Top Ten Films of 2004

Contribution to the 2004 World Poll

For my 2004 Top Ten I have limited myself to films that received a first run commercial release in Australian cinemas during 2004.

My top ten films are (in preferred order):

1. Irréversible (Gaspar Noé 2002)
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry 2004)
3. Hero (Zhang Yimou 2002)
4. The Cremaster Cycle (Matthew Barney 1995-2002)
5. Capturing The Friedmans (Andrew Jarecki 2003)
6. Elephant (Gus Van Sant 2003)
7. In My Father’s Den (Brad McGann 2004)
8. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… and Spring (Kim Ki-duk 2003)
9. Silmido (Kang Woo-suk 2003)
10. Monster (Patty Jenkins 2003)

…with the following honourable mentions:

Bad Santa (Terry Zwigoff 2003)
A Cold Summer (Paul Middleditch 2003)
The Company (Robert Altman 2003)
The Dreamers (Bernardo Bertolucci 2003)
The Fog of War (Errol Morris 2003)
I Heart Huckabees (David O. Russell 2004)
The Return (Andrei Zvyagintsev 2003)
Safe (Todd Haynes 1995)
The Station Agent (Thomas McCarthy 2003)
Tom White (Alkinos Tsilimidos 2004)

Although I did not enjoy this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival as much as I have previously, the following two films were highlights and desperately deserving a wide release:

Last Life in the Universe (Pen-Ek Ratanaruang 2003)
Oldboy (Chan-wook Park 2003)

The biggest highlights in 2004 for me were actually all the wonderful re-releases, reissues and retrospective screenings throughout the year. My 5 top re-releases/reissues (in preferred order):

1. Play Time (Jacques Tati 1967)
2. La Strada (Federico Fellini 1954)
3. The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo 1966)
4. Heaven’s Gate (Michael Cimino 1980)
5. The Goonies (Richard Donner 1985)

…with special mention to the following film events:

The Jacques Tati festival
ACMI‘s The Horror festival
The Tim Burstall tribute screening of The Last of the Knucklemen (Tim Burstall 1979)
The Melbourne Cinémathèque‘s screening of Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu 1953)

Although I do not wish to further criticise the obviously bad films of 2004 there were several extraordinary well-received films that I found overwhelming mediocre. Hence, I wish to vent my disappointment and irritation toward the most overrated films of 2004:

Cold Mountain (Anthony Minghella 2003)
Garden State (Zach Braff 2004)
My Architect (Nathaniel Kahn 2003)
Somersault (Cate Shorthand 2004)
A Very Long Engagement (Jean-Pierre Jeunet 2004)

Originally appeared here on Senses of Cinema Issue No. 34, January – March 2005

© Thomas Caldwell, 2004