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Mar 16, 2010

Fletch's Favored Five: 2002 in Film

Now, the fifth in a continuing series in which I count down my favorites from a particular year in film. Previous entries:

1997 * 1991 * 1984 * 1988

I'm going to use my friend Wikipedia to kickstart my brain, year by year, and I'll throw out a Favored Five here and there. If you want to refresh your memory in a similar fashion, just go to Wiki and type "[four-character year] in film." Here's the one for 2002. I won't pretend that Wiki is the end-all, be-all of filmic knowledge or that these yearly lists are 100% accurate, but they're an excellent place to start and a great resource.

I've seen much of what was released in 2002, and...it was not good. None of the movies on either my Favored Five or the honorable mentions list will ever sniff my Top 10 (or 20), and though I may be missing some less notable movies that I haven't seen that could be good (that's a lot of qualifiers) like 24 Hour Party People or something, I could find only a handful of higher profile flicks that I missed, and none of them were wide releases or anything like that, if they even made their way into my town. Yes, I desperately need to see City of God, but short of that, I don't feel as though I'm missing much.

Also, Chicago won Best Picture in 2002. Not a banner year for filmmaking.

Notable movies not yet seen:
About a Boy
City of God
Infernal Affairs
The Pianist

Honorable mentions:
The Hours
One Hour Photo

5. Catch Me If You Can
The first of two films in my top five directed by Steven Spielberg. Quite a year for a man with an already impressive resume. Catch is a meaningless lark, but a brilliantly made one nonetheless, with an all-time great opening credits sequence, a globe-trotting protagonist, Chris Walken, and a deep cast that includes a who's who list of current female leads (Amy Adams, Liz Banks, Garner and Pompeo). What's not to love?

4. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The eight-hour battle set piece at Helm's Deep doesn't really do all that much for me (particularly the slaptsticky elements), but that's nitpicking at the what's still one of the best action/adventure pics of the decade. Carried by the usual strong performance of Viggo Mortensen, as well as his groovy relationship with Orlando Bloom's Legolas and the should-have-been-starmaking role for Karl Urban, doing his best Brad Pitt circa Legends of the Fall impression (kinda). Points to Brad Dourif's Wormtongue as well, though I dig Gandalf the Grey a lot more than the amnesiac White version.

3. 28 Days Later
I haven't seen all that many, but this is the most well-made zombie film (yea Nick, I said it) not named Shaun of the Dead. The first 40 minutes is phenomenal, and though the film does the Danny Boyle-trademarked Going Off the Rails in the Final Act, it's not nearly enough to take away from the overall quality.

2. Minority Report
Speaking of awful endings, I can't think of an ending that killed an otherwise great movie for Mrs. Fletch more. The similarly trademarked Spielbergian Happy Ending bothered me, but not to the extent it did so many others; what bothers me more is that Cruise's wife is played by the Chick From Cold Case that Can't Stop Squinting. God, she's annoying. Anyway, tremendous action flick here, fueled by yet another kickass Phillip K. Dick story. Everyone, even Colin Farrell killing another American accent shines, particularly the spellbinding Samantha Morton. I can't believe I don't own this on DVD.

1. The Bourne Identity
Like the somewhat similar Ronin, this is a no bullsh*t action film that never insults your intelligence. Sure, the amnesiac angle is a bit of a stretch, but aside from that setup (inherited from the Robert Ludlum novels), it's played straight-up, and director Doug Liman (doing his best work outside of Go) gets the perfect straight man in Matt Damon, who established himself as a brainy-yet-still-tough guy spy. The action is somewhat sparse, but in an era where we've overburdened with shootouts and explosions, the tension in between makes the few explosive scenes all the better.

18 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Favored Five: 2002 in Film"

Daniel Getahun said...

2002 was an interesting year. In my run down of the worst movies of the decade it ended up being the worst year of the decade, in fact.

But then, of course, I listed City of God as my favorite movie of the decade - by a long shot. In just over two hours it completely blew away my limited understanding of both foreign films and the artistic power of cinema.

It's too bad that you missed it in its moment in the spotlight, though, because whenever you finally do see it, it will be impossible for it to live up to the hype. So it goes for all classics, I suppose, but I'm too young to have seen all the old classics make their initial mark.

Nick said...

No! NO! I WILL NOT LET YOU LIVE THIS DOWN! As they said in the latest "MatineeCast," SCANDALOUS!

It is not a zombie movie, it is not a zombie movie, it is not a zombie movie...

See, you even drove me into using comma splices...

*cries and runs away*

The Mad Hatter said...

Heh - look at that, I started a catchphrase. Kinda makes me want to re-record episode nine and work it in somehow.

I kinda see 2002 as a bit of an awakening in my filmgoing. This was around the time that I started chasing down the smarter fare - to wit, I'd never seen a documentary in a theatre before this year, and precious few foreign films.

I dig this list, especially the love for both Speilberg offerings! Hell some directors can't do two films like those in their entire career, let alone the same year!

If you're interested, I actually covered 2002 during my decade series:


Fletch said...

Luckily, Daniel, aside from the knowledge of its place as a classic, I can't say that I've read a ton about City of God. I've avoided contact with it mostly, on the presumption that I'll get around to seeing it one of these days, which I surely will.

Looking at the films on my top 5 and honorable mention, I'd be hard-pressed to say 2002 was a BAD year, but you'll never catch me really professing my love for any of the ones listed, either. A lot of solid fare, but a year like 1999 just utterly and completely destroys 2002.

Nick - Your face is a comma splice. :P

Shit, I'm getting behind. I haven't even listened to episode 8 of the ManateeCast yet. It's on the iPod, but I had to listen to a lengthy Simmons-Klosterman 'cast. It also sucks that two of the casts I reguarly listen to are usually really, really long (Row Three's Cinecast and the Destroy All Movies show) - at ~2 hours each, a listen to either can put me behind on all others.

Hatter - will definitely check out (or re-check, as it most likely is) your '02 list while it's fresh in my mind. I'm guessing there's some strong similarities...

Mike Lippert said...

200 a bad yes? What about Punch-Drunk Love, Moonlight Mile, 25th Hour, About Schmidt, the list could go on. Good list of your own though. I can't fault any of your choices.

Nick said...

lol@"Your face is a comma splice."


Yeah, you need to catch up on your podcasts, Fletch. And you're gonna add Travis and my new one to that list, right? ...right?


Fitz said...

2006 is my top year even over 2007:
The Departed, The Prestige, and The Fountain.

Castor said...

Stop everything you are doing now and see City of God!!! Same for The Pianist

The Film Cynics said...

No City of God and no About a Boy? (actually, I think I knew both of those things) Despite some large gaps, it still looks like 2002 was a full year for you. I could see myself putting most of those films in a top 10. I watch Catch Me if You Can whenever I'm back visitng with my folks (they've got a very small collection). Bourne and Two Towers definitely changed moviegoing for a lot of people. I liked some of the slapstick bits in Two Towers, it held back the melodrama a bit and opened up the cameraderie. Do you have a favourite year yet?

JacksSmirkingRevenge said...

Lists I would like to see:
and pretty much every year from the mid eighties.

thisguyoverhere said...

Yeah, it was a pretty rough year for film... but you've got some great choices there. Minority Report is grossly underrated.

You've got a good list of films to see as well. Not sure if you've intentionally glazed over them, but if not you should add Road to Perdition, Punch Drunk Love and Le Ils (The Son) to your list.

simoncolumb said...

The Bourne Identity! c'mon! Not THE best. As Mike Lippert says - Punch Drunk Love and 25th Hour. Personally, I have to wave the Shyamalan flag - Signs was 2002!And City of God aswell! Panic Room!

Boom, I've made a top 5 right there...

28 Days Later, Minority and Catch are the only ones to be on that list.

Oh, and having listened to the Lambcast about Shutter Island ... I have a bone to pick with you and Travis ...

Nick said...

Well, at least you don't have a bone to pick with me :P .

Fletch said...

Mike - seen PDL, seen About Schmidt, seen 25th Hour. I like them all...but that's about it. Not classics, not the best of the year, even, in my book. And it's not so much that 2002 was awful, just moreso that, for my personal film collection/memories, it's not terribly memorable.

Nick - :P Hey, I added you to the Podcast Roundup, and I'll get you a Plug soon. The LAMB has been crazy with posts right now, and I like to space things out (not too many new LAMBs or Plugs in a day, etc). Soooooon.

Fitz - 1999 all the way for me, followed by '94. Discussed previously in my "favorite year" post I did some months back (link below).

Castor - I know, I know. Me and City of God have a date. It's far and away my most anticipated of the '02 unseens. And despite Daniel's warnings, I'm pretty sure I'll dig the hell out of it.

Steve - Jeez - a handful of notables missed and suddenly I'm smacked by everyone. ;) But seriously, I know C of G is widely heralded, but yeah, I think I've seen most of the big 'uns. I've had the opportunity to watch The Pianist on multiple occassions, but I can't say that I'm all that interested. About A Boy got good reviews, but I think it's become more beloved in the years since its release.

As for my favorite year, see this post. It was more or less the precursor to these Year in Film posts I've been doing. I ♥ 1999 so much. I'm pretty sure that even my #10 for 1999 would top my #1 for 2002, to give you a frame of reference...

JSR - well, you've got 1999. For all the rest...in time, but at least you now know that '94 is way up there for me as well. The mid-80s stuff ought to be fun - expect lots of cheeeeeese.

thisguy - also have seen Road to Perdition. Good flick, just not high enough for me. Only saw it once, though, and wouldn't mind seeing it again. Not seen The Son...

Simon - what, pray tell, is wrong with The Bourne Identity? Keep in mind that I'm one of the (apparent) few that prefers the first to the latter two. Liman had it going on here, and Franka Potente = yes!

Hey - Signs made the honorable mentions. Commented already on all of the others save for Panic Room. Great flick, solid filmmaking, but a bit too light to loooove for me. Just a nice, easy one for Fincher after Fight Club.

Please...share your bone for picking. Dying to hear this.

Anonymous said...

All reasonable selections but for me, City of God and Talk to Her are better than all your selected movies.

The Floating Red Couch said...

Why 2002?

Why not! Shut up!

I think I might disagree with three movies on this list (28 Days and LOTR rox) but I give props on recognizing a randmoply wonderful year

Where's Gangs and the Pianist?

Reel Whore said...

Looking back over 2002's releases, it was full of crap (Ballistic and xXx stick in my mind), but there were some great flicks too.

I'll agree with your Top 5, although Spider-Man would have trumped Minority Report for me, but at least you dropped One Hour Photo in the also rans.

Infernal Affairs is a must-see.

Some of my faves include 25th Hour, Bubba Ho-tep, Gangs of New York and Punch Drunk Love.

You REALLY should watch Frailty. An excellent film that is vastly underrated. Plus Powers Boothe is in it.

Reel Whore said...

Oh, I almost forgot Interstate 60. Sure it is a cheesy movie, but it totally works. A great cast for a silly affair. I enjoyed it and I'm not ashamed to admit it.