Dec. 30, 2004
An ogre ("Shrek 2") and the deity ("The Passion of the Christ") led the box office; a far-reaching documentary ("Fahrenheit 9/11") ultimately failed in its mission to unseat a sitting president; and prospects for an exciting awards season continue to shape up as some of 2004's most well-received films won't arrive on northeastern Ohio screens until early 2005.
Mr Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) leads the super-heroic family of "The Incredibles," helmed for Disney/Pixar by writer/director Brad Bird. The computer animated hit is John Urbancich's "best" film of 2004.''
It all adds up to Sun's annual look at our favorite and not-so-favorite movies from the year gone by. You'll also see a few guilty pleasures listed below — that means films that may not have been widely embraced elsewhere — as well as salutes to performances that moved us or made us smile. We'll start with a personal best (and lucky) seven, in order of preference.
"The Incredibles" — Brad Bird's CGI masterpiece, by way of Pixar, lived up to its name as the most amazingly crafted, entertaining and grounded film of the year.
"Hotel Rwanda" — When it opens here Jan. 7, its heroic power and importance will be unveiled.
"The Aviator" — The Howard Hughes saga told through the epic lens of Martin Scorsese. Fabulous!
"Sideways" — A small road movie with universal appeal. Alexander Payne certainly does tell swell stories.
"Kinsey" — Another biopic that pulls no punches.
"Finding Neverland" — The Peter Pan tale never grows old, and Marc Foster shows it the way James Barrie evidently lived it.
"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" — Extra points for creativity and, naturally, a Charlie Kaufman screenplay.
"Million Dollar Baby" — Clint Eastwood directs and stars in a boxing film with miles of heart (opening here Jan. 21).
Honorable mentions: "Bad Education" (Jan. 21), "The Woodsman" (Jan. 21) and "The Passion of the Christ."
Worst(s): "The Village" (Scary? No way. Pretentious? You bet your Shyamalan) and any movie featuring the dreadfully overexposed Hilary Duff.
Guilt trip(s): "The Notebook" (give it a chance, guys, and unleash your feminine side) and "Mean Girls." (OK, so I think Tina Fey is a really smart babe!)
Top acts: Don Cheadle ("Hotel Rwanda"); Peter O' Toole ("Troy"); Cloris Leachman ("Spanglish"); and Imelda Staunton as "Vera Drake," the performance of the year that finally opens here Feb. 11, just in time for Academy Awards hoopla.
— John Urbancich