Sunday, April 10, 2005

Movie Rundown for 2004


  1. The Incredibles (****) Pixar does it again. Brilliantly executed and almost perfect on every level. I can't think of a single fault. Exciting, funny, and unbelievably entertaining. The animation is incredible (how fitting a description) and the voice work is spot-on. Hard to believe they could have topped Finding Nemo, but I think they just did.
  2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (****) The best Harry Potter movie yet! No longer a kids movie, this one is darker, more visually impressive, and an exceptional moviegoing experience. This is the film that puts Harry Potter on the map as one of the greatest film series of all time. Alfonso Cuaron as director was a risk that paid off. Huge.
  3. Hotel Rwanda (***1/2) Powerful and unforgettable. It's a one-of-a-kind moviegoing experience and Don Cheadle is fantastic. A great human story.
  4. Team America: World Police (***1/2) Rude, profane, and absolutely hilarious. I loved everything about this movie. From the takedown of celebrities, to the parody of Bruckheimer action films, to the brilliant songwriting, Team America is destined to become a movie comedy classic. The puppets are amazing to look at as well, and show real artistic sensibilities on the part of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. I f***ing loved it!
  5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (***1/2) Brilliant movie that is quite funny, and unexpectedly, emotionally moving. Charlie Kaufman's best, most relatable work yet. A truly rewarding experience, and the rare film that gets better and better as it progresses.
  6. Spider-Man 2 (***1/2) One of the best sequels I've seen, and it gives the original Batman a run for its money as Best Superhero Movie ever. Improves upon the original by focusing more on Peter Parker than Spider-Man, and having Alfred Molina as the villanious Doc Ock. Kudos to the special effects team--they've outdone themselves here. Does a great job of laying the groundwork for many more films to come.
  7. House of Flying Daggers (***1/2) Unbelievable action, sumptuous cinematography, production design, and costumes. Plus, the love story underneath it all is involving despite its simplicity. Sets a new standard for action scenes.
  8. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (***1/2) If I were an 8 year old boy, this would be the greatest movie I've ever seen. As it stands, its just one of the best of the year. Tons of fun, and brings back memories of Indiana Jones and Star Wars.
  9. Kill Bill Vol. 2 (***1/2) Calmer and more rewarding than Vol. 1, Quentin's epic fusion of film genres succeeds in large part because he never plays into your expectations and challenges you to, like him, think outside the box. Excellent moviemaking.
  10. Ray (***1/2) One of the better biopics I've seen due largely in part to Jaime Foxx's amazing performance as Ray Charles. He captivates whenever he's on screen, which luckily for the viewer is almost always.
  11. Shrek 2 (***1/2) An improvement over the original. It doesn't try as hard to be hip and just coasts along on great vocal performances and funny movie references. Fun for all.
  12. Sideways (***) Excellently-performed character comedy. Witty, outrageous, and unexpectedly touching. Highly recommended.
  13. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy (***) Eminently quotable. Watching it is remniscent of watching Austin Powers for the first time--you know you've just seen a comedy classic in the making. Will Ferrell is amazing, as is the rest of the cast. Funny from start to finish, a rare feat these days.
  14. Mean Girls (***) Funny, clever, and it hits every mark. This film will stand the test of time much like Clueless has. Great comic performances all around.
  15. Collateral (***) Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx are great together in this exciting and clever action thriller. Rich in character dynamics. Cruise is a fun villain.
  16. The Girl Next Door (***) A great teen comedy that captures a bit of the John Hughes magic from the '80s. Loved the soundtrack.
  17. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (***) Witty, dark, and dry--this is a kids' film along the lines of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Jim Carrey does a fine job of being silly and menacing at the same time.
  18. Friday Night Lights (***) Gritty, hard-hitting look at high school football. Superb direction by Peter Berg, and some great performances from Billy Bob and Derek Luke.
  19. The Machinist (***) Twisty and unsettling piece of genre filmmaking that works due to Christian Bale's performance and his scary 60 pound weight loss.
  20. The Polar Express (***) A technical marvel. The story may be lacking, but the sheer power and brilliance behind the images and the ability to capture a child's wonderment and take them places they've never been lift this Christmas curiousity high above its limitations.
  21. I Heart Huckabees (***) Very funny "existential comedy." I grew a little tired of its insanity by the last third, but there's some really great stuff here. Mark Wahlberg is excellent.
  22. Napoleon Dynamite (***) A cult classic in the making. Works so well because the actors take it so seriously. Lots of quirky, offbeat humor.
  23. Garden State (***) Zach Braff does an amazing job of writing, directing, and starring in this sweet, funny indie gem. Great soundtrack. Natalie Portman hasn't been this good since Beautiful Girls.
  24. Million Dollar Baby (***)
  25. Shaun of the Dead (***) Hits all the right comic notes, and actually succeeds as a zombie film as well. A great time at the theater.
  26. Man on Fire (***) An effective and moving kidnapping tale, with excellent performances from Denzel and Dakota Fanning, and some terrific dialogue. The editing can be overkill at times, but the movie features the coolest use of subtitles I've ever seen.
  27. Dawn of the Dead (***) A rip-roaring action ride from start to finish. Smart, scary, and funny. I guess you could say it's "Exciting as Hell!!!"
  28. Before Sunset (***) A terrific follow-up to the original. Great dialogue, great performances, and an ending to remember and ponder over.
  29. The Aviator (***)
  30. The Bourne Supremacy (***) Boasts a terrific car chase near the end, and plenty of exciting action throughout, but seemed a bit too somber for its own good.
  31. I, Robot (***) Surprisingly effective sci-fi action extravaganza. The script is tailor-made for Will Smith who gives a fine star performance. Kick-ass summer fun.
  32. The Manchurian Candidate (***) Terrific remake that I think is even better than the original. Well-directed by Jonathan Demme--lots of unsettling close-ups and eruptions of unexpected violence.
  33. Closer (***) Great script with lots of good lines--if not all that a convincing portrayal of love and romance. Clive Owen is fantastic though--definitely Best Supporting Actor material. Natalie Portman is out of her element.
  34. The Terminal (***) Steven Spielberg directs at the top of his game, and Tom Hanks gives another great performance, but the script falls apart in the second half and Catherine Zeta Jones' character and the love story fall flat.
  35. Finding Neverland (***) Sweet, touching little film with great performances from everyone involved. It does a good job of being sentimental without being sappy.
  36. Spartan (***) A great little thriller. David Mamet's writing continues to entertain, and Val Kilmer hasn't been this cool since he played Madmartigan.
  37. Shaolin Soccer (***) One of Hong Kong's biggest hits should find an accepting audience here in the States. Its very funny, and even though its predictable, you won't care because you'll be having such a good time.
  38. Miracle (***) Solid, crowd-pleasing sports film with a good performance from Kurt Russell. It'll make a hockey fan out of you.
  39. The Ladykillers (***) Tom Hanks is fantastic and in complete comedic command of this funny, off-kilter, and uneven heist pic from the Coen Bros. A bit too repetitive towards the end, but worth it for Hanks' performance alone. A classic character.
  40. Troy (***) Brad Pitt and Eric Bana rule the screen in this epic, beautifully shot film. Not as moving as it should be, but the mano a mano fights in it are some of the best.
  41. Open Water (***) Low budget, but effective little thriller. The ending is quite disturbing and will stick with you afterwards.
  42. Phantom of the Opera (***)
  43. Super Size Me (**1/2) Entertaining documentary that'll make you think twice before ever going to McDonalds again. A bit obvious in the points its trying to make though.
  44. Cellular (**1/2) Laughably bad at times, but always entertaining--it's a great little Speed-like thriller with a great action hero turn by William H. Macy. Lots of fun.
  45. National Treasure (**1/2) Not an entirely original or thought-provoking film, but it is entertaining, and one can't really fault a movie for trying to be like Indiana Jones.
  46. The Life Aquatic (**1/2)
  47. Criminal (**1/2) Solid if unoriginal con man comedy. You've seen this all before, but its well done and John C. Reilly is great in it.
  48. Along Came Polly (**1/2) Funny stuff. Especially if you're a fan of either Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, or Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I like all three.
  49. Alfie (**1/2) Jude Law is good, and the movie is consistently entertaining. It's just not that great an idea for a movie though. Not that much to it.
  50. Hellboy (**1/2) Hellboy is a great character, and the concept is high and refreshingly different, but the plot doesn't really build to anything coherent. The sequel should be better.
  51. Meet the Fockers (**1/2)
  52. Spanglish (**1/2)
  53. Beyond the Sea (**1/2)
  54. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (**1/2) Very stupid, but very funny. Worth watching if only for the line, "your body's about as useful as a poopy flavored lollipop."
  55. Starsky & Hutch (**1/2) Consistently funny comedy with cool '70s trappings. "Do it."
  56. Ladder 49 (**1/2) Does a good job of portraying the firefighting profession, and is involving, if just a bit too been there-seen that.
  57. Spongebob Squarepants Movie (**1/2) High energy and mostly amusing. The animation's a bit rough and annoying at times, but then David Hasselhoff cameos and all is well.
  58. Monster (**1/2) Superb performance by Charlize Theron. Movie is pretty typical and just so-so.
  59. The Notebook (**1/2) Sentimental, yet effective love story. Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling are great as the young lovers, but the movie falters a bit when it focuses on its present time bookends.
  60. The Village (**1/2) M. Night falls short of his previous successes, but the film is quite good in pieces. Its the whole that fails to add up and disappoints.
  61. The Passion of the Christ (**1/2) Beautiful-looking, and I admire and respect the heck out of Mel Gibson, but it falls short of greatness.
  62. Fahrenheit 9/11 (**1/2) Contrary to popular belief, not the most important movie of the year. Pure propaganda, but well-made, and persuasive. Not as good as Bowling for Columbine.
  63. 50 First Dates (**1/2) Sweet, not-so-funny reteaming of Sandler and Barrymore. Nice, bittersweet ending though.
  64. Van Helsing (**1/2) 100% cheesy, over-the-top fun. Takes a high concept and runs with it. Stupid on every level, but enjoyable.
  65. Mr. 3000 (**1/2) Formulaic, and overly predictable, but still enjoyable because of Bernie Mac and relatively believable baseball setting.
  66. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (**1/2) Funny at times, and Neil Patrick Harris steals the show, but ultimately, the plot is just too damn stupid.
  67. Shark Tale (**1/2) Tries a little too hard to be funny, but is successful a good amount of the time. And DeNiro's fun to watch as an animated shark.
  68. Shall We Dance? (**1/2) Enjoyable enough piece of predictable fluff. Moms will love it.
  69. The Door in the Floor (**1/2) Jeff Bridges is fantastic. One of the best performances of the year. Whenever he's on screen, the movie clicks. When he's not, it falls flat.
  70. Connie and Carla (**1/2) High energy comedy that's quite fun at times. Comes complete with an 80's drug subplot, and a lazy ending. Better than My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
  71. Kinsey (**1/2) Very good at times, but doesn't really have an ending.
  72. Vera Drake (**1/2) Good performances; interesting story. Way too slow, and the plot doesn't really kick in until the one hour mark.
  73. Vanity Fair (**) Somewhat entertaining but ultimately too long. Reese Witherspoon acquits herself nicely, but nothing spectacular here.
  74. 13 Going on 30 (**) Jennifer Garner does what she can with a terrible script, but its ultimately too high concept for its own good.
  75. Ocean's Twelve (**) A bit disappointing considering how breezy and enjoyable the first one was. Everyone's back, but the plot is a mess, and overall, the movie is pretty sloppy. I liked it to a certain extent, but wanted more. More stars, less plot.
  76. Eurotrip (**) Very funny at times, with clever sequences, but too much of a Road Trip retread.
  77. Jersey Girl (**) Good performances salvage an otherwise sappy, poorly constructed wannabe dramedy. A disappointment from Kevin Smith.
  78. Blade: Trinity (**) A letdown after Blade II. Funny at times, and some decent action. But nothing too special here.
  79. Walking Tall (**) A guilty pleasure that wastes no time in getting where its going. The Rock carries a big stick, and does some damage. That's about it.
  80. Alien vs. Predator (**) Dumb fun, but only for fans of either series. Barely tolerable for anyone else.
  81. Tale of Two Sisters (**) Confusing at times, but comes together at the end and makes for an okay horror pic.
  82. A Very Long Engagement (**)
  83. We Don't Live Here Anymore (**) Well-acted and intelligent, but ultimately unengaging and unmemorable.
  84. Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (**) A fun movie for kids. Miles better than the first, which isn't saying much, but it does succeed in resembling an episode of the cartoon.
  85. Butterfly Effect (**) Good ideas buried in there, not executed all that well. Ashton Kutcher acts dramatically by quivering his lip.
  86. Saved (**) Not as dark or as biting as it should be. Plays it a little too safe and doesn't really go for all the laughs it has at its disposal. Macaulay Culkin's great though.
  87. The Last Shot (**) Good idea for a comedy, but nowhere near as funny as it should be.
  88. Around the World in 80 Days (**) Comedy that tries a little too hard for its own good, but ends up hitting its marks here and there. A nice family movie, but not much to it worth recommending.
  89. The Chronicles of Riddick (**) Disappointing sequel to Pitch Black. Has more money to spend, but doesn't know what to do with it. Leaves you completely ambivalent.
  90. The Day After Tomorrow (**) Terrific special effects, but they're all used up in the middle of the film, leaving an hour of unexciting plot contraptions and poorly realized characters to wrap things up. Unsatisfying popcorn flick, and not as fun as it should be.
  91. Flight of the Phoenix (**)
  92. Alexander (**) A little too long and unfocused. Didn't convey just how "Great" Alexander was.
  93. The Big Bounce (**) Likeable at times, but way too slight. Try again Owen Wilson.
  94. Little Black Book (**) Unconventional romantic comedy gets points for being unpredictable, but isn't all that satisfying.
  95. Barbershop 2 (**) Formulaic sequel that fails to live up to original. Goes on too long
  96. Secret Window (**) Johnny Depp does what he can with the material, but it's basically a lackluster The Shining, with a psudo-"twist" ending.
  97. Ju-On: The Grudge (**) A decent horror movie--ripe for remake possibilities. Disappointing though.
  98. The Grudge (**) Remake possibilities wasted. Same damn movie only with American actors and more pronounced "scares."
  99. Hero (**) Way overrated Crouching Tiger ripoff. Well shot, but ultimately of little interest to this viewer.
  100. Saw (**) One of the most frustrating movie experiences I've had. So good at times, and yet completely incompetent at others. Nice twist ending, but too little, way too late. Acting is horrible, directing is horrible. Script had possibilities.
  101. Hidalgo (**) Lame attempt at rousing action-adventure. The unenlightened will probably revel in every cliche and horse reaction shot, of which there are far too many.
  102. Primer (**) Low budget doesn't really show all that much, but way too confusing then it needs to be and stuffed too full with technical jargon.
  103. Taxi (*1/2) Dumb and unfunny but there are flashes of something decent buried within.
  104. Wimbledon (*1/2) Officially marks the coming of Kirsten Dunst as one of America's most overrated actresses. Weak script.
  105. Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! (*1/2) Girly movie fluff. No cross-gender appeal. I don't buy the love story.
  106. The Fog of War (*1/2) Interesting subject matter told in a boring way, w/ one too many PBS documentary cliches.
  107. Broken Lizard's Club Dread (*1/2) About eight years late in terms of its relevance. Spends too much time on the horror parts.
  108. The Stepford Wives (*1/2) An absolute mess. Entertaining for the first half hour, but then it completely crumbles and loses track of what's funny.
  109. King Arthur (*1/2) A rather tepid misfire. Not all that exciting or interesting. Keira Knightley is way too underused.
  110. A Dirty Shame (*1/2) In-your-face comedy with a distinct vision, courtesy of John Waters, but ends up being a bit too much. It tries too hard.
  111. Seed of Chucky (*1/2) Clever in spots, but going in--you know what you're getting. A Chucky movie. 'Nuff said.
  112. Silver City (*) Fun whenever Chris Cooper's on screen doing a takeoff of George W. Leading man Danny Houston sucks--way too much screen time.
  113. Exorcist: The Beginning (*) Cheesy horror movie that's wildly inconsistent. Starts off well enough but quickly devolves into ridiculousness.
  114. The Punisher (*) Starts out decent enough but soon descends into B-movie hell. Punishment indeed.
  115. The Alamo (*) Way too reverential for its own good. Boring and uninteresting, even during the attack on the Alamo. Nice shots of sunsets alone do not make a movie.
  116. Surviving Christmas (*)
  117. White Chicks (*) Inept, incompetent "comedy" that gets bogged down in a high-concept premise, and fails to wring one single genuine laugh out of the situation. As bad as it looks.
  118. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (*) Hyper-dumb. Hard to believe they could make a film worse than the original, but damned if they didn't pull it off.
  119. The Forgotten (*) The movie promises a twist ending, and then fails to give any ending at all. I think aliens were involved, but I'm not sure.
  120. Birth (*) Doesn't work on any level. A complete misfire. Nicole Kidman's career has been in the toilet as of late. Hated it.
  121. Twilight Samurai (*) Too slow and lacks any drive or sense of purpose. Probably the most pansy-ass samurai movie ever made.
  122. De-Lovely (*1/2) De-readful. Way too many songs sung by Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd, who don't have the most beautiful voices. Doesn't really do anything interesting with a juicy subject.
  123. Dogville (*) Interesting in concept for about 10 minutes, then it grows tiring due to the lack of anything interesting happening on screen. And at three hours long w/ obvious themes hammered home throughout, its pretentious beyond belief.
  124. Taking Lives (*) So bad in so many ways: from the wannabe "Seven" opening credits, to the Phillip Glass horror score, to the all-too obvious revelation of the killer.
  125. Catwoman (*) Trashy, preposterous, and way too disrespectful to its comic book source. Laughable for about the first hour, and then your eyes start burning. Wants to be Spider-Man and fails completely. Contains two scenes (basketball and ferris wheel) destined to go down in infamy. Halle Berry--give back your Oscar. It's undeserved. Sharon Stone--never make another movie. Ever.


At 4:25 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

Wow! You're writing a book. This is actually too long for me to go through at this time. I'll get to this later, then I'll tear all of your reviews to shit. I'm sure **1/2 stars should have been awarded more often in your list.

At 1:03 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

Dogville (**1/2)
Femme Fatale (***).
Ray (**1/2)
Polar Express (**)
Terminal (**1/2)


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