Most & Least of 2004

by Tony Medley

Here’s my list of the most enjoyable and least enjoyable/most disappointing/most overrated films I saw during 2004. I’ve changed the negative category to include some films that, while not the worst, were overrated.

Most Enjoyable:

  1. Hotel Rwanda: A nail-biting story about one man’s ordeal to save his family and others during history’s fastest genocide that Bill Clinton, the U.N., and major U.S. media ignored; keeps you on the edge of your seat and has the added advantage of being true.
  2. The Notebook: A poignant, moving, tear-jerking, old fashioned love story with a terrific performance by Rachel McAdams.
  3. Miracle: The best sports film ever, with real hockey players as actors, resulting in the most realistic action you’ll ever see in a sports film.
  4. Passion of the Christ: This is what it probably really was like to be scourged and crucified. It’s about time we saw what Jesus actually went through. Not for faint of heart or bigots.
  5. Ray: The best musical biopic ever and Jamie Foxx wins the Oscar
  6. Meet the Fockers: I laughed every minute, if not more.
  7. Mean Girls: I’m supposed to be interested in a story about high school girls? Against all odds, this delightful comedy enchanted me.
  8. Touching the Void: The true story of a mountain climber, who fell into a crevasse, broke his leg, was abandoned by his climbing companion, and lived to tell the tale.
  9. The Bourne Supremacy: As good a chase film as you’ll ever see; for me to praise a Matt Damon film, well, it had to be terrific.
  10. Stage Beauty: The story of the end of the line for Shakespearean male actors portraying females in post-Elizabethan England with bravura performances by Billy Crudup and Claire Danes.
  11. Motorcycle Diaries: Two young guys take the trip of a lifetime riding their motorcycle through South America. One turns out to be vicious Communist revolutionary Ernesto “Ché” Guevara. Too bad Producer Robert Redford couldn’t resist foisting his factually incorrect doctrinaire political opinion on the audience at the end.
  12. Sacred Planet: I’ve never seen more magnificent shots of the earth we inhabit. The music is wonderful. There’s one song with drums beating jungle rhythms that is worth buying the CD by itself. My only criticism, at 45 minutes, it’s too short!
  13.  Birth: Compelling atmospheric mystery about a 10 year old boy claiming he’s Nicole Kidman’s husband who died 10 years previously. Don’t like Nicole in a bathtub with a prepubescent boy? It was an essential part of the plot, grow up!
  14. Beyond the Sea: I loved the music, even though I deplored the absence of  Bobby Darin’s voice and did not like Kate Bosworth as Sandra Dee.
  15. Riding Giants: The best surfing movie ever.
  16.  The Big Bounce: An Elmore Leonard-inspired caper film set in Hawaii with a charming Owen Wilson; I liked it even though it went almost straight to oblivion.

Least enjoyable/Most disappointing/Most overrated:

  1. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou: If all movies were this bad, my job would be a lot more fun.
  2. Million Dollar Baby: A dark, depressing movie celebrating negativity, lack of hope, and giving up.
  3. I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: Shot in low light, the big problem was that you could actually see and hear things.
  4. Every Dennis Quaid movie: To be specific: “The Alamo,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Flight of the Phoenix.”
  5. Fahrenheit 9/11: Lies elevated to art by leftwing media and Hollywood pseudo intellectuals.
  6. The Aviator: A long, appallingly superficial reductio ad absurdum of Howard Hughes, showing him as a lovesick oddball, and bordering on defaming Katharine Hepburn and her parents. Did I mention that it was long? Very long. Very, very long.
  7. Alexander/Troy: Hahahaha. Oh, you mean you were serious?
  8. Kinsey: A story about sex that’s…boring.
  9. Against the Ropes: Meg Ryan (the aforementioned Mr. Quaid’s ex) attempts to resurrect her career in a dismal boxing biopic that grossly distorts reality.
  10. Spanglish:  To call it ignorant and naive would be giving it too much credit.
  11. Alfie: A vapid remake of a mediocre original.
  12. Anchorman: So dumb it’s insulting.
  13. Before Sunset (or Ethan Hawke Needs a Chemistry Lesson): We’re supposed to be sympathetic to a creep who’s ready to dump his wife and four year old son back home in America for a Parisian floozy he’s known less than 12 hours. The only things worse than the premise are the acting and the script, which was written by the actors, so that should explain something.