Top Ten of 2002 #1. ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU-CHOU A vivid, confounding patchwork detailing moments of definition in the lives of some Japanese youths, Shunji Iwai's All About Lily Chou-Chou represents the kind of daring, remarkable youth filmmaking that flourished during the French New Wave. Unbound by narrative conventions and archetypical teen-film elements, the movie flows freely from brutal to gentle. The brazen disregard for signposts and directional guides along the way is exactly the thing that makes its depictions of #2. PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE Comments coming... #3. DEVILS ON THE DOORSTEP Comments coming... #4. Donnie Darko - I must admit an affection of sorts to these types of films. There aren’t many things I like more in film than man-sized bunny rabbits with carnivorous insect faces portentously predicting the apocalyptical doom of man, jet engines falling through suburban houses with no plane to link them to, and coming-of-age stories punctuated by theories of time travel vessels that link with individual humans by means of a long, gooey cylinder that extends from the chest. It’s like Ghost World directed by David Lynch with a helping of Being John Malkovich. But Richard Kelly puts his own stamp on this creation with truly brilliant casting and a script that dares us to second-guess it – it’s filled to the brim with memorable twists. This is also one of the best directorial debuts of the year; Kelly balances Donnie’s dark, perhaps psychotic delusions with a cockeyed, humorous vision of the 80s that’s both absurdist and reverent, and his use of slow-motion is inspired, often and appropriately displaying ludicrousness rather than grace or style. A bonus: the movie gives Patrick Swayze his best role since, well, ever. #5. Memento - While the impact of watching Memento is, not surprisingly, somewhat diluted upon multiple viewings, the joyous act of viewing bravura, audacious filmmaking remains intact. Like Mulholland Drive and Waking Life though not is such a discreet manner, Memento’s main character, Leonard Shelby, is trapped in a recurring dream/nightmare of sorts. He exists for the sole purpose of exacting revenge on those who left him with such a blindingly depressing final mental Polaroid. Some critics attacked Nolan’s screenplay as being gimmicky. In essence, it is, but the high-concept premise certifies and justifies it. Through patient repetition, Nolan builds a fully contained meta-universe for Leonard, complete with its own set of rules, that gradually builds steam in defiance of all former rules of filmmaking: a story told backwards should lose momentum. When it finally arrives at its bleak, existential faux-beginning, Memento daringly suggests that a mans id is only as stable as his memories allow it to be, and memories exist on shaky ground. #6. In the Mood for Love - Comments coming. #7. The Royal Tenenbaums - Comments coming. #8. Va Savoir - Comments coming. #9. The Princess and the Warrior - Comments coming. #10. The Day I Became a Woman - Comments coming. 10 Runners-Up (In Preferential Order): A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Songs From the Second Floor, Monster's Ball, Waking Life, The Others, Kandahar, Amelie, The Devil's Backbone, The Man Who Wasn't There, Monsters, Inc..