A/V Room









The Top 10 Best Movies of 2003

Compiled by: Jack Foley

IT WAS supposed to have been the year of The Matrix, but while Neo and co certainly registered strongly at the Box Office, both Reloaded and Revolutions failed to generate the critical acclaim many had anticipated at the beginning of the year.

Instead, when faced with a Summer filled with umpteen sequels, and huge body counts, audiences opted for the more traditional fare.

Hence, Johnny Depp hoisted his Jolly Roger, in the form of Pirates of the Caribbean, and romped away with the blockbuster season, while the likes of Seabiscuit, Finding Nemo and Cold Mountain resorted to more old-fashioned storytelling techniques.

In between, were several excellent movies, such as In America, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Far From Heaven, About Schmidt, Adaptation, Catch Me If You Can and Gangs of New York - but which, if any, make it into the top ten of the year's best for IndieLondon?

Let's start at the bottom...

10) Belleville Rendez-vous (12A)

The most popular animated film of the year may well have been Pixar's Finding Nemo, but this French gem, from Sylvain Chomet, presented 'a ridiculously surreal, yet hugely impressive animated adventure that should appeal to movie buffs of all ages - especially adults!' It also happened to boast one of the best on-screen dogs in ages.
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9) Pirates of the Caribbean (12A)

Johnny Depp steals the show as Captain Jack Sparrow in this old-fashioned blend of corsets, ghosts and swashbuckling adventure. Blockbuster entertainment has seldom seemed so much fun.
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8) Igby Goes Down (15)

'Teenage rebel, Igby Slocumb, is angry at the stifling, two-faced world of ‘old money’ privilege he was born into, and his battle to break out made for one of the most bitingly funny, yet painfully sad, comedies of the year'. Oh, it also boasted a terrific script, a cracking soundtrack and star turns from Kieran Culkin, Jeff Goldblum and Amanda Peet...
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7) Punch-Drunk Love (15)

Team Adam Sandler with Paul Thomas Anderson and what do you get? The year's best romantic comedy. It was difficult to choose between this and Intolerable Cruelty, but Anderson just gets the nod for keeping things so quirky, surreal, and for coaxing a near-faultless performance from Sandler. We wrote: "For Anderson, this is a glorious sonnet to sit alongside the operatic likes of his earlier work, while for Sandler, the movie is nothing short of a revelation."
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6) The 25th Hour (15)

Spike Lee directs Edward Norton in one of the year's most heartbreaking character studies. As drug dealer, Monty Brogan, Norton excels, as does Barry Pepper, as his friend, while David Benioff's absorbing screenplay offsets one man's search for some sort of redemption against the backdrop of a post-9/11 New York, thereby creating 'an emotional intensity rarely seen in mainstream cinema'.
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5) Narc (18)

Another pulsating cop thriller, in the Training Day mould, which pitted Jason Patric's recovering junkie against Ray Liotta's hard-as-nails veteran in the search for the killers of the latter's partner. Executive producer, Tom Cruise, knew a good thing when he saw it, and ensured this got made. Audiences could only be thankful. Unflinching and riveting.
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4) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (12A)

Peter Jackson crowns the Lord of the Rings trilogy with this towering achievement. The Return of the King had just about everything; it was high on spectacle, strong on emotion and one of the most exciting pieces of cinema ever put together. A fitting finale for what is, arguably, the best trilogy of all time.
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3) Mystic River (15)

Clint Eastwood took to the director's chair for an adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s gripping novel, and coaxed first-rate performances from one of the best ensemble casts in recent memory. We wrote that the movie is 'a masterclass in human desperation, which confronts issues of rage, revenge, child abuse and loss in an unflinching and honest way'. Expect it to figure strongly come the awards season...
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2) City of God (18)

It may have been one of the first films to be released in 2003, but it left one of the most lasting impressions. Fernando Meirelles' blistering movie, about the street gangs of Rio de Janeiro, was dubbed by many as 'the Brazilian Goodfellas' and it is every bit as good as Scorsese's masterpiece. Our critic wrote, 'City of God definitely has everything' - and it's true!
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1) Kill Bill: Volume 1 (18)

Tarantino described it as 'a straight-ahead, heart-pumping, sit on the edge of your seat, ‘wow’-type of experience'. We couldn't have said it better! Roll on February and Volume 2!
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