12 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, January 16, 2004
rom family-oriented morals taught
endearingly by fish big and small,
literal and figurative, to swashbuckling
buccaneers and the mighty British fleet,
the cinematic struggle of 2003 was settled on the high seas.
On the independent side, documentaries also triumphed. The
brutally intense world of spelling bees was revealed truthfully
and the scandalous unraveling of a family showed truth is
sometimes not so evident. The pages of classic comics were, once
again, brought to life in both splendid and blind adaptations.
Ultimately, though, the year was conclusive: It witnessed the closure
of this generation's grandest sagas amid a sea of rehashes. Prophets
foresaw the salvation of Zion, but failed to predict the apathetic
reaction to a crippled conclusion. By destroying the One Ring
and returning peace to the lands of Middle Earth, the
Fellowship prevented complete trilogy disappointment
and in the process capped off a year worth
remembering. The Daily Film staff presents its
lists of the top 10 films of 2003.
- Zach Mabee, Todd Weiser and Adam Rottenberg
1 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - The rare case of a tri-
umphant cinematic vision, complete with inimitable WETA computer magic and
affectionate storytelling execution, eradicating a few, trivial blemishes. Can the cin-
ematic experience of a lifetime really be over?
2 Lost in Translation - Sofia Coppola's second feature has the feel of a
timeless album that you throw on whenever the right mood hits you. No plot
tricks are at play here, simply the understated emotion of moments shared
between two lives lost in transition.
3 Kill Bill: Volume 1-A bloody good visual feast topped off with
an infectious love for the electrifying natural ecstasy of two
hours of cinema.
4Capturing the Friedmans - How could a small Jewish family
from Long Island elicit so much conversation from audiences?
A documentary unlike any other with brutally intimate visuals
and testimonials continually graying whatever truth exists.
In America - Perfectly personal in every way as tears
)stream from joy and grief in tandem. Heartwarming is
not always such a dirty word.
6 Irreversible - In reverse, "Memento"-like fashion, French director Gaspar
Noe tests the limits of the art form and the limits of an audience's ability to
handle ugliness; very difficult and ultimately brilliant.
7 Finding Nemo - The most touching "I love you" of 2003 curiously
found itself between familial seafood in Sydney Harbor. Going underwa-
ter, Pixar continues to hold the Castle Disney afloat.
8 Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World - Crowe
8continues fighting 'round the world, while Peter Weir captivatingly
fills in the deafening details of 1805 seafaring. Still, Paul Bettany's Dar-
winian ways and self-mutilation steal the thunder.
X2 - In a year when comic book movies revealed their some-
9 times Hulk-sized holes, "X2" gave fans hope that only the strong
would survive. I challenge you to find another action film that
addresses the issues of post-Sept. 11 America and homosexuality.
1 Winged Migration - No complexity in this documentary
U- "Friedmans" provided enough of that -just a wonderfully
visual intimacy with a globe's worth of soaring wonders.
Finding Nemo - For some reason I cared more about little
JNemo than I do about most other films' human characters. Is
Better Luck Tomorrow - And to think that all that time I
spent not studying in high school I could have been commit-
ting fraud, dealing drugs and killing people.
"7 Kill Bill: Volume 1 - The first installment of "Kill Bill"
provides proof positive that arrogance and neuroticism
aren't bad qualities for a director to have. Is it April yet?
1 American Splendor - "Splendor" takes the story of bit-
ter and cynical Cleveland file clerk-turned comic book
writer Harvey Pekar, blurs the line between fiction and
documentary and oddly turns into the most life-affirm-
ing film of the year.
2 A Mighty Wind - When will America at
large wake up and see Christopher Guest
et al. as the comedic geniuses they are?
Oh, right, when they acquire good taste
(I'm just playin', America. You know I
Capturing the Friedmans -
The scariest movie since "The
Exorcist" - made even scarier by the
fact that it all really happened.
In America - Young actresses
4Sarah and Emma Bolger show once
again that foreign children are better
than American children at everything.
8 Big Fish - The second best fish-themed film of the
year. Well, actually the fish doesn't really have that
much to do with it. It's mostly about giants, Siamese twins
9Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
- Easily the year's best epic adventure film. What the hell
is a hobbit, anyway?
1 Open Range - It's no "Field of Dreams," but it's good
U V enough to make all the Costner hatas shut up - at least until
his next movie.
through the Far East.
1 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King -The bittersweet
culmination of Peter Jackson's faithful and glorious adaptation of
Tolkien's timeless trilogy, "King" brings to an end a grand adaptation of fan-
tasy's foundational work.
In America - Director Jim Sheridan's emotive examination of the immi-
grant experience in the United States. Told through the eyes of two precocious
sisters, the story's ultimate triumph results in a beautifully memorable film.
3 Mystic River - A gritty, bleak drama containing all the essentials of Clint East-
wood's greatest and most sublime westerns - not to mention some of the year's
best performances by an amazingly skilled ensemble cast.
4Big Fish - This is the film that Tim Burton's imaginative hands
were destined to fashion. Part magical realism and fantasy, part sad
reality, "Fish" reminds even the most acidly cynical critics why people
6 Finding Nemo - Fun-filled animation at its finest:
adventuresome and entertaining for children and emo-
tionally significant and even more enjoyable for adults. Pixar
1"7 Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World - An
epic tale of life on the high seas. It showcases maritime warfare
as good as any and delves far deeper than most into the charged
relations of shipmates.
8 Whale Rider - A challenging take on the paternalism and simplistic tra-
dition of a tribal New Zealand town. It features a breakout debut perform-
ance from phenomenal young actress Keisha Castle Hughes.
Kill Bill: Volume 1- "Kill Bill" is Quentin Tarantino's sickly twisted dream-
world realized. He pays his dues to gaudy kung-fu action with the finest exhibi-
tion of his violently artistic, trademark style.