One Man’s Opinion: The 10 Best Movies of 2003

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Now that 2003 is officially over and the award season is set to begin we must reflect back on the year that has past and see what comes of our reflection.

With a year designed around sequels and dominated by little Nemos what kind of year was it for moviegoers and how does it compare to years past?

In this man’s opinion 2003 was not one of the greatest years in film at all. Granted Return of the King kept us in awe, Finding Nemo showed us all that little fishies can entertain us to no end, and Jim Carey showed us that the powers of God are still alive and able to send Matrix Reloaded to the number 2 position just after one week, but as far as the rest goes it was box office busts abound.

The big, mean green Hulk disappointed, Jen and Ben Gigli-ed there way in and out of our lives and despair returned to the box-office in the form of a Mystic River, 21 Grams, and a House of Sand and Fog. So with all this in mind what do I consider the top ten films of the year past? Let’s have a look:

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
3. The Last Samurai
4. Kill Bill: Volume One
5. Big Fish
6. Lost in Translation
7. Whale Rider
8. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
9. 21 Grams
10. The Rundown

I can already see your questioning eyes… The Rundown? Well I must say my movie going experience does not only depend on that artsy fartsy stuff that drives others to drool over a movie. Why is it that a movie with The Rock in it, that was loved by many, cannot be as good a movie as the tragedy that is 21 Grams? Why is it that people are kissing Clint Eastwood’s feet for the unlikable story he told in Mystic River that I cannot see people watching over and over again, but a movie like The Rundown could be considered lesser quality even though people will watch it over and over once it hits DVD? Many questions…but who has the answers? Who cares, let’s get to the picks.

My picks start with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (big surprise) and there isn’t much I can say that was not said in my review and the same goes for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl where Johnny Depp made Captain Jack Sparrow one of the most likeable pirates in movie history.

Then I have the years two polar opposite samurai sword wielding flicks, The Last Samurai set at number three and Kill Bill: Volume One in at the four spot. Both these films carried with them some of the most majestic and beautiful scenery seen in movies today, while their stories differ, the entertainment value of the two is unmistakable.

In talking with another Seattle critic this year, he said of The Last Samurai, “The last samurai is an American? Give me a break.” I stopped to think for a second and wondered if my opinion of this film could be swayed by such a statement but then I remembered the reviews I had read by this guy and sloughed it off like yesterday’s trash. In watching The Last Samurai I did not believe Cruise was the last samurai at all as much as I saw him fighting alongside the samurai trying to help carry on a way of life, but, oh well, his opinion versus mine. Mine must be right. Right?

Next up are Big Fish and Lost in Translation, two movies that blend drama and comedy to the best of their abilities and succeed every step of the way. From Tim Burton’s direction to Bill Murray’s stand-out performance of his career the two of them delivered at every level.

At the seven spot I have Whale Rider, a wonderful story about a young girl daring to change tradition in order to determine the future in a small village off the coast of New Zealand. Keisha Castle-Hughes stamps herself in your memory with a brilliant and uplifting performance that must be seen by all and will be enjoyed by moviegoers of any age.

Russell Crowe made his appearance this year in a brilliant sea epic, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, that will have Academy members reaching for their nomination ballots for Best Actor, Sound, Cinematography and more as the epic sea struggle is awash with drama and power.

And as for those depressing flicks that made it back to the big screen in our post 9/11 era 21 Grams stood out in my mind as the best with outstanding performances by its lead cast members, Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, and Benicio del Toro, which also will be catching Academy members eyes.

Then, of course, comes The Rundown and I just have to say that having fun in the theater is just as important as being moved or sent into a whirlwind of despair and gut-wrenching self reflection.

Being the HUGE Matrix fan I am I had a hard time leaving out Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions, but they both fell just shy of my top 10. I also left out a couple of my other favorites such as Finding Nemo and Seabiscuit, but they all can’t make the top ten.

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