For the first time in years I had an extremely difficult time
selecting my favorite movie of the year. There were just so many good films this year
that a top ten list was nearly impossible to put together. Some of films that didn't make
my top ten list invaded my Honorable Mention category.
I usually use that list for older films but this year was an exception.
Of the top ten, any of the first four films could be my number one. I liked them all for very different reasons. But in the end, I needed to choose one film and that was The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King. Peter Jackson has made a trilogy of films so perfect that they will be the benchmark for Hollywood blockbusters for years to come. It hasn't been since Star Wars in 1977 that I felt such joy going to the theater. The Return Of The King unlike Return Of The Jedi, was the perfect ending to a trilogy. It had everything: incredible storytelling, excellent acting, flawless directing and some of the most amazing action sequences you will ever see on the silver screen.
I have read a few reviews about the film from other critics like Roger Ebert who criticized the length of the film and its ending. My question to him and the others would be, did you read the books or see the first two films? It appears that they haven't as this trilogy has so many story lines and each and every one needs an appropriate ending. It should be interesting to see these critics rip into the extended DVD release next year when it is rumoured to have an additional one hour of footage.
Bravo to Peter Jackson. As an encore, can you please make a big screen version of The Hobbit?
Of the other movies on my top ten, Finding Nemo had me mesmerized, Seabiscuit had me cheering, The Last Samurai had me captivated and Lost In Translation and Master and Commander left me wondering.
Making a "Best Of" movie list is very difficult because many studios release potentially Oscar worthy films very late in the year in hope that the Academy and its short attention span might remember only the most recent movie releases. I have dealt with this problem the same way as I did last year. First there's my Best Of 2003 list. It is a top ten list of movies that were released in 2003 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 2003, 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, turn your cell phone off and SHUT THE HELL UP! Others may be trying to enjoy the film. Thank you.
1. The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King - Amazing piece of movie making.
They saved the best Lord Of The Rings film for last.
2. Finding Nemo - Truly a joy to watch. I was captivated by the visuals and immersed in the story. Another classic by Pixar.
3. Seabiscuit - I'm not sure what's more amazing, the story behind the film or the movie itself. Not having heard the story of Seabiscuit, I was truly excited and moved by the ending. I went out and quickly read the book. An excellent book-to-screen adaptation.
4. The Last Samurai - I'm not a huge fan of Tom Cruise but this is by far his best film. Started off a bit slow but by the second hour of the film you can't wait to see what's next.
5. Lost In Translation - I love movies that leave you wondering at the end. Excellent performances by Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson.
6. Master And Commander - Another movie that leaves you hanging. I'm a big fan of Peter Weir's films and he always seems to leave the door open at the end of his films for a "what if".
7. American Splendor - What a wacky and wonderful movie this is. Just enough off the wall to keep the casual moviegoer from seeing this film. What a pity.
8. Whale Rider - My sleeper hit of the year. I was very reluctant to see this movie. By the end I was totally hooked.
9. Kill Bill Vol. 1 - A great action film can stand on its own. You can throw the storyline out the window and if the action is good enough you can get away with it. Quenten Tarantino does this perfectly. This movie is not for those weak in abdomen.
10. Phone Booth - Many people will disagree with me for placing this movie on this list. But I was entertained and totally involved with this film right up until the end. This is a short film with a lot thrown in to make it a really good movie.
1. Himalaya - Foreign film made without professional actors.
2. Open Range - Note to Kevin Costner: keep making westerns and baseball movies!
3. 28 Days Later - A truly great horror flick.
4. The Seven Samurai/The Magnificent Seven - Great double feature for a lazy day.
5. The Pianist - Great performance by Adrien Brody.
6. Far From Heaven - Great performances by Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid and Dennis Haysbert.
7. The Poseidon Adventure/The Towering Inferno - Another great double feature.
8. Catch Me If You Can - Spielberg proves yet again that he make make all sorts of different films. Great performances by Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio.
9. Bend It Like Beckham - Last year's sleeper was a really good film.
10. A Mighty Wind - Has Christopher Guest made a bad movie?
1. Peter Jackson - Will he finally earn the Oscar he deserves? Let's hope that the
third time is the charm.
2. Sean Astin - Snubbed by the Acedemy, if not for Sean, the Lord Of The Rings trilogy would not have been as good as it is.
3. Pixar - Do these guys make a bad movie? Not yet.
4. Jeff Bridges - One of the most underrated actors in Hollywood. Bridges is perfectly cast in Seabiscuit. Another one of his great performances is in The Contender.
5. Peter Weir - Every one of his movies is great and they all have a way of making you think.
6. Bill Murray - He's great in Lost In Translation.
7. Scarlett Johansson - Scarlett is perfect in Lost In Translation.
8. Johnny Depp - This guy is a total nut in Pirates Of The Carribbean. Although I wasn't too fond of the film, Depp's performance is a classic.
9. Hope Davis - Hope played Harvey Pekar's girlfriend Joyce Brabner in American Splendor.
10. Paul Giamatti - Paul played Harvey Pekar the lead in American Splendor. Excellent performance.
The House Of 1000 Corpses - I went to this film hoping to be entertained. I left wondering why I spent $9.50 on ninety minutes of crap. Don't get me wrong, I like horror movies. I see a lot of them. But the only scary thing about this film is just how bad it is. I understand they're thinking of making a sequel. Why? We were all horrified enough the first time around. Note to Rob Zombie: Stick to your day job!
5 - Excellent
4 - Good
3 - Fair
1 - Terrible
0 - What In God's Name Were They Thinking? - (No longer used. Created and used in 2001 only for A.I.)
League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)- 3
Bad Boys II (2003)- 3
The Medallion (2003)- 2
Hulk (2003)- 3
The Lord Of The Rings - Return Of The King (2003) -5
Drumline (2002) - 2
From Dusk Til Dawn (1996) - 3
The Last Samurai (2003) - 5
Punch Drunk Love (2002) - 3
Solaris (2002) - 3
Love The Hard Way (2001) - 3
Love, Liza (2002) - 3
I Spy (2002) - 2
Winged Migration (2001) - 3
Whale Rider (2002) - 5
Hollywood Homicide (2003) - 3
The Transporter (2002) - 3
Emperor's Club (2002) - 4
Life Of David Gale (2003) - 3
Master And Commander (2003) - 5
The Matrix Revolutions (2003) - 4
Albino Alligator (1996) - 3
White Oleander (2002) - 3
Final Destination 2 (2003)- 3
Confidence (2003) - 3
American Splendor (2003) - 4
Bowling For Columbine (2002) - 3
Mystic River (2003) - 4
The School Of Rock (2003) - 4
Runaway Jury (2003) - 4
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) - 5
Lost In Translation (2003) - 5
Matchstick Men (2003) - 4
Underworld (2003) - 3
The Hunted (2003) - 3
Secret Lives Of Dentists (2002) - 3
Open Range (2003) - 4
S.W.A.T. (2003) - 3
Once Upon A Time In Mexico (2003) - 3
Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003) - 3
Freddy vs. Jason (2003) - 3
Seabiscuit (2003) - 5
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life (2003) - 2
Dark Blue (2002) - 4
Feardotcom (2002) - 2
Dragon Fist (Long Quan) - (1979) - 3
New Fist Of Fury (Xin ching-wu men) (1976)- 3
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003) - 4
John Carpenter's Vampires: Los Muertos (2002) - 3
To Kill With Intruque (Jian hua yan yu jiang nan) (1977) - 3
McLintock! (1963) - 3
The Poseidon Adventure (1972) - 5
The Towering Inferno (1974) - 5
Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (2003) - 4
28 Days Later (2002) - 4
Half A Loaf Of Kung Fu (Dian zhi gong fu gan chian chan) (1980) - 3
Fearless Hyena 2 (Long teng hu yue) (1983) - 3
The Killer Meteors (Feng yu shuang liu xing) (1976) - 3
Shaolin Wooden Men (Shao Lin mu ren xiang) (1976) - 3
The Misfits (1961) - 3
Madigan (1968) - 2
25th Hour (2002) - 4
Old School (2003) - 3
Below (2002) - 3
The Recruit (2003) - 3
Wrong Turn (2003) - 3
Darkness Falls (2003) - 3
Bend It Like Beckham (2002) - 4
Nowhere In Africa (Nirgendwo in Afrika) (2001) - 3
The Italian Job (2003) - 4
The In-Laws (2003) - 3
The Shaft (Down) (2001) - 2
Black Knight (2001) - 2
Ghosts Of The Abyss (2003) - 4
Bruce Almighty (2003) - 3
Tadpole (2002) - 3
Finding Nemo (2003) - 5
Holes (2003) - 4
The Matrix Reloaded (2003) - 4
A Mighty Wind (2003) - 4
Ghost Ship (2002) - 3
Analyze That (2002) - 2
Dreams (Yume) (1990) - 2
Identity (2003) - 4
Daredevil (2003) - 3
X-Men 2: X-Men United (2003) - 3
The Believer (2001) - 3
Normal (2003) - 3
House Of 1000 Corpses (2003) - 1
Fearless Hyena (Hsiao chuan yi chao) (1979) - 3
The Core (2003) - 3
Dreamcatcher (2003) - 3
The Tuxedo (2002) - 3
Moonlight Mile (2002) - 3
The Shipping News (2001) - 3
Phone Booth (2002) - 4
Trapped (2002) - 3
Catch Me If You Can (2002) - 4
D-TOX (2002) - 3
The Man Who Wasn't There (2001) - 3
Himalaya (1999) - 5
Series 7: The Contenders (2001) - 3
Murder By Numbers (2002) - 3
The Salton Sea (2002) - 3
About Schmidt (2002) - 3
Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) - 3
The Good Girl (2002) - 3
Lantana (2001) - 3
Gangs Of New York (2002) - 3
Impostor (2002) - 3
Far From Heaven (2002) - 4
High Crimes (2002) - 3
The Quiet American (2002) - 3
The Suicide Kings (1997) - 3
Adaptation (2002) - 3
The Magnificent Seven (1960) - 5
Showtime (2002) - 3
Possession (2002) - 3
Speck (2002) - 3
The Pianist (2002) - 5
Chicago (2002) - 4
The Mothman Prophecies (2002) - 3
The Seven Samurai (Shichinin no samurai) (1954) - 5
Never Again (2001) - 3
The Man Who Cried (2000) - 3
Secret Ballot (Raye makhfi) (2001) - 3
Blue Crush (2002) - 3
Not One Less (Yi ge dou bu neng shao) (1999) - 4
Hate (La Haine) (1995) - 3
No Man's Land (2001) - 3
Rock Star (2001) - 3
Zulu (1964) - 3
Shanghai Knights (2003) - 3
The Hours (2002) - 3