Best Films (alphabetical)
A Beautiful Mind - Bandits - Heist - I Am Sam - Legally Blonde - Life as a House - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Memento - Serendipity - Shrek

What works so beautifully about A Beautiful Mind is that, by the time you realize that Russell Crowe's character is a raging schizophrenic, you've been pulled in deep. True, mathematicians are boring but setting the story against the paranoia and red baiting of the late forties early fifties builds great tension. As well, Jennifer Connelly shows that she has moved well beyond the Betty Page cloned eye candy that she was back in her debut in The Rocketeer. Crowe and Connelly make the best couple onscreen, followed closely by Sean Penn and Michelle Pfeiffer (though it's not a romantic pairing) in the incredibly manipulative I Am Sam. Why then is it on the list? Because our buttons got pushed when we didn't expect 'em. Less manipulative but just as effective was Kevin Kline's metaphorical Life as a House, which we appreciate for the fact that Kline's "death" wasn't a dragged out, "look at me I'm acting" affair. Since we appreciate the action and flat out fun flicks as much as the serious ones, we could not over look Bandits, Shrek, Serendipity and Heist. The most brilliant construction was Christopher Nolan's Memento (we should note that we were able to follow the twists in Mulholland Drive but just didn't care; and Vanilla Sky's twists meant nothing since we were confused slash bored out of our minds by the time they were explained and they were explained at least twice.)

And what needs to be said about Shrek? We may look back in a year and say we made a mistake about the best pic of the year.

Independent Releases
(<1000 theaters):
Diamond Men - Hedwig and the Angry Inch - Lisa Picard is Famous - Simon Magus - Songcatcher

Of the films you probably never saw in your local theaters, Diamond Men and Songcatcher are the best of the "normal" (ie. just tell a good story movies). The former about a diamond jewelry salesman on his last run and the kid he's training to take the route; the latter about a musicologist documenting the music of the Appalachians at the turn of the last century. Lisa Picard is Famous is a scream of a slice of life comedy about a hard working, almost successful actress and her talentless gay actor friend. We adored this flick even before we discovered that people involved with the flick were readers. Simon Magus may be too Jewish for some, since 19th century poor Eastern European Jews are its focus, but it worked for us. Top of the list is the shocking and totally surprising Hedwig and the Angry Inch. We expected a gay rock n roll flick along the lines of rocky horror smushed with Ziggy stardust. We were stunned to find a great, if twisted, story with good songs and a touching story of a east Berliner who did what was necessary to get away from the Commie sphere and was left a mutilated rock singer whose songs have been stolen by an ex friend. A terrific movie.

There are any number of good movies we've seen in the last year that are worthy of the Godzilla sized popcorn combo. We define "best popcorn flick" sort of in the way our grandparents regarded Chinese Food: a meal that was very filling and satisfying, and left you wanting more an hour later.

In the same spirit, our Popcorn flicks thrilled and delighted the Dickens out of us, and in that same spirit, an hour later we couldn't remember anything except that we really liked the thing. Donnie Darko, a surprising SF story with parallel universes and time shifts and all that great, should-have-appealed-to-the-teenboys-stuff didn't get the word of mouth that its stablemate, Memento, did but it's one of the few flicks that we'll be grabbing up on DVD for our collection.



Oh, picking Glitter would be too damned easy, as would Freddy Got Fingered. Biggest disappointment, and short term leader of this list was Ali but saving its hide at the very last minute was the blatant grab for Oscar that is Charlotte Gray. A story that should've been downright chick flick exploitative isn't because the supporting characters and subplots weren't developed, all to keep the spotlight on star Cate Blanchett.

$0 for the year: "O", Double Take, Sugar and Spice , Signs and Wonders, Freddy Got Fingered, Tomb Raider, The Fast and the Furious, Wet Hot American Summer, The Deep End, Glitter

Best Actor vvvvv

Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind
Kevin Kline, Life as a House
Sean Penn, I am Sam
Robert Redford, Spy Game
Jim Carrey, The Majestic

Best Actress vvv

Judi Dench in Iris
Michelle Pfeiffer, I Am Sam
Reese Witherspoon, Legally Blonde
Renee Zellweger, Bridget Jones' Diary
Halle Berry, Monster's Ball

Supporting Actor

Hayden Christensen in Life as a House
Jim Broadbent, Iris
Ian McKellan, Lord of the Rings
Tim Roth, Planet of the Apes

Supporting Actress

Jennifer Connelly in A Beautiful Mind
Drew Barrymore, Donnie Darko
Maggie Smith, Gosford Park
Kate Winslet, Iris


Peter Jackson:
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Christopher Nolan, Memento
David Mamet, Heist
Irwin Winkler, Life as a House
Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind


Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson:
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Fat Guy
with Pipe

just wanted to see if you were paying attention...

and as for what other critics had on their lists, click here


Christopher Nolan, Memento
Marc Klein, Serendipity