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Our Top 10's of 2003: Time To Throw Down!

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Jason Whyte, Dec 26, 2003.

  1. Jason Whyte

    Jason Whyte Screenwriter

    Jun 3, 1999
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    Our Top 10's of 2003: Time To Throw Down!

    Okay everyone, we're at it again! Here is our annual thread for the best in Cinema. Every year we have a generous supply of HTF film fans from all over the world posting their favorites in Cinema.

    The 2nd Annual HTF Film Awards will also be on the go within the next few weeks. If you have your nominations set, please post those at the bottom of your lists.

    Rules for this thread:

    -It is recommended that you have seen at least 40 official 2003 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 2003" 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 "2003 Worldwide First Release" or "2003 USA/Canada First Release" for your list. Films that have had platform releases in 2003 from a limited 2002 engagemt are NOT permitted.
    -Placeholders are welcome, but please post a list within a week of your posting.

    If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to private message me or email me at [email protected]


    Jason Whyte
    The Film List Guy. [​IMG]
  2. Jason Whyte

    Jason Whyte Screenwriter

    Jun 3, 1999
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    Jason's Films of 2003 Report!

    Top 10:


    #1: The Lord of the Rings: The Return Of The King
    (United States & New Zealand, 2.39:1, 201 min., dir. Peter Jackson)

    I was certainly a fan of the first two “Lord Of The Rings” films, but I had no idea that the final instalment would break past every film I saw this year and stand out as a beautiful and unforgettable landmark in cinema. (For the record, “The Fellowship Of The Ring” was #3 in 2001 following “Mulholland Drive” and “Donnie Darko”, and “The Two Towers” was #2 in 2002 behind “Songs From The Second Floor.” Coincidence that this is #1? Perhaps, but I’m sure the extended editions of both films mix around their ranking a bit. heh.) As I’ve mentioned many times before, these films are so wide and vast in scope, as if you stepped off a plane and you were suddenly in middle earth, and yet there’s such an intimate character driven story as well, that we really care and respect these people, flaws and all. Sure, the film contains epic-sized moments like no other (The Battle at Pelennor Fields is one of the greatest I’ve seen on film.), but it’s all about these two little hobbits off on a mandatory mission to destroy a ring. And just when we think it’s all over and our tear ducts can shed no more, it throws us another curve and keeps us fascinated until “THE END” shows up on screen.


    #2. Kill Bill: Volume One
    (United States, 2.39:1, 109 min., dir. Quentin Tarantino)

    Part of the joy of cinema is to be taken to places you normally couldn’t go in real life. Tarantino knows this, but he also knows how to take the things he loves about movies, twist them around, turn the conventions on its head and make something that is original and compelling. “Kill Bill” is a meshing together of Japanese cinema-culture and Western cinema-culture, with a little bit of female empowerment thrown in to tell a revenge tale of The Bride (Uma Thurman) whose check list of assassins who must die sends her to a California housewife (Vivica Fox) and to a Japanese underworld, led by the unpredictable Lucy Liu. And it’s only the first half of the saga! Tarantino has a complete love and control over all of the material, accessible and unique at the same time.


    #3. Irreversible
    (France, 2.39:1, 98 min., dir. Gaspar Noe)

    I had this on my list last year as an accident. Originally my notes told me this was getting a small release in Canada, but the film was not released until March, so I had to plunk this unforgettable gem onto this list. And time has done a lot to this film: many have debated its reverse structure (A gimmick? I think not, and I haven’t been convinced of the arguments which, if nothing else, are just people looking for reasons to bash the film), its extremely graphic violence that peels away the bounds of filmmaking, or that unforgettable long shot in that dark red tunnel (it would be more of a problem if every shot in the film, all 14 of them, were shorter than this one). I’ve seen this film six times now, and every time I am fascinated by this nightmare-in-reverse that shocks us right away then lets us consider the horrible acts while things on screen are a bit calmer. It takes guts for any filmmaker to go this far into the dark side of humanity, and Gaspar Noe has approached it without fear. Whether you like it or not is up to you, but you can’t deny you’ve ever seen anything like it before. Film is chance.


    #4. 21 Grams
    (United States, 1.85:1, 124 min., dir. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)

    And we move from a reverse-chronology film to a narrative that doesn’t stop shifting time, and never stops fascinating us. Inarritu’s first film, “Amores Perros” was about three lives that connect and despair because of a fatal car crash, and here we have three people whose stories all get mixed up to do a horrific event (that we never see, and that makes it all the more so). With all of the events presented out of order, we as an audience are asked to connect a puzzle. After just 10 minutes of understanding the structure (I knew nothing about it before I saw the screening, but I knew Inarritu’s style and was ready for anything), I was hooked. Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, and especially Naomi Watts do incredible work playing troubled souls who get more than they asked for once they start connecting with each other.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    #5. Elephant & Gerry (tie)
    (United States, 1.37:1/2.39:1, 81 min/103 min., dir. Gus Van Sant)

    I’ve never been a fan of ties myself, but I really want to shine the spotlight on Gus Van Sant, who I think has had an incredible year. Both of his 2003 films have been widely discussed by many, hated and loved by about equal strengths, and have had different reactions at different screenings. “Gerry”, which is heavily based on Bela Tarr’s “Santatango” and the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, could be argued that it’s all about two guys who get lost in the desert, but it’s use of image and sound (and lack therof at times) push further than that. Much, much further. Avro Part’s haunting, moody music helps pull us into the isolation of both Gerry’s (played very well by Matt Damon and Casey Affleck), and their conversations show us a unique lingo that many of us have and refuse to admit. In “Elephant”, Tarr and Tarkovsky certainly fuel the drive behind the film, but something deep inside me knows that Sant’s love for Stanley Kubrick’s long, professional Stedicam shots was a big influence. “Elephant” is about high school and violence but isn’t exactly about Columbine, but it’s about the silence in the long, bright corridors during an overcast day. And when terror explodes, Sant keeps the looming, omnipresent cinematography in check. Both of these films are different in subject matter, yet both exist by a director with a trademark, inimitable style.


    #6. Lost In Translation
    (United Staes & Japan, 1.85:1, 101 min., dir. Sofia Coppola)

    Oh, the joy of people talking and not talking! Some reviews have suggested this as two different people meet up and talk and talk like this is the sequel to “Before Sunrise”. But this is no Linklater. Sofia Coppola made a great film from a few years ago called “The Virgin Suicides”, but this one is even better, about two isolated Americans in Japan who find an odd solace in each other while over there for vacation. Bill Murray plays a gifted, yet financially insecure actor who is shooting a few Japanese whiskey commercials (“For a relaxing time, make it Suntory time!”), while Scarlett Johansson plays a recently married woman who lingers around the hotel and the city while her husband (Giovanni Ribisi) is off doing photo shoots. Their friendship goes deeper and more interesting as the film goes on, never falling into the path of sex but rather interest of each other’s differences. The scene of the two friends relaxing in Murray’s hotel room is one of those scenes you wish you could frame on your wall.


    #7.All The Real Girls
    (United States, 1.85:1, 108 min., dir. David Gordon Green)

    I remember watching this movie in the theatre earlier this year and being just awestruck at the dialogue. It’s not realistic, it’s not in the style of how anyone would talk in real life, especially for these small-town folk in the middle of nowhere. And yet, everything in this movie from the twisted dialogue to the open widescreen photography, is heartfelt. It’s honest. It’s writing suggests something deeper and more philosophical than the two lovers (Paul Schnieder and Zooey Deschanel) can really say to each other. David Gordon Green, whose other film, “George Washington”, was also about lost people in the middle of nowhere, and during interviews for both films, he proved his individuality as a filmmaker: “I want to make movies that will make you go for a walk and think about it afterwards.”


    #8. The Barbarian Invasions
    (Canada, 2.39:1, 98 min., dir. Denys Arcand)

    Wow, what a followup! After the entertaining-but-you’re-better-than-this-Denys directed “Stardom”, here’s a film about death that really understands it is a part of life. A stubborn professor (Remy Girard) is dying of cancer, and it brings back his entire family, from his millionare son (Stephane Rosseau, who is simply wonderful in this film; he just isn’t getting as much attention as he should for his work here.) to a heroin addict (Marie-Josee Croze, whose few scenes in the film earned her the Best Actress award when it screened at Caanes) who helps Remy out of his pain. All of the events finalize at a lakehouse with all of Remy’s friends and family, who all have a wonderful, tearful time together before his parting.


    #9. Love Actually
    (United Kingdom, 2.39:1, 132 min., dir. Richard Curtis)

    “Love Actually” is a film so wonderful and pleasant, the happiest movie I’ve seen all year, that it demanded a spot on my Top 10 if for no other reason my heart leapt at the scene where a young boy runs after the girl of his dreams seconds before she’s to board a plane from London to New York. The film features several stories about people who are in love, out of love, or dream of finding love elsewhere, and everyone kind of connects and they don’t; Curtis’ themes of love being universal, despite a society that suggest otherwise, really stand out.


    #10. Dracula: Pages From A Virgin's Diary
    (Canada, 1.85:1, 74 min., dir. Guy Maddin)

    Guy Maddin’s films are like cinematic coffee; they just arouse your attention with its fascinating visuals and eccentric form of storytelling. I saw three Maddin films this year (the equally compelling “The Saddest Music In The World” featuring prosthetic legs made of beer, and the strange and addictive “Cowards Bend The Knee” which defies description other than it features VERY Canadian hockey against lots of wildly varying camera speeds and colors), but I admired this one the most, which stages the Royal Winnipeg Ballet version of Dracula, told through a mixture of vintage 1920’s film and bold, eye-popping colors. Or something like that. But nevertheless, “Dracula” shows a director who understands and uses his vision to entertain and provoke thought, in an era of filmmakers who are forced by upper hands to sell a “product” (well, hey, all films on this Top 10 and following are proof of this).

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Special Jury Mentions:
    #11. Master and Commander: The Far Side Of The World Just about made it! Peter Weir’s fascinating ship tale based on Patrick O’Briens novels is surprisingly philosophical and ethical, beautifully filmed and performed by Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany.
    #12. Down With Love This and “Stuck On You” are easily my favourite comedies this year, both intelligent and a boat load of fun. “Down With Love” is so tongue-in-cheek about it’s homage to 1960’s Cinemascope classics (right down to the opening Fox Fanfare logo!) that it’s impossible not to be charmed. It also features one of Renee’ Zellweger’s best moments in a long, single-take confessional.

    Other 2003 Releases, be it cable movies or festival fare, that must be mentioned:

    Angels In America Mike Nichols’ powerful miniseries about how earth and heaven connect during the breakout of AIDS in the 1980’s. Featuring Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson doing some of their best work.

    Distant Gus Van Sant wasn’t the only one paying homage to Tarkovsky this year. Hailing from Turkey, Neil Burge Ceylan’s beautifully (and intentionally) slow, brooding personal drama about a troubled father and son is not only full of a director’s personal vision, but has many interesting, slow moving scenes of family despair and silence; there’s also a scene where the father watches “Stalker” while his son is in the same room saying nothing, as well as one of the main themes of “Solaris” playing in the background.

    Dogville Lars Von Trier’s challenging yet fascinating film strips apart the bounds of many period dramas (and literally, with chalk outlines where the houses are supposed to be, a chalk outline of gooseberry bushes, and so on) and focuses on the real feelings of the characters. I can already see the film causing a stir upon it’s American release in 2004, and I can’t wait to see the reactions, positive or negative.

    Eighteen Honorable Mentions!!
    (Note: For the past two years I've listed the 13 films that followed the Top 12 so you could get a fair idea of what my Top 25 looks like. But since I've seen so many more films this year than ever before, I've opened up the gates a bit. The following is in alphabetical order.)

    American Splendor
    At Five In The Afternoon
    Bus 174
    City Of God
    Cowards Bend The Knee
    The Fog Of War
    The Last Samurai
    Owning Mahowny
    Raising Victor Vargas
    The Son
    Stuck On You
    To Be And To Have
    The Triplettes of Belleville
    Whale Rider
    Zero Day

    The Worst Films of 2003:

    #1. Bad Boys 2: "A mind-crushing bore" would be too slight a slam on this atrocity.

    #2. Dreamcatcher
    #3. A Guy Thing
    #4. The Life Of David Gale
    #5. Boat Trip
    #6. Dumb and Dumberer
    #7. Daddy Day Care and Cheaper By The Dozen (TIE)
    #8. The Cat In The Hat
    #9. The Order
    #10. The Matrix Revolutions

    Note: I gave “From Justin To Kelly” zero stars, but it isn’t really a film, so it is not on my bottom ten. It is pretty brutal, however.

    Assorted Musings, Goofy Awards and Such:

    The Resident Evil Award for Guilty Pleasure Film Of 2003: 2 Fast 2 Furious

    The My Big Fat Greek Wedding Award for Most Overrated Film of 2003: 28 Days Later

    The Visa Screening Room at The Vogue Award for Biggest Disappointment of 2003: Spy Kids 3D: Game Over

    Notable First-Time/First-Seen Performers in 2003:

    Jenna Boyd, The Missing and Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star
    Bobby Cannavale, The Station Agent
    Robert McNamara: The Fog Of War
    Stephane Rosseau, The Barbarian Invasions

    Loser Of The Year: Deluxe CAP Code: Yes, campers, we're all theives. We all pirate movies, download them, watch them on our hard drives, and the studio wants to send us all to jail. So what will they do to stop it? I can only imagine the studio meeting: "Why, instead of addressing the issue properly, let's just gunk up one twenty minute reel of film with ugly, yellow patterns that won't stop going away, and we'll also make people believe that by doing this we can accurately track the source of the pirate. Sure, we can't really track the pirate because A: he/she would have long left the theater and B: the markers are the same shape and location on every print, so we can never really track it anyway. And of course, no one will notice this code because it's only over a couple of frames!

    Well sorry, but we did notice. If you went to a movie in the last five months of the year, you most likely saw this ugly, blocky code all over the screen, messing up films such as "The Lord of the Rings: ROTK" (and especially the extended versions playing during trilogy tuesday), "Kill Bill", "Underworld", "Elf", "Freddy vs. Jason", "Master and Commander", and many many more. I mention these films in particular not only because these films garnered the most reaction from HTF members as well as film-tech.com members, but the film printing company, Deluxe, are the ones responsible for the Tetris-like blocks you see on these above movies. Technicolor's CAP code, which prints out Warner and Universal films, are far less intrusive and spaced-out on the film frames.

    MANY more comments coming over the next few days. Watch this post!
  3. Stephen R

    Stephen R Stunt Coordinator

    Mar 28, 2000
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    Top Ten of 2003

    1. KILL BILL, VOL. 1



    10. BAD SANTA

    Three Undistributed Films Of Note

    1. Harmful Insect (Japan, d. Akihiko Shiota) - A spare and nuanced film, Shiota's acute visuals and brilliant ellipses would be enough alone to carry the opaque narrative, but it's elevated to another plane entirely by the nearly wordless performance of Aoi Miyazaki, who, in one transcendental moment of acting, encapsulates the strange comfort afforded by a stranger in a time of need with an unexpected smile that haunts the remainder of the film. A kind of continental and stylistic antithesis to Catherine Hardwicke's decent Thirteen, this movie is the rare teenage film that views that period of flux with neither sentimental nor melodramatic eyes but rather an icy, fatalistic stare that's downright harrowing. It's shameful that this doesn't have an American distributor.

    2. Dogville (Denmark, d. Lars von Trier) - Lars von Trier distills his already distilled aesthetic to its very minimum and the effect is astonishing -- one wonders, though, where he could possibly venture next. Will get its American release next year, but cut or uncut? Let's hope the latter.

    3. Turning Gate (South Korea, d. Hong Sang-soo) - Divided in half, like a mirror that reflects the main character of the story, the structure is the most immediately attention-grabbing characteristic about this languorous gem. But as the characters deepen and the story begins to move towards its strangely therapeutic end, one realizes that there's much more here to admire than mere gimmick. Amazing performances, both by the male lead in the center and the two female leads on either side of the center, and a great sense of natural conversation are just two of its other virtues.

    Top Ten Older Films Seen

    1. Meshes of the Afternoon (1943, d. Maya Deren)
    2. The Shop Around the Corner (1940, d. Ernst Lubitsch)
    3. F for Fake (1975, d. Orson Welles)
    4. The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964, d. Pier Paolo Pasolini)
    5. Barton Fink (1991, d. Joel Coen)
    6. Lessons of Darkness (1992, d. Werner Herzog)
    7. Manhattan (1979, d. Woody Allen)
    8. A Woman Under the Influence (1974, d. John Cassavetes)
    9. Nanook of the North (1922, d. Robert J. Flaherty)
    10. Sátántangó (1994, d. Béla Tarr)

    Just testin' right now. Full list with comments should be up sometime tomorrow...
  4. Bill Harris

    Bill Harris Stunt Coordinator

    Apr 1, 2001
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    Top 10

    (1)The Lord of the Rings : The Return of the King
    (3)Lost in Translation
    (4)21 Grams
    (5)The Barbarian Invasions
    (6)City of God
    (7)At Five in the Afternoon
    (8)House of Sand and Fog
    (9)Whale Rider
    (10)The Last Samurai

    Edited out films from 2004.

    Maybe i will write something when i have some free time in the next couple of days.
  5. Travis_S

    Travis_S Supporting Actor

    Jan 14, 2001
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    St. Louis, Missouri
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    Top 10 of 2003
    (as of February 7th)


    1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King


    2. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World


    3. Finding Nemo


    4. Mystic River


    5. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl


    6. X2: X-Men United


    7. Kill Bill, Volume 1


    8. School of Rock


    9. 28 Days Later


    10. May

    Bottom 5 of 2003 (as of December 30th)
    1. Darkness Falls
    2. The Life of David Gale
    3. House of 1000 Corpses
    4. Final Destination 2
    5. Wrong Turn
  6. Nick Sievers

    Nick Sievers Producer

    Jul 1, 2000
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    Nick’s Top 10 of 2003

    Last Update: May 11th, 2004

    1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

    2. Kill Bill: Volume 1

    3. American Splendor

    4. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

    5. The Shape of Things

    6. The Station Agent

    7. Lost in Translation

    8. 21 Grams

    9. City of God

    10. Mystic River
  7. Justin_S

    Justin_S Producer

    Mar 4, 2001
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    Top 10 of 2003
    1: Irreversible
    2: 21 Grams
    3: Cabin Fever
    4: Identity
    5: House of Sand and Fog
    6: Elephant
    7: My Little Eye
    8: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
    9: City of God

    Bottom 5 of 2003
    1: Dreamcatcher
    2: Kill Bill Vol 1
    3: Bulletproof Monk
    4: The Cat in the Hat
    5: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

    Top 5's from past five years


    1: Frailty
    2: Secretary
    3: Solaris
    4: The Rules of Attraction
    5: Femme Fatale


    1: Mulholland Dr.
    2: Donnie Darko
    3: Memento
    4: Vanilla Sky
    5: Session 9


    1: Requiem for a Dream
    2: American Psycho
    3: Ginger Snaps
    4: Audition
    5: The Virgin Suicides


    1: The Blair Witch Project
    2: Ravenous
    3: The Green Mile
    4: Stir of Echoes
    5: Fight Club


    1: Dark City
    2: A Simple Plan
    3: Pi
    4: Cube
    5: Happiness

    Comments on my top 10 films coming soon!!!
  8. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

    Jan 23, 2000
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    I must confess that my top three are essentially a three way tie considering how much they keep shifting in order. I think all three of them are so excellent in casting, direction, and execution that I have trouble figuring out which on I love more. Their order is likely to shift

    1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - So perfect in so many ways. Inventive battle scenes with unbelievable scale while still being personal. Emotional moments completely earned and quite effective.
    2. Lost in Translation - Can't say enough about this film. Murray, Johansson, and Coppola all hit one out of the park with a subtle and personal film. I didn't want it to end, but it concluded with a classically perfect scene.
    3. Kill Bill: Volume 1 - An excellent homage that departs from Tarantino's charactaristic quotable monologues for some serious genre thrills. The only mark against it is the black and white sequence (hopefully cured on the DVD release).
    4. 28 Days Later - Deserves to rest alongside Night of and Dawn of the Dead as chilling visions of a zombie apocalypse. Makes effective use of it low budget through inventive digitial photography and a mostly unknown cast that gives it their all.
    5. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - I could not have been more pleasantly surprised than I was with this film, which I dismissed early on based on concept and a very bad teaser trailer. I would consider this to be an adventure film the likes of which we haven't seen since the 80's (and that's a good thing). That this film somehow still manages to give a nod to its origin without becoming laughable is also remarkable.
    6. X2: X-Men United - The rare sequel that lives up to, and in some cases surpasses, the original. Nicely scaled plot, not a lot of villain inflation, satisfying closure on Wolverine's past, and a capable setup for a future storyline. We can only hope that Spider-Man 2 is as good.
    7. May - Would have been overlooked had it not been for the campaigning by Scott Weinberg. Quite the effective study on the creepiest girl I ever fell in love with. Even better is that it doesn't fall into the slasher trap by having its antihero "get away clean". Superb work by Bettis and also Anna Faris (who is strangely in two of my favorites this year).
    8. City of God - Slick and inventively presented crime epic plays like a tragically youthful Godfather.
    9. Matchstick Men - Great and touching con movie made better by great performances by Lohman and Cage (who restrains the mannerisms of the character quite well). I will admit to not guessing the path of the plot because I was absorbed by the growth of the characters, which is always a good sign.
    10.Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World - Detailed and engrossing, Weir does a great job of giving you the feel of the period and the comaraderie of the crew.

    Just missed the Top 10
    The Rundown - Excellent action comedy in the tradition of Arnold's best.
    Bad Santa - The Anti-Christmas movie which was nicely profane and well delivered by the whole cast.

    Still to See
    21 Grams
    Big Fish
    House of Sand and Fog
    In America

    I have, for the most part, avoided most of the really bad films this year. The closest to bad was The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which is especially poor considering the outstanding source material. So I'll focus on most disappointing instead of Worst.

    Daredevil - What Spider-Man could have turned into, I suppose, under different circumstances
    The Matrix: Reloaded - Bloated with unecessary characters and sequences and nowhere near the blissful marriage of story, action, and effects that The Matrix was.
    The Matrix: Revolutions - Remarkable only in that it managed to downgrade its predecessor. Excellent special effects, but a failure in terms of working as a conclusion to Reloaded or as a conclusion to the series.
    Once Upon a Time in Mexico - Mishmash, but Johnny Depp was a real high point.
    Underworld - Interesting concept marred by seriously boring action sequences and some poor casting.

    * Edit - list added but more comments to be added after some sleep.
    * Edit2 - Saw Cold Mountain, which didn't quite make my list. However, Zellwegger has Supporting Actress locked as far as I'm concerned.
  9. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Oct 26, 1998
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    Updated 1/3/04

    My top 3 films are a lock at this time. But here are some potential Top 10 candidates that I have yet to see and just might give the rest of my list a little jolt: Bus 172, Decasia, The Fog of War, and Fog[/i], Shattered Glass, Ten and The Son

    My Top 10 for 2003:

    10.Gary Ross’ Seabiscuit

    9.Ken Loach’s Sweet Sixteen - Sometimes, a big film comes in a small package. And that is exactly what we get from director Ken Loach’s pic about a young kid from a working class family who wants to set things straight for his Mom but slowly descends into the same world that he is trying so much to get her out of and much worse. Newcomer Martin Compston gives a riveting performance as the young teenager. The film is an uncompromising look about a young man faced with so much adversity and desperation in a world that seems so cruel and hopeless.

    8.Gore Verbinski’s Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl - combines the elements of good storytelling, fine acting, incredible special effects, well-staged action sequences and a fitting musical score. This is the summer action film that actually delivers. Its script has wit and humor and Johnny Depp’s playfulness as Jack Sparrow is a hoot. There is not a single weak link in the entire cast.

    7.Quentin Tarrantino’s Kill Bill: Volume 1

    6.Thomas McCarthy’s The Station Agent

    5.Andrew Jarecki’s Capturing The Friedmans - succeeds where most documentaries fail. It gives an unbiased examination of its subject matter by presenting as many sides to the story as possible without the filmmaker’s personal views. One never really knows who is telling the truth because for every argument that is made, a corresponding rebuttal is presented in this child molestation case. Guilty or not, Andrew Jarecki’s work is informative journalism at its best.

    4.Peter Weir’s Master And Commander: The Other Side Of The World

    3.American Splendor - Its concept and delivery are brilliant as it combined archival footage, present-day narration and storytelling of its real life subjects along with the dramatized and re-enacted parts from its professional cast. Paul Giamatti, acted out the real life Harvey Pekar instead of just imitating him. Much like Pekar, who wrote about his mundane life into comic books, Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman who both served as co-directors and co-writers turned a simple story of a man into one of triumph and interest. As shown here, Pekar’s life is one of self-examination and introspection making it anything but mundane and simple. A refreshing film from beginning to end and I welcome more like it.

    2.Fernando Meirelles’ City of God (Brazil) - tells a gripping story of a poor and very dangerous place in Rio de Janeiro riddled with gangs, drugs and guns along with its lost and misguided souls - almost often starting at a very young and tender age for their survival. The results, as one can deduce, are very tragic. Meirelles’ style along with use of intersecting and tangential narratives lends the film a sense of topicality and urgency. His vibrant cast gives its raw power and energy.

    1.Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King – This year’s crown jewel.

    Beyond the Top 10:

    12.Dirty Pretty Things
    13.Finding Nemo
    14.He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not
    15.Open Range

    Bottom 5: Pass. I’d rather accentuate the positive.

    ~Edwin ô¿ô
  10. Scott_MacD

    Scott_MacD Supporting Actor

    May 13, 2001
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    1) The Lord of the Rings : The Return of the King - This film, far more than any other this year took me very nearly as far as cinema can. Expertly playing the entire palette of cinematic pleasures, astonishment, wonder, soul-freezing terror, wide-eyed awe, emotional investment and devastation. At it's finest, as I thought the film couldn't get better, it does, and does it again five minutes later. Flawlessly paced and edited, endlessly exciting, and adventure of the highest order. If all film writing is just one man's opinion, then I give you, the BEST FILM of 2003.

    2) Kill Bill Volume #1
    3) Lost in Translation
    4) Nowhere in Africa
    5) Mystic River
    6) Spellbound
    7) Whale Rider
    8) American Splendor
    9) Elephant
    10) The Matrix Reloaded

    Eleventh Place:
    The Magdalene Sisters
    Master and Commander : The Far Side of the World
    Finding Nemo
    Matchstick Men
    Russian Ark
    The Last Samurai
    All the Real Girls

    And I won't bother with a Worst Films list.. I have better old movies to watch than the obvious stinkers.

    City of God was on my list of 2002, and if it were included on this list,it would fit in around #4.

    Although of course, like Nick.. there's a great deal of films that have yet to hit our shores. So this list will be edited fairly frequently over 2004, too.

    And, for my own personal amusement.

    Twenty great films seen for the first time in 2003

    1) JFK : The Director's Cut
    2) The 400 Blows
    3) The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
    4) Ikiru
    5) Paths of Glory
    6) The Maltese Falcon
    7) The Adventures of Robin Hood
    8) Sunset Boulevard
    9) Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast
    10) The Lavender Hill Mob
    11) The Lady Vanishes
    12) Throne of Blood
    13) Rashomon
    14) Nixon
    15) Heavenly Creatures
    16) Kes
    17) Mississippi Burning
    18) Peeping Tom
    19) The Man in the White Suit
    20) A Christmas Story
  11. Kevin Leonard

    Kevin Leonard Supporting Actor

    Mar 11, 2001
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    (Note: I have much more to add, but for now I'll just toss up my Top 10 at the moment)

    Top 10 Films of 2003
    1. Capturing the Friedmans
    2. Big Fish
    3. Spellbound
    4. American Splendor
    5. Hulk
    6. Down With Love
    7. Irreversible
    8. Master and Commander: Far Side of the World
    9. Gerry
    10. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  12. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

    Feb 22, 2000
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    Top 10 Academy Rules
    1) The Shape Of Things
    After expanding his horizons with a pretty wonderful romance, Possession, Neil LaBute returns to his "let's hurt somebody" esthetic full force in this filmed version of his stage play. Still the most thought provoking film I've seen this year with its questions about artistic responsibility and whether morality is a necessary ingredient to an artist, or an inhibition.

    Other comments to follow

    2) Kill Bill Vol. 1
    3) The Barbarian Invasions
    4) Russian Ark
    5) Tibet: Cry Of The Snow Lion
    6) Stevie
    7) Lilya 4-Ever
    8) The Cooler
    9) Open Range
    10) The Man Without A Past

    Most here choose to use the US/Canada 1st release and I'll abide by that. Here is a list according to world 1st release:
    Top 10 World 1st Release
    1) The Shape Of Things
    2) Kill Bill Vol. 1
    3) The Barbarian Invasions
    4) Tibet: Cry Of The Snow Lion
    5) Stevie
    6) The Cooler
    7) Open Range
    8) X2: X-Men United
    9) Northfork
    10) Intolerable Cruelty
  13. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

    Feb 8, 2001
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    Cold Mountain, Mystic River and Monster remain as my big must sees

    BEST 10 FILMS I SAW IN 2003 (festival titles included)

    1) In America

    2) Lord of the Rings: The Return of the the King

    3) 800 Balas (800 Bullets)

    4) City of God

    5) Finding Nemo

    6) The Missing

    7) Peter Pan

    8) House of Sound and Fog

    9) Whale Rider

    10) Lost in Translation (tie)

    10) Pirates of the Caribbean (tie)

    runner up: American Splendor


    10) Intolerable Cruelty (tie)

    10) Los Lunes al Sol (Mondays in the Sun) (tie)

    honorable mentions
    Master and Commander
    Big Fish
    Anger Management
    Neko no Ongaeshi (the cat returns)
    Matrix: Reloaded
    Tripletts of Belleville

    1) In America
    2) Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
    3) City of God
    4) Finding Nemo
    5) The Missing
    6) Peter Pan
    7) House of Sound and Fog
    8) Whale Rider
    9) Pirates of the Carribbean
    10) Lost in Translation (tie)
    10) American Splendor (tie)
  14. Kristian

    Kristian Supporting Actor

    Jun 16, 2001
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    Last Updated: 09/04/04
    Total 2003 Films Seen: 60

    Top Ten of 2003


    1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

    Everything that I love about the movies is in full display in Peter Jackson's glorious final chapter to this saga: A moving story with great drama, brilliant acting, breathtaking cinematography, awe-inspiring action, beautiful music and humor in all the right places. I left the theater with a great joy that is still with me today.


    2. Love Actually

    Before Return of the King, this was the 2003 film that had most made me happy. Without ever feeling awkward, the film manages to be both deeply moving (the moment Jason Whyte mentioned with the little boy at the airport nearly made me cry) and extremely funny (like with all of Bill Nighy's scenes).


    3. Finding Nemo

    Pixar does it again. Nuff said.


    4. Lost in Translation

    Following her stellar debut The Virgin Suicides (which, btw, is one of my favorite "first-time" viewings of the year), Sofia Coppola gave us a very smart, funny and charming film with a career-best performance by Bill Murray and another winning turn by Scarlett Johansson.


    5. Kill Bill Volume 1

    Pure exhilirating fun at the movies. Well, maybe not so pure, considering all the gore. [​IMG]


    6. X2: X-Men United

    Much better than the original X-Men, X2 is also the finest comic-book adaptation since Richard Donner's Superman: The Movie. It was thrilling to see elements of such classic X-Men stories as "God Loves, Man Kills" and "The Dark Phoenix Saga" on the big-screen. Kudos to Bryan Singer for being true to the spirit of the comics.


    7. School of Rock

    After seeing the trailer, I never thought I'd go to see this film, let alone have it in my top ten. But the great reviews convinced me to go see it and I'm glad I did. Jack Black is hilarious here, but the kids really steal the show. The movie displays a real love for music (not just rock and roll) and that's one of the reasons why I loved it so much.


    8. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

    A movie no one expected to be any good turned out to be one of the most entertaining and successful blockbusters in recent years. Johnny Depp's performance here is absolutely wonderful and shouldn't be overlooked for the awards.


    9. The Last Samurai

    Sure, it's not the most original of epics, but what made it stand out for me was the respect the movie had for the samurai. There is a very mournful tone to the film as you see this fascinating way of life of the samurai swiftly being destroyed. You really understand why Tom Cruise's character turns on his own people to defend that way of life. An excellent performance by Ken Watanabe cements this movie's place on my top ten.


    10. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

    One of the major themes of 2003 in film has been that friendship, love and loyalty are stronger than any obstacle. We see this in the relationship between Frodo and Sam in The Return of the King and it's also what drives Master and Commander. You can tell that Captain Aubrey and Doctor Maturin are old friends and even though their perilous voyage puts that friendship to the test, it isn't enough to break it. I should also mention Peter Weir's strong direction here. You really do get the sense that you are with these people on this ship, experiencing what they experience.

    Bottom Five of 2003

    1. Madame Satã

    A potentially interesting biopic about a Brazilian drag queen instead turned out to be one of the ugliest movies of this or any year. The lead character is not only a criminal, but an absolute jerk to boot. He treats everyone he meets in the film like garbage for absolutely no reason. One moment he's talking with someone and the next he inexplicably lashes out in anger. The movie is shot to make everything look darker and grimier than it would normally look, making it even harder to feel anything but disgust while watching the film. To top things off, the very reason for there being a biopic about this person (his transformation into Madame Sata) is only briefly dealt with in the film's coda.

    2. The Medallion

    I've put up with a lot of flawed Jackie Chan movies because he always seems to redeem his movies with his humor and agility. But alas, he could not save this one. The script is too awful to give Chan anything funny to do or say and the action sequences are boring because they rely on too much bad CG.

    3. All the Real Girls

    I understand this movie has a lot of fans, but I'm sorry to say that it nearly put me to sleep. Not even the charming Zooey Deschanel could make me care about anything going on in this film.

    4. Cradle 2 the Grave

    Why did I pay to see this? I really have no idea. I must've been really desperate to see a movie that day.

    5. Bringing Down the House

    At least I know why I paid to see this one: The trailer was mildly amusing and I really like Steve Martin and Eugene Levy. But even the best laughs in the trailer were rendered unfunny by the film's blatant racism and sheer stupidity.

    Top Ten Older Films Seen for the First Time in 2003

    1. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
    2. Safety Last! (1923)
    3. Unforgiven (1992)
    4. The Color Purple (1985)
    5. 12 Angry Men (1957)
    6. Show Me Love (Fucking Åmål) (1998)
    7. The Virgin Suicides (2000)
    8. American Beauty (1999)
    9. Grand Canyon (1991)
    10. All About My Mother (Todo Sobre Mi Madre) (1999)
  15. Craig S

    Craig S Producer

    Mar 4, 2000
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    League City, Texas
    Real Name:
    Craig Seanor
    I feel 2003 was a decent year for film. Like last year, I saw only a few great films, but there were a lot of very good films. Anyway, here's the latest cut of my Top Ten:
    1. The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
    2. Finding Nemo
    3. American Splendor
    4. City Of God
    5. All The Real Girls
    6. Kill Bill Vol. 1
    7. In America
    8. Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World
    9. Open Range
    10. Lost In Translation
    Bubbling Under - these 12 films were at one time in (or in consideration for) my Top Ten. All are very worthy contenders. In alphabetical order:
    • 21 Grams
    • Better Luck Tomorrow
    • Big Fish
    • A Mighty Wind
    • The Missing
    • Mystic River
    • Owning Mahowny
    • Pirates Of The Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl
    • School Of Rock
    • Seabiscuit
    • Thirteen
    • Whale Rider
    I have seen a total of 87 2003 films. Here are the Top Ten contenders I have yet to see:
    • The Fog of War
    I try to avoid bad movies, but here's the bottom 5 I saw this year, with number 1 being the worst:
    1. Bringing Down The House
      The Core
      The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen
      Anger Management
  16. Chazz_S

    Chazz_S Supporting Actor

    Oct 8, 2002
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    2. Kill Bill Vol. 1

    3. 28 Days Later

    4. Master and Commander

    5. Finding Nemo

    6. Big Fish

    7. Seabiscuit

    8. X2

    9. Pirates of the Caribbean

    10. Hulk
  17. Nick C.

    Nick C. Second Unit

    Dec 27, 2001
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    USA release date eligibility
    2003 list of movies watched


    1. 21 Grams
    Startingly strong acting; Inarritu's time-fractured narrative reaches deep and personal to surpass "Amores Perros". Hope this auteur's (*cough* no book adaptations or remakes here [​IMG]) wishes to complete this trilogy are fulfilled.

    2. Charlotte Sometimes
    Quiet yet intimate and atmosphere-filled; in a vein akin to "All the Real Girls", I swoon for these elegaic glimpses of relationships.

    3. Mystic River
    Part trumatic victim psychology, part tragic noir, all gripping. Just sit back and behold acting at its best, Go Robbins!

    4. Capturing the Friedmans
    Depth of investigation and intrigue reminiscent of Errol Morris' best; stirring family drama.

    5. To Be and to Have
    Touching in its simplicity, darned kids [​IMG]. I wish I had such a personalized and attentive primary education experience.

    6. Mondays in the Sun
    Drowning in grim economy and booze, love and friendships continue to prevail. Bardem does it again.

    7. Thirteen
    Real life to the max, family dysfunctionality and peer pressure. Best actress ensemble of year in Wood, Hunter, et al.

    8. The Last Samurai
    Most elaborate production, from cinematography to combat choreography. Minimizing Japanese dialogue, maximizing tradition and heart. Hope Cruise continues his line of solid colloborating directors: Kubrick, PTA, Spielberg, now Mann.

    9. Raising Victor Vargas
    Heart-felt and humorous portrayal of young love, brilliant beginnings for this young cast.

    10. Buffalo Soldiers
    Bitingly funny, worth the 2-year wait past censorship.

    11. My Life Without Me
    Facing pre- and post-death one subtle moment at a time . Polley continues her evolution with unforgettable roles.

    12. Open Hearts
    Triangular tragedy, sharp, unsentimentalized, affecting...the reason why Dogme 95 was invented.

    13. Kill Bill vol.1
    Who needs a damsel in distress in "Paycheck" when you have The Bride? LOTR anticipation projected on to Apr. 16 instead. Can't get enough of the soundtrack.

    14. The Station Agent
    Tender and touching, giant-sized hearts and wits. What a debut for first-time auteur Thomas McCarthy.

    15. Open Range
    Adept portrayal of way of life slipping away but worth the effort to try to experience and save. Can't go wrong with baseball or Westerns [​IMG]

    Honorable mention: All the Real Girls, The Fog of War, xx/xy, Lost in Translation

    Helluva year for documentaries, from suspense to sit-back appreciation, they were a joy to experience. I was even thinking of plopping down a brief list of my favourite docs of the year so as to not mix them in with the features, but fearing too much bandwidth hogging and self-indulgence, I'll stick with the above [​IMG]
  18. Doug R

    Doug R Supporting Actor

    Oct 26, 2000
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    Top 10 of 2003

    1. Monster
    2. City of God
    3. 21 Grams
    4. Kill Bill, Vol. 1
    5. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
    6. 28 Days Later
    7. Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door
    8. Thirteen
    9. Whale Rider
    10. Irreversible
  19. Robert Anthony

    Robert Anthony Producer

    Aug 31, 2003
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    don't really any have any comments that I haven't already given in some forum or another, and I've noticed that through the 60 or so movies I saw this year--the dramas didn't really do much for me. I mean, I'm looking at my list, I'm seeing a fair amount of genre and blockbuster flicks, and it's not like I'm a huge genre fan, but it just seemed that the Genre flicks, the blockbusters--were just better made and more filling than some of the dramas, which ended up being a little more overwrought and obvious. Weird year in that respect. But then again, it's like saying "I thought I'd be getting lobster and chocolate mousse" but instead it was like "Here's your barbecue ribs and a bacardi and coke"

    Hell, I'm still grubbing up, right? [​IMG]

    Plus, there's a rather obvious cheat going on, but yunno--it WAS a new release, advertised as such, and hell, I'm going to count it. You'll know what it is when you see it.

    anyway, that said, here we go...

    10. X Men 2
    9. American Splendor
    8. Bad Santa
    7. Mystic River
    6. Lost in Translation
    5. Kill Bill Vol 1
    4. 28 Days Later
    3. Finding Nemo
    2. ALIEN: The Director's Cut
    1. The Lord of the Rings-The Return of the King
  20. Matt Pelham

    Matt Pelham Screenwriter

    Mar 13, 2002
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    1. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
    2. Kill Bill Vol. 1
    3. Lost in Translation
    4. Finding Nemo
    5. City of God
    6. Pirates of the Carribean
    7. X2: X-Men United
    8. Spellbound
    9. Raising Victor Vargas
    10. The Matrix Reloaded

    I consider this list temporary, as I still have NOT seen: City of God, Lost in Translation, Big Fish, Cold Mountain, 21 Grams, Pieces of April, Thirteen, Capturing the Friedmans, Raising Victor Vargas, Master and Commander, School of Rock, Love Actually, American Splendor, In America, Open Range, Hero, Whale Rider, Monster, House of Sand and Fog, and several other critically acclaimed movies, but will once they are released on DVD.

    edit # 1+2: 1/19 added Raising Victor Vargas + Spellbound
    edit # 3 2/9 added Lost in Translation and City of God

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