PRINT December 2004

FILM: Best of 2004

Jonathan Romney


1. Innocence (Lucile Hadzihalilovic) The debut discovery of the year—an eerie, hermetic world inhabited by prepubescent girls, with echoes of Buñuel, Balthus, Borowczyk, and Angela Carter, yet totally, audaciously original.

2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry) Who would have thought that Alain Resnais would be reincarnated in the byzantine convolutions of a Franco-American essay in romantic slapstick?

3. Goodbye Dragon Inn (Tsai Ming-liang) A beautiful, tender, farcical farewell to cinema from a Taiwanese melancholic with a peerless eye for elegant perspectives and rain-
dripping interiors.

4. 5 x 2 (François Ozon) French cinema’s eternal enfant terrible turned compellingly adult with his anatomy of a marriage, as harrowing as any domestic drama outside Bergman.

5. The Consequences of Love (Paolo Sorrentino) A Mafia intrigue with a difference, as if shot by Antonioni and scripted by Pirandello. Lead actor Toni Servillo’s glacial way with a lifted eyebrow could disconcert John Malkovich.

6. Five (Abbas Kiarostami) Five single-take essays in lyrical minimalism, of a sort that might seem routine in gallery video but that worked like a small, silent bomb in the context of Cannes.

7. Tarnation (Jonathan Caouette) Reality cinema as gruelling therapy, Caouette’s “my crazy family” confessional is painful viewing but a moving, sometimes weirdly entertaining tour de force. You only pray that it doesn’t start a trend.

8. Aaltra (Gustave Kervern and Benoît Delépine) The best fun I’ve had in the cinema all year? This gloriously malicious Belgian disability road comedy. See it to believe it.

9. The Incredibles (Brad Bird) Further proof that the only consistent aesthetic research in Hollywood comes from the Pixar studio. An exhilarating workout for the eyes.

10. Collateral (Michael Mann) A routine genre outing that leapt to another plane thanks to Mann’s pioneering use of high-definition video, resulting in a luminous essay on Los Angeles.

Jonathan Romney is a film critic for the Independent on Sunday and author of Atom Egoyan (BFI Publications, 2003).