Top 10 Movies of 2004

Number 10.  –  Kill Bill Vol. 2

Kill Bill Vol. 2 is a good addition to the first film. Where the first film was a wall to wall action packed entry, this one slowed it down just a little bit and made for a more conversational film. It still had action and it still had the awesome choreography the first had; it just had longer scenes with more dialogue. For some action movies, that wouldn’t work, but when Tarantino I’d the filmmaker; dialogue is a great thing. The more dialogue, the better, in my opinion. I liked this one just as much as the first and I think a second viewing of both would make me like them even more. As a combination, these movies are amazing. Uma Thurman is the perfect fit for her character, as is David Carradine. These movies are a film buffs dream, but so is Quentin Tarantino. The Kill Bill movies are must see films. If you love any genre that these movies touch, it’s necessary. If you love smart, exciting, action packed, funny films, watch these movies. You won’t be disappointed in the four hour long runtime of the two films together.

Number 9.  –  Hellboy

In addition to his love of the fantastical and the macabre, Guillermo del Toro also excels in campy pulp. Luckily, Hellboy is the best of both worlds. It boasts a an over-the-top comic book world complete with snappy one-liners and colorful characters, but juxtaposes them with a Lovecraftian pahos. This is partially the fault of the source material, but del Toro has never been one to shy away from HP in any sense (see his creature design from Pan’s Labrynth or the plot of Pacific Rim for that matter). All-in-all, this is probably the closest we will ever get to seeing “At the Mountains of Madness” on the big screen in all its mystical elder god glory, but its still good to see del Toro carrying the classic sci-fi torch. Although it suffers from a slow beggining and only an average story, witty one-liners, impressive action and imagination, great character interaction and some very moving scenes make Hellboy a great success, as well as benefitting from a truly outstanding performance from Ron Perlman as the titular protagonist


Number 8.  –  The Incredibles

Highly engaging animated comedy, The Incredibles is a highly amusing picture made by Pixar, and as you can imagine, this is a solid piece of work from the studio that constantly turn out great movies. This is a well crafted film, one that boasts a great story, a great cast of voice actors, and brilliant animation. This one of the finest films that Pixar has made and one of their most elaborate. This is a highly engaging picture, one that is sure to satisfy any viewer of every age group. If you loved previous Pixar features, then you’re sure to enjoy this one just as much. The Incredibles is one of the finest animated features that I’ve seen. There are plenty of things to enjoy here, and any genre fan will surely enjoy the film. The idea behind the film is wonderful and it is a well crafted picture and director Brad Bird delivers a stunning animated feature that is guaranteed to appeal to anyone looking for a fun and entertaining picture. If you love Pixar films, don’t pass up on this film, it is a highly memorable affair, one of that is a lot of fun from start to finish. With great characters, well scripted dialogue and beautiful animation, this is a stunning piece of work from the studio, and is definitely a modern classic.


Number 7.  –  The Notebook

I’m not one for soppy romantic movies but this one pulls at the heart strings. An older gentlemen reads a story to an elderly lady in a nursing home. The story is about two teenagers Noah and Allie who meet one summer and fall in love. Allie’s parents are well to do and Noah is poor. They fell out and Allie’s parents send her away to school and they don’t see each other for years. Noah writes to her every day for a year but there is no response. They try to move on with their lives but something draws them back to each other and they pick up where they left off. It reminds me of ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’, there are good and bad things that happen but it all comes good in the end. Excellent cast and story. Ryan and Rachel make a good on screen and off screen couple. Kevin Connolly plays Fin, Noah’s best buddy. James Marsden plays Allie’s dashing new society beau.


Number 6.  –  Eternal Sunshine of
the Spotless Mind

Charlie Kaufman is a genius, one of few remaining screenwriters who can structure a film like prose amid the utter beauty of a poem. Only on the rarest of occasions does Kaufman write in an accessible nature, so to speak, but the mesmerizing atmosphere that has been constructed not only holds our undivided attention for as long as it pleases, it also demands further viewings. Not to decipher, but to enjoy the glorious experience once more. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a brave feat deserving of insurmountable praise. We’d generally scoff at a cross between the romance and science fiction genres. It seems like a novel idea for those longing to revisit the golden age of B-movies. But Kaufman can, quite simply, do anything, even make an audience tear up at the end of his romantic sci-fi film.

Number 5.  –  Downfall

This is a movie that you almost not want to see because it brings sympathy to the most hated dictator in history — Adolf Hitler, but somehow, someway… it worked. You’d almost believe that the filmmakers of this movie would be Nazi’s but they showed you that Hitler was misunderstood and made bad decision that made world worse for the sake of saving Germany. Based on true life memoirs of people who were actually there, this starkly gripping depiction of the last days of the third reich can hardly be described as an enjoyable experience. The german people are suffering terrible hardship as the attacking Russian forces reach Berlin while Hitler’s cowardly henchmen are attempting to make their escape or plotting the murder/suicides of themselves and their families when faced with the consequences of their monstrous actions. Lynch mobs roam the streets dispensing “justice” against suspected traitors and ill-equipped professional german soldiers are ordered to fight to the death in the face of certain defeat. His portrayal of Hitler veering between twitching broken shell and wild-eyed delusional maniac (who even at the end still commanded fanatical belief in him from some of his people) is totally convincing. It is still difficult to fully comprehend what you are seeing even as it happens in front of your eyes and I was left feeling shellshocked at the film’s end;.possibly the most important film made about WWII and something everyone simply must see.


Number 4.  –  Spider-Man 2

Taking a huge leap forward in technology and storytelling, “Spider-Man 2” is not just your great superhero film, but it is a piece of super-heroic art to own for a lifetime that should be cherished upon, and never given up! There is still cheese in this film, just like the first time around, but the characters have so much depth and the consequences actually come into effect. I do not see why anyone in their right mind would not like this film, because to me, it is “THE” greatest superhero film of all time! The shots are very impressive, the acting is very solid, the writing is on another level of great when it comes down to the considerations that it is a superhero film, and the action scenes are not something you can just walk away from. “Spider-man 2” is a movie that I will love forever! From the humour to the sad emotional moments, this film is brilliant in it’s own way! It may not follow the comics to a “T,” but honestly, we knew that going in. Forget that, and you have a masterpiece of a superhero film!


Number 3.  –  Shaun of the Dead

Combining sharp wit and a good humoured script, “Shaun Of The Dead” is an impressively comedic jaunt into the world of zombie horror flicks. Newcomer to directing Edgar Wright brings together a good cast to tell the story of Shaun, who amidst a zombie apocalypse tries to hunt down his ex-girlfriend and friends, and bring them to his favourite pub to hideout. Whilst the whole idea of “Shaun of the Dead” is a parody on the greatest zombie hits, most obviously of course, “Dawn of the Dead”, the script written by Wright and star Simon Pegg, is clever and witty, creating a certain you have to smile even though sometimes you don’t want to feeling, surrounding the film. A breakthrough first film from Edgar Wright who could have chose a much safer genre to try and enter the film industry. Instead, going for a zombie spoof and an unknown cast, the screenplay creates a very British comedy film, whilst appealing to worldwide audiences through the horror aspect. Never forgetting its intended dedicated zombie splatter fans, whilst entertaining all cinema goers, “Shaun of the Dead” is a film with flaws, but fun to watch and giggle at.

Number 2.  –  Before Sunset

Following the masterpiece that the first film was, “Before Sunset” picks up 9 years later after he has written a book based on the night they spent together in the first. Again, this film is driven by the performances and the screenplay which is 100% dialogue driven. Watching these two converse for the length of a feature film is more than satisfying, but that is due to the fact that the director writes the dialogue with the actors who will be portraying these wonderfully developed characters. The original Richard Linklater classic featured two fresh, young voices, finding each other in a spontaneous bohemian kind of way. Nine years, and a trail of failed relationships later, and our lovers find each other in Paris, beginning again from the ruins of their shared past. Beautiful for its Parisian sights, but also for its lovelorn dialogue, this film works principally because it’s a simple tale of love, having less to do with a pair’s story and more with the mechanics of their love affair. The characters are interesting, their conversations are crisp and new, and we as the audience revel in their experience, but also in finding out the answers to our questions from the first film. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke work well together to create an organic and truly magical partnership as Celine and Jesse, and we watch because of their chemistry. The films not only circle around an interesting couple, but show love’s evolution and fragility.

Number 1.  –  The Terminal

Since history has been recorded, we all are living in an issue of nationality and entering in unfamiliar territory in culture shock and no matter how the world could possibly be at peace with each other we all have different languages, views of the world, culture, behavior, and social structure. Since I lived in many countries in my life such as the Philippines, United States, South Korea, and now living in Japan, I still deal with this sort of issue and yet because I’m an American citizen, it’s difficult to learn from that country especially when you move around in all kinds of places in the world. And it’s much more difficult being an international since that attacks in 9/11 the entire world is in paranoia with the subject of terrorism that makes it harder to fit in a certain society. Any movie that relates to this subject matter and did everything right is a movie that’s worth my attention. This film was directed by Steven Spielberg and I will always remember it as the most underrated movie of all time! Everybody always assume that Spielberg is a director that only makes Sci-Fi and WWII films, when they never seen movies like Catch Me If You Can to show that he can direct any movie genre. The Terminal is about Victor Navorski trapped in a terminal at New York’s JFK International Airport when he is denied entry into the United States and at the same time cannot return to his native country, the fictional country of Krakozhia, due to a revolution. Since Krakozhia is under a revolution, Victor’s nationality is removed and considered as a man without a country until the revolution ends and Krakozhia is at a state of being no longer a country. The film is partially inspired by the 18-year-stay of Mehran Karimi Nasseri in the Charles de Gaulle International Airport, Terminal I, Paris, France from 1988 to 2006.

The Terminal is the very movie that I believe is perfection because it has everything that many movies don’t have, like mesmerizing cinematography that goes leaps and bounds from what we’ve already seen, the cast can’t possibly get better because each role an actor plays a solid performance, and the screenplay itself is perhaps the BEST screenplay I’ve ever seen in a movie.  This movie could have been one of the most depressing films ever made if they didn’t make Navorski more active, intelligent, developed, helpful, and heroic in his own way. He starts out as a Krakozhian citizen that discovered that he had no country when he arrived in the JFK airport, sad & lonely without a single person who’s from Krakozhia to help him, and his English is limited. As the film moves on, he learns how to live in the airport and was able to improve the Terminal by working as a construction worker to fix the place and help everyone who’s in need in of help in the very airport that he’s in. The character is so well played that I forgot a many parts of the film that he’s Tom Hanks and VERY rarely any actor could possibly do that. Yet, the antagonist, Customs and Border Protection, Frank Dixon refuses Victor to let Victor to see America and is smart enough to keep him in there, but not enough to make Victor look like a criminal fugitive which he tries to do throughout the entire movie. But yet, as Victor makes more friends and a better reputation in the terminal, everyone can see the unfairness that Frank Dixon is putting towards Victor and soon letting him see America made the build up so engaging. And who can ever forget the love relationship with Navorski and stewardess Amelia Warren, played by Catherine-Zeta Jones? Amelia Warren is a stewardess who is having an affair with a married man and finds she can open her heart to this strange, simple man. But this film isn’t always about Victor Navorski, but also other characters in the airport such as Rajan Gupta who left India to save himself to work as a janitor, Enrique Cruz who’s needed Victor’s help to find out more for the woman he loves because he’s afraid to talk to her, and so many more.

What I admire most about the film is that we live in a day in age where we are in the subject of terrorism and putting a film set in the airport, you can almost feel it coming, but the Terminal never acknowledges that terrorism exists or else this film would have been consider prejudice or insensitive to internationals whom enters America. Instead this film just shows how difficult it is to have a nationality and being in another country, but yet this film had hopes to keep the movie going forward. There was never a film that was set in the airport that actually made the viewer feel like they’re in the airport. And believe me, staying in the airport, though it may be a stretch in waiting too long, it is indeed a beautiful place and I have to take my hat off to Spielberg for showing the beautiful atmosphere of the setting and made the people working in the terminal to look important. Never was there a single movie that made me smile from beginning to end because of beautiful and well crafted everything seen in this very movie. It avoids everything that I don’t like to see in films, which other movies very often do, and instead takes everything that I want in a good movie and left we with an impression that The Terminal is the best movie I’ve ever seen in my life.

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