Finding Nemo 10. Hero (5)
In the Cut 9. Lost in Translation (n/a)
Rivers and Tides/Same River Twice 8. Finding Nemo (10)
8. Finding Nemo (10)
All the Real Girls 7. All the Real Girls (7)
The Secret Lives of Dentists 6. Stevie (3)
6. Stevie (3)
Hero 5. Unknown Pleasures (n/a)
Kill Bill vol. 1 4. The Son (n/a)
4. The Son (n/a)
Capturing the Friedmans/Stevie 3. Spider (2)
3. Spider (2)
Spider 2. In the Cut (9)
2. In the Cut (9)
Elephant 1. Elephant (1)
I’m good with not doing ties anymore, overestimated Hero a bit – particularly in light of Red Cliff’s tighter focus on philosophy and tactics - and underestimated the stickiness of Lost in Translation. I think I might just like John Woo more than Zhang Yimou; hate to say it but his opening ceremony for the last Summer Olympics have stained my appreciation for a lot of Zhang’s other work. I still do love Shanghai Triad, though. Jane Campion’s In the Cut increases in wisdom with a line drawn true to Lost in Translation, Elephant retains its slippery power as perhaps the only film in Van Sant’s “visionary” quartet that works the way it’s supposed to, while The Secret Lives of Dentists is still enjoyable and packed with superlative performances, but not better than these ten.
Jia Zhang Ke makes his debut on these lists with youth opus Unknown Pleasures, a precursor to pictures like Bright Future and contemporary of Millennium Mambo that see the Asian situation as one of listless lassitude as the events of history bear them senseless into the future. The Dardenne Bros’ examination of grace and forgiveness has proved a wonderful sop to the revenge-minded pictures of this decade, the last of their films to me that doesn't feel like a gimmick, and sensitive as well of the process of grieving necessary for evolved beings to experience on their way to enlightenment. Not to put too Buddhist a shine on it. Looking for Kill Bill? I’ve taken the liberty of lumping them together like Red Cliff – they’re really one film and should be taken as such. Look for the Kill Bill omnibus to appear in 2004. Talk about ripping up the rulebook, right?
Lots of great films this year as the decade picks up speed: we lose Rivers & Tides with great reluctance, but Capturing the Friedmans with less as the supplementary features have watered down the experience in my head in some ineffable way; yet Stevie stands tall as one of the most painful mea culpas captured on film to address the inability for altruism to salve our ills. Spider loses a slot to In the Cut, but Cronenberg apologists out there - of which I'm one - stay-tuned for a couple of corrections in the next couple of days... If I were doing a top twenty, this is the first year that there would be twenty strong choices for me.
Lots of room for debate in 2003.