By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Great Moments in Good Films.Playing records over the phone and a girl’s ghost in a doomed elm tree in Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides. Johnny Rotten being pelted with cake by children — and loving it — as the Sex Pistols play a firemen’s Christmas party in Julian Temple’s The Filth and the Fury. Patti Smith reading a poem she’s written for the late Georgia musician/raconteur Robert Curtis Dickerson in Jem Cohen and Peter Sillen’s Benjamin Smoke. The singing of a Lakota anthem before a championship softball game in Jeremy Spear’s homestyle documentary Fast Pitch.
F.X. Feeney’s Best of 2000.Overall, this has been a terrific year. My Top 10 was easy to fill, as evidenced below, but hard to round out (I’ve selected a Top 22), and harder still to evaluate justly. Private Confessions, written by Ingmar Bergman, directed by Liv Ullmann and photographed by Sven Nykvist, stands unembarrassed in the company of this trio’s best work together — which is the same as saying it’s one of the best films ever made. Yet the works I’ve ranked ahead of it have earned their places. I’ve seen Girl on the Bridge six times, with a delight that’s only deepened, and the same holds true of Wonder Boys, which I’ve seen at least four. The House of Mirth contains what to my mind is the best female performance of the year, by Gillian Anderson. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon leaps into the pantheon beside Babe, The Secret of Roan Inish and all other category-defying wonders of the mid-’90s. The rest are either exalted by the poetry of the actors (Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden in Pollock, William Hurt in Sunshine) or by vigorous directing. Although audiences tended to react against The Ninth Gate, chilled by the courageous perversity of its final twist, people were also, remarkably, as silent as a congregation in any church while Polanski unfolded his tale. The ability to impose such a sublime hush on a rebellious crowd is the mark of a master, the thing to be hoped for from filmmakers in any year.
Girl on the Bridge (Patrice Leconte, France); Wonder Boys (Curtis Hanson, USA); The House of Mirth (Terence Davies, U.K.); Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, Taiwan); Pollock (Ed Harris, USA); Sunshine (Istvan Szabo, Hungary); The Ninth Gate (Roman Polanski, USA); The Contender (original 2:20 cut) (Rod Lurie, USA); Erin Brockovich and Traffic (tie) (Steven Soderbergh, USA); High Fidelity (Stephen Frears, USA); Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier, Denmark); Time Code (Mike Figgis, USA); Private Confessions (Liv Ullmann, Sweden); Gladiator (Ridley Scott, USA); You Can Count on Me (Kenneth Lonergan, USA); Beau Travail (Claire Denis, France); Chicken Run (Nick Park and Peter Lord, U.K.); Ratcatcher (Lynn Ramsay, U.K.); Don’t Let Me Die on a Sunday (Didier Le Pecheur, France); Pola X (Leos Carax, France); Vatel (Roland Joffé, France); Gohatto(Nagisa Oshima, Japan).
Ernest Hardy’s Favorite Films of 2000.Aprende (Enrique Cruz, Brooklyn); Bamboozled (Spike Lee, USA); Beau Travail (Claire Denis, France); Chicken Run (Nick Park and Peter Lord, U.K.); Chuck & Buck (Miguel Arteta, USA); Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier, Denmark); The Devil Is a Bottom(Bud Light, USA); Five Feet High and Rising (Pete Sollett, USA); George Washington (David Gordon Green, USA); Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Jim Jarmusch, USA); Girlfight(Karyn Denmark, USA); Human Resources (Laurent Cantlet, France); I’m the One That I Want (Lionel Coleman, USA); Jesus’ Son (Alison Maclean, USA); Judy Berlin (Eric Mendelsohn, USA); Legacy (Tod Lending, USA); Love & Basketball (Gina Prince-Bythewood, USA); Nurse Betty (Neil LaBute, USA); Nuyorican Dream (Laurie Collyer, USA); Scary Movie (Keenan Ivory Wayans, USA); Scream 3 (Wes Craven, USA); Time Regained (Raul Ruiz, France); Traffic(Steven Soderbergh, USA); Urbania(Jon Shear, USA).
Photo by Abbot Genser
The Bottom of the Barrel. The Next Best Thing (John Schlesinger, USA); Next Friday (Steve Carr, USA); Cecil B. Demented (John Waters, USA); Broken Hearts Club (Greg Berlanti, USA); American Pimp (Hughes Bros., USA); Gone in 60 Seconds (Dominic Sena, USA); The Beach (Danny Boyle, USA); Shaft (John Singleton, USA); Autumn in New York (Joan Chen, USA); Loving Jezebel (Kwyn Bader, USA); The Legend of Bagger Vance (Robert Redford, USA); Turn It Up (Robert Adetuyi, USA); What Planet Are You From (Mike Nichols, USA); Battlefield Earth (Roger Christian, USA).
Favorite actress:Catherine Deneuve (Place Vendôme, Time Regained, Dancer in the Dark); close seconds: Cate Blanchett (The Gift) and Saana Lathan (Love & Basketball). Favorite actor:Benicio Del Toro (Traffic) and Forest Whitaker (Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai). Favorite supporting actress:Lupe Ontiveros (Chuck & Buck). Favorite supporting actor:Alan Cumming (Urbania). Favorite onscreen couple:Don Cheadle and Luis Guzman (Traffic). Favorite soundtrack:Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, by the RZA. Favorite Line:“. . . the Chuck and Buck suck and fuck . . .”
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Photo by Chan Kam Chuen
Dargis’ Hot 10. Beau Travail (Claire Denis, France): A formal and poetic revelation, the film reconfirms that one of the greatest filmmakers in the world also happens to be a woman. Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier, Denmark): A movie I hate and love equally, and just can’t get out of my head. Eureka(Aoyama Shinji, Japan): This emotionally shattering story about the aftermath of a violent crime also features one of the greatest performances of the year, from Koji Yakusho, who played the salaryman in Shall We Dance. The film’s best shot at domestic distribution was hurt by a boneheaded New York Times review; here’s hoping one of the micro-distributors picks up this (and here’s my money quote) “brilliant, ravishing, stunning” film. The House of Mirth(Terence Davies, U.K.): Sony Pictures Classics is banking on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but its reputation will be made by films such as this; see it before it disappears. Kippur(Amos Gitai, Israel): The film has the worst opening and closing scenes of any great movie I can remember, but its middle hour, amid the mud and the blood, is extraordinary. Platform (Jia Zhang Ke, People’s Republic of China): This three-hours-plus epic played in an essential series at the UCLA Film and Television Archive, the best Los Angeles venue for new Asian cinema. Pola X (Leos Carax, France): Rapturous nonsense, in part — but the music and the fucking and Carax’s love for the medium are unparalleled. Traffic (Steven Soderbergh, Hollywood): I’ve said plenty about Soderbergh recently, but the film is so good-looking you should see it before it gets shredded in your local theater. Wreckmeister Harmonies (Bela Tarr, Hungary): The whirlpools of grain and bottomless blacks of this hallucinatory film — about what? the end of history in Eastern Europe, among other revelations — are why digital filmmaking remains an oxymoron. Will it ever come to L.A.? I don’t think so!Finally, Yi Yi (A One and a Two)(Edward Yang, Taiwan): Love and other reasons to keep going . . . I can’t wait to see it again.