Now, the ninth in a continuing series in which I count down my favorites from a particular year in film. Previous entries:
1984 * 1985 * 1988 * 1990 * 1991 * 1993 * 1997 * 2002
I'm going to use 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 2003. 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.
It's weird - some years, it seems there are 30 films vying for my Favored Five, and narrowing down to the honorable mention list can be even harder. Other years, I'm struggling to find movies that I'm passionate about...2003 is one such year. That's not to say necessarily that I don't love the ones that made the Five here - it's just that in a year with hundreds of releases, many of which I've seen, I expect to have to make some tough choices.
Notable movies not yet seen:
The Last Samurai
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Confidence - Really not all that great, but a fun heist flick filled with a solid cast, and I'm a sucker for heist flicks.
Holes - If I were 11 in 2003, this would likely be my favorite film. If you're a fan of The Princess Bride, see this. They have very little in common aside from their tone, but Holes is a fun ride, and features Jon Voight overacting (as usual) - what more could you want?
LOTR: Return of the King - Would be higher if it didn't feature a giant spider-like thing (yeah, I'm a baby about spiders) and didn't have 14 false endings leading to its 7-hour run time.
5. Big Fish - Also known as "the last Tim Burton film that I can honestly say I liked." It practically defines whimsy and is pretty corny, but its emotional heft is pretty solid - I have to admit that it got a little dusty at the end the first time seeing this. Funny, well-written, and features Danny DeVito naked. Wait, that last thing's not really a plus, is it?
4. Kill Bill, Vol. 1 - It's pretty unlikely that any Tarantino flick doesn't at least make my top five in any year that there happens to be a Tarantino flick. I'm on record as not being the biggest fan of the never-ending final battle in this one, but the pluses far outweigh any negatives, and it's not really a negative, anyway - it just didn't make me geek out like it might have so many others. The premise of the two Volumes are just so solid.
3. Shattered Glass - I tried, Hayden. I tried to defend you (halfheartedly) for years, based solely on your wonderful performance here. But time has most definitely proven that this was merely a case of perfect casting and/or excellent direction (from Billy Ray, of whom I'm now a fan and am awaiting new material from - Breach is a solid film as well, starring Ryan Phillippe, no less). Nevertheless, Peter Sarsgaard was the larger revelation here - I wouldn't say that I have a man-crush on him or anything, but I've certainly followed his career pretty intensely after this one (though it's largely been a disappointment due to many a bad decision). Shattered Glass is pretty excellent - I can't think of too many other films about journalism that I find as gripping.
2. Code 46 - If you've been following me for any length of time, you'll know that I'm one of the chief flag wavers for this tiny sci-fi indie directed by Michael Winterbottom, starring Samantha Morton and Tim Robbins. I won't gush over it any more here, except to refer you to all my past gushings. It's not a perfect film, but does so many little things so well that endear me to it.
1. Finding Nemo - Much as a dig the previous film, it's hard to top what's indisputably one of Pixar's best flicks (let's give Wall*E and Up a few years before anointing them the crown-bearer). Taking on the challenging underwater setting - a nightmare for animators, for sure - director Andrew Stanton and his team produced a touching, poignant, funny, and of course beautiful film...about fish. Par for the course for Pixar. Hear more about this one in LAMBcasts 29/30.