The Best Movies of 2004, 2005 – Bill’s Picks -- and 2006 (link below)
This is a list of the films in 2004 that I personally consider the most important and worthy of “Best Picture” nomination with any awards-granting entity (including the Oscars).
I will list films that were made available in some cities in the United States during 2004. Some films may have been made earlier and not be eligible for awards for the 2004 year based on various rules of various organizations.
2005 – Bill’s Picks
1. Brokeback Mountain (Focus, dir. Ang Lee) traces a twenty-year relationship between two cowhands who love each other with more psychological integrity than they love their wives. This film provides an important moral exploration of individualism v. social conformity. It’s not really a “gay” movie after all, but it will make future films with similar themes easier to find $$$. WINS GOLDEN GLOBE FOR BEST DRAMA, 2005 (1/16/2006)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Warner Bros., dir. Mike Newell) takes us to Ms. Rowling’s world and makes us live in it. Harry is now a young man and no longer a boy, and it shows in Daniel Radcliff’s appearance and performance.
3. Jarhead (Universal, dir. Sam Mendes) gives us an intimate view of military life in Desert Shield and Desert Storm from the viewpoint of a rather charismatic young soldier played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who is also very grown up.
4. Kids in America (Launchpad, dir. Josh Stolberg) essentially Gregory Smith’s comedy film about free speech in high school. Maybe an odd choice, but the movies have almost never taken up this topic before.
5. Good Night, and Good Luck (Warner Independent/Participant, dir. George Clooney) Great black-and-white movie making, about Edward R. Murrow’s takedown of Tall Gunner Joe McCarty in the 50s.
6. Syriana (Warner Bros./Participant, dir. Stephen Gaghan) fascinating layered and labyrinthine look at the Middle East, the CIA, the war on terror and the oil business
7. Walk on Water (Samuel Goldwyn, dir. Eytan Fox). Maybe this belongs to 2004, but it is a fascinating matchup between an Israeli assassin and a charismatic young gay man.
8. Thumbsucker (Sony Pictures Classics, dir. Mike Mills) is the best of the “smaller” family films this year, as it presents a very likeable high school student, potential debate star, going though his own rites of personal passage.
9. Match Point (Dreamworks, dir. Woody Allen) is a great looking and detailed mystery drama of the British upper class, from the point of view of a past-peak tennis star (Jonathan Rhys-Meyes) who remains so likeable despite his total immorality in the end. This is not exactly Hitchcock (it is Woody Allen, after all), but it shows that any amoral character can be made likeable in a visually spectacular thought experiment.
10. Hustle & Flow (Paramount Classics, dir. Craig Brewer) is a blowout film of the coming of life of a hiphop star, played with great virtuosity by Terrence Howard. Remember, as in the song, “It’s hard out there for a pimp!”
11. The Constant Gardner (Focus, dir. Fernando Mereilles) is a spectacular story set in Europe and Africa about the exploitation of African peoples by corporate giants (there is a tie-in perhaps to “Darwin’s Nightmare”). Fiennes has to investigate the murder of his wife, who considered her work more important than “family.”
12. Paradise Now (Warner Independent, dir. Hany Abu-Assad) gives a chilling and detailed look at what two appealing Palestinian young men who are “drafted” to become suicide bombers go through, even bodily.
13. Cache (“Hidden”) (Sony Pictures Classics, dir. Michael Haneke), from France, recreates a situation where someone, at the prime of his productive life, is haunted by someone from the distant past who feels aggrieved by him, with unsolicited surveillance videos as the communication device. It could have been done with the Internet. A sensation at Cannes.
14. Capote (United Artists, Sony Pictures Classics, dir. Bennett Miller, is a chilling recreation of the writing of Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” and of how a somewhat asocial person becomes a star. Indirectly, it recounts the murder case itself.
15. Crash (Lions Gate, dir. Paul Haggis) is a fascinating Altman-like film with a chain-link plot about racial tensions in modern day LA.
Blogspot link for 2006 Picks.
Contact me JBoushka@aol.com