TopTen Movies of 2004 (as selected by Jonathon Rosenbaum)
But in movies I often defer - to friends and to critics.
The one critic that I feel is most in tune with what I want out
of movies is Jonathon Rosenbaum - the Chicago Reader's
main critic - as well as author of great film books such as:
Essential Cinema: On the Necessaity of Film Canons
Movie Mutations: The Changing Face of World Cinema
Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Limit What Films We Can See, 2002
Movies as Politics (University of California Press, 1997);
I like him because he does not let us forget that there are hundreds and thousands of movies each year that even a FT critic like himself can not see - whether unavailable in English, not distributed at all, banned or focus-grouped to death. HE also wants a movie that tells us something about the world we live in, that do not shy away from the contradictions of modern life - and hopefully expose them.
Rosenbaum's top ten list for 2004 (for films that opened in Chicago in 2004) is:
(read the whole thing here in the Reader)
1. The Big Red One: The Reconstruction - Richard Schickel's new version of Samuel Fuller's classic WWII opus.
2. Million Dollar Baby
3. Moolaadé - Sengals' 82-year-old Ousmane Sembene's 2nd part of his woman trilogy
4. Los Angeles Plays Itself - Thom Anderson's brilliant doc on how the movies have influence how we see LA was a great intorduction to the city for me. Also won the Village Voice's recent poll for best documentary.
5. The Exiles - An experimental 1961 documentation of the Bunker Hill section of downtown LA that was home to a largely Native American population before being demolished as "urban renewal." Shown alongside #4 above.
6. The Saddest Music in the World - Guy Maddin's precious comment on American imperialism.
7. Before Sunset - This sequel holds a soft place in my heart as well...
8. Young Adam - Adaption of a 1953 beat novel starring Ewan McGregor (got to find this)
9. Coffee and Cigarettes - Maybe my main disagreement (save the couple outstanding shorts, I thought too many were superflous).
10. Springtime in a Small Town - Tian Zhuangzhuang's remake of a Chinese pre-revolution classic about unconsumated adulturous passion - far more moving than say Closer or We Don't Live Here Anymore.