The 2004 Critics' Choice Awards
Last week, we posted our 10 Most Redeeming Films of 2004. And this week, we present our Critics' Choice Awards for the Top 10 Films of 2004.
What's the difference between the lists? The "redeeming" list speaks for itself—films that told a story of redemption (something or somebody bad turned good, an uplifting story that celebrates truth, goodness and/or biblical values, etc.). Our Critics' Choice list, on the other hand, consists of the 10 films that our panel believes were the most excellent films of 2004, whether they carried a "redeeming" message or not.
Our list resembles many you've seen in the mainstream—including many recent Academy Award nominees, like The Aviator, Hotel Rwanda, Million Dollar Baby, and Vera Drake. But we've got a few off-the-beaten-path picks, like The Return, a limited distribution film from Russia; Dogville, a disturbing yet thought-provoking drama from Lars von Trier; and The Story of the Weeping Camel, a story so heartbreaking that it might also be called "The Story of the Weeping Viewer."
Tops on our list is the quirky Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which received a couple of Oscar nominations—including a best actress nod for Kate Winslet. It's a strange trip through dreamy sequences and memory erasure, but in the end, we loved its overriding message of unconditional love—that it's a good thing to choose to continue loving someone even when you know all their faults and flaws.
We also let each of our five panelists choose "One That Got Away"—a single film they wish had made our Top Ten list. Think of those five extra films as sort of our "honorable mentions."
Our five voting panelists were Russ Breimeier, Peter T. Chattaway, Lisa Ann Cockrel, Jeffrey Overstreet, and Ron Reed; you can read more about each of them here.
The Christianity Today Movies
Critics' Choice Awards
The Top 10 Films of 2004
Quirky romantic comedy featuring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet (nominated for a best actress Oscar in the role) in a sometimes dreamy, sometimes poignant, sometimes bizarre, but always thought-provoking story of, ultimately, unconditional love.
> Our critics' comments: "It's ironic that a film about erasing memories is one I can't forget even one year later." "Love the way the film touches on the fact that forgiveness and personal spiritual growth require us to know a person's flaws yet still love them anyway—we grow through our suffering, and not by erasing the things that give us discomfort." "Demonstrates thoughtfulness, excellence and relentless creativity on every level, challenging us to pay attention and see it twice to figure out how the pieces fit together." "the main characters learn that there is a better response to pain than just 'deleting' it through science or drugs. In fact, through the development of grace, patience, longsuffering, and faithfulness, their love stands a chance of enduring beyond the first flush of infatuation."
2. Hotel Rwandadirected by Terry George
Don Cheadle, nominated for an Oscar for best actor, plays the lead role in the true story of Paul Rusesabagina, the Hutu manager of a Rwandan hotel who offered refuge to more than 1,000 Tutsi refugees during the country's genocidal civil war a decade ago.
> Our critics' comments: "Potent film, conscience-stirring. A study of quiet heroism that never verges on sentimentality or melodrama." "Fantastic performance by Don Cheadle—complex, many-layered, and deeply, deeply human. . . . An effective reminder that genocide haunts us still." "Here's a film that forces you to look at a shocking act of genocide from a personal point of view—and you leave thinking, 'My God, what can I do?', and then ponder that question for weeks." "It's powerful, haunting, weighty, and one of the most important movies of 2004."