Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Favorite Films Of My Lifetime: 2002

It might just be me, but I feel like I'm finding a pattern here in this study.  Every decade seems to end on an incredibly good run only to have the next start off a little "rougher" or be less difficult to choose from.  This is the year Chicago won the Oscar for Best Picture over of course a LOTR movie we still talk about.  I don't know what it was with Chicago that 2 years ago the Oscars decided to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of it winning Best Picture, but...eh, okay.  My picks are all but one a franchise film for this particular year, but I enjoy all of them. 

Best Picture noms

WINNER - Chicago
Gangs Of New York
The Hours
The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
The Pianist

My nommies, the beginning of the next 10 years

The Bourne Identity

Kind of an "eh" movie to go see at the theater ended up being probably the biggest surprise of summer 2002.  Matt Damon as a big action hero was kind of "haha" when the trailers came about, but once you saw it onscreen, you were quite taken.  This felt a cool , wholly original spy film with some awesome stunts, chases and fights.  Plus there was an overarching mystery at hand.  They also got major points from me for casting the woefully underused for her career, Franke Potente.  I really enjoyed the adventure and the European settings used for the film.  It was also eye popping that this was a film done by the more indie friendly Doug Liman, but it was a passion project of his at the time, so the guy knew what he was doing.  This one ended up being the one that stands out from the rest aesthetically, but I think its still incredibly awesome.

Harry Potter & The Chamber Of Secrets

Of the 2 Chris Columbus Potter films, I feel this one is better.  Its a lot more fully realized and the director seems more comfortable with it.  I don't think the guy gets near enough credit for his work on the first 2 films, creating and fully realizing JK Rowling's universe to the big screen.  The guy nailed it.  And I also think the 2nd Potter film might be the best book to screen adaptation of the whole series.  Pretty much everything going on in this book is on screen.  No, its not perfect, but its really close.  Its also a far more exciting film as it delivers more on some light scares and suspense.  Also, the final battle actually feels a little more epic and has some life or death stakes compare to what seemed like a cop-out whimper in the first movie.  This isn't the best film in the series (probably by far), but its likely overlooked as it is quite good.


Well yes, this first started screening in 2001, but it didn't get a wide release where I'd have been able to see it til 2002.  This was a Top 10 horror film of the '00s that was acclaimed but I think went under the radar of general audiences then and still to this day.  It's the directorial debut of Bill Paxton and features he and Matthew McConaughey giving superb and downright creepy performances.  The film is a mysterious but grounded supernatural story.  Its told through flashback and really has you feeling the pressures, challenges and concerns of the young man we're following.  If you've never seen this one before, I think its only like $5 on Blu-ray.  It still holds up and if you're into twist, turny, creepy horror films, you'll definitely be doing yourself a service by checking it out.

Infernal Affairs

If you're reading this list and you don't think you've seen this movie, you actually probably have.  You just know it in the American form as The Departed.  Now, I have been known to kick The Departed over the years, but I still think its a fun movie.  Its just...when you've seen both films and just how much was a straight redo of this (like fully realized shots and sequences) you wonder why the effort was rewarded with a Best Picture and Best Director award.  I prefer this version as there's a lot more weight and depth this one than its American counterpart.  This is the first film of a fully fleshed out trilogy and its much more loose and has more going on in between than The Departed.  The Departed closes up every possible avenue for the story to flush out, and forces in elements of the 2 following movies leaving it nowhere to go for any future adventures.  Maybe The Departed is an easier, more popcorn friendly watch for many, but it never holds a candle to the rewarding feeling of getting to the end of this trilogy.

Jason X

There are a lot of fellow Friday fans that despise this movie.  And here's their problem...they take their Jason too serious post-The Final Chapter.  This movie was made and intended to be an horror-action/comedy.  Its the 10th movie about a guy with a hockey mask that stalks and kills teenagers for peets sake.  Yes, sending him to space is stupid, but THAT'S THE POINT.  Todd Farmer knew this writing it.  There are jokes, actually funny ones at that, all abound this romp.  Its not the slightest bit scary, but its a really damn fun movie and more fun of a watch than mos to of the franchise.  It was originally intended to come out around 1998, I believe (need to consult my Crystal Lake Memories handbook on that), it sat on a studio shelf until 2002.  This is also Kane Hodder's final and I argue BEST film he appeared as Jason in.  This is like the sister movie to Jason Lives! in terms of what the makers are going for.  Plus, some of the sci fi elements (costuming, sets) are actually really cool.  Of all the horror villains that took to space, I'd argue that Jason went up there ironically and probably did it the best.

The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers

Another Holiday season, another great entry in the LOTR franchise.  As I mentioned before, I've never read the books.  So, color me surprised when this second movie took on such a big scale, high stakes battle at the end of the film that would have been fit to close out an entire series and this was only just the 2nd film.  That battle is absolutely incredible too.  This is the film in the series that gets to just be that travel and adventure without all the setup and without all the closing as well.  I understand that liberties were taken with this one, having pieces of it delivered to the other two films, but you wouldn't notice.  This one naturally opens and closes.  Its an amazing achievement and further proof that it is hard as hell to pick an absolute favorite from this perfect trilogy.

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