PRINT December 2004

FILM: Best of 2004

Amy Taubin


1. Before Sunset (Richard Linklater) Fragile, passionate, exquisitely wrought, Linklater’s modern epistemology of love is a perfect movie.

2. The Big Red One (Samuel Fuller) The posthumous restoration of Fuller’s semiautobiographical World War II picture is “termite art,” but on an epic scale.

3. Infernal Affairs trilogy (Andrew Lau and Alan Mak) An identity-blasted Hong Kong cops-and-gangsters saga that combines the glamour and moral conundrums of Jean-Pierre Melville’s policiers with the tragic weight of The Godfather.

4. A Talking Picture (Manoel de Oliveira) Angry and despairing, it’s one of those great late works in which the artist puts aside ego and aesthetic concerns because he has nothing left to lose.

5. Primer (Shane Carruth) The most exciting first feature by a US director since Richard Kelly’s similarly time-warped Donnie Darko.

6. Cowards Bend the Knee (Guy Maddin) Hockey players and hairdressers, silent comedy and shadow-drenched ’30s horror flicks collide in a deliriously creepy castration fantasy.

7. Café Lumière (Hou Hsiao-hsien) HHH pays tribute to Ozu in a wondrously radiant film that, rather than mimicking the master, finds the ways he might have been compelled by the face and pace of contemporary Tokyo.

8. Fahrenheit 9/11 (Michael Moore) Apparently it changed Hollywood’s attitude toward documentaries more than it did voters’ minds. Either way, it’s one for the history books.

9. Arna’s Children (Juliano Mer Khamis and Danniel Danniel) Khamis’s mother, a former Zionist, organized a Palestinian children’s theater troupe in Jenin. After her death, he seeks out her pupils. A despairing, completely partisan film.

10. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky) Four angry metalheads in the equivalent of marriage counseling is a template for a generation recognizing that remaining an adolescent when you turn forty is a problem.

Amy Taubin is a contributing editor of Film Comment and Sight and Sound.