What I Watched in 2002
by Del Harvey
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#10 Ice Age—A fun ride, and it wasn’t condescending like some of the Mouse’s crap. Takes my vote for best animated film of 2002.
#9 Evelyn—Beautifully acted, heartwarming story of a man fighting for custody of his family in 1950’s Ireland.
#8 The Count of Monte Cristo—Dumas is my favorite writer and this is an excellent screen version of one of his very best novels.
#7 Rain—Outstanding. Incredible. Wonderful. Australian coming-of-age tale has great understanding of the human drama.
#6 Unfaithful—Excellent drama—Diane Lane should get Oscar nod for this one.
#5 Narc—Powerhouse performances from Liotta and Patric, and a terrific little human drama make for good crime story…after all, it’s the darkness in our souls that makes us criminals.
#4 The Hours—Adapted from the popular novel, this story tackles the subject of depression with inspiration, thanks to three stellar actresses and an Oscar-worthy performance from Ed Harris.
#3 Road To Perdition—Like Hammett put on celluloid; brilliant.
#2 Real Women Have Curves—My second best favorite film of the year, a fairy tale of the caterpillar knowing there is a beautiful butterfly within.
#1 I Am Trying To Break Your Heart—My pick for best film of the year is the documentary about Wilco, a Chicago-area band whose independence in the age of corporate rule is praiseworthy.
25th Hour—Great cast and film interrupted by too many references to 9/11.
Chicago—Either Gere’s getting better as he gets older, or I’m learning to appreciate him, and Zellweger is standout good in this musical drama adapted from the stage hit. I would liked to have seen Bebe Neuwirth in the role they gave to Zeta-Jones, however.
Gangs of New York—Beautifully photographed, very well acted, great story, but there is something unsettling about this film that makes you feel as though you’ve just been bullied.
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers—Much better than the first one, with some incredible effects and beautiful cinematography.
Men In Black II—I like Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith together, especially when they work for Barry Sonnenfeld.
One-Hour Photo—Good, quirky little film; I think Robin did better in Insomnia.
Panic Room—Actually, this claustrophobic little thriller works very, very well. It just isn’t “Top 10” material.
The Rookie—Dennis Quaid finally busting out in an Oscar-worthy star vehicle worthy of his ability, with a story reminiscent of Capra’s best.
Signs—Surprisingly good, and a smart idea to keep it ‘claustrophobic.’
Spider-Man—Sam Raimi can make anyone look good, even Tobey Maguire, and pulls off the fantasy of web-spinning.
Big Trouble—I love a dark comedy, and this one’s a little twisted, it has a great cast, and it was directed by MIB2’s Barry Sonnenfeld.
Eight-Legged Freaks—Paean to 60’s monster bug films is filled with intentional humor that works thanks to strong cast of supporting actors.
Last Orders—A sentimental favorite, with star-studded cast in a memory-laden sendoff pic.
Murder By Numbers—Much better than expected, but Schroeder factor applies; there’s something always a little off-key in a Barbet symphony.
The Ring—Thank goodness for the director, ‘cause he’s probably all that saved this remake of a Japanese horror flick.
The Salton Sea—This contemporary noir is gritty, hip, and offbeat. It is stark and cruel as love can be; or any true noir tale, for that matter.
The Tuxedo—Jackie Chan is an incredible athlete with an inspired soul, and in this film he shows us he can dance like James Brown!
Undercover Brother—Great idea well done. Tongue-in-cheek black-spy-‘ploitation film is the best thing in bell bottoms and an Afro you’ll see all year.
Undisputed—Writer/director Walter Hill crafts a script that resurrects the ghost of John Ford, commenting simultaneously on the state of the pugilist’s sport and the cost of freedom. With high marks for acting from Wesley Snipes, Ving Rhames, and Peter Falk.
Heartbreakers—Very funny script well directed and acted by Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love-Hewitt, Ray Liotta, and a royally phlegmatic Gene Hackman.
Heist—David Mamet writes and directs a finely wrought little heist noir with a dream cast of supporting characters giving some of the best performances of their careers.
Lantana—Australian murder mystery’s a surprise for inspired performance by Anthony Lapaglia.
#10 Dragonfly—As long as he keeps making films, I’ll keep panning them.
#9 Queen of the Damned—I liked Jon’s title: “Damned Queen.”
#8 Collateral Damage—Pointless rehashing of old Arnold vehicles; at least bad films like this ought to help keep Arnold out of office for a few more years.
#7 Red Dragon—Hopkins looks tired, Fiennes & Perkins are wasted, and Norton is dull as paint.
#6 The Transporter—Enormously disappointing, considering writer & star.
#5 Mr. Deeds—Adam Sandler sucks. Period. End of fucking sentence.
#4 Lovely & Amazing—Pretty good cast and a couple of good actors who manage to rise above a script without a story and a director without a clue.
#3 Swept Away—Hey? Did anybody remember to leave Madonna on the raft? God, I hope so.
#2 All About The Benjamins—One of those films that’s the exception when it comes to teaching kids bad things about crime, guns, greed.
#1 Super Troopers—Wannabe Zucker, Zucker, Abrahams is pure crap. I struggled to keep from walking out…or throwing up.
Bad Company—Tommy Lee or Will Smith they ain’t, and the concept for this film is just ridiculous.
Black Hawk Down—Heavy-handed and overlong, but Tom Sizemore is standout good.
The Bourne Identity—Not nearly as good as the hype tried to make it seem, and I’ve seen better chase sequences on reruns of COPS.
Changing Lanes—Tries a little too hard; Samuel L. Jackson has done a couple of funky films this year (Formula 51 and XXX).
High Crimes—What a waste of good talent.
Minority Report—Dream pairing of director Spielberg with actor Cruise is lead balloon.
The Mothman Prophecies—A great cast and a story with potential just flushed down the shitter.
Resident Evil—Unlike other horror films out this year (the regurgitated Halloween: Resurrection and Jason X), which have some excuse for getting made, this thinly sliced loaf of severed flesh serves only to support the theory already proven by Lara Croft, Ticket Raider: computer games do not good films make.
Rollerball—Bad remake proves Chris Klein is pretty dull stuff.
Showtime—These guys ain’t Tommy Lee or Will Smith, either! I don’t care how many Oscars they’ve got!
The Sum of All Fears—Why make this film? What was the point? Does Tom Clancy need any more money?
Well, that’s it. My annual rant. I mean, come on, you see that many films, you’ve got to vent. Otherwise, I’ll end up like Lloyd Bridges in Airplane! You remember his character, don’t you? With lines like, “Looks like I picked a bad day to give up sniffing glue.”
Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly. He lives in Chicago and is a survivor of Lucasfilm, The Walt Disney Company, and The Directors Guild Of America.
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