Sunday, February 20, 2005

My top 20 films of 2004

Sure enough, 2 posts in and I'm already making lists...

Below are my top 20 films of 2004 (10 seemed a little meager for what, all said and done, wasn't a bad year in film). I only considered films released in UK cinemas in 2004 as eligible (hence no Sideways, which I saw last week and is likely to be taking on all-comers at the top of my 2005 list).

Looking for some sort of trend, 2004 was undoubtedly a good year for the documentary, with the entertaining polemics of Fahrenheit 9/11 and Super Size Me preparing the way for the genius of Capturing The Friedmans (which also contributed the most compelling case to date for the value of DVD extras).

Ken Loach and Paul Pavlikovsky did the UK film industry proud, turning in pictures that were both subtle and sublime (and which deserved bigger audiences) whilst Bad Education, Look At Me and The Dreamers proved that European cinema remains in encouragingly rude health.

Across the pond, Hollywood mined a rich seam of quirkiness, with a string of heroic (and not so heroic) misfits (American Splendor, The Station Agent, Lost in Translation, Garden State, Eternal Sunshine, Monster, Elephant) and managed to produce a heart-on-sleeve romance (Before Sunset) which didn't have me hurling in to my popcorn.

The biggest cinematic disappointments of the year came from Hollywood heavyweights Martin Scorsese and Michael Mann, who both seem intent on 'doing a Coppola'. I can just about forgive the bloated and vacuous indulgence that was The Aviator purely on the basis that it looked so damn fine. However the unapologetic cliche-fest that was Collateral was put way beyond redemption the moment the stylist to Mr Cruise decided that dunking him head-first in a vat of talcum powder would somehow help make him a credible villain. This from the man who directed The Insider - how the mighty have fallen...

1. The Motorcycle Diaries (dir. Walter Salles)
2. Capturing The Friedmans (dir. Andrew Jarecki)
3. My Summer of Love (dir. Paul Pavlikovsky)
4. Ae Fond Kiss... (dir. Ken Loach)
5. The Station Agent (dir. Thomas McCarthy)
6. Lost in Translation (dir. Sofia Coppola)
7. Bad Education (dir. Pedro Almodóvar)
8. Look At Me / Comme Une Image (dir. Agnès Jaoui)
9. American Splendor (dir. Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini)
10. Fahrenheit 9/11 (dir. Michael Moore)
11. Zatôichi (dir. Takeshi Kitano)
12. Before Sunset (dir. Richard Linklater)
13. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (dir. Michel Gondry)
14. The Dreamers (dir. Bernardo Bertolucci)
15. 21 Grams (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
16. Enduring Love (dir. Roger Michell)
17. Garden State (dir. Zach Braff)
18. Super Size Me (dir. Morgan Spurlock)
19. Elephant (dir. Gus Van Sant)
20. Monster (dir. Patty Jenkins)

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