(prologue) As we can begin to hear the death rattle of the oughts, we in the third row decided to start on this continuing series throughout 2009 that will look back at our favorite films of each of the past ten years (2000-2009). This will ultimately culminate in a “ten best/favorites of the oughts” piece sometime in early 2010.
The year 2002 was quite the year for cinema and quite the discussion in the “back room” about which five films to go with. A couple of ties spurred on quite the fight; especially for that number five position. At any rate we whittled down the impressive list of quality titles to come up with our five favorite films of 2002. Enjoy.
You may be seated as we begin to get into the meat of the decade with 2002. Just so it’s known how we came up with this list, it’s pretty simple. The same way in which we always do our annual top ten list, each of the admins here took our top five (plus two honorable mentions) of the assigned year and relegated a point system (with a bit of arbitrary) and came up with a consensus list of our top five favorite films for that year.
5) Road to Perdition
– The opposite of perdition (being lost) is salvation (being saved) and this movie is one of a very few to deal with those two concepts. The movie also explores the love and disappointments that attend the father-son relationship. It should be noted at the outset that none of these are currently fashionable themes. This is noir with a dark palette, costuming in clothes metaphorically heavy, and sounding often as stylized and minimal as the murders Hanks commits. Road to Perdition lacks the grandeur of Coppola’s Godfather epic, but it succeeds in evoking an old-testament judicial system where eye meets eye and tooth savages tooth. The excellence of the movie can be found through the generation of a unique feeling for its profound themes, distinctive acting, and enveloping music and cinematography. – IMDb
4) Punch Drunk Love
– Hot off the heels of true garbage, The Animal and Little Nicky, Adam Sandler bursts in to the drama scene for the first time with a bang in this disturbing yet mesmerizing role as Barry Egan. Be it Paul Thomas Anderson’s directing or some untapped amazing potential from Sandler (which proves true in light of future films) or likely a combination of both, the character of Egan is one of the most interesting leads in a romantic “comedy” ever. The devil is in the details and Anderson brings about such an awkward tale of quirky, tense, bordering on psychotic romance between Sandler and Watson with whip snaps of “wtf” moments at every turn. Somehow it remains cohesive, honest, full of heart and incredibly engaging from start to finish. – ANDREW
– Charlie Kaufman has to be the most original screen writer working today. Assembling a monster cast, Spike Jonze is brilliantly able to put together this strange, tangential, semi-autobiographical film about a screenwriter (Kaufman) who can’t seem to set his mind straight in order to adapt a novel about flowers. Instead, he ends up writing a screenplay about how he can’t adapt a novel. Taking the over the top antics of Nicolas Cage and reigning them in to provide the perfect amount of restrained A.D.D. and schizophrenia. It’s sort of a happy mess that somehow gels nicely. Add to this I think it’s the only film to ever win awards for a non-existent twin brother who helped pen the screenplay. World, meet Charlie Kaufman. Enjoy. – ANDREW
2) 25th Hour
– Spike Lee’s 2002 film was one of the first to dive head-first into artistic post-9/11 fray. I still believe that Lee as made the definitive statement (if not the most subtle) on the subject; and this from a film released a mere 15 months after the towers fell. How is that for ‘too soon’? Perhaps this is why The 25th Hour seemed to be completely ignored or written off at the time of its release as a bit of a curio: A Spike Lee Joint starring mainly white people (not to underestimate Rosario Dawson’s massive presence here) that takes place over a single day. With knock-out performances, the cast here is really all in peak form as the story centers around the lead up to a night in an upscale New York Club, the ensuing party within the club and the aftermath of the party, with each of the characters going through a tough journey; mainly through David Benioff’s stellar dialogue adapted from his own novel. The fact that you can watch this film 10 times and take 10 completely different things away from it is a testament of why this film should be re-evaluated. Something that I’ve noticed happening over the past several years now. The 25th Hour is a remarkable achievement. – KURT
1) City of God
– A country of both rare beauty and oppressive poverty, Brazil has turned out some of the most gripping, hard-hitting dramas of the new millennium, and the most mesmerizing of them all has been Fernando Meirelles’ City of God. Recounting the exploits of criminals and drug lords who ruled the slums of Rio de Janeiro for the better part of two decades, City of God is loaded with style, yet it’s a style that does not detract from the brutality at hand. Despite the use of slow motion shootouts and 360 degree pans, we never sway a single inch from the vicious truth that lies at the heart of this tale, in which overwhelming hardship is kin to bloodshed. Throughout its 130 minutes, City of God will carry you in many directions, yet never far from a reality that, in spite of all its cinematic flair, remains very, very real. – DAVE
– – a few honorable mentions: Brotherhood of the Wolf, Twilight Samurai, Talk to Her, Bloody Sunday, 28 Days Later, Bubba Ho-Tep
We’ll see you in a couple weeks with our picks for 2003.