The 00s march on with another list of my favourite movies. Let’s see how 2002 does then shall we?
35.Tomie: Forbidden Fruit
I’m a gigantic fan of manga artist/writer Junji Ito and although there have been a few attempts at converting his surreal horror into movies most have fallen well short. There are a couple of decent ones and this fourth in the Tomie series based on the manga of the same name is a decent attempt. Scary, beautiful girls, clones and regenerating characters abound in this well intentioned effort that works well but still isn’t a patch on the manga.
34. Van Wilder
This film has absolutely no right to be as good as it is. Sub par American Pie style premise, lame jokes and a lot of screen time for gigantic mess Tara Reid. It’s a young Ryan Reynolds that pulls it through and brings enough charm and comedic timing to rise above all of the flaws to make it a fun time. I was sitting watching it thinking “why am I enjoying this?” but I was so that’s all that matters.
33. We Were Soldiers
A solid Vietnam war movie starring Mel Gibson and directed by Randall Wallace. It’s well made, some excellent battle scenes and great performances but it slightly glorifies war and doesn’t hit nearly as hard as movies like Platoon and Hamburger Hill that try to show the brutality of war and the fact that there’s very often no heroes and just a bunch of confused kids sent to die. In terms of an entertaining movie though, it works.
Best Bit- Final battle
32. Phone Booth
One of those movies you can poke holes in but if it was on late at night when I was younger I’d be watching it. The kind of movie I used to love staying up with my dad to watch. Joel Schumacher is often mocked as an awful director and he’s had has fair amount of stinkers but this is a cracking wee intense slice of entertainment that sees Colin Farrell trapped in a phone booth taking orders from a mysterious villain.
31. Panic Room
David Fincher’s tense thriller stars Jodie Foster as a mother and a young girl whose house is invaded by robbers while they hide in their panic room. Much like Phone Booth it all takes place in a very small area so the lack of variation means the story and acting has to work and thankfully in this case with the likes of Foster and Forrest Whittaker it does.
Best Bit- Enter the burglars
30. Jackass: The Movie
Hot on the heels of the phenomenal worldwide success of their punk rock diy slapstick tv show full of disgusting painful pranks, skateboarding and scatological skits …..no pun intended but if it’s funny then it was intended. Johnny Knoxville and the crew take their new found popularity to the big screen and it works pretty well with the skits being more elaborate, often to hilarious effect.
Best bit-Golf course airhorn
A beautifully shot art film from Beat Takeshi that moves away from his usual violent noir crime yakuza movies and into a philosophical and existential drama. It’s split into three sections with all parts dealing with the theme of death. “Beat” Takeshi Kitano proves his worth as a versatile and unique visionary.
Best Bit-Let the seasons begin
A French psychological thriller that disturbs to a ridiculous degree most famously with possibly the most heinous rape scene ever committed to a theatrical release. I will never ever watch that again but it sure did it’s job, it’s powerful and incredibly upsetting. The crux of the movie is two guys out for revenge after the rape of their friend. It’s an oddly shot movie with weird angles, chronologically mixed up scenes and confrontational subject matters.
Best Bit- Club fight
27.Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla
Another one of those movies that would be a guilty pleasure if I felt guilty about such things. A fun and cheesy kaiju movie and if you follow my lists then you’ll know I love me a kaiju. Some great action scenes and a fun aesthetic make for one of the better entries from the 00s.
Best Bit- City fight
Back when M. Night shamalamadingdong was one of the hottest directors in Hollywood he released this, his third major movie to yet another happy fanbase. After this it started going tits up for him in terms of critical appraisal and he became a bit of a laughing stock before pulling it back in the last few years thankfully. This one sees Mel Gibson investigating crop circles and aliens coming to Earth.
Best Bit- Alien party
25 (Tied). Phone
Man Asian horror used to be obsessed with technology trying to kill us, similar to 50s and 60s sci fi. This South Korean fright fest is intelligent and at times confusing focusing a lot on character development and the dark and tragic romance along with the hauntings and possessions.
25 (Tied). Suicide Club (aka Suicide Club)
A cool little Japanese indie horror that sees teenagers all over the country committing mass suicides and follows the detectives trying to figure out the cause behind it all. One of the most visually arresting intros to a film you will see as a large group of schoolgirls jump off a subway platform onto the tracks as a train hurtles towards them.
Best Bit- Intro
24.Bowling For Columbine
Michael Moore’s scathing attack on America’s gun culture in the wake of the Columbine school shooting back when that was a relatively rare occurrence. Mixing dark and sardonic humour with brutally pointed social commentary Moore manages to piss off a large part of his country who were out with pitchforks hunting him down after this. Moore is an incredibly polarizing character but to me this was his best work.
Best Bit-Marilyn Manson
23. The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
As I said in the last year list the LOTR movies really should click with me more considering I’m a fantasy fan and it’s basically the bible of fantasy media and I like Peter Jackson. The Two Towers has some fantastic set pieces and the battles are just superb. The best of the trilogy.
Best Bit- Battle of Helms Deep
22. One Hour Photo
One of two thrillers this year in which Robin Williams puts in career high performances against type. A lonely photo lab technician with a passing friendship to a customer’s family and becomes an obsessed stalker. I don’t care what his Oscar from years earlier says, this is a better performance.
Best Bit-Sy’s explanation
21. 28 Days Later
Often seen as the movie that revitalised the zombie movie and gave them an update with the undead running at full pace for a terrifying twist on the genre. Danny Boyle directs and Cillian Murphy stars in a movie that is enjoyable but in my opinion……a little overrated. Lynch mob time……that’s why it didn’t quite make my zombie movie list. It’s still good though.
Best Bit-Empty London
20. The Ring
Like I said when I put this on my best horror remakes list I’ve grown to appreciated this more as the years have gone on. It was always going to be a tough sell for me as it’s a remake of one of my favourite movies of all time. The green tinted lens still doesn’t sit well with me and the whole horse thing is a bit meh but it’s still a very good movie and a worthy attempt at a Hollywood remake….plus I really like Naomi Watts. Just don’t give me any of that nonsense about it being the better of the two.
Best Bit- Ending
This probably would have been higher on the list had I not watched it recently. It hasn’t aged particularly well but it’s still very good. Willem Dafoe’s take on The Green Goblin is….unique and the costume is a little Power Rangersesque but there’s a lot to enjoy from Sam Raimi’s love letter to the 60s. It’s warm, good hearted and deliberately cheesy evoking the dialogue of old school comics from the Lee/Ditko era.
Best Bit- Bonesaw
18.Gangs Of New York
Another movie where everyone raves about the performance of Daniel Day Lewis, a man so far up his own arse he can lick his lungs. Personally I found his performance so hilariously over the top it was funny. Nonetheless we got great showings from Leo Di Caprio, Cameron Diaz, Diaz, John C. Reilly and more in this period movie about differing immigrant gangs fighting for control of New York. It was nominated for the Oscar but as you can see I found it highly overrated despite some excellent scenes and performances. Scorsese has done much better.
Best Bit-The mark of shame
17. Bubba Ho-Tep
A comedy horror based on the excellent novella of the same name by Joe R. Lansdale, one of the most versatile and unique authors in the game. Directed by Don Coscarelli, it stars Bruce Campbell as Elvis Pressley and Ossie Davis as Jack, a black one who believes he is John F. Kennedy. They live in a retirement home that is set upon by an ancient mummy. It’s mental, it’s funny and surprisingly touching as it looks at how society abandons the elderly.
Best Bit-Final fight
16. Ice Age
My wee nephew would watch this all the time when he was a toddler. It’s a cracking wee cgi adventure about a group of animals migrating south to avoid the cold in the midst of the ice age. It features the voices of Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo and more and it’s funny, sweet and entertaining. It spawned a bunch of sequels, none of which I’ve seen.
Best Bit-Diego becomes the hero
15. Lilo And Stitch
An adorable and sweet Disney movie about a little Hawaiian girl, her big sister and a mischievous alien they adopt. The girls lost their parents in a car accident so other than the crazy alien hi jinks the movie focuses on the struggle of the older sister bringing up her wee sister and the incredibly sweet bond they have despite the difficulties. More so than a lot of Disney movie the relationships really hit home and make up the most important part of connecting with the movie. Don’t get me wrong it’s also incredibly funny. The wee girl from The Ring plays Lilo….fun fact.
Best Bit- Meeting Stitch
14. Road To Perdition
This beautifully shot Sam Mendes crime drama set during the great depression is based on the great graphic novel of the same name by Max Allan Collins. It’s a revenge tale in which a mob enforcer and his son seek vengeance for the murder of their family. Amazing looking movie and a great performance from Tom Hanks. Essentially a western retelling of Lone Wolf And Cub.
Best Bit-Rainy street shootout
13. Twilight Samurai
A beautiful Japanese movie directed by Yoji Yamada about a low ranking samurai and his family during a time of cultural and economic change in the 19th century. Not long before the Meiji restoration changed traditional Japanese culture around and made the samurai lifestyle obsolete, it’s similar to western movies that deal with the times changing and cowboys becoming obsolete.
Best Bit- Defending the home
Let’s just get it out the way that I feel dodgy putting a Roman Polanski film on my list but taking away what a gross man he is and looking objectively at The Pianist as a movie on it’s merit then it more than deserves to be here. It’s a fantastic biopic of Wladyslaw Szpilman who was a Jewish pianist from Poland during the second world war. It’s incredibly powerful and deeply upsetting with a great breakout performance from Adrien Brody….god there’s so much I shouldn’t like about this movie. Brody is a smug bellend but he is brilliant here.
Best Bit-Sharing food
At the time of it’s release Hero was the most expensive and the biggest grossing movie in Chinese cinema history. Like with a lot of Chinese movies, the cinematography is utterly stunning and frankly beautiful with excellent sprawling fight scenes and incredible scenery. An all star cast of Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi and more star in this historical martial arts epic.
Best Bit- Long Sky vs Nameless
10. The Cat Returns
Another entry from my boys and girls at Studio Ghibli and this one isn’t topping the list which is a rare occurrence for the studio’s films. Even though it’s one of the lesser Ghibli films in my opinion it’s still bloody excellent and charming so it just goes to show the consistent brilliance that they [produce. It’s a spinoff of Whisper Of The Heart in which the main cat character played a part. Directed by Hiroyuki Morita rather than Hayao Miyazaki who usually directs the bigger Ghibli movies, he has a different style and it helps the movie stand out from a lot of their other stuff.
Best Bit- Haru meets the Baron
Here we have the second super Robin Williams performance in a thriller on the list. Christopher Nolan flexes his directorial muscles again in this excellent psychological starring Williams, Al Pacino and Hillary Swank. It’s a remake of a Norwegian movie of the same name from 1997 unlike a lot of Nolan’s work which he writes. Two detectives are sent to a small Alaskan town to investigate a murder and things get weird when they meet some of the town’s chracters.
Best Bit-Chasing the killer
Hideo Nakata built a relationship with author Koji Suzuki who wrote both the novel Ringu and the short story Dark Water and went on to adapt both of them into movies. A fine job he did too as regular readers will know Ringu is one of my favourite movies of all time and whilst dark water doesn’t hit those heights it’s still an excellently creepy and sad ghost story. It sees a single mother and her daughter move into a run down apartment filled with damp and a mysterious ghostly child roaming the corridors. Those looking for a terrifying thrillride are better looking elsewhere, this is a more contemplative and creepy tale looking at the mother daughter relationship.
Best Bit-Bath water
7. Blade 2
Guillermo Del Toro’s first foray into the comic book movie world was a highly stylized and brilliantly entertaining one. Wesley Snipes is perfect as the half vampire half human …..vampire slayer and this entry into the franchise did well on my top comic book movies list too. Del Toro is such a great visual movie maker and when he gets the right story he’s just the best genre director working today in my opinion. More of him to come as the decade goes on.
Best Bit- Fighting the reapers
Based on he excellent short story by the legendary sci fi writer Philip K. Dick, this Spielberg directed neo noir sees Tom Cruise as the head of the Precrime division who can apparently predict future crimes based on psychics within the division and preemptively arrest the perpetrators. As with most PKD stories it deals with the moral and practical effects of governmental actions and shit goes doooowwwwwn.
Best Bit- Anderton sees the future
A brilliant crime thriller in which an undercover cop infiltrates the Chinese triads and a triad infiltrates the police. It was later remade by Martin Scorsese and called The Departed which you’ll be seeing in a few lists. Stylishly directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak with a star studded cast including Andy Lau and Tony Leung it’s violent, intense and nerve shreddingly tense. A brilliantly made movie.
Best Bit- The rooftop
4. City Of God
Bleak, nihilistic, thought provoking film making at it’s best in this utterly soul destroying look at the favelas of Rio De Janeiro. It shows the absolute chaos of poverty ridden areas being flooded with both organized and unorganized crime in a seemingly lawless area where anything goes. Children flashing guns, drug dealers fighting for control and the innocents caught in between. It’s draining and leaves you rather numb but I’m assuming that was the intention so bravo. Not the Brazilian tourist boards favourite movie.
Best Bit-Teaching the kids a lesson
3. Ju On: The Grudge
Between the remake of this and Ringu the rest of the movie going world got to know what Japanese horror was all about. Vengeful ghosts, terrifying girls with long black hair and twitchy movements and blood curdling sound effects were the order of the day here and Ju On certainly ticks all the boxes that would go on to become cliched and copied beyond parody. Some terrifying scenes and an overall intense atmosphere make for a painfully scary movie if you let yourself get invested and if you haven’t seen the million parodies that take the sting out of it. I remember first seeing this and holding my breath several times as the tension was unbearable. Blissfully directed horror classic from Takashi Shimzu.
Best Bit- Tv distortion
2.Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance
South Korean Director Park Chan-Wook became a superstar in the 00s due to his vengeance trilogy that began with this bleak, nihilistic tale (2002 seems to have a few of them). It sees a down on his luck man kidnap his former boss’ child in an attempt to extort money from him to pay for his sister’s much needed kidney transplant. He doesn’t mistreat the child and is only doing it out of desperation but things go horribly wrong. I remember when I was living with my dad I showed him this movie, at the end we sat in silence for a minute, he stood up and said…..”well then….f**k you for making me watch that” he was so depressed after it. Bleak doesn’t begin to cover it but utterly brilliant.
1 The Eye
In a list with Oscar contenders, all time critical classics etc this little Hong Kong/Singaporese (not Japanese as many seem to think) ends up on top. You’ll know by nw that I’m a massive horror fan and at a time when I though I’d seen it all and not much could scare me anymore along came this Pang brothers classic. Just something about it connected with me. I was housesitting for my girlfriend at the time’s auntie and uncle’s house 50 miles away in a house I’d never been in when I first saw it and three scenes in particular scared the living shit out of me. It’s an expertly crafted piece of horror cinema with great camera work, brilliant set pieces and a likeable protagonist played by the beautiful Angelica Lee.
Best Bit-Trying out the new eyes
2002 then, plenty of great movies in there. Any films you would have had in there instead? Let me know @swing_kinker and catch me back here for the 2003 list soon. x