Best (and worst) movies of 2003From the bomb that was "Gigli" to the successful dynamo of "The Lord of the Rings," 2003 provided moviegoers with some of the best and worst films in years.
Boston.com wants to know: What films topped your best and worst lists for 2003 films?
Best: Tamala, punk cat in space Worst: hm.. GIGLI
Amy Demicco, Brookline
Best: either Lost in Translation or the Station Agent Worst: Daredevil Most misunderstood: Hulk
PJ, JP, Mass
Best: 1. LOTR: Return of the King 2. Last Samarai 3. Shattered Glass 4. Master/Commander 5. Bad Santa Clearly the monumental achievement in filmmaking goes to Jackson's epic trilogy LOTR. The pleasant surprises this year were Glass and Santa, both featuring brilliant lead performances and writing. Worst: 1. Cat in the Hat (unbearable) 2. The Order (made no sense) 3. Gothika (got worse and worse) 4. Stuck on You (not funny and miscast)
The Return of The King/pirates of the carribean
These are listed in order of whether or not I would watch them again. Anything listed 20 or below falls into the "Kill the Messenger. category and I deeply regret admitting that I actually paid to see them. 1. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King . just because I've waited so long to see a movie that truelly relied on the ability of the actors, and not the special effects, to carry the day. 2. Lost in Translation . it left me feeling satisfied but wanting at the same time. 3. Finding Nemo . my son is still talking about this one. There isn't an uninvolved or absantee parent out there that could watch this one and not feel a bit of remorse. For the overprotective, this is a cautionary tale - vigilance is a good thing but not to the detriment of your childs development and self-confidence. To all others, this movie is just right. 4. The Italian Job . minimal violence, romance without sex and action packed to boot. 5. Pirates of the Caribbean . Johnny Depp is so good. 6. Love Actually . grappling with the "agony of Love" lost, found and not yet known. 7. Runaway Jury . I know it was unrealistic, but the bastard got what he had coming. 8. Seabiscuit . destinies aren.t just given, they are earned. 9. X2: X-men United . an action packed analogy 10. Cheaper by the Dozen . I have ten aunts and uncles, it was a family reunion of sorts 11. Under the Tuscan Sky . life after divorce can be more beautiful then the life led before 12. Bruce Almighty . out of every bad day a little good must come. 13. Intolerable Cruelty . I grew up on comedy like this. 14. Down with Love . Doris Day/Rock Hudson remake. 15. Legally Blonde 2 . Corny, but the ultra-right-wing-conservative-Southern-republican Senator's gay pet's love story was worth the money. 16. Second Hand Lions . before there were telemarketers, there were door-to-door salesmen. 17. Mona Lisa Smile . I wanted a .Carpe Diem. type zeitgeist and was left disappointed. 18. Spy Kids 3D . my son enjoyed it, so it must have some redeeming qualities. 19. The Rundown . It was better than the stuff listed below. 20. Lara Croft Tome Raider: The Cradle of Life . unlike a bag of Lay.s potato chips, I could have stopped at just one. 21. Charlie.s Angels 2: Full Throttle . they relied to heavily on the special effects, a lack luster script and a few starlets who should have known better. 22. Matrix Reloaded . why was 30 minutes of my life wasted on one fight scene. 23. The Sum of All Fears . inconsistent with the book and multiple time periods. The only good thing is that they finally found the perfect Clark. 24. From Justin to Kelly . whoever thought this on up should be shot, let.s hope they learned their lesson and don.t try to deliver .From Clay to Reuben.
Julie, Somerville, MA
I have barely gotten out to the movies this year, and am not foreseeing any change too soon, though I hope getting a job and my own money might bring forth some new theater experiences in 2004 and beyond. Till then, here's my current faves and least faves from 2003: BEST 1. Better Luck Tomorrow: Justin Lin's debut feature shot on professional independent scale with credit card funding is a wonderful study of a group of Asian-American students in Orange County, California who discover they can do anything and keep their grades up, and turn to crime for the heck of it culminating in a shocking murder and subsequent coverup. A sad, funny and exhilirating tale of GoodFellas gone high school from a promising young auteur of the Tarantino generation. 2. May: Lucky McKee's debut feature is a wonderful and perfectly wrought horror film (but you'd only know from the video/DVD cover and the last half or so of the film). The masterstroke is giving us an eerie and disquieting feeling, without ever really jumping out and saying this is a horror film till the character becomes the monster that a film of that genre is expected to be. A wonderful story about a girl who had no friends growing up and a lazy eye that made her less than popular, who grows up to take life and friendship and love too seriously (perhaps) and ultimately goes on a spree of shocking violence that would make Hannibal Lecter squeamish. 3. 28 Days Later: Danny Boyle's return to form after his slight slip (2000's "The Beach"), has a young man waking up in Manchester to discover a digusting virus is killing and taking over everyone around, resulting in bloodthirsty zombies who hunt around for anything they can get. 4. Kill Bill Volume 1: Quentin Tarantino's 4th film was 6 years in the making but it finally pays off with the first half of his split-up opus (the original was estimatedly 180-200 minutes long! Beat that Lord of the Rings!!!). Uma Thurman stars as the Bride, a nameless gal who wakes up from a 5 year coma with a literal list of the assassins she once called partners who have put her in this position, vying for revenge against them and her old lover/boss: Bill (David Carradine). Wonderful from start to finish, with inventive and sometimes hilarious references ranging from female exploitation flicks, kung-fu and martial arts films, spaghetti westerns (mainly Sergio Leone's trilogy) and even a long overlooked master: Brian De Palma (look for Darryl Hannah's whistling of the great Bernard Herrmann Twisted Nerve score and you'll see what I mean). Robert Richardson deserves every cinematography award for his astounding steadicam shots (including an impressive nightclub enterance in Tokyo!). Brilliant! 5. Dirty Pretty Things: Stephen Frears' wonderful film about a group of immigrants working in a London hotel who band together when it's discovered their satanic boss (Sergi Lopez of "With a Friend Like Harry...") has a duplicitous nature. A Nigerian desk clerk finds a human heart in a clogged toilet and must enlist a prostitute and a cleaning woman (Audrey Tautou) to uncover the crime. Chilling and amazing. Great film. 6. The Good Thief: Neil Jordan's jazzy remake of Melville's "Bob Le Flambeur" has Nick Nolte as an aging heroin-addicted thief wrangled in for one last job: to steal paintings from a museum in France. Brilliant and stylish with great cinematography from Chris Menges. Great performances all around, especially Nolte and the girl who plays a young prostitute. 7. Seabiscuit: Gary Ross' (Pleasantville) wonderful second film is an epic adaptation of the popular book by Laura Hildebrand, a story of a young jockey, a trainer, an investor, their lost souls, and the horse that brings them together during the Depression. Phenomenal. 8. Identity: James Mangold's ensemble horror/mystery flick is the story of "10 Little Indians" with a group stranded in a rainy motel in the middle of nowhere Nevada who are faced with a serial killer at large amongst them. Great cast: John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Clea DuVall, Ray Liotta, John C. McGinley, John Hawkes, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Alfred Molina, Holmes Osborne, and others are just fantastic in this whodunnit that actually has a brain and a great and unforeseeable twist! 9. Lost in La Mancha: Terry Gilliam (poor poor) Terry Gilliam, the visionary director of such flicks as "Brazil", "12 Monkeys", "The Fisher King" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" returns with the documented account of his film "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" starring Johnny Depp and Jean Rochefort, and how that film didn't get anywhere near finished, and Gilliam took on the unofficial moniker of the title. A brilliant, sad and inspiring film about the attempts at making movies that result in headaches and heartbreaks. 10. The Shape of Things: Neil LaBute's often very funny and darkly twisted Pygmalion story of an art student (Rachel Weisz) and a schlubbish museum security guard (Paul Rudd) and the insane romance they have as the guard's friends warn him off of her. A painful and deeply felt black comedy from the master ("Your Friends & Neighbors", "In the Company of Men", "Nurse Betty"). HONORABLE MENTION: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World: Peter Weir's high seas epic is the story of a British commander faced with a phantom French vessel that is trying to destroy his ship off the coast of Brazil. A wonderfully made and gloriously told story of a captain and his friend the ship's doctor, and their understanding of one another in tough times Down with Love: Peyton Reed's often very witty and funny story of a couple of writers, a news reporter (Ewan McGregor) and a liberated novelist (Renee Zellweger) who fall in love in the 60s as she is trying to prove women don't need men, and he's trying to get her to fall in love to prove she's wrong. An often hilarious, inspired and beautifully designed piece of nostalgia ala' "Far From Heaven" (with smiles). Anything Else: Woody Allen's smart and funny romantic comedy about a neurotic woman (Christina Ricci), the poor guy she strings along (Jason Biggs) and the doomed romance they try to have amidst her difficult personality quirks straining on the relationship. Sweet and hilarious. WORST 1. Gigli: Martin Brest wrote and directed this doomed romantic comedy (?) about a couple of hoods (Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez) assigned to take care of a mentally challenged loser in love who gets left behind a lot as they explore their differences (she's a lesbian and he's a total moron; worked in "Chasing Amy", but the guy was smarter then thanks to Kevin Smith's writing and directing). Affleck's huge forehead and J. Lo's huge ass can't do anything but obliterate the somewhat intriguingly off-key writing of Brest, who is trying something semi-likable here, but the actors bring him down. How do Christopher Walken and Al Pacino get one scene a piece and still not save this mess? 2. Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd: An idiotic and moronically concieved prequel to the Farrelly Brothers' 1994 hit in which the dummy and dummy-y (?) of the title meet in the 80s and help foil an evil plot by their school principal and his lady love (Eugene Levy and Cheri Oteri, sometimes good here) to exhtort money. If we give them the money, will they quit, I wonder? 3. Final Destination 2: A horrid sequel to a decent sounding 2000 film from better filmmakers in which a lot of terrible deaths befall terrible teenagers in terrible ways, and who the hell cares? 4. Jeepers Creepers 2: Victor Salva ("Powder") returns to his writing-directing duties with an ill-concieved sequel to a decent sounding 2001 sleeper hit in which a horrific mix of a bat and Freddy Kreuger seems to be killing the stranded football and cheerleading squads of a high school in the middle of nowhere. Dumb, loud, annoying, and well-shot, but that's all. 5. Alex and Emma: Rob Reiner's painfully unfunny farce is all about a woman who is as smart as a screenplay will allow here (Kate Hudson) and a moron (the equally likable Luke Wilson) who falls for her as his stenographer while he dictates a novel to save his life... literally! Not "When Harry Met Sally" by a long shot, and not as terribly depressing as "Story of Us"... 6. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: A moronic action flick with nary a sense of real good humor, this film by "Blade" director Stephen Norrington stars Sean Connery in a superhero flick without superheroes: Allan Quartermain joins Nina Harker (a vampire), Captain Nemo, the Invisible Man, the (almost) invincible Dorian Gray, Dr. Jeckyll and even Mr. Hyde to defeat another literary/historical figure in this well-made but awfully unacceptable graphic novel adaptation, based on work by the men who inspired the Hughes Brothers' "From Hell" (2001), a far superior leap of faith. 7. The Life of David Gale: Alan Parker makes a film to object to in which Kevin Spacey and Kate Winslet give good performances (all are good here) for a meretricious cause as good filmmaking gives way to dumb writing and a slackjaw ending that slaps the audience in the face for watching this 130 minute fumble of a film. 8. Gods and Generals: Ron Maxwell's civil war epic (make that over 3 1/2 hours worth!) tells the story with severe leaning on the southern side, and the results are gorgeous but boring as all hell. The biggest disappointment I've seen this year. 9. The Order: A boring horror flick from "A Knight's Tale" director Brian Helgeland with his cast from that film (Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossamon, Mark Addy) as a priest, a girl in love with the priest, and a fellow clergyman who must defeat a soulstealer. Who cares? 10. How to Deal: An innocent enough but overwrought piece of teen fluff with Mandy Moore as a coming of age girl facing a friend's pregnancy, the father's death, her own father's impending marriage as well as her sister's wedding, her grandmothers penchant for medicinal marijuana, and finally her mom's dating of an underdeveloped character (Dylan Baker). Did I mention she likes that date-rape-intending French prince from the West Wing?
Eric Wilkinson, Seattle, WA
Most movies are pretty good, so its hard to decide what was the best. But bad movies really jump out and slap you in the face. Here are a couple of really choice duds from 2003:* Beyond Border. I am not a fan of Angelina Jolie. And boy did this movie stink. It's not even worth renting on DVD. * From Justin to Kelly. OK, didn't actually see it, but just the thought of it offended me. * In The Cut. Psychological thriller thats more psychological than a thriller. Boring. * Darkness Falls. Creepy ghost terrorizes town at night. Lame, lame, lame. Clearly aimed at teens with money to waste. * House of 1,000 Corpses. So pointless it should be studied. * Head of State. I love Chris Rock. But the man can't make a good movie to save his life. * Dumb and Dumberer. This movie made me angry at myself for not heeding the critics advice to stay away. Like the ghost of Jacob Marley, I am want to warn you all to avoid this bomb at all costs.
Kooter, Down South
My favorite movie this year was "Finding Nemo!" I hate violent movies, this was funny and soft the way I like it.
Greg , Rockland, Ma
Best: Lost in TranslationWorst: Gigli