Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Usually I do this much earlier in the year, so then I figured, why bother? But since the Oscars are coming up, I thought I should still display my list of favorite flicks. I’ve listed -- in some form or another -- every movie I’ve seen this year. So if I get around to seeing something like Finding Neverland, it might amend the list at a later date. Until then, here’s...


10. Dawn of the Dead
What can I say? I like good horror movies. While this one couldn’t duplicate the poignancy of the original (consumerism = zombification), it has some brilliant sequences, like the opening credits against the Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around”, the montage against the lounge version of “Down With the Sickness”, and the excellent cast against the undead celebrity look-alikes.

9. Hotel Rwanda
Some have called it the African Schindler’s List, but I venture to say that this movie was better in terms of story-telling, because it followed closely the main character who tried to help the victims of genocide, rather than venture outside his scope -- his hotel sanctuary -- just to shock the audience with the atrocities. Fascinating, moving and educational. This movie answered a few questions of mine: Is Don Cheadle overrated? I had always thought so... until this movie. And I never understood the difference between the Hutus and Tutsis. Basically, there is none.

8. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
This series keeps getting better. It could be the introduction of the Dementors, the mysterious Sirius Black, played perfectly by Gary Oldman, or the direction by the guy who did Y Tu Mama Tambien. But I especially liked the Back to the Future twist in the third act.

7. Spider-Man 2
Even better than the original. Doc Ock is a much cooler villain, and, like the CGI of Spidey zipping through NYC, the characters seemed more real in this one. Such drama, too: Aunt May telling Peter Parker that she threw out his comic book collection?! Hey, would Spider-Man be able to fight crime in a place that doesn’t have tall buildings for him to spin webs from? Like, if Peter Parker came to LA, would it be too spread out and leave him squashed like a bug on the Hollywood Freeway?

6. Supersize Me
I stopped eating fast food after seeing this guy’s transformation over a month. And I’ll never grow a Fu Manchu mustache after seeing how ridiculous he looked right from the beginning.

5. Fahrenheit 9/11
Say what you will, it makes a controversial point while entertaining you with drama, humor and heartbreak. At one point, I’m cracking up at Dubya as the Greatest American Hero, and then wiping away tears at the mother who lost her son in Iraq. And if the film did nothing else, it created a whole new industry. I don’t just mean documentary exposés, I mean anti-Michael Moore books and movies.

4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Charlie Kaufman’s last couple of scripts (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) were cerebral, original and interesting… but flawed, usually with logic problems. Here he scores, ‘cause da brain don’t make much sense in da first place. And I liked the idea that if you can do it all again, you’d do it all again. I know I would. Not that I don’t have regrets, but let’s face it, I’m just stupid that way.

3. Touching the Void
This documentary blew me away. It’s the true story of a couple of British mountain climbers who scaled an imposing face in the Andes. When they reached the top, one of them broke his leg -- demolished it, really. His friend wound up having to abandon him, cutting the rope and dropping him down the mountain, leaving him for dead. I’m not spoiling it by telling you the injured guy made it -- he tells you the story himself. But how they managed to recreate these scenes -- both breathtaking and nightmarish -- was amazing. Plus I found the story inspirational: this guy struggles through pain and dehydration to traverse such forbidding terrain. Puts things in perspective when I’m too lazy to change the channel ‘cause the remote’s on the other side of the couch.

2. Shaun of the Dead
“Get back Liz. Ring Mum. Sort out life!” So says Shaun, the British slacker, the night before zombies take over London. Next thing you know, he and his friend are tossing the album collection at the moving corpses, smashing ‘em with cricket bats and holing up with mum, mates and ex-girlfriend in their favorite tavern. Simply brilliant -- a clever script with hysterical one-liners (“Don’t forget to kill Philip!”), tons of zombie movie references (“We’re coming to get you, Barbara!”), great performances (the crew beating on the undead pub owner in rhythm to Queen playing on the jukebox), and a touching story of redemption. Didn’t expect that in a flick about zombies. (“Stop using the zed word!”)

1. The Aviator
Hughes made flicks, flew planes, had a Beverly Hills crash
Fought government corruption -- was that Hawkeye from “M*A*S*H”?
Leo as Howard and Cate as Kate
And Marty will score with his Oscar bait
The Academy’s washed their hands of him time and again
But not when Jean Harlow’s portrayed by Gwen
Yeah, she’s hot, I just wanna smooch her
See The Aviator -- it’s the way of the future.
(The way of the future. The way of the future...)

10 that didn’t quite make the list, but were very good
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Incredibles, Shrek 2, Eurotrip, I’m Not Scared, Open Water, Ray, The Manchurian Candidate, Bourne Supremacy, Million Dollar Baby

5 I liked but didn’t love -- or -- Don’t believe the hype
Saved!, Garden State, Kinsey, Napoleon Dynamite, Sideways

5 you couldn’t pay me to sit through again
The Perfect Score, Hellboy, Along Came Polly, White Chicks, The Ladykillers

Worth Netflixing but not Blockbustering
13 Going On 30, Anchorman, Cellular, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Mean Girls, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Starsky and Hutch, Team America: World Police

Might as well leave it on, if it’s on cable and you’re gonna be making out or passing out on the couch and not really watching anyway...
Ocean’s Twelve, Shark Tale, Sleepover, The Big Bounce, The Day After Tomorrow, The Stepford Wives, The Terminal, Troy


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