Mad About Movies Top 10 Films of 2002
Nearly twice as many films in 2002 earned the much-heralded “Mad About Movies” grade “A” rating as did last year. So either the movie studios are working harder to put out better product or our movie selections were luckier—it just depends on how cynical you want to be. In a year awash with sequels and safe formulas more often than not the casual moviegoer—especially those faithful readers of the MAM column—a trip to the theater was worth the price of admission. Here are my top 10 picks for Best Movies of the Year.
- Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers If there is a flaw in this movie it’s undetectable. If anyone doubts whether it should win “Best Picture” in any award contest, ask yourself this: Which film will people still be watching, discussing and marveling at for years and years to come?
- Minority Report It’s powerfully dazzling display of mind bending futuristic technology almost makes you overlook that at its core Spielberg creates a textbook perfect action picture.
- Far From Heaven After watching this gorgeously shot throwback to 50’s melodrama—I left the theater nearly in shock. Had Hollywood actually produced a serious movie, with serious ideals without one shred of irony or cynicism?
- Signs Few young directors understand that suspense and fear have as much to do with what is unseen. If Hitchcock were alive and teaching film school, no doubt M. Night Shyamalan would be the master’s most prized pupil.
- Chicago A splashy, applause inducing movie for musical lovers, and a rousing, saucy musical for movie lovers.
- Insomnia Skillfully crafted murder mystery that gives more proof that a) Al Pacino is America’s finest living actor, b) If Director Christopher Nolan (“Memento”) were a stock on the NYSE I’d invest everything in him and c) Robin Williams should stick to playing creepy bad guys.
- Spiderman Big budgets lead to big hype and big expectations. Ignore the nitpickers and face the fact—this was one fun comic book of a movie.
- Possession For unabashed romantic literates. The cinematic polar opposite of Eminem’s “8 Mile.”
- Road to Perdition Sort of a cross between “The Godfather” and “Unforgiven” with all the compelling chill that portends.
- Die Another Day Because Bond movies are the reason many of us started going to the movies in the first place. It slides in just ahead of “Bourne Identity.” Why? Two words: Halle Berry.
Other noteworthy films:
Best Guilty Pleasure: “Big Trouble” A screwball comedy with plenty of rewind moments. Oh, and about half of “Jackass The Movie.” The other half was a guilty regret.
Worst Movie: “Handcart” The only experience more excruciatingly long than the pioneer trek itself was watching this movie about the famed expedition. Some bragged that it had been made on “only” $500,000. Where did it go? Catering?
Biggest Disappointment: As usual, many critically praised smaller or limited release films never made it to the southern Utah area. To see nine of Roger Ebert’s Top Ten movies would require a trip out of town. With 40 screens and no competition can’t Westates Theaters occasionally bring some lesser-known movies of quality to our deserving local patrons?
Is My Career Over Yet? Award: Eddie Murphy. Three movies (“…Pluto Nash,” “Showtime,” “I Spy”) three bombs. Is Harrison Ford in line as the next recipient? Say it isn’t so!
Best Family Movie: A toss-up between “Tuck Everlasting” and “Ice Age.”
Most Encouraging Trend: That an average movie like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” can make millions and stay in theaters for months and months proving to Hollywood that adults are starving for movies they can bring their parents to.
Special Achievement Award: To the movie geeks behind the Eclipse Film Festival who give budding artists a forum in which to shine. And kudos to the locals who give them their much deserved support with ever-increasing attendance.