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Los Angeles dusk , view from Griffith Park

Ed Hu, 2004

Random Highlights of 2004 Ending the year on a low-key note, I’ve just returned from the hospital after having my tonsils removed. So here I am with a freezer full of mango sorbet and stacks of DVDs to get me through my recovery. It was a busy year as I found myself traveling quite a bit early this year, hitting NYC (twice), San Antonio, Washington DC (twice), Montreal, Providence, San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Diego, Vancouver and Whistler, and Atlanta. My Annual Favorite Movies of the Year List Overall, it was an enjoyable year in film. It seems that the best experiences are those where you go in with little hype or expectation (not easy to do) and just let a film wash over you and capture your fancy. Most of these films did just that, standing out from much of the schlock out there. In alpha order, here are my favorite film experiences of the year:

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A Very Long Engagement—Great surprise; expected English Patient; got Amelie meets Gallipolli. Fabulous!

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Collateral—Moody, edgy, atmospheric LA noir with a great performance by Jamie Foxx. Even Tom Cruise was good.

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A Door in the Floor—As a John Irving fanatic, I’m just happy to see a well-done, albeit partial, adaptation with a great performance by Jeff Bridges.

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Finding Neverland—Charming and heart-warming; Depp is great, but Freddie Highmore steals the show (look for the pair again as Charlie Bucket and Willie Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory next summer).

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Hero—Dazzling, gorgeous, amazing filmmaking with a Rashomonic story about love, honor and duty to boot. Zhang Yimou does it twice this year—check out House of Flying Daggers as well.

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I Heart Huckabees—Enjoyable quirky existential comedy from David O. Russell with great ensemble cast—Mark Wahlberg is a revelation.

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The Incredibles and Shrek2—Hooray for animation; fabulous story-telling and characters; pure fun.

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Mean Creek—This little independent film packs an intense wallop, accurately capturing complex teen angst and moral dilemmas.

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Nip/Tuck—OK, I know, it’s a TV series, but I was TOTALLY & COMPLETELY mesmerized by this superb and substantive show about superficiality. Vivid characters with wacky yet believably unbelievable story lines that kept your head spinning.

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Sideways—While the hype may ruin it, this is a great little road film, beautifully acted (Giamatti et al) and wonderfully crafted by Alexander Payne.

Others that struck my fancy this year that deserve honorable mention: The Aviator (love Scorsese), Ray (Jamie Foxx is destined for Oscar), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Motorcycle Diaries, Bad Education (two thumbs up for two Gael Garcia Bernal pics), Kinsey, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (best Potter so far thanks to Alfonso Cuaron), Kill Bill, Volume 2, Dodgeball, Mean Girls, and of course, the blue state fave, Fahrenheit 9/11. Films I’m still anxious to catch: Hotel Rwanda, Million Dollar Baby, Maria Full of Grace (on DVD), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, among others. And Alexander deserves special mention as the most laughable bit of serious filmmaking of the year. OK, that’s enough rambling for now. Drop me a line at ehu@hw.com and if you find yourself in LA, please come visit!

2004 Holiday Card  

Annual holiday card and movie list

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