Thursday, January 06, 2005

Flix 2004 

When you decide to travel the path of musical obsessiveness, sometimes other art forms fall by the wayside. Oh sure, some music geeks also manage to be film geeks as well, but I've never been one of those. I have enough trouble keeping up with all the music I want to hear, and on balance I'd rather spend my time listening to new things I haven't heard before than chew up a couple hours with a movie. Still, I do enjoy a good flick.

Some years, I wouldn't even be able to make a top 10 list of the year's best movies that I saw. I've gone entire calendar years only going to four or five movies in the theater, period. Being a Netflix subscriber for the last year and a few months has forced me to watch more movies, and as a result I think I've paid a little more attention to film this year. So the most shocking thing about the cinematic year that just ended is that I actually saw 10 movies I feel are worthy of being in a top 10 list. In fact, I saw almost every movie I that I very badly wanted to see. There are a few others I'm interested in, a couple of which I hope to catch in the theaters (Merchant Of Venice, The Life Aquatic) and most of the rest I'll probably watch via Netflix eventually (Friday Night Lights, The Incredibles, The Day After Tomorrow, and the Jersey epics Garden State and Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle). But the only one I'm really dying to see is Aquatic, because I love Wes Anderson. And yes, I know word of mouth on this is so bad, and I'm expecting it to suck in an incredibly frustrating "This could have been great if only..." kind of way.

One measure of how important this list is to me, and how much stock anyone should put in it, might be the fact that unlike the endless revisions my annual music lists undergo, this list of flicks took me about five minutes to rank. Here goes nothing.

Mike C.'s Top 10 Flicks Of 2004

1. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
Concept and execution converge in a poetic, beautiful, funny, frightening, and damn near perfect movie.

2. Sideways
Though perhaps a tadoverrated, this teen sex comedy aimed at the over-35 set does seem startlingly real, other than the stunning Virginia Madsen being attracted to disheveled Paul Giamatti thing.

3. Napoleon Dynamite
Believe the hype; if you see only one film that brilliantly uses When In Rome's "The Promise" this year, see Napoleon Dynamite.

4. Mayor Of The Sunset Strip
5. Super Size Me
6. Fahrenheit 911
The three documentaries aren't in a row intentionally, but for the purpose of a summary it's convenient that it worked out that way. The most (only?) obscure film on this list, Mayor is a heartbreaking work of staggering insanity that tells the story of one of the most influential radio DJs in rock history, KROQ's Rodney Bingenheimer. Super plays out its premise with enough charm to sustain its rather obvious conclusion; its cultural legacy will be that McDonald's actually did do away with the Super Size in this film's wake. While I agree with probably 97 percent of Michael Moore's tirade, 911 is by far the weakest of his feature films, with just way too much smarm going on.

7. Kill Bill Vol. 2
Thankfully less bloody than the first half, the Q-Dog made a pretty engaging little movie out of not very much.

8. I Heart Huckabees
I didn't really heart this big-film-trying-to-seem-like-a-little-quirky-film, but I did like it.

9. The Motorcycle Diaries
10. Maria Full Of Grace
Both halves of the subtitled Latin American duo rounding out the top 10 were imperfect and at times predictable, but both were also worthwhile visual treats.

Win: DodgeBall
Please kill me.

Place: Starsky & Hutch

Show: A Day Without A Mexican
Unbearably cloying and preachy.

Bonus: Top 12 Non-2004 Movies Watched In 2004 Via Netflix,
None Of Which I Had Ever Seen Before

(in reverse chronological order)

Bubba Ho-Tep (2003)
About Schmidt (2002)
Winged Migration (2001)
Three Kings (1999)
Network (1976)
All The President's Men (1976)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Easy Rider (1969)
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
12 Angry Men (1957)
The Wild One (1954)
Rashomon (1950)

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