1. Requiem For A Dream – Dir. Darren Aronofsky
(J. Leto, Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Connelly)
Far and away one of the best drug movies of all time – not however for the faint of heart. Great cinematography and acting reassures the promise of Sundance favorite, and PI director.
2. Traffic – Dir. Steven Soderburgh
(B. Del Toro, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones)
To have created a drug movie that could a) appeal to a mass audience, b) blatantly mock the government’s lackluster efforts, and c) still appeal to film snobs and critics speaks miles!
3. Almost Famous – Dir. Cameron Crowe
(Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee)
I am a sucker for any movie about one’s profound love of music. If there has ever been a story about living a dream, it is this movie-movie filled with great acting, casting, music and editing.
4. You Can Count On Me – Dir. Kenneth Lonergan
(Mark Ruffalo, Laura Linney)
For a small movie, that’s really just about two people talking, to leave such a lasting emotional impression speaks to the magic of Lonergan’s near perfect screenplay and performances – Ruffalo and Linney are stars for the literate class.
5. High Fidelity – Dir. Stephen Frears
(John Cusack, Jack Black, Lili Taylor, Tim Robbins)
Usually great books end up average or disappointing films, but for Music zealots who live, breath and sleep obscure records and bands, High Fidelity has managed to translate the emotion of music fanaticism about as well as Nick Hornby’s printed words.
6. Jesus’s Son – Dir. Alison Maclean
(Billy Crudup, Jack Black, Samatha Morton)
The fact that this is my third favorite drug movie of the year means either that I should seek counseling, or that drug themes make good movies. Crudup is one of the smartest, most selective actors working today, and his decent into madness and then sobriety is testament.
7. Dancer In The Dark – Dir. Lars von Trier
(Bjork, Catherine Deneuve, David Morse)
von Trier wouldn’t want to make a “happy” movie for all the tea in Denmark, and for this we should be thankful. A brutal tale of a women’s journey into blindness combines both physical darkness and musical brightness into one of the most creative experiments of the past 20
8. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Dir. Ang Lee
(Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh)
Some filmmakers have a style that they perfected over many years, but Taiwanese born Ang Lee can make any film beautiful. Both a special effects masterpiece, and a beautiful linear tale of love and desire, Crouching Tiger is an art film and a fairy tale anyone can enjoy.
9. Gladiator – Dir. Ridley Scott
(Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen)
Following the tradition of “Ben Hur,” and “Spartacus,” “Gladiator” is a ambitious epic, filled with huge sets and casts of extras, and technically beautiful battle scenes. This is big screen or DVD masterpiece that deserves great sound and popcorn. Pure unabashed entertainment.
10. Virgin Suicides – Dir. Sofia Coppola
(Kristen Dunst, James Woods, Kathleen Turner)
Who would have thunk that she had it in her? Sofia Coppola has taken the dreamscape that worked so well in print, and created a perfectly paced textural exploration of one doomed 70’s suburban family filled with beautifully suicidal daughters and the men whose lives seem so
11. Wonder Boys – Dir. Curtis Hanson
(Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Frances McDormand)
Another one of the rare great books to become a great movie, Wonder
Boys is a coming of age tale (both of adulthood and middle age) that fuses
the introspective blurriness of weed smoking with
Runners up: Cast Away, Chocolat, Judy Berlin, Ratcatcher, Croupier, Before Night Falls, Yi Yi.