Monday, January 12, 2004

The Casual Critic's Top Movies of 2003

In this season of the Golden Globes, People's Choice Awards and Oscars, everyone is talking about their favorite movies from the past year. In days like these, when movies are easily forgotten after viewing them, it is important to pay tribute to those special films that have been able to have an effect on audiences. This year, The Casual Critic looks back on the five best films of 2003.

5. "Bend it Like Beckham" - This small movie has a great big heart! Centered around the adventures of two female soccer players in England, it explores the relationships between the girls and their families and how their love of soccer affects their lives. This film also has a wonderful soundtrack that will make anyone watching tap their feet.

4. "The Last Samurai" - Starring Tom Cruise, this film has all the action of a large scale epic, plus some very intimate and personal conflicts that reveal character depth and growth during the course of the film. The battle scenes are beautiful and absolutely huge, with fabulous special effects, but the ending is a bit drawn out. It could have ended quite a bit sooner. Overall, though, one of the best films of 2003.

3. "Cold Mountain" - Nicole Kidman may be the leading role, but it is Renee Zelwiger who makes this movie worth seeing. Well, her and the adorable Jude Law, who plays the love interest for Kidman's character. A Civil War drama by the director of "The English Patient," "Cold Mountain" is a haunting tale of love and loss. It is a perfect illustration of the saying "war is hell."

2. "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" - Disney scored box office millions with this swash-buckling adventure based on the popular ride. As a fan of Disney in general and a very big fan of the ride, I was excited about this movie. Of course, the fact that Orlando Bloom was in it helped a bit! Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow really stole the show and cemented a deal for "Pirates of the Caribbean 2." All principal actors have signed for this sequel, so we can expect Will Turner, Elizabeth Swann and Captain Jack Sparrow to sail the high seas once again in the near future!

1. "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" - So much can be said and has been said about this film. So many words can describe the experience: epic, fantasy, beautiful, moving, sweeping, awesome and deserving of as many Oscars as Peter Jackson and the gang can carry home! If anyone reading this column has not seen this movie, run to the theater and see it now! It begins with a bit of background and we see how Smegol became Gollum. From there, we are catapulted into the action with enough gorgeous scenery and moving moments to keep even the most hardened critic fascinated. Not only are audiences watching this film, they are experiencing it, living it, and feeling it deep in their hearts. This trilogy has made going to the movies an event, as it was in the first days of cinema, when going to movies was special. The journey may end with this film, but the characters will live on in the hearts of the many people who have been touched by them. Why did I choose The Return of the King as my #1 movie of 2003? After three viewings, I can still say it is a beautiful film and I am eager to see it again. That is the mark of a great film; that you can see it over and over and still be in awe.

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