into something that I’d ever seen.
And that’s what AMELIE ultimately seems to be about... pushing us to step outside ourselves, even if it’s just one time, because of the enormous potential we might find when we do. Each of the characters that takes a leap in AMELIE is rewarded in some way, and in some cases, that reward does not last. Not everyone ends up blessed by the small tricks of Amelie, and in that detail, Jeunet acknowledges how hard it is for fairy tale endings to work out in the real world. But it’s just a slight nod to reality in an otherwise wonderful fabricated universe, a Paris that never was brought to splendid life by one of the greatest visualists working today. Jenuet is able to convincingly create his alternate Paris because of the precise and sublime work his cast does, all in support of that marvelous, star-making turn by Tautou, who is so perfect here that I can’t imagine that the film was written for Emily Watson originally.
Like all the movies that end up on my list of personal favorites, AMELIE takes the time to get the small details right. Even if you want to dismiss it as nothing more than a Gallic spin on ALLY McBEAL, you still have to credit Jeunet for the way he fills out this one eccentric girl’s imagination with great tiny touches. Even if you want to harden your heart to this comic creation, it’s hard to deny the sudden emotional rush when the man finds his childhood treasures in a phone booth. Even if you wish to remain unmoved, it’s hard to deny the simple tactile pleasures of skipping stones across an afternoon pond. Taken as a whole, AMELIE is, like its individual grace notes, hard to deny, and I can’t imagine trying.
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Jan. 21, 2002, 9:23 a.m. CST
Be a man and choose which are truly the 20 best.
Jan. 21, 2002, 9:39 a.m. CST
Move on, nothing to praise
Jan. 21, 2002, 11:02 a.m. CST
by The Colonel
Harry, you are ignorant.
Jan. 21, 2002, 11:21 a.m. CST
The gnome world tour was based on an actual event.
Jan. 21, 2002, 12:12 p.m. CST
How is Harry ignorant for expressing his opinion? Moron..
Jan. 21, 2002, 12:17 p.m. CST
It is possible that I just don't get it, but BEST DIRECTOR for Godsford Park?!? It was an alright film but it was people standing in a room! Altman has a fine library, but pleeeeeze!
Jan. 21, 2002, 1:43 p.m. CST
All his movies suck and are boring as hell, except for player. Thats cause there isn't stupid ass overlapping dialogue. Watching Altman flicks are like sticking a hot poker up your ass. Even Michael Bay is better than Altman.
Jan. 21, 2002, 1:47 p.m. CST
My only complaint is that this film wasn't higher up the charts. It was the best film of the year. So thought provoking it hurt. Does anyone know where it was on Harry's list?
Jan. 21, 2002, 2:07 p.m. CST
I don't really understand your comment on "Gosford Park." Is it boring because it's British? Or are you implying that British films, or films with British actors, are more likely to be boring, or more annoying when they are boring, or what? First off, "Gosford Park" is brilliant, an incredible collective of fabulous performances set in a fully realized universe, that is at once funny and tragic. The thing that amazed me most about the movie was that it's a mystery where all the secrets are told and retold throughout the film. Figuring the solution out isn't a matter of piecing together information, it's about discerning which information, out of all the information you've been provided, is in fact the solution, and what is just gossip, or rumor, or an added dash of eccentric color. I usually am with you, Harry, but you sure missed the boat on this one. Oh, but Peter Jackson or Wes Anderson still deserve Best Director this year. And, like that, I'm gone...
Jan. 21, 2002, 2:08 p.m. CST
Look, I don't care if you do run the web site. Gosford Park-bashing does nothing to improve your already-questionable reputation for picking good films. I'm sorry that there wasn't an orc butler or that none of the main characters were beheaded or enchanted, but sometimes, Harry, that's a good thing. Variety is the spice of life, as the saying goes. You'd do well to open your sugar-addled mind and grow your attention span (and that does not mean sitting for a 36-hour marathon of b-grade splatter films). There are lots of boring, pointless period-piece comedy dramas, but this sure ain't one of them. It's no "Armageddon," to be sure, but give it a chance.
Jan. 21, 2002, 2:14 p.m. CST
Rather than go on about other peoples lists, here is my "Best Movies 2001": 1) Moulin Rouge - Brilliant on every level. The images and emotions that leaped from the screen in a cosmic whirlwind of music and life... it floored me. Baz Lurman piss's me off, because he made the movie I wanted to make. 2) Amelie - A film that magically and whimsically tells the story of this woman and the way she affects those around her, only to discover the magic that is with-in her... and so much more. This film draws me in and never lets me go. Innovative, smart, funny and absolutely beautiful. 3) LOTR: FOTR - On this site, need I say anything? It was grand storytelling and it never disappointed. 4) Memento - This movie was amazing. We've never seen anything like it and I certainly hope we'll see more in the future. I love movies that take you on a journey of discovery along with the characters, and this did just that in a most imaginative and brilliant fashion. 5) In the Bedroom - Tom Wilkenson -is- this movie. He commands this film in a way few can. The acting is what makes this film hold #5 in my book. Everyone in it gives a spot on performance in a great story. It is raw, visceral, hands on and absolutely real. This is what acting is all about. 6) Gosford Park - I applaud this movie for it's advertisements. It is exactly what you think it is, but so much more. It is a great comedic murder mystery that it's very center focuses on 20 odd leads and you can follow all of them! This is just a great movie, nothing else to say on it. 7) Life As A House - An overlooked movie. It doesn't try to be more than it is. This film brings some of Kevin Kline's best work and introduces a fine Anakin Skywalker to us all. I really feel as if it doesn't fall into some very conventional moments that it could have, very easily. Just a great movie. (I saw it with my dad, so maybe that has something to do with it) 8) Shrek - What can I say? I am a sucker fo comedies and animation. This was just so funny and so well done in again, so many aspects. This must make the grade. 9) The Royal Tenenbaums - Nowhere near what 'Rushmore' was, but still a great movie that was just weird and quirky enough that it's dark tones can be looked at in a very human light... and funny! 10) TIE! or honorable mention catagory: Training Day - great movie with some great acting. Ocean's Eleven - just all around a great escape movie. i had not one complaint about it. a perfect 'blockbuster'. Honorable Mention: Man Who Wasn't There Waking Life Ghost World - I didn't see these 3 yet, but judging from the reviews and what I have seen of them, they very well could've made my list! The Justification: Movies have been taking an interesting journey as of late. I think it started in 1999 in with an amazing pallette of edgy new films and new styles (FIGHT CLUB, BEING JOHN MALKCOVICH, MATRIX, DOGMA, 3 KINGS, etc). This year had it's share too. Maybe this is a personal need or maybe I blew a transitor in my brain, but I feel that a movie needs to inspire you and make you feel something when you have left it. Every movie should aspire to be something new, different and unexpected. My list is full of a lot of those films that tried (and succeeded) to do just that. I am a filmmaker and an actor myself, and if I do not get moved by a film then I say, whats the point? An entertainment film (eg Shrek, Ocean's Eleven) is something else entirely. But unless you are going for that, please don't satuarate the film world with the same old stale crap we've seen for years that just tries to be Oscar fodder(eg A Beautiful Mind). My plea to fellow filmmakers out there is: Aspire to be something more than yourself. Break that mold, or at least try too. I personally appreciate the effort.
Jan. 21, 2002, 2:53 p.m. CST
by Billy Talent
Have a cigarette. It will settle your nerves and take your mind off of fudge. As long as you can both agree that 'Blow' and 'The Patriot' are Great Movies, it's alright for you and Moriarity to have the odd difference of oppinion. SCHOOLED! (Scratches fingernails against blackboard, Frodo's tears signalling The Kings departure.)
Jan. 21, 2002, 2:58 p.m. CST
by Billy Talent
'Black Hawk Down' is worthy of comparison to 'Apocalypse Now', 'Full Metal Jacket', and 'The Thin Red Line'. Ridley and Jerry really hit one out of the park this time. An amazing piece of work.
Jan. 21, 2002, 3:56 p.m. CST
by Lenny Nero
Let the man have his list.
Jan. 21, 2002, 6:05 p.m. CST
and I still smile whenever I think of this movie. Jeunet is a master. Absolutely.
Jan. 21, 2002, 6:22 p.m. CST
Well, about Am
Jan. 22, 2002, 7:45 a.m. CST
Extremely well thought out argument there Harry. Witty, articulate and.. oh. Wait. Still, that's a GREAT pic, that whole American Beauty thing. Can't get enough of that. Yessiree-bob. And now, for a reasonable man, thank-yooOOOUUU: MORIARTY!!
Jan. 23, 2002, 12:17 a.m. CST
by Jack D. Ripper
Plain and simple. It's one of the worst movies of all time and people who think it's brilliant have some kind of brain problem. I mean, it's not like they're friggin Rain Man, but they're still a few burgers short of a barbeque. Oh and before you say I didn't get it, here's a clue-THERE'S NOTHING TO GET. It's just horrible, jarring spectacle held together by the most threadbare of plots. The use of modern songs to strike a chord with audiences as they're already familliar with the songs was a colossal failure. And there's nothing original about it. It's just a pastiche of other, superior cultural artifacts. The original "Moulin Rouge" by John Huston as a skeleton, design elements from "Cabaret"-hence the grotesqurie of everyone, stolen songs and the basic plot stolen from La Boheme. It's terrible. If Baz Luhrman gets within fifty feet of a movie camera, he should be shot. Maybe not killed, but definitely shot. "Titus" and "Richard III" are films that mingle different periods better and the defiance of classical structure-Act One, Two, Three-in terms of adding to the narrative has been done much better-"Magnolia", "Memento", etc. In short, there's no there there with Moulin Rouge.
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