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Oct 5, 2010

Fletch's Favored Five: 2003 in Film

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.

2003
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:
Elephant
The Last Samurai
Love Actually
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Oldboy
Seabiscuit

Honorable mentions:
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.

The Five
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.


15 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Favored Five: 2003 in Film"

Nick said...

You *need* to see Oldboy. You should check out The Last Samurai. You can skip Elephant.

Jess said...

You're just reviving this so you can win at the newest LAMBCast game. :P I really like Love Actually and Master and Commander - but for Paul Bettany and Russell Crowe's relationship, not so much the boat.

Sebastian Gutierrez said...

SEE LOVE ACTUALLY RIGHT NOW!!! NO! STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING!!!! THE BLOG CAN WAIT!!! SEE LOVE ACTUALLY RIGHT NOW!!!! WATCH WITH THE MRS!!! SHE'LL LIKE IT!!!

Rachel said...

Wow Sebastian, I don't think I've ever seen a dude push for Love Actually that hard. Awesome!

As for your list Fletch, I didn't really care for Big Fish. The book was a family pass around before the film came out, then we all watched it together and decided the book was by far much better. Kill Bill and Nemo are excellent choices, but I haven't seen the other two.

I don't think you're missing much having not seen Seabiscuit or The Last Samurai. The only thing I remember about Holes was drinking too many vodka tonics and falling asleep (or passing out) on the couch about halfway through.

I gotta show some love for X2 and Pirates of the Caribbean. Honorable mention to Triplets of Bellville, which I desperately need to rewatch.

filmgeek said...

I've often thought Big Fish is an overlooked highlight of the year

Aiden R said...

Choice picks, man. Big Fish would probably be my #1 for the year, Kill Bill was the best time I've ever had in the theaters, need to see Shattered Glass again, need to see Code 46, and Finding Nemo is out of freakin' sight. Well played.

And make sure to check out Oldboy - crazy shit, but it's got the best fight scene of the past decade. So there ya go.

Dan Stephens said...

Great to see Holes mentioned. I loved it. I know what you mean about being a kid. As an adult it still worked for me. Dare I say...better than the film you liken it to!

Fletch said...

Nick - Got Oldboy in the Netflix queue. In due time, though I can't exactly say that I'm dying to see it. Don't care at all about Last Samurai. Only have Elephant on the list 'cause it won the Palme d'Or.

Jess - haha, indeed. No, not sure when that game will re-surface. I see it as an emergency floatation device only.

I'd like to see both Love Actually and Master/Commander at some point. Not dying to see either (sorry, Sebastian), but there's an interest there. I've heard a lot of great things about Master.

Sebastian - don't be so sure about that. The Mrs. isn't a big fan of rom-coms or anything like that. In other words, she has good taste in movies. ;) Seriously, though, I'll see it, but not with the enthusiasm that you might like me to see it with....and certainly not that soon.

Rachel - Agreed on Seabiscuit as well. I don't care about seeing that thing at all (or Cinderella Man, which is unrelated except that thinking about one reminds me of the other. Must be the Period factor).

All the other flicks you mentioned are good (X2, POTC, Triplets), but while I enjoyed them, I don't have much of an emotional connection to any of them.

I think most will disagree with your assessment of Big Fish...but most have not read the book, myself included.

filmgeek - Indeed.

Aiden - Funny, Grindhouse was one of the best times I've ever had in the theater, and I saw Pulp 6 times in theaters (hey, I was like 18). I'm sensing a trend. Seeing Basterds was pretty damn cool, too...

Noted on the Oldboy love.

Dan - dare you say, indeed. Holes is quality, but does not even begin to breach the level of The Princess Bride. Blasphemy! ;)

Nick said...

Elephant is one of the most pretentious movies I've ever seen. "Bang Bang You're Dead" handles the same subject matter in a much better way.

Fitz said...

I've never liked Christensen in anything, but he played a leetch very well in Shattered Glass.

Buffett35 said...

I catch Big Fish on TV 2 or 3 times a year, and can never turn the channel. It gets "dusty" every time, not just the first. Didn't even know there was a book, but I might check it out now. By the way, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has really cashed in on the whole "Danny DeVito naked" fad.

I've never seen or even heard of Shattered Glass, but journalism is a topic that interests me, so I'll look for it. Code 46 has been on my DVR for months based on your recommendation, but the little bit I've seen was pretty slow. I'll get around to watching the whole thing soon. Looks like a pretty weak year overall.

Fletch said...

Fitz - indeed he did. Born to play the part, apparently!

Buffett - Ha, no doubt on the Always Sunny DeVito usage.

To be fair, I clearly don't watch Big Fish as often as you, and certainly not through to the end. As with most movies, I'm sure I've seen the middle about 40 times and the beginning/end only 2 or 3. Cable!

For the record, I think you'd like Shattered Glass and not really like Code 46 (unless maybe you were high, as there's some cool shit there). Though you like Tim Robbins, right? I dunno, I recommend it to everyone, but I know everyone's not gonna like that one. It is pretty slow, but it's my kind of slow. Somewhat trippy, ethereal, electonica-ish. It's like a Thievery Corporation CD in movie form (though if you don't know who they are, I can't help you).

Red said...

There's absolutely nothing wrong with admitting to a man-crush on Peter Sarsgaard. :)

My #1 would be RoTK, easily without question. But Kill Bill is right up there, along with The Last Samurai.

Vancetastic said...

I can't believe I am the 14th comment and the first person to ask about the exclusion of Lost in Translation. (At least, I think I'm the first -- my dire urgency to write about Lost in Translation caused me to start skimming the comments to get to the end.)

In fact, if it's an intentional exclusion, that really surprises me, because I find Code 46 (which I also love) to be kind of a science fiction version of Lost in Translation. In fact, I think if you threw Lost in Translation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Gattaca into a blender, you'd get Code 46. Hopefully that whets the appetite of the people in this comment thread who haven't yet seen Winterbottom's excellent film, which I actually included as an honorable mention in my top 25 films of the decade.

Vancetastic said...

Oh, and while I'm at it, one more thumbs way up for Shattered Glass. Great stuff.