Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Best Films of 2003

Another end of the year list put together from scribbled notes written a decade ago. A quick glance at my 2003 viewing notes confirmed that I once used to have much better options to view foreign films locally through the different arthouse cinemas and a selection of independent DVD stores. For example, I could always catch the newest Johnny To film a few months after its release unlike waiting 1-2 years now. Still despite a rich selection of films to choose from in 2003, I managed to miss many high profile releases which would have altered this end of the year list. Films such as Mystic River (likely to take #1 spot), The Barbarian Invasions, Distant (Nuri Bilge Ceylan), The Son (Dardenne brothers), Dogville, Kill Bill vol.1 and Oldboy would have featured prominently in this list.

Top 10 films of 2003

1. Lost in Translation (USA/Japan, Sofia Coppola)

2. And Now...Ladies and Gentlemen (2002, France/UK, Claude Lelouch)

Patricia Kaas’s soothing vocals coupled with the Moroccan visuals made this a very seductive cinematic experience. On top of that, And Now...Ladies and Gentlemen has one of the best film soundtracks solely due to Kaas’ jazzy notes.

3. Mr & Mrs. Iyer (2002, India, Aparna Sen)

Aparna Sen smartly uses a bus to highlight the cultural diversity of India and show how simple differences can constantly divide the nation or can sometimes bring people together. Konkana Sen Sharma, Aparna Sen’s daughter, steals the show with one of the most memorable acting performances seen in Indian cinema over the last decade.

4. Teen Deewarein (India, Nagesh Kukunoor)

Despite the prison setting and a murder case, Teen Deewarein has a peaceful flow and is packed with poetic words. At first, the three completely different characters appear to have nothing in common but a few clues tucked along the way create enough doubt and ensure that the ending does not appear as a complete surprize.

5. Adaptation (2002, USA, Spike Jonze)

6. 21 Grams (USA, Alejandro González Iñárritu)

7. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002, South Korea, Park Chan-wook)

8. Gangaajal (India, Prakash Jha)

A simmering film set in India’s political hotbed of Bihar against the background of corruption. After being constantly frustrated at seeing their hard-work go down the drain, the local police force take matters into their own hands and dish out their own holy justice.

9. Haasil (India, Tigmanshu Dhulia)

Tigmanshu Dhulia makes an impressive feature film debut with a thoughtful work that shows how the grassroots of political battles is lit early in the college years.

10. Saathiya (2002, India, Shaad Ali)


Sam Juliano said...

Sachin, looks like a classy round-up here of 2003. I haven't yet seen these Indian films, but have seen the others. You'll probably be surprised to know I was never a fan of LOST IN TRANSLATION, though I recognize I am in a severe minority. I do like ADAPTATION and 21 GRAMS most of the others, and definitely like MYSTIC RIVER and THE SON, as both made my own Top 10 of this year:

1. Dogville (Von Trier)
2. Return of the King (Jackson)
3. Elephant (Van Sant)
4. Since Otar Left (Bertucelli)
5. The Return (Zvyagintsev)
6. The Son (Dardennes)
7. Master and Commander (Weir)
8. Goodbye Dragon Inn (Ming-Liang)
9. Cold Mountain (Minghella)
10. Mystic River (Eastwood)

Sachin said...

Thanks for posting your list Sam. I have not seen all 10 films but incredibly the 6 that I have seen would have made my list had I come across in 2003. Funny about LOST IN TRANSLATION as I was often in a minority for liking it. Most around me despised it. Not sure how I would feel if I revisited.