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The Best, Worst and Otherwise Noteworthy of 2003
By Tom Servo

In a year where there were so many blockbusters, you would think that coming up with a Top 5 list would be relatively easy. Unfortunately, most of said blockbusters were good, but not great. Most had nothing to set them apart from the one that was invariably released on its heels. Here are five that stayed with me longer than it took me to drive home from the theater.

TOP 5 of 2003 (in no particular order)

Kill Bill - Cast
Kill Bill - Cast
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Kill Bill Vol. 1
A film geek's paradise. It was as if Tarantino went inside my head and pulled out all the shit I love to see. I think Quentin has become the equivalent of a theatrical disc jockey. He takes bits and pieces of existing material and patches it together with his own style to create something unique.

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Another complete success. Jackson has completely nailed the trilogy. Every single aspect of these epic novels has been transferred intact to the screen. The battle for Minas Tirith is even more spectacular than the Helm's Deep one of TTT. The charge against the Oliphants reminded me of the magic I felt when I saw the Hoth battle in Empire for the first time as a kid. While it is true that the last few scenes of ROTK drag on a bit; what's the alternative? Leave stuff out? We know by now that isn't Jackson's style.
Return of the King - Aragorn Sword Collage
Return of the King - Aragorn Sword Collage
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Lost in Translation
This is a simple and sincere film about relationships. The performances by Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray really stayed with me. The chemistry between them was really something. It wasn't sexual tension or even father-daughter; it just had this intangible quality that's really hard to explain, but a joy to watch. A film with a lot of heart. LIT is an important movie for Sofia Coppola, proving that the beautifully tragic Virgin Suicides was not a fluke.

The Last Samurai
The Last Samurai
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The Last Samurai
This could be due to the fact that it's still fresh in my mind, but I really enjoyed this Tom Cruise vehicle. All facets of the production were top notch. I even found myself getting a little misty-eyed at the climax.

If there was ever a final nail in the coffin about my anti-desire to have children in the future, Thirteen is it. It also gets points for having been co-written by a fifteen year old, to further the authenticity. This film got under my skin. It made me wonder how much of it was true and equally made me wish not to know.

Honourable Mentions

Cabin Fever (even though I saw it in 2002)
Even though it suffered from studio over hyping and a misguided ad campaign - the commercials made it out to be a scary movie, when, at its core, it's really just a fun gore fest - I still think Cabin Fever is a riot!

Pirates of The Caribbean - The Curse of The Black Pearl  (Johnny Depp)
Pirates of The Caribbean - The Curse of The Black Pearl (Johnny Depp)
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Pirates of the Carribean - The Curse of the Black Pearl
Johnny Depp's hilarious Keith Richards-inspired performance and the fact that everything coming out this summer was either a remake or a sequel are just two reasons why Pirates is here. POTR offered new characters, new locales and new lore making it a much fresher movie going experience than most of the other blockbusters it was up against.

X2: X-Men United
Just an excellent continuation of the first film. More Mystique and more Wolverine = More success.

The Matrix - Reloaded
Though disappointed by The Matrix Revolutions, Reloaded was a feast for the eyes, upping the ante and taking CG to new levels of reality. Regardless about what people say about the length of the chase scene, I feel it's an astonishing piece of action.

Other Awards

Best Example Of A Film That Looked Like It Was Going To Be Super Cool And Was:
Kill Bill Vol. 1

Best Example Of A Film That Looked Like It Was Going To Be Super Cool And Wasn't
Underworld - Oi, vay! How did you guys screw this up?! Kate Beckinsale is hot. Everything else is not.

Best Example Of A Film With A Great First Two Acts, Totally Ruined By Its Third
Dreamcatcher - Still reeling. Seriously.

Films to watch for from the 2002 Toronto Film Festival
The Grudge

Freddy vs. Jason
Freddy vs. Jason
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Guilty Pleasure
Freddy VS. Jason - This is exactly what I wanted!! Bravo to all involved. Yu and co. made it a lot easier to get over the fact that Kane Hodder - still the one 'true' Voorhees - wasn't involved. Now if we could just stop talking about the F vs. J vs. Ash crossover, everything would be dandy.

Worst Film Of The Year
The Tesseract - Terrible film from this year's Toronto festival. It should have been titled The Cliché.

Best Fight Scene Involving A Zombified Rat And A Reanimated Severed Penis:
Beyond Re-Animator

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - I hate you Michael Bay. I hope you rot in hell Cabin Fever style…

Jeepers Creepers 2 - Another movie killed by its showing everything trailer…


The Uptown Theatre - A haven for the Toronto International Film Festival for many years closed its doors this past September. I'll say it once more; Midnight Madness will never be the same. This place should have never been torn down - for reasons far beyond the obvious.

Three's Company
Three's Company
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John Ritter -When I was a littlin', while others kids were watching Sesame Street, I was watching syndicated Three's Company reruns. I obviously didn't get all the sexual innuendos at the time, but Ritter's uproarious slapstick is great to watch at any age. Ritter was a true comedic talent that will be missed.

Copyright© 2003
Copyright© Edited by: Rob Paul

Evil Ash

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