Thursday, 30 December 2004

Films of 2004

I suppose with only a couple of days left I should round up my films of the year.

1. Lost in Translation - I saw this at the cinema 3 times and plan on watching again in the next day or two. Standout performances from Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansson. Beautifully written and directed by Sofia Coppola. It left me with a wonderful feeling, it's a film full of hope and also had a brilliant soundtrack with Death In Vegas, The Mary Chain and Bill Murray himself.

2. Capturing The Friedmans - A spellbinding and brutal documentary charting the downfall and break up of a family due to allegations of child abuse. A film that I sat engrossed throughout. Bizarre and utterly fascinating. The film never takes sides and it's difficult to work out who was guilty and who wasn't. When it came out on DVD in about June I rushed out to buy it, but have not as yet put it into my machine.

3. Super Size Me - Another documentary and one that has kept me out of MacDonald's and other fast food outlets every since. It's always nice to go to the cinema and learn something.

4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - You gotta love Charlie Kaufman. I loved the premise of this film. On hearing that his ex-girlfriend has erased her memory of him, a guy goes and gets her memory erased from his brain. How I wish I could do something similar. A great cast with Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Wilkinson and Elijah Wood. Winslet's character never seems likeable, nor do they seem like the perfect couple, but you root for them all the same.

5. Collateral - Every new Michael Mann release will have me rushing to my nearest multiplex and this was no exception. Tom Cruise as a baddie. Jamie Foxx as a put upon taxi driver. Mark Ruffalo again as a cop on Cruise's trail. This coming year may well be when Jamie Foxx gets his just rewards with his turn as Ray Charles in Ray likely to bring him an Oscar nomination. I've been saying since I first saw him in Any Given Sunday that he has the qualities of a young De Niro. He can shift from Sunday's finely tuned athlete to Ali's junkie hanger on to Collateral's everyman turned hero. The pic had everything that we've come to expect from Mann. Swooping cameras, car chases, a pounding score and a gripping film.

6. I Heart Huckabees - Not for everyone certainly, but it was for me. Quirky and funny. David O. Russell serves up a beautifully shot film with great performances from Jason Schwartzman, Mark Whalberg, Jude Law, Naomi Watts, Dustin Hoffman, Lilly Tomlin and Isabelle Huppert.

7. 21 Grams - Taking the jumbled structure of his first film Amores Perros to another level, Alejandro González Iñárritu constructs and absorbing movie that you are constantly attempting to piece together. A quality cast with Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro and Naomi Watts again all at the centre of crime and tragedy.

8. Shaun of the Dead - A British film without gangsters and it's brilliant. Spaced with zombies is the simple way to sum this up. Edgar Wright always seemed to direct Spaced as if it were a film, so the look of this was no surprise. It got all the elements right, as it had the right ingredients, of horror, comedy and parody. Another great cast with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost at the centre. With the DVD going for £7.99 in Virgin right now, how can you go wrong?

9. Garden State - See post below.

10. My Summer of Love - Paddy Considine along with newcomers Emily Blunt and Nathalie Press all give superb performances in another brilliant British film by Pawel Pavlikovsky.

11. Fahrenheit 9/11 - I did an enormous blog when I went to see this back in the summer. Ultimately it failed in its mission - to get Bush out of office, but it still holds up as a fascinating work.

12. American Splendor - Part movie part documentary. Harvey Pekar's comic books come to life with Paul Giamatti, Hope Davis and Judiah Freidlander in standout performances.

As for the rest of the best 2004. The Cooler - Alec Baldwin in his best performance since Glengarry Glenn Ross. Dead Man's Shoes - Paddy Considine is outstanding as a vengeful brother. The Station Agent - An unusual story, where nothing all that much happens, but beautifully played out. Kill Bill Vol 2 - Much better than the first part for me. Lots of cracking action, roll on QT's next. Napoleon Dynamite - Oddball but loveable. The School of Rock - Richard Linklater and Jack Black make a rockin' team. The Fog of War - Yet another documentary as U.S. Secretary of Defense from 1961 - 1968, Robert S McNamara outlines his 11 life lessons.

A decent year for films. There were a few that I didn't get around to seeing that I really wanted to Before Sunset being the main one. Roll on 2005's bumper year for films.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Of the ones in your list that I've seen, I can't disagree. My Top 3 for the year are:

1. Garden State
2. Lost In Translation
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind