Best of the Year 2003 (Edited 1/18/04--might reach 10 films yet)


My top of the year, in ascending order:

8. Looney Tunes (Joe Dante)

Best recent evocation of the spirit of Chuck Jones and his fellow Warner animators.

7. Cowboy Bebop: the Movie (Shinichiro Watanabe--2002 release, but shown all around the USA in 2003)

Coolest movie of the year.

6. Hero (Zhang Yimou)

Most beautifully shot movie of the year.

5. Spider (David Cronenberg--2002 in Manila, 2003 in the USA)

Far better portrait of a schizophrenic than Ron Howard's tepid A Beautiful Mind; wonderful performances by Ralph Fiennes and Miranda Richardson.

4. Big Fish (Tim Burton)

Burton's most emotionally hefty film yet, about a son who hates his father's fantastic lies.

3. American Splendor (Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini)

Lovely tale of a loser who struggles--not to win, but to not lose more than usual.

2. Raising Victor Vargas (Peter Solett)

Another lovely tale, wonderfully told, of teens growing up in New York.

1. Babae sa Breakwater (Mario O'Hara)

The story of people who live and struggle along the Manila Bay breakwater, an inspired mix of grim reality, mysticism, and old Visayan songs.

I guess I haven't seen enough especially good films to make a ten best list.

Also-rans would include Femme Fatale (Brian de Palma) which should have been my fifth favorite, but it's a 2002 release (it was shown in Manila in 2003); Shattered Glass (Billy Ray) which was hair-raising, in a journalistic way; Master and Commander (Peter Weir) which was muscular but intelligent; Magnifico (Maryo J. delos Reyes) which was wholesome but honestly and skilfully made; Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola) which was lovely if slight; Holes (Andrew Davis) which had charm; Angels in America, a great play adapted, somewhat imperfectly, by Mike Nichols to the TV screen; Winged Migration (Jacques Perrin) which was beautiful if a bit dull; and yeah, why not, The Two Towers (Peter Jackson--2002 release, but shown in Manila 2003) which had some nifty battle scenes and a compelling performance by a CGI construct but is still an embalmed adaptation of a mediocre boy's fantasy novel.

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