Monday, December 29, 2003

Adam's Top 5 Movies of 2003

You know, I haven't listened to enough music or watched enough TV to truly make good choices for top picks of the year in either of those fields. Shocking, but true.
I have seen quite a few movies, though, and I think I might be able to throw together a list of my favorites of the year, in ascending order:

5) Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
To be totally honest...I had been really excited about seeing this movie. Then the trailer came out. I suddenly wasn't that interested any more. Then, the studio moved the film to the fall. The anticipation waned. As the movie approached again, I suddenly remembered that it was a Peter Weir movie and I had nothing to worry about. Boy, was I glad I saw this movie on the big screen, the way it was meant to be seen. Weir has crafted a movie with adventure, heart and
unbelievable action. Russel Crowe's been a favorite of mine since Romper Stomper. Here, he shows every bit of confidence and bravado that an old-time Hollywood Star would display. Paul Bettany, as usual, is just fantastic. And Max Pirkis, should he desire to continue acting...has a FUTURE. The chops that that kid shows are scary. He's a talent, and I hope he develops properly into a great actor.

4) Kill Bill Volume 1
I'm a Tarantino whore. I admit it. QT makes movies for people like fans, pop-culture addicts. The disaffected children of the TV Generation. In I haven't seen a Tarantino movie that I haven't adored, and I'm pretty sure he's gonna keep making films that I absolutely postively MUST see (and...then, own in my collection).
I've never been a huge Uma Thurman fan (sorry, Penn Jillette). I am now. Her Bride may well become one of the great cinematic characters. She might become as iconic as Toshiro Mifune, Clint Eastwood and Chow Yun-Fat.
Kill Bill was made with me in particular. I'm convinced of it. It combines all of my favorite cinematic conventions from chop socky, samurai films, Westerns, revenge films, etc...and makes it all make perfect, glorious, rock-video sense. Stylish, smart, and rock fuckin' hard. Fuckin' great. Can't wait for part two.

3) House of Sand and Fog
Considering that this movie is barely out, I'm rather astonished to place it this high on the list. But, the more I go over the movie in my mind, the more I'm impressed with the little details in it, and the less I worry about the logical faults. People make mistakes. People misjudge. And the people in this movie make every single mistake they could possibly make during the span of the story. Sure, the movie's sold on Jennifer Connelly. But, Ben Kingsley broke my goddamn heart. He puts in the finest performance in his storied career.


2) [tie] Lord of the Rings: Return of the King/Bubba Ho-Tep
Considering that Peter Jackson started off the quirky guy that made wonderfully odd gems like Dead Alive, Bad Taste and Meet the'd never really guess that the man was capable of making films as epic, confident and masterful as the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Well, he saved the best for last. Return of the King juggles a massive cast deftly, propels viewers through a massive story with little breathing room and makes you CARE about each of the characters. It didn't hurt that every single actor involved put in a career-making performance. There is no moment in the movie that doesn't ring absolutely true. To say I'm excited about Jackson's next project, a big budget remake of the classic King Kong, would be an
understatement. But, I was giddy about the project years ago, when PJ was first attached to it.
Bubba Ho-Tep has no right to be as good as it ended up being. Based on a story by cult writer Joe R Lansdale and directed by cult filmmaker Don Coscarelli (Phantasm), Bubba Ho-Tep is quite possibly the weirdest concept to come down the pike in a dog's age: an elderly Elvis and an infirmed, dyed-black JFK fight a 3000 year-old Egyptian mummy who's sucking the souls out of retirees through their asses. Thing's got more pathos and heart than most 10 movies out there. Lansdale wrote the story because he couldn't envision a world where the King died on the crapper. He ended up creating a timeless tale of friendship, bravery and the human spirit. It doesn't hurt that fanboy fave Bruce Campbell is in the movie, but he disappears into his Elvis makeup so completely, you never once question that you're not watching Presley himself. And Ossie Davis...well, he's always been one of the best actors on the planet, and it's wonderful to see a man in the sunset of his career shine brighter than he did in youth.

1) Lost in Translation
This movie made me remember all the best parts of falling in love. It's sweet and wonderful...and REAL. Anyone who's ever been trapped away from home can empathize with the main characters' plights.
I've not been to Japan, and you see precious little of it in the movie, but I feel like I've visited. I've felt the weariness of Bill Murray's character. I've felt the isolation of Scarlett Johansen's character. And I've fallen in love on the road, knowing that I'd be parted in hours or days from my paramour.
Yes, I know it's supposed to be about Sofia Coppola and her husband, director Spike Jonze. If that's the case, then Coppola turned her broken heart into art. Everyone truly wants to be found, and I'm glad I saw this movie.
It's a special movie, and it brought a smile to my face that was hard to hide. Lovely, wonderful and joyous.

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