BEST FILMS OF 2004
1. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
Charlie Kaufman once again graces us with a screenplay devoted to the inner workings of the mind. Who knew a film about a procedure where one can have old relationships erased from memory could have been so touching, honest and sometimes hilarious. Hopefully Oscar will finally make its way into Kaufman’s hands and at least give Jim Carrey his well deserved nomination.
2. NAPOLEON DYNAMITE
Nevermind that Hilary Duff’s older sister is in this Jared Hess film, “Napolean Dynamite” is easily the best movie about being unhip and uncool as told from the perspective of the unhip and the uncool.
3. THE INCREDIBLES
Written and directed by Brad Bird, known for his work on “The Iron Giant” and contributions to the highly successful series “The Simpsons,” the film addresses underlying family and social issues while spoofing superhero comics and suburban sitcoms. And it’s so much fun. With state-of-the-art CG, delicious humor, and spectacular action sequences, “The Incredibles” exceeds expectations to deliver a superhuman experience.
4. LAST LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE
Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s film is equally charming and addicting all the way through. From playing fly-on-the-wall to Kenji’s lonesome life, to these two lost souls clumsily building a relationship, to the final third act that is sad, funny and scary all at the same time, this is a solid movie that you won’t want to end.
Yes, yes, yes, we know that Zhang Yimou’s wuxia epic had been in general release in Asia a few years back but 2004 was the year that North American audiences finally got to see for themselves what all the hubub was about. Though “Hero” lost its shot at the best foriegn film Academy Award for 2002 then, at the very least, it would be nice to see cinematographer Christopher Doyle receive some well deserved recognition for his work this time around (but we know that isn’t going to happen).
With only four feature films under his belt, Alexander Payne is becoming one of the greatest American directors of modern cinema and “Sideways” is on its way to being one of the best films of the year.
7. SUPER SIZE ME
On the heels of two teenage girls suing McDonald’s for making them obese, director Morgan Spurlock sets out to discover what has made people in our country so fat. The result is “Super Size Me,” a hilarious and often terrifying look at the effects of fast food on the human body.
8. SHAUN OF THE DEAD
Although this British import has been more or less summarized as a zombie parody, it’s a bonafide zombie film. The zombie gore and makeup isn’t comical—it’s pretty nasty. Ordinarily a film that is too funny to be horror and too frightening to be comedy receives criticism for its neither-here-nor-there quality. “Shaun of the Dead,” however, successfully blends comedy, horror, suspense, a killer soundtrack, and social commentary into ninety-nine minutes of cinematic sweetness.
9. DAWN OF THE DEAD
No doubt, 2004 will go down as Year of the Zombie and with George Romero currently in the middle of production on his long-begged-for 4th Dead film, we hope that zombies retain their massive popularity for years to come. Unfortunately, there’s one film that has and always will be excluded from the 2004 zombie hoe-down celebration and it’s this remake, despite it being the kind of kick in the teeth movie experience most horror fans are dying for, but many dug their heels in and refused to see it as anything but sacrilege to the alter of Romero. All in all, the movie does have enough differences from Romero’s film that, a few more changes could’ve been made, a new title slapped on and the producers would’ve had an original zombie movie that horror geeks would’ve cherished and kept alive as they bought all the different DVD editions released through the years (how many “Evil Dead” DVDs do YOU own?). Instead, this “Dawn of the Dead” will simply retire as a shameful footnote in horror filmdom’s bloody history. Pity. It’s still one of the best film’s of the year, though, goddamnit!
Now that we pissed off everyone with the “Dawn of the Dead” entry into the list, here comes “Anchorman”. This was one of the funniest films we saw all year and in our book that makes it one of the best.
We drag out the Worst of 2004 in part two of FILM THREAT’S BEST & WORST OF 2004>>>