My Top Ten Movies of 2002 - Jack Foley

AS THE world continued to come to terms with the events of September 11, 2001, Hollywood continued its fascination with all things war-related, while posing the question of how well America was equipped to defend itself from terrorism. Hence, we had a glut of patriotic message movies, from Mel Gibson's Vietnam vehicle, We Were Soldiers, to Ben Affleck's nuclear thriller, The Sum of All Fears. Spies became the new super-hero, with the likes of xXx, Jason Bourne and, erm, Austin Powers (yeah, baby!) vying to topple James Bond as the best movie secret agent, while also righting the wrongs of the world.

Needless to say, none of the above feature in this Top 10, although The Bourne Identity came pretty close, showcasing a leaner, meaner Matt Damon in a suitably boisterous boys' own adventure. 007 also misses out, even though Die Another Day remained tremendously entertaining (if a little far-fetched).

Indeed, while American directors generally seemed pre-occupied with glorifying their homeland, it was left to the Brits to steal in. Some of the best films came from Brit directors, with Christopher (Memento) Nolan weighing in with another classic (see below) and American Beauty helmer, Sam Mendes, hitting the Road to Perdition in fine style. Notting Hill director, Roger Michell, also impressed, with gritty urban thriller, Changing Lanes - another of the year's contenders for best film, as was the Stephen Frears vehicle, Dirty Pretty Things.

On the whole, however, 2002 was a big improvement on 2001 and it was actually quite difficult to pick just 10 favourites. Fortunately, I missed out on seeing the likes of Mulholland Drive or Donnie Darko (other critics' favourites), while blockbusters such as Spider-Man (great fun), Minority Report (intellectual and visual stimulation), Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (with Yoda kicking butt), or Signs (Mel Gibson versus crop circles) just seemed too easy.

So it was down to the better Hollywood productions, or the really great independent/foreign language films, to battle it out for a place among the elite for the year. Let me know whether you agree by mailing indielondon@yahoo.co.uk

10

Title: Training Day (18)

Dir: Antoine Fuqua.

Denzel Washington takes on the mean streets of LA, as impressionable rookie, Ethan Hawke, attempts to keep up. Life among the gangs has seldom seemed so much fun.


9

Title: Y Tu Mamá También (And Your Mother Too) (18)

Dir: Alfonso Cuarón

A road trip about life, love, friendship and sex that manages to be funny, sexy, smart and surprising without ever resorting to gross out tactics such as 'pie-fucking'.


8

Title: Ocean's Eleven (12)

Dir: Steven Soderbergh

Soderbergh pulls off the ultimate movie card trick by assembling the likes of George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon to Las Vegas to pull off the ultimate heist. Audiences were quick to cash in.


7

Title: Hable Con Ella (Talk To Her) (18)

Dir: Pedro Almodóvar

Two men fall in love with two comatose women and develop a strong friendship. Almodóvar found joy in the darkest of places and audiences were seduced.


6

Title: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (12A)

Dir: Peter Jackson

The second film in the trilogy is a towering achievement which actually surpasses the original in terms of spectacle, scale and emotion. Who thought such a small hero could make such a big impression!


5

Title: The Royal Tenenbaums (15)

Dir: Wes Anderson

An estranged family of former child prodigies reunites when their dastardly father (Gene Hackman) announces he has a terminal illness. An inspired comedy with the balls to be different.


4

Title: The Dancer Upstairs (15)

Dir: John Malkovich

Malkovich waltzes effortlessly into the director's chair as Javier Bardem's honourable cop attempts to track down terrorist leader, Ezekiel, in superior thriller.


3

Title: Insomnia (15)

Dir: Christopher Nolan

A sleepless cop heads to Alaska to track down a child killer, only to find himself blackmailed by the main suspect. Nolan directs, Al Pacino and Robin Williams strike some incendiary sparks - the stuff of dreams!


2

Title: Road To Perdition (15)

Dir: Sam Mendes

Tom Hanks vows revenge on the men responsible for slaying his family, including Paul Newman's father-figure. Mendes tips a rain-soaked hat to Corleone, DePalma and Leone and hits the target.


1

Title: Lantana (15)

Dir: Ray Lawrence (II)

Relationships take centre stage as angst-ridden cop, Anthony LaPaglia, attempts to find a missing woman while his own life falls apart. Gritty, poignant and heart-breaking, this is also superb.


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