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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Top 10 Retrospective: 2002

Top 10 Retrospective: 2002

It's been a while since my decade rewind of Top 10 lists (see the blog sidebar for previous editions), so here is another installment, from a year in cinema I really love.

Runners-Up: Adaptation, Chicago, Lovely and Amazing, Russian Ark

10. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: For my money, the best of the three LOTR movies. It didn't waste any time setting up or finishing up a story. It takes you straight in, introduces Gollum as a major character, and has some of the best battle sequences ever put on film.

9. Rabbit-Proof-Fence: A beautiful, heartbreaking, and life affirming true story about Aboriginal children who were taken away from their parents, and how they find their way home.

8. The Pianist: Roman Polanski's sober, gripping, and unsentimental story of one Jewish man's survival through the horrors of Nazi-occupied Poland. It's all the more powerful because of the simplicity of the story. Adrien Brody unexpectedly won the Oscar for his terrific performance.

7. About a Boy: A straight-up feel-good movie that does everything right. Hugh Grant gives his best performance as a playboy who finds his life tangled with a boy and his hippie single mom (the always wonderful Toni Colette). Also boasts one of the best movie soundtracks ever (by Badly Drawn Boy).

6. 25th Hour: Spike Lee's mournful look at the last free hours of a drug dealer about to go to prison. It's about New York, 9/11, choices, and personal freedom. One of Spike Lee's best.

5. Monsoon Wedding: Another movie that's just a whole lot of fun. This tale of an Indian arranged marriage includes a little something for everyone. Like Rachel Getting Married, I really wished I was at this wedding.

4. About Schmidt: Jack Nicholson tones down his shtick and gives a beautifully understated performance as a widower traveling to his daughter's wedding. This movie says a lot about mortality and regret, and it has equal amounts of humor and heartbreak.

3. Y Tu Mama Tambien: Director Alfonso Cuaron takes the basic outline of an American teen sex comedy, mixes it with French New Wave style, and adds just enough commentary about social class. It's about an older woman who accompanies two teenage boys on a trip to the beach. It's about so much more though.....

2. Talk to Her: When I saw this movie first, I liked it but couldn't quite wrap my head around all the emotional undercurrents. Since then, I watched it many more times and it's grown into one of my favorite movies. Director Pedro Almodovar's best movie. I love it's themes of fate, friendship, and obsession. Bonus points for using modern dance for some of the most memorable opening and closing scenes I've ever seen. The whole thing is absolutely exquisite.

1. Far From Heaven: Like Talk to Her, I've seen this movie many times and love it more each time. Director Todd Haynes has created an homage to 50s-melodrama that is able to weave in a modern take on race and sexuality. What's amazing is how he accomplishes this without ever stopping to the level of parody. He takes these characters, and old movies, completely seriously. Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Patricia Clarkson, and Dennis Haysbert all fit the period perfectly. I could watch this over and over for the entire artistic perfection of every element of this movie.

Sum-Up: I think 2002 is a great (and underrated) year in the decade for film. So many of my personal favorites are on this list. Ranking them was a tough job, and I heartily recommend every movie on this list.

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