February 5, 2004

Red Letter Awards

Print More


1. Lost in Translation

Sofia Coppola’s sophomore effort as a director proves she’s got more than just the last name of a great filmmaker. In Lost In Translation, which Coppola also wrote, Bill Murray goes above and beyond his purely comic reputation to bring an aged humility that draws the entire film together perfectly, a role that just recently got him an Oscar nomination. The storyline is out there, yet easy to relate to — a modern day Graduate if you will. The electric cinematography, the emo-synth soundtrack, the backdrop of Tokyo’s midnight mayhem lurking over an older man and a younger woman walking the Vegas-on-acid streets all combine into a transcendent masterpiece. Lost In Translation is a great comedy, a great drama, a great coming of age story, and it’s one of the few films that hits home deeply while remaining honest and humble. — Dan Cohen

2. Kill Bill, Volume 1

3. Mystic River

4. Pirates of the Caribbean

5. City of God

Personal Favorites

Love, Actually

Billed as “the ultimate romantic comedy,” Love, Actually somehow packed Hugh Grant and a Kelly Clarkson ballad together in one movie and I still didn’t throw up my Wendy’s. The film made us all feel optimistic and wonderful about love, but then consequently lonely and miserable when we realized that even a middle-schooler inexplicably played by a four year-old Martian could get the hottest chick in school. In fact, every guy in the movie seems to get the hot chick in the end. Where’s my hot chick? Keira Knightley, if you’re reading this, I love you more than life itself and would do anything to make it work between us, such as placing your pretentious and emotionally manipulative (yet admittedly pleasingly so) movie on my Best of ’03 list. Call me. — Jared Wolfe

Cold Mountain

The Oscar’s biggest snub in years was to this emotionally charged, stunning epic that mixed war with love, high drama with moments that made you laugh out loud (many thanks to Renee Zelwegger). The cinematography is oftentimes breathtaking, and the film also allows Jude Law to finally and boldly step out of his confining “supporting actor” role. — Avash Kalra

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Okay, I usually hate being conventional because that would be boring. I waited two years before watching Titanic and I didn’t see LOTR: ROTK until the middle of Winter Break but unlike the former, the latter totally deserves its Oscar nomination. Spectacular imagery, breathtaking action, and special effects that don’t border on super ridiculous, ROTK also has something another highly anticipated trilogy of 2003 lacked: superb acting. — Tracy Zhang

The Best Restored Classic

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

In a year when violence rendered sex impotent at the box office and Clint Eastwood atoned for his past sins yet again, Sergio Leone’s 1966 epitome/parody/idolatry of the Western punctured audience’s foreheads faster than Ennio Morricone’s trotting soundtrack. Blasted and parched panoramas, intolerably ugly close-ups of grizzled beards over knife wounds, and more bathtub pistols than anyone knew existed. There’s even a moral: One does not need a purpose to do great deeds — just accuracy with sidearms, a handlebar mustache, a deserted war graveyard hiding buried treasure, and the biggest military conflict to ever rage across North America. Take that, Cold Mountain! Every single line is uttered with such gravity and fierceness, it’s difficult to not just cower in the corner of the theatre, begging for salvation. The title sequence alone is more devastating and climactic than any movie released in the last two decades. Three hours later, Eastwood makes Eli Wallach dig his own grave and then, burning all clich