Top 10 Movies of 2002 by Chris Morin

    Well, 2002 has come and gone and so with it its movies. I have to be brutally honest. This year's movies were pretty disappointing. Despite the occasional interesting film like One Hour Photo or Insomnia this year's films were either boring or filled to the rafters with computer generated effects that did nothing but ruin a potentionally decent film.
    While some of these effects really moved the story along like Gollum in The Two Towers or the nuclear blast in The Sum Of All Fears, others came across rather flat and fake. Did we really need to see Yoda in Attack of the Clones fly through the air spinning like a fat, green hummingbird? It reminded me of a title for a new Wayan's brothers comedy, Crouching Yoda, Flying Jedi. I found myself laughing at the lightsaber scene at the end Episode II instead of sitting there in absolute wonder as I did for The Empire Strikes Back .
    But there were some surprises in 2002. Robin Williams had two great performances for One Hour Photo and Insomnia. He continues to fine tune his craft by branching out into more difficult roles. And then there was Miyazaki, by far the greatest animator to ever live. 2002 was the year of Miyazki and his company, Studio Gibli.
    I had the great pleasure to view many of the Studio Gibli's films in 2002, most of them on DVD. While films such as Kiki's Delivery ServiceWhisper of the Heart and My Neighbor Totoro were really cute, others like Laputa , Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Winds and Grave Of The Fireflies were extremly powerful.
    I also got to see a Miyazaki film on the big screen called Spirited Away, the year's best movie. Now many if not all will disagree with me. But I stand by my statement. Spirited Away is the year's best movie. Miyazaki uses hand drawn animation to make a film that not only mesmerizes its audience, but leaves them gasping with wonder and joy. Like many of his other films, Miyazaki successfully transports the audience to another world, to a land of imagination and it is in this place that we are forced to stay until he decides that we have had enough. He lets us leave his world but only on his terms and only when he thinks we are ready.
    I saw Spirited in a very crowded movie theater with many parents and children. Most had no idea what they were getting into when they sat down in their seats. But I bet all of the adults went to the water cooler the next morning and told their co-workers about the film.
    My only complaint with Spirited Away, and this is with every Japanese Animated movie that eventually comes to America, is the dubbed voices. Call me a purest but most dubbed voices sound terrible and many just do not fit the characters in the film. It's a minor flaw which doesn't keep you from enjoying the film. I can't wait to see the DVD release so that I can watch it in its original Japanese audio track with English subtitles.

    Making a "Best Of" movie list is very difficult. The reason it's difficult is because many studios release potentially Oscar worthy films very late in the year in hopes that the Academy and its short attention span might only remember the most recent releases. I have dealt with this problem the same way as I did last year. There's my Best Of 2002 list. It is a top ten list of movies that were released in 2002 that I actually got a chance to see in the calendar year. The second list is called Honorable Mention . This is a list of movies that were either not released in 2002, movies that were either leftovers from the previous year or movies that I got to see for the first time despite the movie's release year. Then there's the ever popular Worst Piece Of Junk Award . I think you can figure out what that's all about.
    So have a look at my lists and remember, when you go to the movies, SHUT THE HELL UP! Others may be trying to enjoy the film. Thank you.

Best Of 2002:

1. Spirited Away - Although released in Japan in 2001, Spirited Away made its debut on American screens in 2002. It is a dazzling story about a young girl named Chihiro who mistakenly enters another world and stuggles to not only save her parents but herself and her identity at the same time. This story has everything you could ever imagine and more. It is truly one of the best films of the past few years.
2. Signs - M. Night Shyamalan has created a true suspensful masterpiece. This movie literally kept me on the edge of my seat. It's a story of a family's ability to struggle with
their innermost demons as well as a few aliens along the way.
3. The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers - Peter Jackson continues to move this epic story along in such a stunning way. I can't wait for The Return Of The King. Not as good as Fellowship but equally as entertaining.
4. Minority Report - After last year's dissapointing piece of crap, I'm not even going to mention it by name, Spielberg has successfully redeemed himself. This movie was great in every way.
5. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets - Finally, a sequel that's worthy of being called better than its predecessor. This was far better than I expected it to be. It's a wonderful fantasy ride.
6. One Hour Photo - What a great performance by Robin Williams. This movie was creepy!
7. Insomnia - Another great performance by Robin Williams. A fresh and exciting thriller with a great chase scene across some floating logs.
8. Changing Lanes - A simple movie without all of the special effects. Good performances by Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Affleck. 
9. 8 Mile - Certainly not a terrific movie but a decent movie nonetheless. Eminem is great in this semi-autobiographical picture.
10. Auto Focus - This is a movie about the life of actor Bob Crane. I'll never watch Hogan's Heroes the same way again. This movie was disturbing.


Honorable Mention:

1. A Beautiful Mind (2001) - A stylish movie that won last year's best picture award. Russell Crowe has an amazing performance.
2. The Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring (2001) - This film would have made my top ten last year had it not been release so late in the year.
3. The Majestic (2001) - Jim Carrey shines in quite possibly his best performance to date. How audiences missed this movie is totally beyond me. This is a great film.
4. Laputa: Castle In the Sky (1986) - In my opinion Miyazaki's greatest movie. Quite possibly the greatest animated movie ever made.
5. Amelie (2001) - Audrey Tautou is amazing in this very funny French film.
6. Grave Of The Fireflies (1988) - Another Studio Gibli masterpiece. Director Isao Takahata's story of a Japanese brother and sister trying to survive the destruction of World War 2.
7. My Neighbor Totoro (1988) - Miyazaki's the master! My only issue with this film is that it is too short. I would have loved to have seen more of Totoro.
8. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds (1984) - A princess struggles to save her people and her planet from destruction.
9. Session 9 (2001) - This is a hauntingly scary film that was shot in the closed Danvers State Mental Hospital.
10. Black Hawk Down (2001) - True story of a group of soldiers trying to survive in Somalia. Quite graphic and very violent.

Best Players:

1. Robin Williams - His two great performances in Insomnia and One Hour Photo easily won him the top spot on this list.
2. Greg Kinnear - Kinnear in masterful in Auto Focus as the very odd Bob Crane. Watch as this family man slowly decends into a world of sex and dispair.
3. Hayao Miyazaki - The greatest animator to ever live brought us Spirited Away, the best film of the year.
4. Mel Gibson - Just when I thought Mel's career was over, he gave us two wonderful performances for We Were Soldiers and Signs .
5. Eminem - 8 Mile will be remembered as Eminem's first major motion picture. Let's hope it is not his last.
6. Tom Cruise - Tom was excellent in Vanilla Sky but is even better in Minority Report.
7. Audrey Tautou - The star of Amelie and Happenstance , this actress is just plain cute.
8. Diane Lane - Quite possibly the best female performance this year in Unfaithful.
9. Jodi Foster - Another strong outing for jodi in Panic Room.
10. Edward Norton - Quite possibly the best actor in Hollywood. His performance in Red Dragon was superb. Note to Hollywood: put Ed Norton and Kevin Spacey in a movie together. I bet it'll be a winner.

Worst Piece Of Junk Award:

Mullholland Drive - What was this movie about?
Anyone? Bueller? Nothing annoys me more than a movie lacking for logic and not having an ending. I can handle a film not having an ending but the rest of it has to make some sense. It was as if David Lynch had five different scripts each with no page numbers or bound in any way. He then took the scripts, threw them all up in the air and then picked up twenty-five pages from the floor and then made a movie.

Hey, now that makes more sense than this movie did.
The Movies I Saw In 2002:

5 - Excellent
4 - Good
3 - Fair
2- Poor
1 - Terrible
0 - What In God's Name Were They Thinking? - (No longer used. Created and used in 2001 only for A.I.)

8 Mile - 4
A Beautiful Mind (2001) - 5
Accidental Spy (2001) - 3
Amelie - Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (2001) - 5
Auto Focus - 4
Bad Company - 3
Behind Enemy Lines (2001) - 3
Black Hawk Down (2001) - 4
Blade 2 - 3
Blood Work - 3
The Bourne Identity - 4
Changing Lanes - 4
City By The Sea - 4
Collateral Damage - 3
Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course - 3
Dog Soldiers - 4
Eight Legged Freaks - 4
Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas (1998) - 1
Female Trouble (1975) - 1
Final Encounter - 2
Ghosts Of Mars (2001) - 2
Grave of the Fireflies (1988) - 5
Happenstance (Le Battement d'Ailes du Papillon) (2000) - 4
Harry Potter and the Chamber Of Secrets - 5
Hart's War - 3
I Can Hear the Sea (Ocean Waves) (1993) - 3
Ice Age - 3
Insomnia - 4
Jack Frost 2: Revenge Of The Mutant Killer Snowman (2000) - 2
Jason X (2001) - 2
Journeys with George - 3
Joy Ride (2001) - 3
Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds) (1984) - 4
K19 The Widowmaker - 4
Kiki's Delivery Service (1989) - 4
Kissing Jessica Stein (2001) - 3
Laputa (1986) - 5
The Last Castle (2001) - 4
Live From Baghdad - 4
Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001) - 5
Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers - 5
The Majestic (2001) - 4
Manhunter (1986) - 3
Men In Black 2 - 2
Minority Report - 5
Mulholland Drive (2001) - 1
My Big Fat Greek Wedding - 4
My Neighbor Totoro (1988) - 5
One Hour Photo - 4
Only Yesterday (1991) - 4
Panic Room - 4
Pom Poko (1994) - 3
Red Dragon - 4
Reign Of Fire - 3
Resident Evil - 3
The Ring - 3
Road To Perdition - 4
Saint Sinner - 2
Session 9 (2001) - 4
Shackleton - 3
Shallow Hal (2001) - 3
Signs - 5
Skinwalkers - 2
Spider Man - 3
Spirited Away (2001) - 5
Spy Game (2001) - 3
Star Trek Nemesis - 3
Star Wars Episode 2 - 4
The Sum Of All Fears - 3
Swordfish (2001) - 2 - 2
The Time Machine - 2
Thirteen Ghosts (2001) - 3
Unfaithful - 4
Vanilla Sky - 4
We Were Soldiers - 4
Whisper of the Heart (1995) - 4
Windtalkers - 3
Wishmaster 4 The Prophecy Fulfilled - 2
XXX - 3
Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001) - 2


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