PRINT December 2002

Film: Best of 2002

Amy Taubin


1. Spider (David Cronenberg) Adapted from Patrick McGrath’s novel, Cronenberg’s first-person masterpiece is a reverse ghost story set in a derelict corner of London haunted by the specters of its protagonist’s traumatized psyche.

2. In Praise of Love (Jean-Luc Godard) An elegy for love and its failures, it’s also an essay on history, memory, and resistance—as sad and beautiful as anything Godard has ever made.

3. Corpus Callosum (Michael Snow) Existential anxiety goes digital as Snow explodes the boringly secure enclaves of the nuclear family and the office drone.

4. The Fast Runner (Atanarjuat) (Zacharias Kunuk) Kunuk uses twenty-first-century DV to record a myth of origins set in a primeval white-on-white landscape stranger than the Jundland Wastes in Star Wars.

5. La Commune (Paris 1871) (Peter Watkins) Remarkably economical and totally absorbing, Watkins’s six-hour docudrama is part Brechtian critique and part Annals school of history.

6. Far from Heaven (Todd Haynes) Haynes does the woman’s picture according to Sirk and Ophüls to reveal that the ’50s have never gone away.

7. Femme Fatale (Brian De Palma) The flip side of Mulholland Drive is a rogue-female empowerment dream as euphoric as an Angela Carter fairy-tale makeover.

8. The Uncertainty Principle (Manoel de Oliveira) More delirious and true to form than his audience-pleasing I’m Going Home, it’s comparable to a Richard Foreman theater spectacle.

9. Auto Focus (Paul Schrader) Schrader’s horribly funny indictment of the ’60s takes the unfashionable position that the sexual revolution was bad for us—and so was the Sony Porta-Pak.

10. Lovely & Amazing (Nicole Holofcener) Negotiating the dilemmas of female identity, Holofcener’s three SoCal sisters are the most winning characters of the year.

Amy Taubin, a contributing editor of Film Comment and Sight and Sound and the author of Taxi Driver (British Film Institute, 2000), teaches at the School of Visual Arts, New York.