1. Mulholland Drive. Ambiguity at its debate-inducing finest. At a time when so many grave world issues were constantly being argued in the media, it was refreshing to belly-up to a bar with your pal, sip on a Summit, and debate just what the hell the sensitive cowboy in the film represented.
2. Amelie. In a year in which many people looked to the cinema for escape from reality’s harsh truths, Amelie served to reaffirm the magic and the beauty in the world, and in the strangers that we encounter every day. Humanism at its very best.
3. In the Bedroom. Although I abhor the phrase “the silence was deafening”, there’s really no other way to describe this debut from writer/director Todd Field. Field’s actors aren’t afraid of a lack of dialogue; they are comfortable in a seemingly uncomfortable silence, knowing that what isn’t said is much more important than what is.
4. Shrek. Shrek beautifully points out the inanities of fairy tales. Often, your prince is no more attractive than an ill-mannered ogre and your princess can’t fit into the slipper because she’s retaining water and her feet are swelled.
5. The Man Who Wasn’t There. The Coen Brother’s triumphant return to film noir, exploring what it means to be a man. Is Traditional Masculinity the benchmark, or is the definition of manliness a malleable one that changes according to the situation?
6. The Royal Tenenbaums. The film’s message on the tragedy of unrealized genius obviously doesn’t apply to director Wes Anderson. A unified vision at its meticulous best.
7. Ghost World. Thora Birch is amazing in this condemnation of consumerism and
shopping mall culture.
8. Tape. One of Richard Linklater’s two great films this year alone, barely edging out Waking Life. Ethan Hawke’s performance should be required viewing for potential actors.
9. Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Forget Moulin Rouge, this is the musical of the year.
10. Sexy Beast. Film’s message of destiny and karma squashing existentialism more than makes up for the “one last crime” premise.