Editorials

MARCH EDITORIAL 2004

By • Mar 1st, 2004 •

Share This:

Not to obliterate the Academy Awards, but I thought it was time to begin announcing my ‘Best’ lists for 2003. As always, I feel remiss at not having seen all the additional films I’m told were noteworthy, but I do catch three a week, and with my other duties, that’s about the most I can muster. Here are my humble opinions, and not in order of preference, rather the order in which I saw them throughout the year:

BEST FILMS:
The Good Thief
The Core
City of Ghosts
Dirty Pretty Things
X2
28 Days Later
And Now Ladies and Gentlemen
American Splendor
Lost in Translation
21 Grams
Kill Bill
The Last Samurai
Lord of the Rings III
The Fog of War

I know. There are fourteen. Tough!
And here are the runner-ups:
Master and Commander
Barbarian Invasions
Winged Migration
Thirteen
Arthur Miller, Elia Kazan & the Blacklist: None Without Sin

And the WORST FILMS:
Journeys With George
The Hunted
Dream Catcher
Basic
Darkness Falls
Veronika Guerin
The Secret Lives of Dentists

BEST SOUND:
X2
28 Days Later
Charlie’s Angels II
Master and Commander
The Fog of War

BEST USE OF LOCATIONS:
City of Ghosts *
The Hunted
Winged Migration
And Now Ladies and Gentlemen
Lost in Translation
Mystic River

BEST DIRECTION:
The Core
X2
Dirty Pretty Things
28 Days Later
And Now Ladies and Gentlemen
Thirteen
Lost in Translation
Mystic River
Kill Bill
The Last Samurai

BEST EDITING:
The Core
City of Ghosts
X2
Charlie’s Angel’s II
Pirates of the Caribbean
And Now Ladies and Gentlemen *
American Splendor *
Thirteen
Kill Bill
21 Grams
The Last Samurai
The Fog of War

WORST EDITING:
The Missing

BEST SCREENPLAY:
The Last Samurai
Master and Commander
The Good Thief
The Core
Dirty Pretty Things
Finding Nemo
And Now Ladies and Gentlemen
American Splendor
Thirteen
School of Rock
Mystic River
21 Grams
Barbarian Invasions

* indicates not only a best of 2003, but a great piece of work. Note, there were no great films last year, in my estimation, but fourteen very good ones.

Enough for now. The next editorial will include my choices for Best Cinematography, Performances, Filmusic, Art Direction, Special Effects, Makeup, Moments, and Discoveries from Previous Years.

I guess I should compile a Best DVD list for last year as well. I’ll see what I can do between now and next time.

Back in ’79, I received a pie in my face playing an abused zombie in George Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD. The film became not only a cult classic – in the Phantom Critic’s estimation ‘The Gone With the Wind of horror films’, but an important film in its prescience about the zombification of America through mall existence. Now, in a matter of weeks, we shall see the DAWN remake, not directed by George, nor to my knowledge timely except in that gore is back in. But I will say that the advance word is pretty positive.

And why is gore back ‘in’ (CABIN FEVER, 28 DAYS, HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, etc.)? Because of what terrorism has done to our universal subconscious? Because THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT was such a success? Because fads ebb and flow?

None of the above. It’s because of CSI, a TV show which – like the documentaries and National Geographic magazines of yore which showed nudity before it was otherwise acceptable – has been able to show copious amounts of visceral horror when it wasn’t even allowed in theaters without garnering an NC17. After a hugely successful season of CSI, everyone in the industry started saying “Hey, why can’t I do this…?” and looking for ways to pull it off. Not that any of the horror/gore flicks hitting the theaters nowadays have the ‘inherent justification’ CSI does to show innards and blood as either autopsy results or visualized theories of death, but that series – and it’s an excellent series, beautifully acted, edited, shot, and wryly written – also happens to be putting the gore in there for the same reasons the horror flicks are: exploitation-art. And that includes Mel Gibson’s new film, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW CRUCIFIXION.

By now those who have wanted to have seen this most controversial film of the season. It’s certainly going to be difficult this year to top the extraordinary use of make-up. As to the content, I found myself wondering why, in the past two days, I ended up catching DOGVILLE, LA STRADA (on Criterion’s DVD) and THE PASSION OF CHRIST, all three of which were connected by far less than six degrees of separation. And I also came away realizing that I was going to find it a lot harder to complain to people about my recurring lower back pain after seeing what Gibson’s Jesus endured. Some, I’m sure, will take the film’s message a great deal further. And if they do, and if it’s a positive message they’ve embraced, then that’s a good thing. I always want to believe that film can effect a change in society. And I can point to an example or two with reasonable certainty – Frederick Wiseman’s TITICUT FOLLIES being one. If Gibson’s film was another such example, I’d be thrilled for him. However, an awful lot of people seem to have decided, most of them before seeing it, that the film’s long term effects will be divisive.

Tagged as:
Share This Article: Digg it | del.icio.us | Google | StumbleUpon | Technorati

Leave a Comment

(Comments are moderated and will be approved at FIR's discretion, please allow time to be displayed)