BIZ: indieWIRE's Top Ten Lists for 2001
by indieWIRE staff
Eugene Hernandez, Editor-in-Chief
Again this year, one movie stands head and shoulders above the rest. Along
with that, I offer a list of nine other films (in alphabetical order) that
remind me why I love the movies. I am also including a few films that made a
mark, but didn’t quite make the list:
Ten Films for 2001:
1. “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”
“Series 7: The Contenders”
“Trembling Before G-D”
“The Man Who Wasn’t There”
And seven more:
“The Business of Strangers”
“The Deep End”
“In the Bedroom”
“In the Mood for Love”
My greatest moment in a movie theater this year came in mid-January at the Sundance Film Festival. Sitting in the front row I watched “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” for the first time, it was an electric experience. From the opening chords of this fantastic film, I was hooked. John Cameron Mitchell, Stephen Trask and company created an unforgettable character with infectious music. I saw it four times.
Of the other nine films on my list, many represent similarly dynamic collaborations. “Amelie” showcases the powerful union of director Jean-Pierre Jeunet and the stunning Audrey Tautou (not to mention top notch cinematography and editing). In “Moulin Rouge,” Baz Luhrmann, his wife Catherine Martin (production designer and costume desiger), and a fresh-faced Ewan McGregor created a true cinematic spectacle that must be seen more than once to be truly appreciated. Its soundtrack is up there with “Hedwig’s” as a major achievement. The Coen Brothers re-teamed with their cast of regulars on “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” a beautiful black-and-white picture that is anchored by a career re-defining performance by Billy Bob Thorton. Finally, an incredible collaboration drove the creation of “Waking Life.” Richard Linklater, animator Bob Sabiston, producer Tommy Pallotta and actor Wiley Wiggins experimented with form and structure to create a digital film that offers a striking portrait of multiple sensibilities and personalities at the start of a new century.
“Our Song” and “Memento” are two sophomore narrative efforts from filmmakers that are energizing indie filmmaking. Christopher Nolan‘s clever “Memento” delivers on the promise of his first film, “Following.” In “Our Song,” Jim McKay again offers us an important window into the lives of New York City girls. At the same time, he and producing partner Michael Stipe remain an important force in supporting the work of other independent directors through their C-Hundred Film Corp.
Last, but not least, Dan Minahan comments on our society’s embracing of reality television with the extreme “Series 7: The Contenders.” His dead-on approach to the subject is painful to watch at times because it is so perceptive and biting. Equally incisive is Sandi Simcha Dubowski‘s “Trembling Before G-d.” For years Sandi has been telling me some of the stories he was capturing for his look into the lives of gay and lesbian members of the Orthodox and Hassidic communities. Dubowkski’s tenderly crafted documentary has sparked passionate discussions that have challenged believers to question the sometimes homophobic doctrines within the foundations of numerous faiths.
Anthony Kaufman, Senior Editor
In the beginning of 2001, reporting after the Sundance Film Festival, I wrote “this year’s slate was one of the strongest and most unique in years, showing promise for the future of American independent film.” Now as 2001 winds to a close and my tenure as indieWIRE’s Senior Editor concludes, I can comfortably say it’s been a good year to end on.
I chose only six films for my top ten list, with four notably originating in Park City last January (maybe it’s the altitude): Todd Field‘s devastating debut “In the Bedroom“; Christopher Nolan’s mesmerizing “Memento” (which holds up after second viewing); Richard Linklater’s suspenseful dreamscape “Waking Life”; and Patrice Chereau‘s emotionally harrowing tale of love and loneliness “Intimacy.” Like many, I also dug David Lynch’s cinematic back flip “Mulholland Drive” (which not only holds up after second viewing, but remains one of the few movies I’ve seen where a second viewing is essential). And rounding out my favorites from 2001 is a movie I saw at Cannes in 2000, Dominik Moll‘s delightful Hitchcockian second feature, “Harry, un ami qui vous veut du bien” (renamed “With a Friend like Harry” by Miramax).
I’d like to devote my four remaining spots to the many movies released this year that personally had some affect on me, whether emotionally or aesthetically, but for some reason or another, did not make the same sort of impact as the aforementioned above. One disclaimer, first: Wong Kar-wai‘s “In the Mood for Love,” while lush and masterfully crafted and a favorite of mine in 2000, bored me to tears on second viewing in 2001. The rest of the best (in no particular order): “Our Song,” “The Low Down,” “Last Resort,” “Amores Perros,” “Chopper,” “The King is Alive,” “Downtown 81,” “Together,” “L.I.E.,” “Aie,” “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” and “The Business of Strangers.”
And lastly, a special section for my colleagues — the most overrated films of the year: “Amelie” and “Moulin Rouge.”
Brian Brooks, Associate Editor, indieWIRE
“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” — It’s not the size that counts, it’s what’s atop
“Moulin Rouge” — –Ewan McGregor serenading, then sobbing in a dreamscape, my
“Mulholland Drive” — A trip in every sense, a rare view of LA.
“Donnie Darko” — Aside from the falling jet engine, he was my life in the
“Ghost World” — Aside from the fact Enid (Thora Birch) is a girl, she was my
life in the ‘burbs.
“Together” — How I imagined my life in its ideal state once I escaped the
“In the Bedroom” — tension galore, subtle, and despite all the murder,
“Amelie” — A great love affair with Paris.
“In the Mood for Love” — A beautifully stylish reminder of how much love sucks.
“Trembling Before G-d” — Unique and daring, nobody should ever feel alone
after this doc!
Honorables: “Kandahar,” “Keep the River on Your Right,” “Memento,” “Southern Comfort”
Andrea Meyer, IFCRant Managing Editor
The films I loved most this year, in no particular order.
“Mulholland Drive” — The brilliant Mr. Lynch came back this year with an inscrutable masterpiece to rival the best of his inscrutable masterpieces. His mysterious LA story offers some of his funniest, most biting work and an Oscar worthy performance from newcomer Naomi Watts.
“Amores Perros” — Intertwining three stories about love, money, and longing (that all feature dogs), this Mexican film’s complex, compelling narrative structure does nothing to undermine its swift-kick-to-the-gut-like emotional impact.
“Together” — Who knew that a quirky commune in 1970s Sweden with a soundtrack starring ABBA would make for the funniest and most heartwarming film of the year?
“The Gleaners And I” — The grandmother of the French New Wave never ceases to amaze. Agnes Varda‘s documentary about the process of reaping the wheat that’s left after the harvest — and its myriad metaphorical ramifications — is as compelling and moving as any fictional film released this year.
“The Town Is Quiet” — What “Traffic” could have been if Soderbergh had forgone the cheap Hollywood sentimentality, this harsh, drug-and-violence-infested look at life in Marseilles is agonizingly raw and heart-wrenching.
“Moulin Rouge” — With painfully beautiful Nicole and Ewan singing silly love songs in a fairy tale Paris only Lurmann could cook up, I smiled so hard my face hurt, choked back tears. . .Oh, doomed love and desperate passion! Is there anything more romantic?
“In The Mood For Love” — One of our great filmmakers has done it again: created a movie totally unlike any other. Using all the cinematic elements — performances, cinematography, soundtrack, wardrobe — to create an atmosphere thick with repressed passion, Wong Kar-wai has made one of the most breathtaking and mysterious love stories in recent memory.
“Fat Girl” (Catherine Breillat) — The controversial French flick deftly explores the nightmarish questions of sex, beauty, and the ominous power of men as they affect two teenage sisters, one overweight, the other supermodel stunning. Only the ballsy Breillat could make the familiar sexual awakening film so fascinating, so brutal.
“Amelie” (Jean-Pierre Jeunet) — (Sorry Jesse!) My 10-best list would not be complete without the arthouse feel-good flick of the year, a wickedly clever ode to romance, Paris, and, well, feeling (and doing) good.
“The Royal Tenenbaums” — Cinema’s wunderkind du moment once again uses his unique imagination to create remarkable drama out of an assortment of oddballs. It’s smart and poignant and at times makes you laugh so hard your tummy aches.
And the other movies I’m totally mad about that just couldn’t fit on my list:
“Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” “La Cienaga,” “In the Bedroom,” and “Shrek”
Erin Torneo, Associate Editor, IFCRant
“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” — We pull the soundtrack down from the shelf almost every day at the office.
“In the Mood For Love” — lush and haunting
“Memento” — the indie thriller of the year
“Southern Comfort” — Kate Davis‘s profoundly true love story, transgendered and transcendent
“Amores Perros” — An extraordinary mosaic of contemporary Mexico City, launching the career of Gael Garcia Bernal and reaffirming the legendary talent of veteran Emilio Eschevarria.
“Shrek” — Because I saw it when I needed to laugh, and I almost fell off the bed doing so when the gingerbread man, being held under extreme duress, screams “eat me!”
“Together” — just a wonderfully funny film
“Mulholland Drive” –mindfuck in the City of Quartz, Lynch at his best
“Waking Life” — Bob Sabiston rocks
“In the Bedroom” — deftly crafted, impeccably paced, with utterly harrowing performances by Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson
“Amelie” (OK, I cheated. That’s really 11.)
This was a great year in film, and thus a hard list to make. Indulge me here, as the following showcases more of 2001’s most interesting work. From thrilling debuts to staggering, unforgettable performances to films bringing important stories of gender and sexual politics from around the world to the screen, these are all worth watching: “Faithless,” “Our Song,” “Donnie Darko,” “L.I.E.,” “Intimacy,” “Trembling Before G-d,”
Jacque Lynn Schiller, Assistant Editor
in no particular order:
“Sexy Beast” – Kingsley
“Lantana” – structure
“In the Bedroom” – wrenching
“Mulholland Drive” – twisted
“Amelie” – hope
“Memento” – smart
“Hedwig” – fun
close but no marlboro: “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” “Donnie Darko,” “Our Song,”
“Waking Life,” “Faithless”