THE TOP TEN FILMS OF 2003

01. DOGVILLE (Lars von Trier)
It never lets you forget that what you’re watching is staged, yet it hits you harder than the most naturalistic films.

02. THE RETURN OF THE KING (Peter Jackson)
The defining cinematic adventure of our time, this is an epic where grandiose battles are matched by overwhelming emotions.

03. ALL THE REAL GIRLS (David Gordon Green)
The truest, most affecting film about young love since “Say Anything”, it’s a film both natural and lyrical.

04. KILL BILL (Quentin Tarantino)
Foot-to-ass action, iconic visuals and a wildly cool soundtrack, just toppings for a riveting revenge story centered on a powerful yet heartbreaking Uma Thurman.

05. IN AMERICA (Jim Sheridan)
Endless warmth and humanity fill this very personal tale of magical realism, childlike hope and family.

06. HERO (Zhang Yimou)
“In the Mood for Love” by the way of “Rashomon”, this gorgeously shot and scored martial arts epic is more about physical poetry and romantic tragedy than chopsocky.

07. CIDADE DE DEUS (Fernando Meirelles)
Sort of a Blaxploitation epic, but built around complex characters with an incredible attention to detail and based-on-real-events poignancy.

08. RAISING VICTOR VARGAS (Peter Sollett)
Unforced storytelling, natural performances, palpable heat and sweat, it’s like we’re in that New York summer with these Dominican teens full of heart and soul.

09. RISE OF THE MACHINES (Jonathan Mostow) / X-MEN UNITED (Bryan Singer)
The most fun and action-packed summer flicks in years.

10. COLD MOUNTAIN (Anthony Minghella)
A wonderfully old-fashioned epic romantic drama, like “Gone With the Wind” by the way of the Odyssey.

***

BEST DIRECTOR – Takashi Miike for Ichi the Killer
and all the other insane flicks of his that I caught up to through the year

BEST ACTOR – Bruce Campbell in Bubba Ho-Tep

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Eugene Levy in A Mighty Wind

BEST ACTRESS – Angela Bettis in “May”,
the most overlooked creepy/sad little masterpiece of the year

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Ludivine Sagnier in Swimming Pool

BEST SCREENPLAY – Les Invasions Barbares

BEST MUSIC – The School of Rock

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – Down With Love

BEST DOCUMENTARY – À hauteur d’homme

BEST ANIMATED FILM – Finding Nemo

BEST DVD – Tenacious D: The Complete Master Works

GUILTY PLEASURES
From Justin to Kelly
Bad Boys II
The Lizzie McGuire Movie

THE WORST FILM OF 2003 – ”Bringing Down the House”
[ Uninspired writing, hack direction, elevator music score, unconvincing actors with zero chemistry, eye-rollingly unfunny humor with absolutely no sense of timing… It’s like the crappy ‘80s comedies that play on local TV at 2 in the morning, but what’s worse is how damn offensive it is. This is what the Boondocks refer to as an embarrassment to the race; they should revoke Queen Latifah’s African-American status. Note to the once brilliant Steve Martin: DUDE, do you need the money this bad? ]

BEST ALBUMS
1. The Dears’ “No Cities Left”
2. Rufus Wainwright’s “Want One”
3. Lhasa’s “The Living Road”
4. Calla’s “Televise”
5. Les Cowboys Fringants’s “Attache ta tuque!”

Retrospective — 1998

Foreword

I’ve always liked movies, for as long as I can remember. Of course, as a kid, I was mostly into Marty McFly, Indiana Jones and John McClane, but soon adolescence broadened my horizons and I got interested in darker silver screen figures such as Travis Bickle, Tony Montana and Mr. Blonde. I became an avid moviegoer as well as a video store staple, and I’ve been taking in movie after movie ever since.

The first seeds of my becoming a film critic were planted in the first days of 1996, when I alternated between watching a “Planet of the” Apes marathon on TV and going through a freshly bought copy of the 1996 Blockbuster Video Guide. That’s when it sort of dawned on me that I had seen so many movies that I was losing track. Hence, I went back to the ‘a’ page with a pen and paper and went through the whole book writing down the titles of movies I had seen. Days later, when I was done, I sat down in front of my computer and typed up the whole list. Next up, I decided to give ratings to the movies, using the 5 star system used in the Blockbuster guide, which looking back was a bad idea since most everyone actually uses 4 stars but what the hell. The next step seemed obvious: I started to write short comments on the films, not proper reviews yet, but in spirit I was becoming a critic.

Gradually, I started writing more, and more, and more, until it got to the point where what I was doing looked, sounded and felt like reviewing movies… except that I had no audience! But it didn’t matter, I loved movies, I loved writing, so writing about movies was a logical thing to do. A year or so passed, I was now in film school, and it had become a habit after watching a movie to sit down and spend a few hours putting my impressions on paper. I had scrapped the original collection of 20 words reviews but, still, it was quite a nice little archive I was gathering, with something like 150 reviews.

Somewhere around June 1998, my best friend Mathieu finished a course in HTML and website design and was aching to put together something on the internet, yet didn’t know what. That’s when we got the idea to combine my always increasing collection of reviews and his programming skills to co-create a website. Thus was born “Nemours @ the Movies”, with its clumsy original look, its clumsy original reviews and its clumsy original location with annoying Geocities pop-up ads.

July 2003 will mark the Fifth Anniversary of my online film critic career. To celebrate this little milestone of mine, I’m taking a look back at those five years of websites, movies and life in general.

The Website
Nemours @ the Movies (Nemours is a fake middle name I gave myself)
http://members.xoom.com/nemours (defunct)
Pretty lame design, few pictures, all reviews crammed into letter pages (the As, the Bs..), annoying pop-up ads… Hey, gotta start somewhere.

The Movies

We first went online on July 1st, 1998 with a front-page review of Armageddon (not a masterpiece but certainly better than Deep Impact). This was a pretty good year for blockbusters, as Blade, Ronin and Enemy of the State thrilled us while we laughed it up with Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer and The Waterboy. There was also that “New Geek Cinema” sorta-trend, with such black humor-laced flicks as Very Bad Things and the T&A opus Wild Things, two GREAT Meg Ryan romantic comedies (City of Angels and You’ve Got Mail) and the overrated but occasionally brilliant Saving Private Ryan.

My Top Ten:

01. THE TRUMAN SHOW 95
02. THE THIN RED LINE 93
03. HAPPINESS 92
04. A SIMPLE PLAN 92
05. OUT OF SIGHT 92
06. BUFFALO ’66 91
07. LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL 90
08. SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE 90
09. THE BIG LEBOWSKI 93 (yeah, this should have been higher)
10. THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY 90

Would have been in the Top 5 if I’d seen it earlier: American History X

The rest of my life
I turned 18, found a drinking buddy in Johnny Dee Master Magician, saw Tori Amos live for the first time.

NEXT: 1999, still the best movie year in recent memory.