Audra’s 2004 Top Ten

Audra presents her 2004 “Top 10”. I saw about 80 new films this year A) Top Films of 2004: 1 & 2 (tie) touching the void & hotel rwanda – Both of these films are so good they turned me into a proselytizer. So for those of you that I failed to convert… Both films are true stories of men who unexpectedly experienced something horrific. Both films feature men taking great risks upon themselves to benefit others. Both turned the phrase “edge of your seat” literal. And hearteningly, both films highlight forgiveness and don’t shirk from personal responsibility. But more importantly these films aren’t just ”good for you” they are both really entertainingly regardless of your interest in the subject matter. 3 million dollar baby – I heard it was great. I had high expectations, and I STILL managed to be pleasantly surprised 4 the incredibles – Fun, and with depth, but mostly fun. And just sooo good. A good film for families, and about families, and existential angst, and why capes are a bad idea. And the fight scenes were unexpectantly thrilling. Brad Bird kicks ass. 5 shaun of the dead – It’s a working class british comedy, WITH ZOMBIES! Or as they called it: a rom-zom-com. And it works on all levels (ok, except the romance – but I’m cutting it slack there because they managed to make it actually sad & upsetting when characters are killed.) 6 spiderman 2 – the first one was like popcorn, this was like a good steak, with a side of fries. And I really enjoyed the pointed Christ imagery on the train. 7 hero – gorgeous. worth watching even without the mythic plot, plus good fights, & Maggie Cheung. 8 supersize me – disturbing, but good. 9 eternal sunshine of the spotless mind – guaranteed to bring on a wave of past relationship nostalgia both the good and bad parts. 10 lost skeleton of Cadavra – Ahh the rarest of creatures: the good-bad film. Bad but consciously, hilariously, and consistently bad. Without those annoying lulls of mere mediocrity that most bad films fall prey to. Not recommended for non-genre fans. B) Bottom 5 films of 2004 (Worst Films): 1 Van Helsing – I’d like to apologize to the world for my contribution towards reinforcing Hollywood’s impression that filmgoers have no taste. It was bad-bad. 2 young adam – another film with the guy who has sex with ever woman he comes into contact with, yay. Well at least the characters behave bizarrely for no reason. 3 godsend – why don’t scientists ever graft the genes/psyche/hand of a normal person? Are serial killers the only possible donors? Anyway this was also a big snore. 4 house of flying daggers – so pretty…and yet… kinda dull and you probably don’t root for the death of all major characters in good movies… 5 osama – now this was not actually a Bad film, a case could definitely be made that it was a very good film, I however, hated it. I wanted to smack the main character so badly that it distracted me from the anti-old school muslim theme. You want an interesting pro muslim reform film? Go see Moolade. (shockingly I actually saw all the films on my bottom ten this year) C) Best Reissue: Battle of Algiers – wow that would have made my top five were it not a re-release. As Eddie Murphy said “Damn! That still holds up.” C+) Best Remake/Reworking: Dawn of the Dead – I missed the anti-consumer message of the original but a worthy & worthwhile addition to the genre, with it’s own vibe. D) Best Director: touching the void – they start by interviewing the people involved and yet you still spend the whole film thinking “what a horrible way to die”. You know they survived and you still can’t believe it! Because you are right there with them: alone, freezing, exhausted, and faced with a horrifying moral dilemma. It’s an exciting documentary, how cool is that? E) Best Actress: hilary swank – million dollar baby – Boys don’t cry was her sweater role (beautiful hollywood actress throws on a frumpy sweater & gets oscar appreciation) I took it as a fluke, and wasn’t terribly impressed either. But in this I totally believed her, she seemed utterly real to me, like someone who had a life and experience offscreen too. F) Best Actor: Don Cheadle –hotel rwanda – managed to portray a normal man behaving heroically even though every step of the way you feel his anxiety and doubt. And while he looks and sounds nothing like Paul Rusabagina, when I saw Paul I recognized him and recognized his quirks and strengths. G) Best Supporting Actress: Why is this always the toughest choice? There is always a glut of outstanding performances… This year I’m going to have to go with Sophie Okonedo – Hotel Rwanda. Manages to portray the person, the mother, the lover, co-mingled. Runners up: the girls of Sideways. I’ve always been a fan of Virginia Madsen, so I am not surprised she was good. But Sandra Oh? that part should have been a nothing floozy bit – but she was great: sexy & interesting & touching. Hurray for nepotism! And points to Alexander Payne for showing women so realistically. H) Best Supporting Actor: Tie here not for performance quality but quantity. Jamie Foxx in Collateral –great job but really a lead performance. I’m mentioning him here because he deserves props, but Don was better. For actual supporting performance, I’m gonna go with Bill Nighy – shaun of the dead – weirdly menacing and deadpan & annoying but (Spoiler alert) by the end it’s genuinely upsetting when he dies and the character is consistent throughout I) Best Ensemble: So if I were gonna go straight I’d go with sideways (see supporting actress comments) but no, I’m gonna go with Lost skeleton of Cadavra, cause, damn, they sold it! J) Best Original Screenplay: Eternal Sunshine of the spotless mind, natch. K) Best Adapted Screenplay: hotel rwanda, because there’s subtlety where you least expect it L) Best Art Direction: Million Dollar baby, dude here apartment was the most depressing, lowered expectation room ever, right down to the “artwork” L+) Best set design- life Aquatic w/Steve Zissou- gotta dig the cross section ship… M) Best Soundtrack: Tarnation M+) best use of song – johnny cash, opening credits, dawn of the Dead N) Most Alarming Cinematic Trend: The overtly partisan political documentaries that play fast & loose with facts. N+) most encouraging cinematic trend: bad special effects put to good use – zatoichi, anchorman, harold & kumar go to white castle, lost skeleton of cadavra N-) least alarming cinematic trend: embracing the downer ending – dawn of the dead, bang rajan, open water, noi albinoi P) Most Memorable Line (please list from what film): “I’m a scientist, I don’t believe in anything.” Lost skeleton of cadavera “If you’re sad and you like beer, I’m your lady.” the saddest music in the world “Meet me in Montauk.” eternal sunshine of the spotless mind “y’know like nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills… girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.” Napolean dynamite “do it.” starsky & hutch “if you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball” Dodgeball Less memorable but worth repeating “Why shouldn’t I be difficult?” the mother “You know the Holocaust? Picture the exact opposite.” Harold & Kumar go to white castle “Pearl Harbor sucked, and I miss you.” Team America world police “See, there’s three kinds of people: dicks, pussies and assholes…” Team America world police “Betty you know what this meteor could mean to science? It could mean actual advances in the field of science.” The lost skeleton of cadavra “Stay on this road here, past Dead Man’s Curve, you’ll come to an old fence, called the Devil’s Fence. From there go on foot till you come to the valley known as the Cathedral of Lost Soap. Smack in the center is what they call Forgetful Milkman’s Quadrangle. Stay right on the path of Staring Skulls and you come to a place called Death Clearing. Cabin’s right there, can’t miss it.” The lost skeleton of cadavra “Seriously, we’ll clean the dishes before we go” The lost skeleton of cadavra Q) Any amusing write-in awards you feel inclined to dole out Empire Stikes Back Award for surprising leap in quality in an already good series- harry potter & the prisoner of Azkaban, Lawrence Kasdan will be presenting this award to Alfonso Cuaron Nice film, now fuck off – Lars Von Trier. Dogville. Lars you are such a good filmmaker but you can take your anti-American sentiment and shove it, you travel-fearing pansy. Worst Director – Taylor Hackford. Ray really good performances & good timing carrying a distressingly mediocre film. It seemed like a high profile made for tv movie Best Public Career Hari-kari – the costume designer for Catwoman c’mon Everyone was talking about how wretched that was…. Least Convincing Ingestion of addictive substances- coffee & cigarettes Most gratuitous nudity- open water Best color commentary – Jason Bateman’s hilariously spaced out analysis on CNN 8 – “The Ocho “ Dodgeball Best extended cameo – Neil Patrick Harris as himself Harold & Kumar go to white castle Most annoying failure to follow through with a threat – Man on Fire “I’ll kill anyone who profited from this”. Except, of course, if they are women… Pussy. 4 pages, compare & contrast, on my desk Monday – Dawn of the dead / Dawn of the dead, Ju-on / the grudge, manchurian candidate / manchurian candidate, Man on Fire / Man on Fire best improvement on the original – Jocelyn Jordan no longer a pretty barbie doll, Eugenie Rose no longer aggressive & devoted from the get go. And dude that paranoid guy in the beginning was super creepy. Too bad the brainwashing scenes were so much less threatening and the ending was so drawn out. Eh. Manchurian Candidate R) Most memorable images of the year Newly Zombified husband booking after his wife’s car and then veering off after an unprotected neighbor – Dawn of the Dead Woman socking her lover in the jaw –Intermission Puss in boots making cute kittty eyes – Shrek 2 The heroine disappearing beneath the waves alone – Open Water Green warriors in the forest – House of Flying Daggers That fantastic pushup technique – Bad Education Bill Pullman flipping over the balcony – The Grudge Sophie Okonedo holding a shower head in a threatening manner – Hotel Rwanda Jon Heder dancing well after a film’s worth of hee-larious spazzing – Napolean Dynamite

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