5. Gosford Park
There are so many characters here that one spends a good deal of time trying to sort out who's related to whom, what the pecking order is downstairs, etc. But with a steller cast and Robert Altman at the helm, we know that we will learn what we need to by the end. Oh, and there's a murder mystery too. The film is an update of Jean Renoir's 1939 film LE REGLE DU JEU, in which wealthy relatives of an aristocrat come to a shooting party at a country home. Here, because of the obviously strained relationships between the host and his family has been less than amicable, it serves as a springboard where everyone's worst behavior and heretofore concealed feelings towards each other really come forth with an undertone of mean-spirited cruelty just brimming below the surface, while the servants act as non-entities when in their employers' presence but occasionally break into. The characters are so many but so well played, that I had to watch again just to see what I missed.
4. A Beautiful Mind
I had absolutely no interest in seeing this film. Math, madness...not interested. But despite this, I found myself in the theatre one day. I found myself pulled into another kind of story, a powerful, emotional story of how one man learned to battle his own demons and dazzle the world."A Beautiful Mind", based on the novel by Sylvia Nasar, is the story of John Forbes Nash Jr., the genius mathematician, whose life suddenly takes a turn for the worse when he is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. After fierce battles with his inner self, he overcomes this and returns to win the Nobel Prize in 1994 for his breakthrough game theory in economics that he had been working on during his years in Princeton University in the 1950s. Since I knew nothing about the real Nash, I had no idea where the movie was taking me and got lost in the story and the wonderful acting.
3. LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring
I really can't say that I was a fan of the Tolkein novels. In fact, I couldn't make it through them. They gave me a headache. But when I saw the trailer for the first time, I knew that this was going to be special. If I was running New Line, I'm not sure I would have given the director of "Heavenly Creatures", "Dead Alive" and "The Frightners", the keys to this franchise. The world would have missed out. The film was engrossing from the prologue to the end and I never felt a need to look at my watch. It was like being a kid again, remembering how in awe I was when seeing "Star Wars" for the first time.
You'll either fall in love with this film or you'll be driven insane. Personally, I was one who fell in love with it and with Audrey Tautou. Amelie is about a strange young woman whose life is nothing special, but it gets better when she's helping other people feel wonderful. But when Amelie finds a man in whom she has an interest, she finds that she can only play games with him from a distance. When the time comes to approach him, she can't. The film never takes itself seriously and is a lot of fun. Audrey Tautou could not be overemphasized for her importance in portraying Amelie. The film wouldn't work without her impish charm.
A dazzlingly complex film, `Traffic' takes a hard, unflinching look at the so-called `war on drugs' that is perfectly clear and uncompromising. Director Steven Soderbergh takes the various viewpoints of the drug culture -- the users, the dealers, the police, and the politicians -- and weaves their differing stories together into a single story that is both deep in its ideas but very simple to understand. His loose hand-held style lends the film an extremely spontaneous realistic tone, but the modifications of color amplify the drama. Each storyline has its own distinct look that accentuates the emotions underlining the film. The cast and the acting is top notch. Soderbergh had a banner year in 2001 with this and "Erin Brokovich". Traffic is a film that has to sink in, when you start to think about it it just gets better and better.