Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Top 10: 2003

It’s time to submit your top 10 for Film for the Soul’s Counting Down the Zeroes project. So head on over to Film for the Soul and submit your list in the comments section here. Then Ibetolis (the blog’s author and organizer of this massively impressive project) will place the lists on the Counting Down the Zeroes blog, which acts as an archive for all of the reviews and lists associated with this fun project. My list comes after the jump...

This list wraps-up the year 2003 and looking back on the releases from that year, I have to say that I quite shocked by how many quality action films there were. I count four (Open Range, Kill Bill, Master and Commander, Lord of the Rings) in my top ten.

Three foreign language films find their way into the top 10 this year – one was two of the best filmmakers working today (The Son), and the others were by two old pros (The Man on the Train and Saraband) one of those masters, Ingmar Bergman, is the greatest filmmaker of all time in my humble opinion, and sadly 2003 would mark the final time he would release a movie – and another three foreign films find their way onto the honorable mention list.

Two really good horror films (May, Oldboy) were released in 2003, but couldn’t quite make the cut. I think this marks the first year I don’t have a slot open for a comedy…although Christopher Guest’s lovely A Mighty Wind, and the very warm and funny (not to mention manic) Jack Black vehicle School of Rock, came awfully close to cracking the top ten.

One of the most wonderfully bizarre film experiences I’ve ever had was watching the Polish Brothers’ Twin Falls Idaho upon its release in the late 90’s – and their
2003 follow up, Northfork, was one of the most beautifully photographed films of the year. Another indie darling, David Gordon Green, made quite possibly his "worst" film in 2003 (All the Real Girls), and that’s not a knock on the film, because it’s a beautiful film…it’s just proof how high the bar has been set by the North Carolina director. From indie darlings to an old master: Peter Weir proved once again why he’s one of the best filmmakers we have working today (Master and Commander)…I just wish he would release more stuff.

Billy Ray made a phenomenal debut with the extremely tense and always interesting biopic about “journalist” Stephen Glass (Shattered Glass). Sofia Coppola followed up her 2000 masterpiece The Virgin Suicides with a wonderfully genuine and sweet, unconventional comedy (wisely removing the romance) starring Bill Murray in a career performance (Lost in Translation).

The best film of the year was a film that elevated my soul to new heights…a film that had me thinking about it long after I walked out of the theater. I still remember the day I first saw it, and the many subsequent viewings haven’t lessened the power of the Dardenne’s film. The Son is a rare film that, as Roger Ebert so eloquently said in his review, “needs no insight or explanation. It sees everything and explains all. It is as assured and flawless a telling of sadness and joy as I have ever seen.” The Dardenne’s are a treasure, and in 2003 you will find their most prized jewel in The Son.

On with the list…

Honorable mention (AKA “the other ten”): All the Real Girls, American Splendor, The Dreamers, Elephant, House of Sand and Fog, May, A Mighty Wind, Oldboy, School of Rock, Whale Rider

10. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Peter Jackson)
9. The Man on the Train
(Patrice Leconte)
8. Open Range (Kevin Costner)
7. Northfork (The Polish Brothers)
6. Saraband (Ingmar Bergman)
5. Master and Commander (Peter Weir)
4. Shattered Glass (Billy Ray)
3. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (Quentin Tarantino)
2. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)
1. The Son (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)


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