Best Films (alphabetical)
About a Boy - Adaptation - The Cat's Meow - Chicago - Evelyn - Gangs of NY - LOTR: The Two Towers - Panic Room - Possession - The Salton Sea

The reason Chicago appears in a bright red font is because, as with the other "red" titles below, if we had to pick one, that's the best one in the individual category. In the case of the musical Chicago the reasoning is simple. We hate musicals. We have all our life for the simple reason that, with the exception an occasional Carousel or Oklahoma (or the exceptional A Chorus Line) musicals all tend to start a story, stop dead in its track for a song, sometimes good sometimes awful, then resume story. Again and again. The only career long exceptions are those involving Bob Fosse, who was involved in the creation of Cabaret and All That Jazz and the stage version of Chicago. With new direction and choreography by Rob Marshall, Chicago continues to be a seamless mix of story -- a tabloid publicized Chicago murder in the 1920s -- a song. Not to mention stars Zellweger and Zeta-Jones in exceptionally short skirts and male lead Gere surprising all who didn't know that he starred in the West End production of Grease. Yes the man can sing and dance.

This year's epic is Gangs of New York, as opposed to the A Gang of Chicago (aka Road to Perdition) which we found to be beautifully constructed by emotionally hollow. Argue it all you want, you'll see no mention of The Hours on this list either, despite all the other critics acclaim. Adaptation, from the team that brought us Being John Malkovich brilliantly mixed in-jokes with its foreshadowing techniques and neat technological tricks allowing star Nicolas Cage to play two roles simultaneously. We've been crowing about it since its release.

We'll sum up by emphasizing the films we thought got the short shrift: Possession, the one chick flick that men can stomach; A Cat's Meow, with Spider-Man's Kirsten Dunst in a recreation of another infamous early 20th century murder, that of a famous film director (perhaps) at the hands of an even more famous newspaper publisher; Evelyn starring Pierce Brosnan as a single dad whose children have been stolen by a legal conspiracy involving the Irish government and Catholic Church and The Salton Sea, which every femme friend of our hated. A drug and jazz tale, see it if for nothing else than Vincent D'Onofrio's stunning characterization of a coke dealer who is too fond of his own product. Finally, Panic Room, Jodie Foster's thriller which landed the first 10/$10 on our ratings scale (meaning we thought it was worth the ticket price and would have paid to see it again). We got blasted in our email by teens but, hey, it's our list . . .

Best you've never seen

SPECIAL MENTIONS TO: The best film you'll never see is Slap Her She's French, in which a foreign exchange student Piper Perabo arrives in a small Texas town and boots most important teen Jane McGregor out of her position on top of the pecking order. That lady isn't particularly happy about the demotion. Actress Melanie Mayron directed a scream of a script by Lamar Damon & Robert Lee King. The film's distribution company went bankrupt simultaneous with the release date and thus opened and closed with only time for critics and some lucky New Yorkers to see it.

The original publicist told us not to worry that we couldn't make the one and only screening of My Big Fat Greek Wedding because the movie would be "gone in a week." Seven months later, the biggest indieflick of all time had topped $200 millions domestic box office. Go figure. Honestly folks? It would only have nailed a dateflick level rating from us. Yes, we enjoyed it (when we finally saw it six months later). No, we didn't have our socks knocked off

Vox Populi Indie of the Year

Independent Releases
One Hour Photo
- Frida - Man from Elysian Fields - Max -
The Pianist

Our personal favorite, One Hour Photo featured a creepier than usual Robin Williams as a stalker photo clerk but the rest of the list stand their ground as top notch films.

Frida, with an Oscar worthy performance by Salma Hayek is one of two movies incorporating "real person" characters. This one about artist Frida Kahlo and her even more famous muralist husband Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina, ditto about that statue remark)

Max stars John Cusack as patron to artist Adolf Hitler -- another phenomenal performance by the far too rarely seen Noah Taylor. Yeah, we're Jewish. Yeah, we know what we're saying, too.

Mick Jagger rocks (so to speak) as a male hustler who teaches the ropes to new kid Andy Garcia in The Man From Elysian Fields and it won't surprise us at all to find The Pianist at the top of a majority of end of the year lists. Roman Polanski's film, detailing the fall of Warsaw to Nazi forces in WWII and the absolutely true survival story of one man -- a musician not a fighter -- who managed to survive in hiding as the ghetto was evacuated and destroyed all around him.

Plain ol' Movies
Count of Monte Cristo - Catch Me If You Can - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Below - Mothman Prophecies

Last year we called 'em plain ol' popcorn flicks but a great movie movie is exactly what the name implies. Harry Potter's second edition so outdid the 2001 edition that even we were tempted to pick up one of the books. Catch Me If You Can, Steven Spielberg's movie movie about an industrious runaway teen and his one man check forging streak manages to make almost three hours of film feel like less than two. The Mothman Prophecies and Below both fill the bill for traditional edge of our seat scareflicks (aka great curl up and protect your date movies) but the flat out entertaining winner is the one that, for reasons beyond us, died a fast death at the box office. It wasn't just us that adored The Count of Monte Cristo. Our enthusiasm was matched rah for rah by our best femme friend of the time. We suspect lingering schooldays forced reading hangover as the cause of the film's failure.

Spirited Away - Lilo & Stitch - Ice Age - Spirit - Treasure Planet

All five are good 'toons but Spirited Away, like Hiyao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke before it, is one of those remarkable animated films that works as well for kids as it does for grownups. Miyazaki wrote his film expressly aimed at 12 year old girls and somehow turned us all into 'em <vbg>. Spirit, also targets the femmekid demo. Lilo & Stitch and Ice Age are knee slappers and the gone in a flash Treasure Planet gave much better than it got.

Worst of the Year


Solaris was flat out awful, which puts it a notch above dumb ideas to remake Swept Away (no title change) and The Truth About Charlie (originally Charade)

$0 for the year: A Walk to Remember, Ballistic: Ecks v. Sever, Deuces Wild, Dragonfly, Enough, Igby Goes Down, Slackers, Solaris, Super Troopers, The Truth About Charlie, Unfaithful, White Oleander

Stupidest Idea for a Remake
Best Supporting


Daniel Day-Lewis
Gangs of NY

Nicolas Cage
Alfred Molina
Noah Taylor
Robin Williams
One Hour Photo

Renee Zellweger

Jennifer Aniston
The Good Girl
Salma Hayek
Catherine Keener Simone
Meryl Streep

Vincent D'Onofrio
The Salton Sea

Paul Newman
The Road to Perdition
John C. Reilly
Chris Cooper

Wynona Ryder

Queen Latifah
Bebe Neuwirth Tadpole

...and the rest of the Best

Gangs of New York

Peter Jackson
The Two Towers

Spike Jonze

Rob Marshall


Peter Jackson
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers


Charlie Kaufman

(which by our take is more original than true adaptation)

Fat Guy
with Pipe

Peter Jackson
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Second year in a row!

(one more and we'll retire the category)