Nix's Top 15 Movies
January 20th, 2005
*Nix's Comments in Grey*
**Editor's Notes in This Stupid Sea Foam Color**
Jean-Pierre Jeunet is the French master of gorgeous filmmaking. Even the Aliens looked a little sexier in 1997. A Very Long Engagement is his first period piece, and he goes all out. Gorgeous cinematography and excellent supporting perfomances from Dominique Pinon and Jodie Foster (!) make this World-War-I-turned-Mystery flick one to watch. The plot suffers a bit, and Audrey Tatou isn't quite as effective as we know she could be as a crippled woman desperately looking for her presumed dead fiance. A bit like Amelie with guns, only without a satisfying ending.
WTF. How did a movie that I so vocally belittled as unneccessary and stupid turn into such a great piece of modern filmmaking? If taken as a remake, it's in the Top Ten Worst. Taken as a standalone zombie movie, it's unrelentingly entertaining -- even with the Zombie Olympic team. Every actor nails their characters, and Zack Snyder takes his first feature film and turns it into fried gold. Plus, this movie has the single best visual-to-music soundtrack of the year. Johnny Cash and Richard Cheese. Done. (You won't find a better movie this year that blows someone's face off from the jaw up with a shotgun.)
Steven Soderbergh hates you. He hates the movies. He took 80 million dollars from Warner Brothers and turned in a home movie that happened to have Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts in it. Brilliant. The plot isn't all that, and the jokes are mostly aimed at those in the know (Topher Grace?), but the shots are genius and this film will eventually take up its cup at the Cult Altar of All Time. It's so audiaciously middle-finger waving that it's phenomenal. Vincent Cassell shows why he's maga famous over the pond, and Scott Caan and Casey Affleck do the best work of their careers. Out of all the movies on this list, Ocean's 12 has the biggest balls. (I'm just happy you resisted the urge to make this movie #12 on your list.)
Spy movie have been passe' for about 10 years. The guy behind Swingers and a 150 pound theatre dork changed that. The Bourne Franchise is a force to be reckoned with, and the second installment is pure fire all the way through. Paul Greengrass's documentary shaky-cam fits the frenetic life of a spy perfectly, and Matt Damon is still be best choice for Jason Bourne. The flick boasts a who's who of supporting actors, and it has the best car chase scene in recent memory. Bourne is the new Bond. I can't wait for 2006.
Despite the pure ball-kicking cover art (the combined screen time of the women in the film is about ten minutes and none of them wear a blue dress!), this movie came in from korea with all guns blazing. It's billed as an action flick, but it's really a brilliantly paced and acted thriller about two cops who end up on opposite sides of the law. The cat and mouse of the movie is brilliant, and it's only a matter of time before Andy Lau breaks huge in America. This is visceral filmmaking that we just don't get in US theaters. Highly recommended. I only hope that Martin Scorsese's impending remake with DiCaprio and Damon does this one justice.(Let's hope they at least keep the cover that screams "Cinemax. Late Night. Where Little Kids Learn About Sex.")
This was, in July, the best super-hero movie ever made. Spider-Man 2 is so good that Spider-Man is almost unwatchable now. Everything from the shots to the characters to the story is upped 50 notches from 2002. Anyone that disagreed with Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker need only watch this film. In a word, Amazing. It's kept from a higher spot from Kirsten Dunst still not being a good actress and the fact that it does lose just a bit on repeat viewings. It's still an ass-kicker though, and is the bar for live action comic book movies. (Ties for best comic book ever with X2. Way to slip 'Amazing' into the review. Nerds will get it, at least.)
Johnny Depp rules this movie front to end, although if he gets the Oscar, it'll be a gimme from last year. I'm not familiar with Marc Forster as a director, but this movie is filled with pure magic. It's been mistakenly labelled as kid's movie because of the PG rating, but it's not. Kate Winslet does phenomenal work, and all the kids but Michael are brilliant. This movie tugs in all the right places. It'll be remembered as a family classic in a few years. (Over 300 Reviews gave this film 4 stars. Though 297 of those reviews slipped in a terrible Michael Jackson joke.)
Even when Wes Andserson doesn't get it all exactly right, his movies are still better than 80% of what comes out. The Life Aquatic is his worst film, but that's not a slam. Despite an amazing performance by Willem Dafoe and a great turn by Owen Wilson, this movie doesn't connect as often as it should. Bill Murray is great, and the Henry Selick sea creature animations are whimsical. When it's good it's fantastic, but other times it falls to its own obsessive quirkiness. Regardless of it's spottiness, it's still god damn hilarious. (Gotta love Bill "I work with Wes Anderson to erase blunders like Garfield" Murray)
Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry chewed me up and spit me out in February. This movie slammed me good and hard and I didn't even feel sore in the morning. Jim Carrey does his best work since ever, and the story is one of the best of the year. There is nothing about this film that falters in any way, shape or form. The cast is brilliant, the script is brilliant, and the visuals are mind-blowing (even on a slim budget). The only reason this film isn't higher on the list is that it loses a whole lot on repeat viewings. And Kirsten Dunst needs to stop blowing her way into good movies.
I've always secretly hated Quentin Tarantino. He's a motor-mouthed SOB with an ADD-infected dialogue and he thinks he's top shelf. When he had the gall to chop Kill Bill in half and make me pay twice to see it, I flipped out. What a little bitch. Thinking he has the right to do whatever he wants just because he wants more money. Then I saw it. He was right. Even if he did say it a little too fast. Kill Bill Vol. 2 is the best movie about movies in a long while. It's a love letter from one movie fanatic to others. Taken as a whole. Kill Bill is QT's best movie, and it owes a whole lot to the restrained and deliberate pacing of the second half. David Carradine is the only person that could have played Bill, and Uma Thurman shows that she's still got, uh, nice looking feet? (When you start to compare this movie to Vol. 1, especially to those who didn't like this one as much, it becomes obvious how good it is when you remember the buried alive scene, the Michael Madsen scenes, Pai Mei, Elle Driver, the understylized yet extremely satisfying confrontation with Bill...It's a greatest hits collection that includes a squished eyeball. Doesn't get better than that.)
Pixar is the best film company on Earth. They're 5 for 5, and The Incredibles is the best film they've ever made. This is the way Superheroes should be. Even the best Superhero movie ever made (see #10) wasn't enough to stop the bestest superhero movie ever made. Brad Bird needs to do more movies. Everything about this movie is brilliant, from the uses of Elastigirl's Elastiappendages to the face on Dash when he realizes he's running on water. This is the most fun I've had at the movies all year. Everyone should see this movie, and it's borderline felony that Shrek 2 made almost twice as much money as this modern classic. This should be nominated for Best Picture of the Year. Let Shrek wallow in his little animated category. The Incredibles is in a class all its own. (Then again, Shrek was able to call itself the funniest comedy of all time when it was released on DVD. That title was quickly stripped when people saw the 'alternate' American Idol ending.)
Closer is not a fun movie. It's not a date movie. People hated this movie because Julia Roberts was a slut in it. And Natalie Portman was a stripper. This movie is designed and executed to punch you in the head as much as possible in 88 minutes. It's hardcore, and it's great because of it. The relationships would be perfect if it weren't for the people in them. It's a powerful character study, and boasts some of the finest performances of the year. Natalie Portman turns in her best work, period, and Clive Owen is pitch perfect. Don't watch this movie unless you want to be challenged and savor four phenomenal actors at the top of their game.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Blues Brothers, Clerks, Shaun of the Dead. Two young brits came out of nowhere with not only one of the best comdies of all time but one of the best zombie movies of all time. Simon Pegg is gold as Shaun, and the story is a perfect balance of laughs, drama, and gore. I've watched this film five times in three days. It has tremendous replay value, and the little things just keep getting funnier. There isn't a weak scene in this movie. There isn't a weak performance in this movie. If you see one movie this year, see pick #1. But if you see one Romantic Comedy with Zombies, go see Shaun of the Dead. A true classic. (This movie is so great, except for the fact that it spawned the new term "Rom-Zom-Com." Although it does make it easier for nerds to trick a date into seeing a zombie movie. How they trick the girl into going on the date in the first place is still a mystery.)
Ladies and Gentlemen, Martin Scorcese is back. After a ten year draught of absolute shit, he returns with what was for a while my number one movie of the year. It's his best since GoodFellas and Leonardo DiCaprio deserves the Oscar this year. His Howard Hughes is very human and larger than life at the same time. The scene of Hughes capturing the arial battles of Hell's Angels in his own biplane is poetry. This is what a movie should be. It's ambitious, personal, and fucking good. The 145 minute running time blazes by. This is one of the best movies of the last ten years. Savor it while you can.
There is something amazing about a year whose top three movies could easily interchange spots. Everything in the movie belongs in the movie. The cast is perfect, the scenes are perfect. Collateral, though, occasionally does everything just a little better. Jamie Foxx breaks through as an incredible dramatic actor, but the true star is Tom Cruise. Forget everything you've ever seen him in before. His Vincent is an amalgam of strenuous pre-production planning, training, and a truly malleable and gifted actor at the top of his game. The way he moves, the way he speaks. He commands attention at every sliver of movement. Every frame of this movie breathes intensity. Michael Mann is probably the best filmmaker working today. His movies are powerful and personal, and they resonate on every level. Heat stands as the best movie of the nineties. Collateral is in the running for the 00's. This movie is flawless. (Flawless until the end, when it makes the mistake of making Jamie Foxx a taxi driver turned cliched action hero and having us believe he can off Tom Cruise, a cold, calculated, and professional killer.)
Movies I didn't see: Sideways, House of Flying Daggers, Million Dollar Baby, The Motorcycle Diaries, Oldboy, Maria Full of Grace.
If you'd like to argue why Without a Paddle was
left off the list, send a non-threatening, forgettable email to Nix