End-of-year articles are always a pain. I saw over 200 movies in
2002, and trying to coalesce my thoughts towards them all is a
chore. I have to admit, it was nice going over the list of what
movies I took in over this past year, realizing that I gave
favorable notices to just over half of them (and I do mean
just). Still, I saw 103 two-star or lower films over a
twelve-month period. That’s a tough slog for anyone.
ones make it all worthwhile, though and I still get giddy when
the lights dim in the movie theater (even with the explosion in
commercials – memo to movie theaters: STOP IT!!). I try to face
every new movie without expectation, and while not always
possible, each film – good or bad – makes me remember why I love
2002 was a year filled with plenty of both. Sequels and remakes
dominated the landscape. Surprisingly, not all of them sucked.
Some of them even improved upon their source material (Harry
Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) or were at least as
good as their foreign counterparts (Insomnia
The Ring – remakes of Norwegian and Japanese originals
respectively). But for every
Bourne Identity (based on the Robert Ludlum novel and
remake of 1988 miniseries) there was a
Men in Black II or
Mr. Deeds (remake of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town),
movies so bad there just aren’t words to describe them.
saw plenty of films I admired – especially amongst the foreign
and independent brackets. Trying to narrow the field down to ten
is nearly impossible, but it is the nature of these lists to
make film critics lives miserable. So, without further ado, here
are my top ten films (listed alphabetically) of 2002 followed by
various other comments and thoughts about the past year. Enjoy.
– The most original and inspiring film of the year. Charlie
Kaufman’s inventive and mind-bending script about his travails
adapting Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief goes off in so
many lyrically obtuse tangents I don’t even know where to begin.
Featuring wonderful supporting turns from Meryl Streep and Chris
Cooper, maybe the greatest success of Spike Jonze’s second film
is that it proves how versatile and glorious an actor Nicolas
Cage can be when he cuts loose.
Brotherhood of the Wolf (Pacte des Loups)
– Director Christopher Gans throws everything including
the kitchen sink into his historical werewolf opus, and that’s a
good thing. One of the most original corset epics of the last
few years, Wolf features blood, sex, romance, intrigue,
horror and a lot of kung fu. With all that in the mix,
you just know it’s French.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch may have started the trend
back towards the musical, but it is Rob Marshall’s
interpretation of the Broadway classic that cements the trend.
Fun, euphoric and full of life,
Chicago is the most fun I had at the movies all year.
– Todd Haynes best and most personal film. On the surface, a
tribute to Douglas Sirk (Written on the Wind) and his
style of 50’s melodramatic filmmaking, Far From Heaven
resonates so much deeper than that. If Julianne Moore doesn’t
win the Oscar then the Academy has forgotten what great movie
the Rings: The Two Towers
– Picking up where
The Fellowship of the Ring left off, Peter Jackson
stakes his claim as to creating the greatest movie fantasy
trilogy of all time – even with the third chapter still a year a
way. Big, violent, passionate and emotional, The Two Towers
is the best movie sequel since The Godfather Part II.
What higher praise is there than that?
sentimental and heartbreaking, Nicole Holofcener has crafted the
perfect peon to what it is to be human. She’s got a great cast
helping her, Catherine Keener and Emily Mortimer giving two of
their best performances. A quiet film that spoke louder in the
end than any of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood’s
inane yelling, this was one of 2002’s real finds and a movie to
– Like a shot of pure adrenaline, this high-octane
cops’n’robbers tale may not have covered any new ground, but it
made up for it with pure cinematic excellence. Featuring
tremendous performances from Jason Patrick and especially Ray
Liotta, director Joe Carnahan directs the film with his foot
square on the gas pedal. Aggressive and full of verve and
Narc was one of the few cop films in 2002 that got it
– Here is something I thought I would never do -- put an Adam
Sandler movie on a top ten list. Don’t get me wrong, both the
actor’s Eight Crazy Nights and
Mr. Deeds were execrable, but working with the gifted
Paul Thomas Anderson has brought the best out of the comic. A
lyrical delight, Love plays like a sublime 1930’s
romantic comedy crossed with present-day realistic cynicism. If
Sandler keeps making movies this good, I may have to take back
all those nasty things I’ve said about him.
Rabbit-Proof Fence– Almost
dreamlike in its intensity, Phillip Noyce’s haunting account of
three little girls walking 1,200 miles across the Australian
Outback is so amazing it just had to be based on a true story.
The final scene ranks as one of the year’s most luminous, a
potent and uplifting reminder of the strength of the human
Rabbit-Proof Fence is why I go to the movies in the
– The year’s most perverse love story takes B&D out of the
closet and throws it headfirst into a romantic comedy. Steven
Shainberg deftly directs from Erin Cressida Wilson’s assured
screenplay, but it is the performance of young Maggie Gyllenhaal
that really astonishes. Innocent and devious, playful and
malevolent, this out-there character would have scared off
almost any other actress. Not Gyllenhaal. In a year of
star-making turns hers was by far the most resonant and
Y Tu Mamá También
– Wow. After the
lackluster Great Expectations, acclaimed director Alfonso
Cuarón returned to Mexico to make the year’s best coming of age
story. Sexual, precocious and dreamy, Y Tu Mamá También
was a standout film both visually and spiritually. Poignant and
moving to the last frame.