<%-- Page Title--%> Cinema <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 136 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

January 2, 2004

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Best Films of 2003

Munawar Hosain Piyal

In a year where the box office was dominated by special effects and action-packed films, at the end of 2003 we did see some films that were not only critically acclaimed but can also be profitable. Every year studios and distributors make huge profit from the nominations and choices different award and critic groups make. As a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the group responsible for Golden Globe Awards, here are my choices for the best films of the year 2003.

Clint Eastwood sat in the director's chair once again with Mystic River. This mystery drama film stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon. The story evolves around three friends growing up in New England. A mystery murder re-unites them in a fatal way. You have to see this wonderful film for acting, directing, and cinematography and to enjoy Clint's own composed score.

Back in the 18th century, there was a tiny horse who took the East and West by storm. This horse was called 'Sea biscuit'. Based on a true story, the film starred Spiderman fame actor Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper, and William H. Macy. The film was directed by Gary Ross.

Francis Ford Coppola's daughter Sofia Coppola wrote and directed a film based on her own experience in Japan called Lost In Translation. Newly acclaimed and rather young star Scarlett Johansson and old timer Bill Murray stars in this cleverly acted film surrounding a well known Hollywood who comes to Tokyo to shoot a well known Japanese whisky advertisement. Bill Murray plays the Hollywood star who meets Scarlett Johansson's character in the Tokyo hotel bar where they both were staying.

One of the highest grossing films of 2003 was Finding Nemo. The film made more than $350 million this year. This Disney/Pixar animated film is the story of a fish being eaten by a shark and its aftermath. Pixar Studios’ colourful depiction of underwater species is visually breathtaking. A good film to watch with your entire family.

Richard Curtis, the man behind great films like Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill emerged as a director this year with his own script. Love Actually is an ensemble piece based on several elements that involve a single British Prime Minister played by Hugh Grant. The film is a story of love happening in numerous situations in and around London. This is one of my personal favourites. A must see.

Earlier this year Nicole Kidman was awarded both the Oscar and the Golden Globe for her performance in The Hours. Now she is a front runner in the Best Actress category with her new film Cold Mountain. Talented British director and screenplay writer Anthony Minghella wrote and directed this epic love story. The film also stars Jude Law and Renee Zellweger.

Another box office hit this year was Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Johnny Depp stars in this epic drama based on old comic books which made more than $250 million for Disney this year. Orlando Bloom (Lord of the Rings), Keira Knightly (Bend it Like Beckham) also star in the film which was directed by Gore Brabinsky.

They say anything Jack stars in becomes an instant hit. In Something Gotta Give, a romantic comedy Jack Nicholson plays a retired wealthy Manhattan single whose dating age never exceeds 25. The film also stars Diane Keaton, Amanda Peet and Keanu Reeves. Nancy Myers directed this film which is bound to create some box office noise.
RR Tolken's trilogy Lord of the Rings: Last and Final Saga was released in November in the US and in several countries of the world. Brilliant New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson has turned this epic trilogy into films which took five years of hard work with a price tag of $300 million. The films, since the first episode (Fellowship of the Ring) was released in 2001 and second (Two Towers), in 2002, have already grossed more than 400 million dollars worldwide for New Line cinema which produced the entire trilogy. The third and final episode The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King is a 3 hours 20 min. long film starring the same cast as before: Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom, Vigo Mortenson, Ian Mc Kellan, Sean Astin, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett and Billy Boyd. Return of the King was rather emotional as Frodo was separated from other hobbits. The performances were all remarkable, specially Vigo Mortenson as the King. The film already made 125 million dollars, in its first week of release.

Earlier this year Fox's specialty arm Fox Searchlight film released a small film called Bend it Like Beckham. Indian born director Gurinder Chadha made this film based on true elements in England. The film centres around a British born Indian girl's dream to be a football player and stars Parminder Nagra, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Keira Knightley. The film was a huge box office success in the UK and did well in the US. I enjoyed this film like I enjoyed the director's other film Bhaji on the Beach. Next you will see Gurinder directing some big name Hollywood stars in a film being released by industry heavyweight Miramax Films.

I would like to mention a few other films. Alec Baldwin, Maria Bello, and William H. Macy stars in The Cooler. In Las Vegas casinos, there are things that go on which will never be seen by any visitor or even people who work there. Cooler takes us behind the scenes in a Las Vegas Casino. William H. Macy (Fargo) and Maria Bello's (Coyote Ugly) performances were extraordinary.

Thirteen, a tale of teenage daughters in heartland America, was written by a fourteen year old Nikki Reed with the help of director Catherine Hardwick. Holly Hunter, Evan Rachel Wood and Nikki Reed star in the film.

This year’s Sundance film festival winners Station Agent, Pieces of April and Shattered Glass are also worth watching.


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