|1. A Beautiful Mind
||1. In The Bedroom
|Ron Howard's unique direction showcases mental illness in a unique
and telling style and Russell Crowe gives another powerful performance.
A film that follows the struggles of John Nash, who has a mind that sees
the universe in mathematical terms but expands to a world that doesn't
exist, rendering him incapable of functioning normally. With help
from Jennifer Connelly as his wife he perseveres and in a magnificent climax
is recognized with a Nobel prize.
||Director and co-writer Todd Field makes a surprisingly assured debut
of a film set in Maine where tragedy and grief makes for a measured, yet
unexpectedly powerful drama. A music teacher and a town doctor who
are married and suffer a terrible loss are played marvelously for the disparate
emotions resulting by Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson. And Marisa
Tomei also makes a memorable turn in this unforgettably graceful tale which
ultimately can't bear its domestic destruction.
|2. The Majestic
|Jim Carey in a performance more like Jimmy Stewart than the Grinch
warms the hearts of folks in a small town who believe he is a returning
World War II soldier lost nine years before. The Majestic is the
town's movie house which reopens as he returns. The entire town works
through wrenching emotions with a Frank Capra style ending that brings
tears but leaves us feeling good.
||Christopher Nolan's expertly written non-linear story of murder and
betrayal on the outskirts of LA grabs one with style and authenticity into
the dilemma faced by Guy Pearce's ex-insurance investigator afflicted with
short-term memory loss. Joe Pantiolano and Carrie Ann Moss (both
of The Matrix) provide service
and conflict for a man who uses photos with captions and tattoos as clues
to avenge the murder of his wife in this stimulating reversing suspenser.
|In what is probably the smartest and best script of the year, this
animated feature is a joyful telling of many fairy tales featuring an ogre
named Shrek who must save a princess and over come a dragon with the help
of reluctant donkey. Shrek brings animation one more step toward
reality but it's the bright script that makes the film outstanding.
||This fractured-fairy tale of an ogre's love and the truth of beauty
coming from within is top-notch computer animation abetted by the voices
of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and Cameron Diaz whose Princess Fiona likes
||4. Mulholland Drive
|Audrey Tautou's Amelie is a delight to watch - she is charming, captivating
and endearing. A simple story (in French with sub titles) leads us
around the Montmartre section of Paris as she helps and encourages average
people to reach for a better life. An enthralling warm fulfilling
story about real people.
||David Lynch makes an oddly fascinating story from the serpentine titular
LA setting that channels life extension through dreams with mesmerizing
power through Naomi Watts delusional actress. Before "Silencio" is
heard, Lynch's wickedly inventive directing works on many levels with a
mysteriously haunting quality daringly met by Watts who can surprise with
her innocence and an unforeseen sensuality.
of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
||5. A Beautiful Mind
|The J.R.R. Tolkien epic story of good versus evil exquisitely presented
by Director Peter Jackson with stunning scenes both real and created.
Elijah Wood's Frodo embodies goodness in a mysterious, thrilling, exhilarating
action packed big adventure film in Middle Earth.
||Ron Howard's film chronicling the life of mathematical genius John
Nash diagnosed with schizophrenia allows Russell Crowe to internally battle
delusions arguably with more range than he showed in Gladiator
where he won an Academy Award for Best Actor. It's hard not to dislike
this unsympathetic performance which is so good because of Jennifer Connelly's
generous supporting role as Nash's frustrated, yet undaunted wife Alicia,
who was a Physics student before they married when he taught her (not so
well in studies) at MIT. The chemistry between Crowe and Connelly
sparks in more ways than Howard can keep the material from lagging beneath
of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
|Director Christopher Nolan presents a revenge film in backward format.
The murder mystery is presented scene by scene: the last shown is the first
in the story. This unique presentation is compelling and irresistible.
||The first installment of the trilogy shot simultaneously drawn from
the indelible Tolkien books has the right stuff when it comes to sweeping,
mythic adventure and tight bonds when it comes to its characters. From
the bucolic shires to the Morian mines, the attempt to preserve Middle
Earth from the sinister Sauron is directed with a colossal visual aptitude
to make one care about those affected by a ring which has a stealth and
unsettling power associated with it.
|7. Mulholland Drive
||7. Moulin Rouge
|Director David Lynch presents a fascinating tale filled with the confusion
he is famous for. With a haunting daring performance by Naomi Watts
we are never sure when each scene takes place, only to learn in the end
that it is the beginning of this weird compelling chronicle.
||In revisiting the fin de siecle times in Paris, Baz Luhrmann
has made a visually frenetic musical that reaches wondrously. Leads
Nicole Kidman and Ewan MacGregor are febrilely paired to make its elaborate,
pressing production able to dazzle in sight and sound even if it is overcome
by absinthe and consumption.
|8. In The Bedroom
||8. Ghost World
|Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson deal with the murder of their son by
Marisa Tomei's estranged husband. As the legal process drags the
husband and wife find their emotions exploding until they can no longer
stand the pain. Performances carry this powerful drama.
||"Accentuate the negative" is the slogan of this unusual, yet engaging
adaptation of Daniel Clowes dark comic strip from Terry Zwigoff ("Crumb").
Thora Birch and Steve Buscemi are quite appealing as two people separated
by age but not by artistic interests or a general apathy.
||9. Black Hawk Down
|Steven Spielberg's interpretation of a film which was a Stanley Kubrick
project deals with the love an android, played by Haley Joel Osment, gives
to his adopted mother even when he is abandoned by her. The film
has an epic scope, stunning scenes and a heart rendering story.
||Ridley Scott's unwavering direction of harrowing war sequences of a
botched rescue attempt in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993 overcomes preachiness
and has something politically relevant to say while realistically praising
those doomed behind enemy lines.
|10. Monsters, Inc.
|Sully Sullivan and Mike Wazowski are animated monsters who scare up
energy by frightening little kids. The twist is that the monsters
are fearful of the kids and will do anything not to be touched by them.
But when little Boo sneaks into their alternate universe, they can't help
falling in love with her and protecting her from the bad monsters.
This is a film that's a joy to watch.
|Steven Spielberg completes the intriguing project begun by his late
colleague, Stanley Kubrick. The result is a darker sci-fi tale than expected,
loathed by many, even if Haley Joel Osment goes the distance to find something
special he needs as a child robot.