Top Tens of the Decade: 2002
Now for my top ten films of 2002. Just a reminder of what this list actually means, these are not my favorite films of the years, not what I thought were technically the best films, but the films that left the most indelible impression on me. The films I’ve never forgotten. Check out the lists for 2000, and 2001.
In 2002, I graduated high school (have I ever mentioned how my high school mascot was a potato? Seriously). I finally moved out on my own, to a bigger city with better stocked libraries, theatres and movie rental places. Not to mention I became a freshman at a huge university, which fostered the growth of my own pretensions and ego.
– I don’t think Spike Lee had anything to do with me seeing 25th Hour, it was almost exclusively because it started Edward Norton, who, until he recently has started acting more and more like Nic Cage, was my favorite actor. It helped that it co-starred Philip Seymour Hoffman. I’ve never really been able to understand why I like this film so much (for years I listed it as my very favorite), but I do. The mood is just right, it’s the first post 9/11 New York City film, the score is perfect, the acting is great. What more could you ask for?
– While I’m not a huge horror fan, I’ll pretty much watch anything that has a score of 30% or higher on RottenTomatoes, and has zombies. So the fact that Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later was so freaking good was just icing on a cake I would have been satisfied with anyway. If you’re a purist and want to talk about how the infected are zombies, fine. Same concept though. And this movie scared the crap out of me. It falls apart a little two thirds of the way through, but most Boyle films do. And it doesn’t matter to me. Plus, I discovered Godspeed You! Black Emperor because of this movie.
– Fernando Meirelles’ City of God is epic. There’s no getting around it. It’s profound, and stylistically brilliant. It’s super hard to watch, but worth the effort when a film is almost perfect like this. Nothing I’ve really seen since this, or before it has really compared. Sure, there’s lots of films exploring the effects of gangs in poorer country, victims of urban decay and poverty, but none of them are as well crafted as City of God.
– I saw Dirty Pretty Things for two main reasons: to finally see this Chiwetel Ejiofor I had been hearing so much about, and to see what Audrey Tautou was doing in a British film. I suppose this is the first real ‘public awareness message’ movie I saw. And I didn’t even realize the black market for human organs. But I was 17. Give me a break. This is one of the most overlooked films of the year. It’s brilliantly crafted.
– I’ll be honest, I wanted to see this movie just because I heard that Cate Blanchett shaved her head it in. I was pretty disappointed by Giovanni Ribisi’s weird Italian accent in Heaven, but it was easy to overlook it. The mood of this film is remarkable. And it introduced me to a much, much better film maker than Tom Tykwer: Krzysztof Kieslowksi. Kieslowski wrote the script as the first part of a trilogy (Heaven, Purgatory, Hell), but died before he finished writing all of them. It was ambitious of Tykwer to attempt this. It’s not a masterpiece by any means, but it’s certainly a film I’ll never forget.
– One of my favorite parts about Hero is that people still think Quentin Tarantino directed it. I supposed that was the purpose of the marketing ploy, but really. That’s ridiculous. The film is visually unlike anything I had seen, and still stands out among its peers like House of Flying Daggers. It’s one of the most beautiful films ever. It’s difficult to put in to words why this film is so bitchin’. If you’ve seen it, you understand.
– I don’t understand what it is about The Mothman Prophecies, but this film is terrifying to me. Even when the best parts are mostly given away by the trailer, and even though I’ve seen it many times, it always gives me the chills. I’m not a Richard Gere fan, but Laura Linney and Will Patton are pretty bitchin’. The director, Mark Pellington, hasn’t directed much of note since then, except U2 3D. I wish he’d get back into horror/thriller… whatever this genre is.
– I used to have a crush on Jodie Foster. I did, until I saw Taxi Driver. But I’d pretty much watch anything she was in (this included The Brave One). And, this was Kristen Stewarts first film, or rather the first film I saw her in (I didn’t like her back then either). The mood of the film is dark and vacant, just like I would expect from any David Fincher flick. It’s not a fantastic film, the plot is a little contrived, but it’s one I enjoy watching .
– I was about twelve when I realized that Adam Sandler isn’t funny. If this had been any other Adam Sandler movie, I would have passed. But I love P.T. Anderson, and Emily Watson, so I took a chance, and couldn’t have been happier with the result. It’s genuinely hilarious. One of my all time favorite scenes in film is when Sandler and Watson are talking dirty to each other in bed. It’s so good. So good.
– This film was only brought to my attention by the Oscars. My radar for good foreign film was not that advanced back in the day. This was before I even recognized Gael Garcia Bernal. So thanks to it’s nomination, I checked this out and was kind of shocked that it was better than most of the things I saw this year. The ending was one of those shock endings (not like The Sixth Sense, better than that) that forever remains burned in to my cinematic memory as one of the greats.