10. Documentaries about pedophiles
It must have been something in the water. In the same year, Capturing the Friedmans and Stevie, two stunning documentaries and both about pedophiles. Without condoning the perpetrators’ actions, the filmmakers were able to show that the issue is a lot more complex than the simplistic accounts usually served to us by the six-o’clock news. Demanding and necessary.
9. Gus Van Sant’s minimalist phase
Gus Van Sant proved that he is the most daring independent filmmaker working in the U.S. today, offering two movies where he actually gave the audience time to think. Both Elephant and Gerry are challenging and demanding unlike any other films this year. As Roger Ebert put it while talking about Gerry,” the longer the movie ran, the less I liked it and the more I admired it.”
8. Lost in Translation
Sofia Coppola proved that The Virgin Suicides was not an accident and that she is indeed one of the best writers and directors of her generation. By making quarter-life crisis meet mid-life crisis, she managed to bring together two generations that usually only looked at each other from across the tracks.
7. 11’09″01: September 11
This cooperative project overcame its gimmicky premise and out of a common event offered some of the most varied and thought-provoking short films of the year.
The film’s multitude of perspectives from filmmakers from all around the globe permitted the audience to make some sense of pure chaos.
6. Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working With Time
The only film that could capture the beauty of Goldsworthy’s art, the natural degradation and ephemeral essence of each work being preserved in its transfer to moving image. This meditative documentary brought peace to an audience that came to realize that human life does not come to an end, but simply changes as nature reclaims it.
5. Realistic portrayals of adolescence
Two movies that could not be more unlike the other: Raising Victor Vargas, with all the duality that comes with teenage years, the innocence and the curiosity; and Thirteen, a much-needed frank portrayal of the sometimes destructive nature of adolescence. Yet, ironically, both felt so realistic that they could only have been more true to life had they been documentaries.
Yes, the spelling bee contest would not strike anyone as the most interesting documentary subject. Yet, by the end of this film, the audience realized that spelling is more exciting than a hockey game. With every pronounced letter, it seemed like a bomb could explode because we had grown to care about each of the endearing kids that walked up to the microphone to meet their fate.
3. 28 Days Later…
Danny Boyle has made an amazing comeback this year with one of the best horror movies of the decade. This apocalyptic zombie story became a haunting allegory about human nature and proved that human life is more than mere survival. Never did so much beauty come out of so much horror.
2. Finding Nemo
Pixar had many worried with Monsters, Inc., a movie that lacked the humour and intelligence of their previous efforts, but this year they proved that they have not lost their wit. In fact, Finding Nemo is undeniably the funniest film of the year. The animation is impeccable and Ellen DeGeneres gives one of the best performances of the year as a fish with short-term memory. Gives actual meaning to the three most overused letters on the Internet: LOL.