Oscar 2001: Movie Year in Review

There were few great films in 2001, but enough good ones by new (Todd Field), developing (Peter Jackson, Baz Luhrmann), and veteran (Lynch, Altman) directors, to make the year more agreeable. With most studio releases slipshod and slapdash, the interesting films were easily evident on first viewing. Hence, choosing the best was not difficult, though for the first time in years, most of my personal choices are A-or B+ pictures.

The guiding criteria in constructing the lists below (which are ranked in order of preference) were mostly artistic: the evidence of a singular directorial vision, thematic and/or visual (preferably both), coherent and unified narrative (most Hollywood movies are deficient due to their excessively episodic and shapelessly disjointed structure), overall artistic and emotional impact, command over film grammar, and deft use of the medium's unique properties (framing, editing), not for their own sake, but in congruence and service of their story.

As a point of information, both grades and points are included for the best film lists for the purposes of those around the world that use different criteria of evaluation. The films were chosen among those that were released theatrically in the US or at least played at a major film festival during this calendar year.

For a full analysis of the year in film, artistically speaking, read the full story in this week's edition of Screen International.

BEST ENGLISH-SPEAKING FILMS

(US/Int'l distributor in parenthesis)
1. In the Bedroom (Miramax) A, 10
2. Shrek (DreamWork) A 10
3. Mulholland Drive (Universal) A- 9
4. The Lord Of The Rings (New Line/New Line Intl) A- 9
5. Moulin Rouge (Fox) A- 9
6. Gosford Park (USA Films/Capitol Films) A- 9
7. Ali (Columbia/IEG) B+ 8
8. The Others (Dimension/StudioCanal) B+ 8
9. Black Hawk Down (Columbia/Revolution) B+ 8
10. A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (Warner) B+ 8

RUNNERS-UP

1. The Believer (Showtime/Fireworks)
2. Last Orders (Sony Classics/Winchester)
3. The Royal Tenenbaums (Buena Vista)
4. The Deep End (Fox Searchlight)
5. Hedwig And The Angry Inch (Fine Line/New Line Intl)
6. The Man Who Wasn't There (USA Films/Good Machine)
7. Lantana (Lions Gate/Beyond Films)
8. Intimacy (Empire Pictures/StudioCanal)
9. Training Day (Warner/Roadshow)