Mad About Movies Top 10 Films of 2003
Though there are a few late contenders trickling into the local area that could still make this list, the following are the most unforgettable films of 2003. The Hollywood epic made a big comeback, sequels were occasionally more than worthwhile, and the comic book hero trend seems to be slowing. Here are the films that delivered the goods this year:
The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Director Peter Jackson accomplished the nearly impossible. His final product actually realized his incredible vision, making good on a $300 million gamble with a spectacle for the ages. The final piece of the greatest trilogy ever filmed.
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
A more than seaworthy saga of 19th century brave sailors bringing to life the timeless qualities of camaraderie, courage, and nobility. Though Russell Crowe is ever masterful as his ship’s Captain, don’t overlook co-star Paul Bettany’s superb work here. A gentlemen’s adventure perhaps—but what a soaring ride.
Pixar Studios wows us again with this oceanic eye candy. Not only is it a shoe-in to win the Best Animated Film Oscar, it’s hard to even think of another film that deserves to be nominated alongside this relentlessly entertaining family classic. Way cool.
Overly sentimental to be sure, but who can resist a true underdog story told with such majesty and unflinching sincerity? It starts slowly but gallops toward an ovation-inducing conclusion. Think “Rocky” on four legs. (Don’t laugh—which film won the Oscar in 1976?)
A tender, romantic yarn that is helped considerably by the powerfully intimate performances of Kevin Costner (who also directed) and the peerless Robert Duvall. It was time for a classic western.
School of Rock
It helps if you like Jack Black and 70’s-era burner music, but make no mistake, this is a rare sentimental kid comedy that never to pander or condescend. I know its only rock in school, but I like it.
Predictable, formulaic and rarely original. Yet its craft, acting, sets, fight sequences and restrained spirituality lift this Tom Cruise hero epic above the crowd.
You may be miffed by its occasional ambiguity and storytelling shortcomings but this Clint Eastwood film continues his legacy of work that compels, haunts and maximizes the talents of his A-list cast.
A Mighty Wind
Christopher Guest and fellow cast members return with a mockumentary of folk music. The songs alone push it right up on the level with their previous work “This is Spinal Tap,” “Waiting for Guffman,” and “Best in Show.”
This beautifully told coming-of-age story is that rare gem of a movie that never resorts to contrivance. You will not see a more honest performance than that of its star, 11-year old Keisha Castle- Hughes portraying Pai, who confronts the traditions of her Maori tribe.
Worst Movie of the Year
“Gigli” would be the popular choice here but somehow it had a can’t- stop-watching- it-like-a-trainwreck effect. Wish I could find something positive about the actual winner “The Book of Mormon Movie: Volume One.” A shoestring budget and inexperienced crew wastes some talented lead actors.
“Down With Love,” “Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas,” ”Identity.”
How Do They Do It? Award
Eddie Murphy and Angelina Jolie make movies that bomb and rarely show signs of genuine talent yet they keep getting big paychecks. Who do they know?
“Freaky Friday” didn’t suck. Talented Ang Lee’s “The Hulk” did. Diane Keaton’s comeback.
Actor most likely to turn into the guy he channeled in a performance
Chain-smoking, heavily tattooed and pierced Johnny Depp with his mesmerizing Keith Richards impersonation in “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
Whatever Happened To?
All the movie musicals that “Moulin Rouge” and “Chicago” would supposedly spawn? Harrison Ford’s career? Movie manners? (To be addressed in an upcoming column) The critically acclaimed smaller films that Westates Theaters was going to bring here? (See “21 Grams,” “Thirteen,” “American Splendor,” et al.)
Agree or disagree? E-mail Bruce at Madaboutmovies2@aol.com