Projections - Movie Reviews

Top Films of 2002

Frank Jim Howard
1. Chicago 1. Gangs of New York
Rob Marshall directs Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones in a spectacular stunning sizzling flawless musical adventure. The two flapper murders bask in celebrity light guided by lawyer Richard Gere.  Worthy of a standing ovation. Martin Scorsese has made a seething epic with dense trajectory into how the mean streets of New York evolved from corruption, greed and brutality.  Leonardo DiCaprio represents the Irish immigrants and Daniel Day-Lewis the Protestant Nativist known as Bill "The Butcher."
2. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 2. Far From Heaven
A stunning beautiful sequel with spectacular special effects, background and story. Todd Haynes works with Julianne Moore who is a 1957 Hartford housewife affected by her husband's (Dennis Quaid) coming out of the closet as she works to help cure his illness. The recreation of the fifties melodrama is further enhanced by her affection for Dennis Haysbert her eloquent compassionate gardener.
3. Catch Me If You Can 3. The Hours
Leonardo DiCaprio as a seventeen year old fools FBI agent Tom Hanks as he impersonates a lawyer, pilot and doctor.  Great fun and a fascinating true ending. Stephen Daldry's film about the influence of Mrs. Dalloway seamlessly spans several decades with penetrating performances by Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore and Merly Streep in roles battling depression and dealing with suppressed longings.
4. 25th Hour 4. Y Tu Mama Tambien
Spike Lee moves Edward Norton through twenty four hours as he prepares for a 7 year prison term and contemplates how he got where he is.  Powerful, intriguing and unrelenting story of regret and fear for the 25th Hour. Alfonso Cuaron's Mexican eclectically shot road picture is more than a provocative coming-of-age film.  It has deep insight into social and political elements as two rebellious teens learn much about life and themselves from an erotic, intelligent older woman.
5. The Hours 5. Adaptation
The best screen play of the year finds Nicole Kidman, writing Mrs. Dalloway at the turn of the century as she contemplates suicide.  Julianne Moore in the fifties is confused frustrated and unable to relate to her son and husband as she reads the book.  Meryl Streep in 2000 deals with the end result of the book and the other women as their stories are told in parallel.  A classic beautiful film. Spike Jonze directs this eccentric, ingenious creation that has Nicolas Cage in a memorable dual role.  Meryl Streep is an author and a witty Chris Cooper as her subject of the book "The Orchid Thief" which Cage is adapting into a screen play.
6. Far From Heaven 6. Monsoon Wedding
Julianne Moore in a great performance as a fifties woman who keeps up appearances while her husband (Dennis Quaid) comes out of the closet and she has feelings for Dennis Haysbert her gardener. Mira Nair's sumptuous celebration of culture, tradition, and the complexities of modern times during an arranged wedding in India.
7. Adaptation 7. Chicago
Nicolas Cage is two brothers the main one is adapting a book "The Orchid Thief" into a screen play.  But can't complete the work until he lives the ending.  Creative screen play and direction by Spike Jonze. Rib Marshall turns stage and choreography into a dynamic experience on the screen in a homage to Bob Fosse, who first staged the play in 1975.  Renee Zellweger is riveting and Catherine Zeta-Jones is sexy as the two rivals work with Richard Gere's lawyer.
8. Minority Report 8. Frida
Steven Speilberg guides accused police enforcer Tom Cruise in a spectacular science fiction/political plot laced with dramatic special effects. Salma Hayek immerses herself into iconic Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.  Her tumultuous, torturous life is reflected in her work from the heart.  The film also benefits from the performance of Alfred Molina as philandering artist and Frida's Communist-supporting husband.
9. Road to Perdition 9. Bowling for Columbine
Powerful performance by hit man Tom Hanks as he works to protect his son from the gang.  Smoothly told tale by voice over from the son in the future. Michael Moore's scathing documentary on America's love of guns goes overboard with NRA president Charlton Heston, but it's witty and compelling premise that race and fear may be at the core of the tragic events at Littleton, Colorado.
10. The Rookie 10. Rabbit-Proof Fence
A thoroughly enjoyable true baseball story of a thirty eight year old rookie (Dennis Quaid) who makes it to the majors. Philip Noyce's shattering tale about horrors few know about perpetuated upon Aborigines in Australia.  Nicely understated role for Kenneth Branagh who sends a search party out to stop three desperate sisters taking the long way home.

1. My Big Fat Greek Weding
A truly adorable film that came out of nowhere to win over our hearts and minds, as Nia Vardalos challenges the idea that nice Greek girls marry Greek boys, have Greek babies and feed everyone until the day they die.
2. About A Boy
A wonderful blending of both humor and drams.  Hugh Grant portrays a single, self-absorbed man until he meets up with a young boy while trying to pick up another boy's mother.  Guess who changes.
3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
We return again to Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.  Harry Potter and crew battle dark forces as they are joined by a new Professor Gilderoy Lockhart, wonderfully portrayed by Kenneth Branagh.
4. Possession
A passionate, vividly striking film which bridges two eras in the language of love.  The Victorian England scenes are opulent and full of detail with a right-on-interpretation of periodic atmosphere.  Director Neal LaBute does a stellar job in balancing both worlds through the utilization of love letters to advance our escalating interest in the lives of all four main characters.  A charming romantic movie.
5. Die Another Day
Pierce Brosnan returns as agent 007, who comes up against a North Korean General Zao, who has a devise that allows him to change his facial features.  Bond travels to Iceland with new Bond girl Halle Berry to unmask the traitor and prevent war.  A lavish large film with all the essentials, guns, gadgets and girls.
6. Austin Powers in Goldmember
In this installment, Dr. Evil and his accomplice Mini-Me escape from a maximum security prison and Mike Myers' Austin is called to action to foil his arch enemy who has fiendish plans.  Yea Baby, this film is the best of all the comic satires on spy flicks.
7. Ciao America
The story of Lorenzo Primavera, an unsettled Italian American college graduate who travels to Italy to coach a team of Italians playing American football.  While coaching, he meets and falls in love with Paola Angelini, a headstrong young Italian music student, who forces him to face the same decision his immigrant grandfather faced seventy years earlier.
8. Tuck Everlasting
Disney Pictures bring us a visually stunning, brilliantly acted and beautifully crafted adaptation of Natalie Babbitt's classic fantasy book.  This enchanting motion picture, directed by Jay Russell, explores such universal concepts a being young, first love, friendships, growing and and the wonderment of life itself.
9. Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
Again we return to a galaxy far, far away.  I love the entire series.  Star Wars-Episode 2 is an enjoyable fantasy film filled with spectacle, special effects, R2D2 and C3PO, and even some Jar-Jar Binks.  May the Force be with us forever.  I can't wait for Episode III.
10. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The continuing quest of Frodo Baggins and the Fellowship that has joined together to destroy the One Ring and stand against the Leader of the dark side.  This is an amazing project with wonderful character development, extraordinary battle scenes and a mystic world of sights and wonderment.