Thought I'd finally post this. I wanted to write a lot about each film, but am feeling no motivation to do so in this heat. I'll write more about them if anyone else (most likely Brandon) wants to engage.
Top 10 films of 2004:
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Gondry) - As truthful a statement on love and relationships between lovers that I've ever encountered. Having gone through an extremely difficult breakup myself recently, this one only rings truer. And the fact that they are willing to go through it all over again in the end is just beautiful. A real Nietzschean amor fati. Brilliant film.
2. Before Sunset (Linklater) - doesn’t even feel like a film. It feels like looking in on real life people who really haven’t seen one another in 9 years. Watching it, I wasn’t even aware of the shots or the camera angles or anything cinematic about it. I was just enraptured by this remarkable conversation and the amazing presence of these two people I felt like I knew and cared deeply for.
3. The Motorcycle Diaries (Salles) - In 10th grade I read John Lee Anderson's epic Che biography and Che's Motorcycle Diaries within a very short time frame for a school project and became very fascinated by Guevara as a flawed yet romantic figure. The film, I think, captures the spirit of his journal extremely well. It has beautiful images, a lovely score, charismatic performances, and it captures the wildness of youth, and the growing awareness and maturity of adulthood. It meant a lot to me when I saw it because I thought it was a nice gift after all my studying of Che.
4. The Life Aquatic (Anderson) - Still my favorite film of his. It operates entirely within its own world and I'm always delighted to spend some time in it.
5. The Aviator (Scorsese) - Biopics are a tired genre at best. But when you are in the hands of a master, just about anything can be illuminated. Case in point. You can tell Scorsese had a blast recreating a bygone era that has meant a lot to him as a filmmaker. It's all handled with remarkable dexterity, and it has such a grandness to it that instantly puts it above any other biopics of the time. And it solidified Leo Dicaprio as one of the best actors alive.
6. The House of Flying Daggers (Yimou) - Haven't seen this one since it came out, but even my 16-year-old self thought this was lush and elegant poetic cinema. I'd love to see it again. I'd probably like it even more now.
7. Bad Education (Almodovar) - My kind of mystery film. But also a testament to Almodovar's love of cinema and his willingness to address risque or controversial themes but not be bogged down by them. I own a copy of this and should give it a re-watch. It's been a long time.
8. Kill Bill Vol. 2 (Taratino) - I should re-watch this too. I have a feeling it might climb in ranking. Absolutely superior to its first half because its filled with the type of engrossing scenes and meaty dialogue that made Inglorious Basterds such a masterpiece. But it probably falls for not being entirely complete. Had it not been chopped into two halves, I might rank it much higher. I guess I should just watch them back-to-back, but surprisingly I've never done it.
9. Vera Drake (Leigh) - I rented this from the library many years ago and have only seen it once so I remember it less than most on here. But still, it has all the trademarks of Leigh, so I found it to be totally absorbing cinema. His characters just bubble and pop off the screen. And so does his compassion. Gotta see it again for sure.
10. Dig! (Timoner) - Introduced me to The Brian Jonestown Massacre so I'm incredibly thankful for it. The Dandy Warhols suck though. Despite it being narrated by them and told from their perspective a lot, they actually come across as vain and not particularly interesting. Anton Newcombe may be strung out, but he's absolutely fascinating, and he made incredible music. My eldest brother, Brent, loves this movie. I do too. It made me want to start my own 60s revival movement.
HM: Shaun of the Dead (fun and funny, but my interest in zombies beyond Romero and 28 Days Later is at nearly zero percent–sorry dudes), Hotel Rwanda (remember admiring it but haven’t seen it in a long time), The Incredibles (fun), I Heart Hukabees (funny), Club Dread (actually quite funny and quite underrated).
The Tom Waits/Iggy Pop segment in Coffee and Cigarettes may be one of the greatest things ever filmed. Could we just make that into a feature length film? I'd be in heaven.
Sorry, didn’t see but probably should have: Million Dollar Baby, The Sea Inside, many others.