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HTF Top 10's of 2004: Time To Throw Down!

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#1 of 139 OFFLINE   Jason Whyte

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Posted December 27 2004 - 05:40 AM

HTF's Top 10's of 2004: Time To Throw Down!

Well it's the end of the year, so you know what that means! Every year we have a generous supply of HTF film fans from all over the world posting their favorites in Cinema.

Please be creative in your lists. If you wish to add any further thoughts besides your Top 10 (ie. favorite performances, soundtracks, etc) it's all good.

Rules for this thread:

-It is recommended that you have seen at least 40 official 2004 films to participate in this thread.
-Your list must contain a Complete Top 10. No exceptions. If you choose to have a "Worst Films of 2004" section on your list, it must contain at least 5 entries, none of which that are on your top 10 list.
-While some posters will have different scheduling criterias, please only use either "2004 Worldwide First Release" or "2004 USA/Canada First Release" for your criteria. Films that have had platform releases in 2004 from a limited 2003 engagemt (ie. Cold Mountain, Big Fish, Monster) are NOT permitted.
-Placeholders are welcome, but please post a list within a week of your posting.
-Dana Fillhart will be tracking Top 10's using his film tracker system and we will be posting results in this space towards the end of January.

If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to private message me or email me at jasonwhyte@efilmcritic.com


Jason Whyte
The Film List Guy.
Buy National Treasure on DVD today..."The best movie I saw on Saturday night from 7pm to 9:30. The DTS track is freakin' awesome!" --Multiplex Drone

#2 of 139 OFFLINE   Jason Whyte

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Posted December 27 2004 - 05:40 AM

Buy National Treasure on DVD today..."The best movie I saw on Saturday night from 7pm to 9:30. The DTS track is freakin' awesome!" --Multiplex Drone

#3 of 139 OFFLINE   Bill Harris

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Posted December 27 2004 - 05:41 AM

Top 10 : Best and Worst of 2004


(1) The Aviator - USA - Martin Scorsese
(2) Closer - USA - Mike Nichols
(3) Sideways - USA - Alexander Payne
(4) Primer - USA - Shane Carruth
(5) Tarnation - USA - Jonathon Caouette
(6) Dogville - Denmark - Lars Von Trier
(7) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - USA - Michel Gondry
(8) Kill Bill : Volume 2 - USA - Quentin Tarantino
(9) Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban - USA - Alfonso Cuaron
(10) Metallica : Some Kind of Monster - USA - Berlinger/Sinofsky


(1) A Hole in My Heart - Sweden - Lukas Moodysson
(2) The Phantom of The Opera - USA - Joel Schumacher
(3) Catwoman - USA - Pitof
(4) White Chicks - USA - Keenan Ivory Wayans
(5) Twentynine Palms - France - Bruno DuMont
(6) YuGiOh : The Movie - Japan - Hatsuki Tsuji
(7) Envy - USA - Alan Smithee
(8) Ella Enchanted - USA - Tommy O'Haver
(9) Torque - USA - Joseph Kawn
(10) Sleepover - USA - Joe Nussbaum

Other Things

CD of the Year - Social Distortion - Sex , Love and Rock and Roll
TV Series of the Year - Lost
Anime Series of the Year - Monster
Videogame of the Year - Half Life 2
Concert of the Year - Franz Ferdinand - September 2004 - Commodore Ballroom - Vancouver , B.C

#4 of 139 OFFLINE   Rob Willey

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Posted December 27 2004 - 05:41 AM

Last Updated: 02/23/05
Criterion Used: Oscar Eligibility
Number of Films Seen: 37

The top ten so far:

1. Fahrenheit 9/11
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
3. Sideways
4. Hero
5. Million Dollar Baby
6. Control Room
7. Maria Full of Grace
8. Hotel Rwanda
9. Mean Girls
10. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The best of the rest, in order:

Finding Neverland, Spanglish, The Passion of the Christ, The Aviator, Saved!, House of Flying Daggers, The Hunting of the President, Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear and the Selling of American Empire, Super Size Me, The Terminal, Ray, Kinsey, The Motorcycle Diaries, Spartan, Bush's Brain, Collateral, Miracle, Hidalgo, Festival Express, Outfoxed, Jersey Girl, Spider-Man 2, The Ladykillers, I Robot, Shrek 2, Iron Jawed Angels, Van Helsing

Yet to see are:

The Assassination of Richard Nixon, Baadasssss!, Bad Education, Being Julia, Cellular, Close Your Eyes, Closer, The Door in the Floor, The Dreamers, A Foreign Affair, Garden State, Going Upriver, A Home at the End of the World, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, I'm Not Scared, The Incredibles, Intimate Strangers, The Machinist, Mean Creek, The Merchant of Venice, Moolaade, Open Water, Orwell Rolls In His Grave, Osama, Overnight, The Polar Express, Riding Giants, Secret Things, Seeing Other People, Silver City, Still We Believe: The Boston Red Sox Movie, Tarnation, The Twilight Samurai, Undertow, The United States of Leland, Valentin, Vanity Fair, Vera Drake, A Very Long Engagement, Young Adam

"That suits me down to the ground."

#5 of 139 OFFLINE   Stephen R

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Posted December 27 2004 - 05:42 AM


By first international release

*1.) ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (United States, Michel Gondry)
*2.) BEFORE SUNSET (United States, Richard Linklater)
*3.) SIDEWAYS (United States, Alexander Payne)
*4.) KUNG FU HUSTLE (Hong Kong, Stephen Chow)
*5.) KILL BILL, VOLUME 2 (United States, Quentin Tarantino)
*6.) THE INCREDIBLES (United States, Brad Bird)
*7.) HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS (Hong Kong, Zhang Yimou)
*8.) MEAN CREEK (United States, Jacob Aaron Estes)
*9.) TROPICAL MALADY (Thailand, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
10.) PRIMER (United States, Shane Carruth)

By first NY/LA release

*1.) ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (United States, Michel Gondry)
*2.) DOGVILLE (Denmark, Lars von Trier)
*3.) SIDEWAYS (United States, Alexander Payne)
*4.) THE BROWN BUNNY (United States, Vincent Gallo)
*5.) BEFORE SUNSET (United States, Richard Linklater)
*6.) BLUE GATE CROSSING (Taiwan, Yee Chin-yen)
*7.) COWARDS BEND THE KNEE (Canada, Guy Maddin)
*8.) KILL BILL, VOLUME 2 (United States, Quentin Tarantino)
*9.) HERO (Hong Kong, Zhang Yimou)
10.) THE INCREDIBLES (United States, Brad Bird)

Top Ten Albums

1.) DESTROYER - Your Blues
2.) THE ARCADE FIRE - Funeral
3.) MALADY - s/t
4.) SUFJAN STEVENS - Seven Swans
5.) CASTANETS - Cathedrals
6.) DEVENDRA BANHART - Rejoicing in the Hands
7.) THE GO! TEAM - Thunder Lightning Strike
8.) RICHARD BUCKNER - Dents and Shells
9.) ISIS - Panopticon
10.) THE MOUNTAIN GOATS - We Shall All Be Healed

Top Ten Older Films Seen

1.) A MOMENT OF INNOCENCE (Mohsen Makhmalbaf)
3.) PARK ROW (Samuel Fuller)
4.) I WAS BORN, BUT... (Yasujiro Ozu)
5.) UNDER CAPRICORN and THE WRONG MAN (Alfred Hitchcock)
6.) RIDE LONESOME (Budd Boetticher)
7.) THE HOUSE IS BLACK (Forugh Farrokhzad)
8.) FIGHTING ELEGY (Seijun Suzuki)
9.) HIGH AND LOW (Akira Kurosawa)
10.) ONE WEEK (Buster Keaton and Edward F. Cline)

#6 of 139 OFFLINE   Edwin Pereyra

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Posted December 27 2004 - 05:55 AM

My Top 10 for 2004:

10.Infernal Affairs (Hong Kong, Wei Keung Lau and Sui Fai Mak)
9.Touching The Void (United Kingdom, Kevin McDonald)
8.Hotel Rwanda (United States, Terry George)
7.Sideways (United States, Alexander Payne)
6.Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring (Korea, Kim Ki Duk)
5. Sea Inside, The (Spain, Alejandro Amenabar)
4.Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (United States, Charlie Kaufman)
3.Maria Full of Grace (United States/Colombia, Joshua Marston)
2.Before Sunset (United States, Richard Linklater)
1.The Aviator (United States, Martin Scorsese)

Beyond The Top 10:

11. Million Dollar Baby (United States, Clint Eastwood)
12. The Saddest Music In The World (Canada, Guy Maddin)
13. The Incredibles
14. Hero
15. Kill Bill: The Complete Film
17.The Polar Express
18.Spider-Man 2
20.Finding Neverland
21.The Village
24.Crimson Gold (Iran)
25.Osama (Afghanistan)

~Edwin ô¿ô
DVD Unwind: Paradise Now (Coming) • King Kong - - • KeaneThe Squid And The WhaleA History Of ViolenceHarry Potter and the Goblet of FireThe Best Of Youth (Italy) • Good Night And Good LuckHowl's Moving CastleWalk The Line - - • ZathuraNorth Country

#7 of 139 OFFLINE   Fred Bang

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Posted December 27 2004 - 05:59 AM

Here's mine.

Being a fan of Adaptation and Malkovitch, I was already sold to this movie, but was not expecting it to be that good. Jim Carrey is fantastically subtle, and this movie is strangely romantic. Gets better with each viewing.

As Ebert said, this is the best super hero movie ever. The problem with most superhero movie is that we always are impatient for the "super hero" scenes and the "alter-ego" scenes are always a bore. With this movie, the scenes with Peter Parker are as good as the one with Spider Man (if not better). For the first time in my adult life, a movie has made me want to wear spandex and leap from a building. ;-)

I wasn't expecting to be as entertained as I was before going to this fantastic movie. The family chemistry is an absolute joy. Not sure it is intended for children though.

This movie is high on the list but seen in conjonction with Volume 1. Both movies make each other better. Still on the second viewing I though the movie dragged a bit. I cannot wait to scene the Cannes version.

Tom Cruise gives an excellent performance as the cold killer and I was surprised by the plot (even though there's a couple of plotholes)

A surprising movie with a warm performance by Natalie Portman, absolutely adorable in it

The best zombie flick I have ever seen! For some reason, it creeped me out more than Dawn of the Dead or 28 days Later...and it's a comedy!

The best of the three. The Spoiler:
time travel
scenes were mindboggling.

Leonardo DiCaprio is marvelous in this very well made movie. Cate Blanchett is fantastic. Surely not Scorcese's best, but a must see for sure.

Despite a ridiculously caricatural ending, this movie is a visual gem. I thought HERO was a more inteligent movie, but Dagger much more entertaining.

Didn't saw Sideways, Kinsey, One Million Dollar Baby and Finding Neverland, which could change my list.

Some good movie that did not made the list

Farenheit 911
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
The Terminal

#8 of 139 OFFLINE   Seth Paxton

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Posted December 27 2004 - 06:05 AM

Need to see - Vera Drake, A Very Long Engagement, Hotel Rwanda

As of 2/4/05

1 - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Beautiful love story with a wonderful sense of visual imagination to go with it. It's also an outstanding scenario for expressing a person's love for another (the fear of losing them) AND for spicing the film with a person's inner thoughts and history (right inside the brain no less).

2 - The Incredibles
One of the most fun rides I've had in years. While not as poignant as TS1 or TS2, it's the best looking and most uptempo fun of any of the Pixar films.

3 - Closer
Wonderful, intimate film about non-likeable people hurting each other. To me this was like a relationship version of a Tarintino film, made up of nothing but powerful moments of 1 on 1 confrontational dialog.

4 - Finding Neverland
The film put me in tears on several occassions, and I really was trying to fight it. Touching story and some great characters within it.

5 - Before Sunset
Besides some outstanding dialog, Linklater does a great job of making multiple scenes out of what is really just one long scene. Having backgrounds pass the characters by as they walk or ride on boats gives the scenes a visual life that normally wouldn't be there with just 2 people talking. It makes the conversation into both a literal and metaphorical journey.

6 - I Heart Huckabees
Some were put off by the metaphorical approach to the film which to me resulted in some terrifically absurd (and funny) moments. I liked the characters as representations of ideals, especially when those ideals then battled it out to win over the minds of the lead characters. The entire cast was great, but Wahlberg stood out the most to me.

7 - Dogville
It took me a few scenes to warm up to it, but once its storybook charm had me I was on for the ride. While it played like a typically difficult Von Trier film, his final act questioned all that he had done with his female characters before then in a way that made me say "Hey yeah, that's a good point." Like Linklater, Von Trier took a minimalist set and camera movements and turned it into pure visual magic.

8 - The Aviator
This powerful epic of one great American's life is a showcase for DiCaprio, though Blanchett shines as well. It's only flaw might be in running too long at points, and that some of the traditional Scorsese zip is missing from the direction. But otherwise it a grand, sweeping film that represents the very best of big film art.

9 - Garden State
Takes the standard "coming home/disfunctional parent-child relationship" film and breathes new life into it, almost without you knowing it. It is comfortable enough to be both silly and thoughtful in the same scene with just enough spicing of quirkiness to keep you really interested without it becoming that annoying "weird for weird's sake" sort of thing. Zack Braff really nailed the writing, acting and especially the directing with this debut.

10 - Sideways
The anti-Aviator. Here is a small film about a small man who takes a very small journey. But the truth of his outlandish needs and quirks, as well as his best friend's own bad behavior, make the film hit home. If Aviator Hughes is a man beyond our own aspirations, then Miles Raymond is right next to us suffering the same inferiority complex about it. And in doing so he lets us laugh at ourselves and feel that we can still make something of our life, small though it may be.

Friday Night Lights
Million Dollar Baby
Life Aquatic w/ Team Zissou
Kill Bill Vol. 2
The Passion of the Christ
Harry Potter 3
Leminy Snicket
Spider-Man 2
The Manchurian Candidate
Dawn of the Dead

The Girl Next Door
In Good Company
Control Room
The Bourne Supremacy
The Motorcycle Diaries
Napoleon Dynamite
Shaun of the Dead
Shrek 2

Worst 10 (only 5 so far, most of the bad films remain unviewed so far)

1. Van Helsing - likely to hold on here
2. The Big Bounce - ditto
3. Eurotrip - could be others worse, but this is sure to stay at the bottom 10
4. Saw - might slip out, but it wasn't very good
5. 13 Going on 30 - more bland than just bad
6. The Terminal - just a very bad script and story concept, and the weak story only brings out the formula script aspects all the more

#9 of 139 OFFLINE   Travis_S


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Posted December 27 2004 - 06:20 AM

Top 10 of 2004
(As of February 7th)
Posted Image
1. Million Dollar Baby
Posted Image
2. The Incredibles
Posted Image
3. The Aviator
Posted Image
4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Posted Image
5. The Life Aquatic
Posted Image
6. Spider-Man 2
Posted Image
7. Sideways
Posted Image
8. Kill Bill Volume 2
Posted Image
9. Collateral
Posted Image
10. Friday Night Lights

Bottom 5 of 2004
(As of December 28th)

1. Van Helsing
2. Envy
3. Exorcist: The Beginning
4. Johnson Family Vacation
5. The Day After Tomorrow

#10 of 139 OFFLINE   Dustin Woods

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Posted December 27 2004 - 06:36 AM

(as of December 30)

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2. The Aviator
3. Touching the Void
4. Friday Night Lights
5. Garden State
6. Hero
7. Super-Size Me
8. Dawn of the Dead
9. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
10. The Bourne Supremacy

NOTE:Top Ten is subject to change as I still have yet to see Sideways, Million Dollar Baby, Shaun of the Dead, Kinsey, and The Life Aquatic. I think all of these films have a chance to move into the top ten, and hopefully I will have seen them all in another week or so.


1. Christmas With the Kranks
2. The Manchurian Candidate
3. Cellular
4. Shark Tale
5. Along Came Polly
6. 50 First Dates
7. Seed of Chucky
8. The Alamo
9. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy
10. The Big Bounce


1. The Arcade Fire - Funeral
2. Wilco - A Ghost is Born
3. Of Montreal - Satanic Panic in the Attic
4. Elf Power - Walking With The Beggar Boys
5. Loretta Lynn - Van Lear Rose
6. Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
7. Velvet Revolver - Contraband
8. Ryan Adams - Love is Hell
9. Brian Wilson - SMiLE
10. Incubus - A Crow Left of the Murder

#11 of 139 OFFLINE   Thi Them

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Posted December 27 2004 - 06:39 AM

A note about reserving a spot in this thread (and other threads): It doesn't seem to make much sense to me, since people who have visited this thread already won't likely return to the beginning of the thread searching for your list, or they won't even remember that you reserved a spot; they will revisit the thread to look at the most recent posts. By reserving a space, won't your list get ignored more than get read? :wink: ~T

#12 of 139 OFFLINE   CalebC



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Posted December 27 2004 - 06:50 AM

1. Finding Neverland 10/10 (seen on 12/27) 2. Garden State: 10/10 (seen on 10/24) 3. Passion of the Christ: 10/10 (seen on 2/25) 4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: 10/10 (seen on 3/19) 5. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou: 10/10 (seen on 12/15) 6. Donnie Darko: Directors Cut: 10/10 7. Kill Bill: Vol. 2 10/10 (seen on 4/17) 8. The Incredibles 10/10 (seen on 11/13) 9. Spanglish: 9/10 (seen on 12/31) 10. Sideways: 9/10 (seen on 11/7) *if you don't count the Donnie Darko: DC as a 2004 then put in Dogville at #10 with a 9/10

#13 of 139 OFFLINE   Arman



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Posted December 27 2004 - 07:55 AM


#14 of 139 OFFLINE   Nick Sievers

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Posted December 27 2004 - 09:13 AM

Nick’s Top 10 of 2004

Last Updated: 22nd March, 2005

1. Closer

2. Before Sunset

3. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

4. Million Dollar Baby

5. Sideways

6. I ♥ Huckabees

7. Kill Bill: Volume 2

8. The Aviator

9. The Incredibles

10. Garden State


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Top 10 Film Lists: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
Film Lists: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005

#15 of 139 OFFLINE   Larry Sutliff

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Posted December 27 2004 - 09:17 AM

Top 10 of 2004:
10. HERO

Definitely a year when commercial mass audience films seemed to be better than the usual "arthouse" fare, at least to me.


#16 of 139 OFFLINE   Richard Kim

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Posted December 27 2004 - 09:24 AM

My Top 10 for 2004: 1)Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 2)The Incredibles 3)Sideways 4)Spider-Man 2 5)Kill Bill Vol 2. 6)Fahrenheit 9/11 7)Shaun of the Dead 8)Napoleon Dynamite 9)The Aviator 10)Hero (Ying xiong)

#17 of 139 OFFLINE   Scott_MacD


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Posted December 27 2004 - 10:43 AM

The year's Ten Best

1. The Incredibles
For so long, it seemed certain that The Passion of the Christ would remain the year's best film. When The Incredibles arrived, as great as Pixar usually are, I quite simply couldn't believe what I was seeing onscreen. A faultlessly characterised comedy and comic-book composite, with something for everyone. Full of little character treasures, part of the real delight of being a passive participant is seeing how many you can dig up. Proof, that the quality of a movie isn't just how much it makes you empathise, but how it works with you emotionally, counterbalancing drama and delight in equal proportions. The year's best film.

2. The Passion of the Christ
If film is indeed a medium for empathy, then The Passion of the Christ isn't a place I want to be for long. This film hurts, and for many a valid response is to avoid staring it in the face. A time-capsule film, impeccably photographed, realised and directed by a creative force as shattering as any cross. Gibson's Passion is by design a psychological conundrum, presenting us with the guilt of sin for which the Christ suffers horribly onscreen. No clergy has been able to lay down the Paschal Lamb sacrificial story with the same strength. "By his wounds, we are healed".

3. Kill Bill Vol. 2
Quentin Tarantino has fashioned a soup of East/West cultural nuggets, around a straightforward revenge story. But this, in itself does not levitate Kill Bill to greatness, what works is the sheer passion and energy in making each reference in this showman's piece entirely his own. He borrows cinematographic setups, and devices from everywhere, and cleverly skewing it, so that it appears fresh and fun. And indeed, much of both movies is purposeless, the screenplay prefers to just spend time with the characters, it's about visualising the movie world that exists in the mind's eye. Kudos to Uma Thurman, for finding the skill in portraying an purposefully underwritten and iconic character, and David Carradine delivering a great comic performance of apathetic villainy. Especially loved the delivery of the Superman speech, with Tarantino writing his bit of cheerful and funny self-satire.

4. The Return
Chilling, cold and brilliantly told, Andrei Zvyagintsev's terrific coming-of-age tale is a film about brotherhood, solidarity and finding inner strength. The Return deals with the social microcosm of two teenage brothers, who meet their father for the first time in 12 years, and he is neither welcoming, compassionate, nor does he appear to have the right stuff for preparing them for the world. Three stunning performances anchor our attention and the film's themes remain universal. The recurrent cold imagery of water, constant movement, and facing fears multiplies the menace of the situations.

5. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
The great Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow evokes a wonderful time for film, 1939. Similarly so, Kerry Conran's technologically-assisted triumph is to not forget what makes serials plain fun to watch. He gives us lots of wild action and beautifully imagined backdrops against feisty and fun one-dimensional characters drawn from the Amazing Stories pulp books of the period. I would have watched this film repeatedly as a child, and along with The Polar Express, and Spider-Man 2, 10-year olds of all ages are well catered for with great entertainments in 2004.

6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
7. The Polar Express

8. Spider-Man 2
An equal film to Richard Donner's great 1978 Superman, Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2 takes the origin, and runs with it, giving Peter Parker an alarming crisis of faith, and a far better story to run things with. A fantastic entertainment, and the characters are given as much attention as the showdowns. Alfred Molina's brilliant potrayal of Dr. Octavius has become one of the great cinematic villains, by equal means cool and frightening. The visual effects are entirely convincing, and it's dexterity in convincing the audience of effortless flight, that it's by mere force of will that I don't whoop with delight as Parker whizzes through the city. Great to see Raimi's Evil Dead style of visceral filmmaking back, too.

9. Closer
10. The Machinist

As more 2004 US release hit my shores, expect frequent updates. (inserted Closer at #9)

#18 of 139 OFFLINE   Shad R

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Posted December 27 2004 - 10:51 AM

10.Dodgeball 9. Hero 8. Harry Potter 7. Oceans 12 6. The Incredibles 5. Shrek 2 4. Team America(am I the only one who liked it?) 3. Garden State 2. Kill Bill vol. 2 1. Spiderman 2 Close contenders: Anchorman, Napolean Dynamite, Spongebob(I'm a huge fan of that little guy)

#19 of 139 OFFLINE   Matt Stone

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Posted December 27 2004 - 10:54 AM

2004 Top Ten*
Updated 20 January 2004
Eligible Films Seen: 73

Posted Image
1. Garden State
Director: Zach Braff

I've heard people say that The Graduate has lost it's meaning over the years and while I disagree; if it has, Garden State takes it's place for today's (my) generation. It has an overall theme of aiming to simply live life, rather than self-medicating to avoid the highs and lows . Simple concept masterfully written and directed with some of the best performances of the year. Natalie Portman especially shows her charm. It's strange how cold her performances have been in the Star Wars prequels compared to what she gives in this film. My only guess is that Lucas is either wrong and getting what he wants, or he just can't direct her to save is life. Back to the film at and, Zach Braff's intro into the directing world is the best of the the year. Much like The Graduate and Wes Anderson's films, the soundtrack elevates the film from strong drama to an amazing experience. Whether this film stands the test of time remains to be seen, but it was the best film I saw all year.

Posted Image
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Director: Michael Gondry

Another A+ from the mind of Charlie Kaufman. I was a little worried to see the pairing of Kaufman and Gondry after the disaster that was Human Nature, but with such a strong cast, how could they go wrong. Jim Carrey shows yet again that he's one of the best actors working today, dramatic or comedic. His range is all over the map from happy to confused to lost to understanding. Winslet is as charming as always, and the supporting performances from Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst, and Tom Wilkinson are all spot-on humorous. With Garden State being a little more art-hosue, I sincerely hope this gets some nominations come Oscar time. Considering the subject matter and method of storytelling, the direction of Eternal Sunshine is the best of the year. Small and understated when it needs to be; big and wacky to keep things interesting. In the tradition of Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, the subject matter continues to follow in style, yet remain original.

Posted Image
3. Kill Bill: Volume 2
Director: Quentin Tarantino

Different in tone from the first film, but even more entertaining. The story is more personal as far as the relationship between Bill and The Bride. The film is humorous, charming, violent, and most of all fun. All the style of a Hong Kong martial arts film, with QT's personal touch. Character interaction is the films biggest strength, with great sequences between The Bride/Elle and Pai Mei, The Bride and Bill, and The Bride/Elle and Budd. Like my other top two films, the cast is amazing. David Carradine gives an award-worthy performance, and Madsen turns in another A+ supporting performance. People may attack QT for lack of originality, but his method of compiling common archetypes and regurgitating them in a style all his own with such amazing dialog and direction far surpasses expectations.

Posted Image
4. Spider-Man 2
Director: Sam Raimi

What a fantastic year for action films, and sequels for that matter. Much like X2, without the need to dwell on an origin story for more than half of the film, Raimi is able to focus on internal struggles and external conflict. The strong screenplay and direction make for a great blending of eye-popping action sequences with a really good love/loss story to elevate the material. As a big Raimi/Evil Dead fan, I was jumping in my seat during the Doc Ock/Operating Room sequence. The editing style and camera zooms gave it a really creepy, and yet comic book-y feel. This is the Empire Strikes Back of comic book films. Some say over-rated...I say best comic book film ever.

Posted Image
5. Collateral
Director: Michael Mann

This film is further proof that Tom Cruise is one of the best in the business. He can play big action films well, as well as smaller understated performances, and with this (and Magnolia) he proves that he can really play a great villain. Jamie Foxx makes his big acting arrival a month or so before Ray and goes to to toe with Cruise throughout the film. The direction is understated, contemplative, and very cool in a Michael Mann sort of way. Cruise is absolutely wolfish, and in a perfect world would finally win that Oscar this year. The supporting players are strong, especially Jada Pinkett Smith, but the Mark Ruffalo cop sub-plot is the only thing that drags the film down. Not that it isn't played well, it just seems like a bit of a deus ex machina. Luckily it's dismissed and doesn't hurt the film much, but I'm still not sure I bought Rufallo as badass, slicked-back hair cop. This may not be the best film of the year, but it's damn close.

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6. Napolian Dynamite
Director: Jared Hess

Maybe the most polarizing film of the year. Some hate it, some love it. Maybe it's my small midwest upbringing, but the material had some sort of odd resonance with me. Some feel the dialog was stilted and the characters were annoying, and that's probably true, but god knows I've met a hell of a lot of people that fit those descriptions in my life. While the characters don't fit "in our world," they certainly fit in theirs'. The best example is when La Fawnduh arrives to meet Kip. Instead of the expected rejection at him being a small white guy and her being a large black woman, they fall in love. The film is endearing; the characters are quirky; and I laughed the entire time. This film may have not made it on to my top ten had I not watched it on DVD a couple more times. It's definitely grown on me. Love it or hate it may be true, but I know where I plant my flag.

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7. Kinsey
Director: Bill Condon

I usually slam bio-pics for being boring and relatively uninspired, but today I saw two bio-pics that both knocked me on my ass. The first was Kinsey. Liam Neeson gives the hands-down best performance of the year with fantastic supporting work from Laura Linney, Peter Sarsgaard (damn is this guy good), Timothy Hutton, and Chris O'Donnell. Neeson's Kinsey is able to come across as selfish, singularly motivated, lacking in basic human understanding and yet remain very likable. It's really a testament to Neeson's performance, because he portrays Kinsey balancing on the very thin line of flawed and likable. The film is visually interesting, utilizing different styles for flashbacks as well as stock footage that gives it a grittier documentary feel. Condon is able to present a motherload of information without becoming boring. Regardless of the timeline in the film, it's information is as applicable today as it was in 1948. Kinsey may be a bio-pic, but I think it explored the cause and effect aspect of human sexuality much more successfully than the similar themed Closer.

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8. Baadasssss!
Director: Mario Van Peebles

The second of the strong bio-pics from this year. Mario Van Peebles directs and stars in a movie about his father's troubled production of Sweet Sweetback's Badass Song: the first blacksplotation film ever made. Like Kinsey, the story is what draws you in. Usually with bio-pics, I find the story leaving something to be desired, because frankly, the truth is usually much more boring than fiction. It works as a fantastic homage to Melvin Van Peeble's fabled film, as well as a lesson in low-budget, guerrilla film-making. The characters are interesting, and their interactions are real. The inter-cutting with interview footage (with the actors during the film and the real people during the credits) helps with the films documentary nature. The editing style is mostly quick paced and inventive, and the visual look of the film is solid and raw. The camera work is simple without being boring. It doesn't draw attention to itself. I can guess that this was both a chore and a labor of love for Van Peebles to complete, but it came out beautifully and is one of the best films of the year.

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9. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Cuaron makes a film that's artistically stronger than the first two Harry Potter films. The film wasn't as faithful to the book as I would have liked, but considering the first two films stuck too close to the books, that's not such a bad thing. The palette is visually dark and the style is gritty, reflecting the story. Editing and camera moves are much more interesting than Chris Columbus's typical point-and-shoot style. The performances from the Daniel, Rupert, and Emma are all strong and keep getting better each film. Oldman and Thewlis are both amazing. They both were perfect representations of the characters from the books. I hope the remaining films utilize a similar style to Azkaban. The only problem I foresee is not being able to make a 2.5 hour film that accurately reflects 800 and 900 page books.

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10. Shaun of the Dead
Director: Edgar Wright

A romantic comedy...with zombies. It plays well as an homage to the Romero films, a comedy/spoof, and a horror film in it's own right. It cribs style from great horror films, and puts it together with some great actors (especially Simon Pegg). Comedic timing is spot on, and the writing was brilliant. As a horror fanatic, the in-jokes were fun to look for, and I would guess that it's equally interesting to watch as a horror laymen. I can't wait to see what's next from Wright and Pegg.

Other Films Worth Mentioning
Director: Shane Carruth
Director: Mike Nichols
Dawn of the Dead
Director: Zack Snyder
Haute Tension
Director: Alexandre Aja
Director: Guillermo Del Toro

2004 Best of the Rest
(Films seen for the first time in 2004)
1. Once Upon A Time In The West
Director: Sergio Leone
2. Escape from New York
Director: John Carpenter
3. Videodrome
Director: David Cronenberg
4. The Devil's Backbone
Director: Guillermo Del Toro
5. Maniac
Director: William Lustig

*Still have a few films I'd like to see. Namely Sideways and The Aviator. Consider this a work in progress.

Dec. 29: Saw Kinsey and Baadasssss! today. They're both going in the top ten, but I have to decide where to put them.
Dec. 30: Dropped Sky Captain and Spartan from my list.
Dec. 30: Added Primer as an honorable mention.
Jan. 18: Saw The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou today. Not as good as Anderson's other films, but still good.
Jan. 20: Saw The Assassination of Richard Nixon today. Very good film, but I don't think I'll be bumping anything to fit it into the top ten.

In Heaven, everything is fine.
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#20 of 139 OFFLINE   Nick C.

Nick C.

    Second Unit

  • 251 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 27 2001

Posted December 27 2004 - 06:45 PM

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1. Hero
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
3. Twilight Samurai
4. Before Sunset
5. Blue Gate Crossing
6. Since Otar Left
7. Blind Shaft
8. Last Life in the Universe/Undertow
9. Dogville
10. The Woodsman

Honorable Mention:
Primer, Collateral, Dawn of the Dead, The Five Obstructions

Even in late December, as I anticipated the late rush of award-seeking pictures, my impression remained that this had been a relatively weak year for movies. In reflection, generating the ol' top ten list the past several days, however, the year has been quite strong in both variety and quality. Just a minor detour while on the subject of time...it confounds me that Focus would release Eternal Sunshine in March. Although fans (it looks to be a lock for #1 in our HTF poll) and critics (easily among the three best reviewed films of the year), Oscar voters will most likely have forgotten it by now, under the mindset “What have you done for me, lately?” Not that I or most HTFers think Oscar equals quality, but I would like to see Kaufman (no one remembers three nominations), Gondry, and, especially, Carrey receive some recognition, and in turn, larger audiences, box office, and, most importantly, funding and freedom to keep making great pictures.

Getting back on subject, 2004 was quite a good year for movies, even outside the context of political and religious zeal. Looking at some of my favourites the past few years, foreign films emerged to take over the majority of my slots. Not to discount critical American darlings Sideways and Million Dollar Baby (here’s hoping Eastwood will be relieved of having to be funding, even after $90mil Mystic River box office receipts), nor stirring summer sequels in Spider-man 2 and The Bourne Supremacy, the above Asian and European pictures just drew me in more. I suppose the trend, if there is one, in my subjective list creation, is one of humanism, may it be the endearing relationships, nostalgic yearning for the past or an ideal, or simple existence before it seeps out from temporality’s grasps. As such, I found the decision to include Dogville quite a struggle, before noting the daring appeal created by such void and disconnectedness from the aforementioned humanism when circumstance and environment reinforce such antithetical actions. A tidbit about my selection number eight, the two pictures were grouped together rather than making a formal eleventh pick on the basis of their beautifully photographed naturalism and shared narratives of escape from forgettable pasts. A final observation, I’m glad interesting nonfiction films continue to abound in the likes of The Five Obstructions, Bright Leaves, and Super Size Me, as is the trend in recent years when they have been, deservedly, well distributed and received.

2004 movies watched (US first release eligibility)
later Pooh...

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