The Umpteen Best of 2003
by B.C. Edwards
Well it's that time of year again. Time to dust off those
old Vivian Westwood's and parade up and down an ever increasing
number of red carpets and claim that there are so many people
who helped you to get where you are that you simply can't
mention any of them aside from the studio executives who
you've never actually met. Well, at least that's what I
do during the winter months in Williamsburg. I mean, damn!
It's freaking cold out there; whereas it's nice and warm
in my imaginary awards ceremonies.
There's been a lot of bitching about how crappy this year
was for movies, but I still managed to get my list of the
best together. Let's start at the top.
Hands down the best movie of the year. If you didn't see
it then I simply won't ever speak to you again.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that I was
wooed in by the fresh faced so-cute-they-could-only-be-real
high school boys. And I'll admit it you're kind of right.
They are damned beautiful, huh? All of that aside, Elephant
is at the same time chilling and serene; totally believable
and beautifully orchestrated. I guess plenty of people are
going to say that it's too boring, or there's not enough
resolution or it's too violent, but screw them all. This
is a damn fine movie. And the boys are cute too.
This rounds out the top three movies of the year. The style
and intelligence of the film and brilliant acting on the
part of Chiwetel Ejiofor far outweighs Audrey Tatou's horrific
This is easily the slowest movie of the year. While it's
not exactly 'boring' it does posses many of the traits of
that kind of film. Still an exquisite screenplay coupled
with some stellar acting by a brilliant ensemble cast pretty
much uses up all of the superlative words I'm allowed in
an article. Sure, you might fall asleep watching it, but
at least you'll fall asleep to something good.
The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
They're calling this the cinematic masterpiece of our generation.
Ok, look: I'm a geek. I'll admit it. No question. While
I didn't actually put on a pair of elf ears and a faux-mithril
shirt for the premiers, I certainly empathized with those
poor sexless souls who did. That all being said, this is
by no means quite the movie that the critics are touting
it as. Contrary to what the New York Times is suggesting
I had exactly zero orgasms and the same number of religious
epiphanies while watching it. However, The Return Of The
King, is damn fine. I can't wait for the four and a half
hour extended director's cut.
Triplets of Bellville
Sooooooo good. Assuming the Academy doesn't fuck up "Triplets"
is the only movie that's got a chance of beating out Finding
Nemo for best animated feature. There's no real way to describe
this movie. It's not exactly for kids, but there's nothing
specifically adult about it. There are virtually no words
in the entire film, and there's even less sense. It's simply
beautiful, and that is more than enough.
Sure it's supposed to pull at your heart. But those little
girls are just so dammed cute. This is a movie that has
Oscar pretty much written all over it. What is so great
about it is how despite that fact it's still a great movie.
And I thought all the Irish ever did was drink.
I was totally going to review this movie over the summer
but I was literally so depressed for like three weeks after
seeing it that I couldn't claw my way out of the grim pit
of Scottish Despair this film evoked to actually write anything
about it. Ken Loach is in top form here, practically inventing
a new form to depression and throwing it up on the screen.
It's like watching a train wreck about to happen with all
the delight of those devils on our shoulder. And then suddenly
realizing at the moment of impact how truly awful and a
sad tragedy can be. I never want to see this movie again,
but everyone should see it once.
This was possibly the most controversial movie of the year.
Because of this, Andrew Jarecki has already guaranteed himself
an Oscar nomination and Errol Morris' 'Fog of War' is the
only real contender that might strip him of winning. But,
all the controversy aside, Capturing the Friedmans is a
gripping, perfectly edited movie which reveals layer after
layer of complexity with such precise timing that you can't
help but be on the edge of your seat. That and it has child
molesters. And who doesn't love a child molester?
Maybe this is me admitting that this was actually a light
year for movies, or maybe I'm just a sucker for gore, but
Cabin Fever is still one of the most enjoyable, creepy,
disgusting movies I've seen in years. Scary as hell and
just as funny. That scene in the bathtub still gets to me
when I try to shave.
Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself
This year's only real attempt at reviving the lost art of
the black comedy. There are some truly beautiful and hilarious
moments (mostly having to do with the titular character
attempting the titular act) all of which culminates in something
of a let down of a climax and conclusion. Still, Wilbur
is pretty cute and I'm a sucker for an English accent.
I saw this way back before it had five different endings.
This is one of those movies that got too big for its britches.
Back when it was premiering at Sundance everyone was all
about this homage to the classic zombie flick. But now that
it's made piles of money and had like six new endings tacked
onto it (total blood transfusion
what the fuck!?)
everyone hates it. Well go to hell everyone! I still think
There were lots of movies that almost made the list. Some
of them were way fun or completely cool, or well written,
or hilarious but not enough of those things at the same
time. The runners up are: Chaos,
X2, Finding Nemo, 21 Grahams, Kill
Tempt Me, Cowboy
Beebop, Lost In La Mancha, Raising Victor Vargas
The problem I have with these kinds of articles is that
there's no way that anyone actually saw all the good movies
in a given year (except maybe a real film critic, but who
among us is one of those?). So you end up with either these
totally lopsided lists or notes about movies that the writer
has obviously not seen. So here are all the movies that
I haven't seen yet that might have made it, and why I haven't
gotten around to seeing them.
Lost In Translation
I really have no excuse for not seeing this movie. It's
tops on my Netflix queue, however. That counts for something,
Pirates of the Caribbean
Doesn't Johnny Depp look just a tad too tan? Besides, I
have a moral opposition to films based on amusement park
rides. Except for Back to the Future, that is; and maybe
the Swiss Family Robinsons. Those movies rocked.
Human Stain & Something's Got To Give
Anthony Hopkins and Jack Nicholson are way too old. They
are at this point in their life where any movie they're
in is automatically gold. Personally I'm just waiting for
one of them to have a stroke on screen and have all the
critics claim it's just a brilliant piece of acting.
Master And Commander: The Far side of the world
Personally I'm still pissed off at Russell Crowe for being
in A Beautiful Mind. That's pretty much the only reason
I haven't seen this movie. Regardless everyone says this
is an exceptionally fun adventure movie without too many
Saving Private Ryan-esque melodramatic moments. Whatever,
it's nothing but a lot of guys stuck on a boat in the middle
of the ocean with no women for months and months, that's
enough for me. I'm sure I'll get around to it eventually.
Doesn't Tim Burton kind of suck major ass these days. If
anyone can name a good movie he's made since Edward Scissorhands
I'll give them a nickel.
School Of Rock
This movie looks terrible. Everyone says it's really cute,
however, and touching, and clever, and funny. That's what
they said about Sister Act, though. I hate that movie.
City Of God
This is everyone's favorite foreign language film. Technically
it opened last year, but it's still in theatres so I think
it qualifies. I mean who wouldn't love a movie about street
kids in Rio? At least I think it's Rio, it might be Mexico
City, but I don't think so. Rio is way more bad ass.
This past spring I got an e-mail from someone who I haven't
spoken to in about three years, I think I went to college
with him, but I'm not sure. Anyway he claims this is the
best movie he's seen in like an eon. As far as I'm concerned,
any movie that evokes the sending out of personal e-mails
to people he didn't know in an effort to garner it an audience
deserves some kind of praise.
This is Robert Altman's latest movie. As far as I can tell
Altman, in a previous life, must have earned some truly
terrible karma. No matter how good a movie of his will be
he'll never win anything for it. Not ever. This is his Greek
hell, you see. He has to attend every Oscar ceremony for
the rest of eternity just so he can watch the Ron Howard's
of the world rack up win after win.
The Whale Rider
I always thought this was that movie about Eskimos. Turns
out that one was called The Fast Runner, which I also didn't
see. I don't have a clue what this is about. Riding whales,
I'd imagine. Pretty fucking interesting, eh?
Fog Of War
I have no real excuse for not seeing this yet. I get a pretty
major hard on for Errol Morris movies and I guess I'm saving
myself for video so I don't embarrass myself in the theatres.
Oh Errol, oh! Interview baby! Uhhhhh. INTERVIEW.
I'm still pissed off at Tom Cruise for not coming out of
the closet. And the poster for this movie is so terrible:
him on that horse in that plastic samurai get up that looks
way too much like a Halloween costume. Please Tom, get real.
Lars Von Trier has pretty much given up on his whole Dogme
principles of film making. I guess his simpler style of
film making proved far too difficult to actually produce
anything good. It's kind of like when you found out that
William Faulkner had his mother do his laundry while he
lived at Walden. It makes all of his work feel somehow dirty
I have this thing about horses. I find them boring. Sorry
House of Sand and Fog
Unless Ben Kingsley kills Jennifer Connnelly I'm simply
And of course I wouldn't be my bitchy, bitchy self if I
didn't complain about the crap that poured out of the cinematic
engine this year.
So there were three movies made about school shootings which
were all released about three months apart: Elephant (see
above), Zero Day (which I didn't see) and this travesty.
It has all the compassion and high school realism of The
Breakfast Club set against a faux dramatic back drop and
immolated with a stomach wrenching series of pointless plot
twists. There is something horrifically offensive about
how this movie deals with the subject of school massacres,
like it was written and directed by a really concerned but
totally oblivious member of the PTA.
The League of Extraordinary Gentleman
I'm so glad I finally got to see this movie. I mean there's
no way that it can be as bad as they say it is, right? Oh
man! There is so much to this movie that, beyond sucking,
simply doesn't make any sense; like total denial of physical
law. And the twist. Oh what a twist! It's like a knife in
the side. Bravo! Bravo!
The Cat In The Hat
OK so I didn't actually see this movie. But if I had, I'm
not sure I would never, ever have forgiven myself. Neither
Not too much to say about this except, ugh. Whose idea was
this? When will they die?
From The Top
While this movie was truly terrible (probably the worst
I saw all year), I do need to make a pretty severe apology.
In my review I said that Mark Ruffalo acted so poorly that
I figured he must have been drinking at least a fifth of
bourbon a day. Turns out that shortly before shooting the
film he had surgery to remove a brain tumor and his slurred
speech was a result of the operation. Umm
. Oops. My
bad. Sorry man; I loved you in You Can Count On Me. Please
stop suing the magazine.
So that about wraps it up. What a year though. We laughed,
we cried; usually both at very inappropriate moments. What
more can you ask for? Let's hope the Oscars give us some