The year of 2004 brought us many things cinematically. We were treated to two films (The Passion of the Christ and Fahrenheit 9/11) that brought enormous controversy with them for different reasons, yet both ended up making huge money at the box office. Documentaries took an even bigger jump towards becoming accepted by the mainstream media. Several brand new comic book franchises were born (Hellboy, The Punisher) and and some sputtered and are likely to never return to the big screen (Catwoman). It seems it was also the year of the high-profile biopic, with the lives of Howard Hughes (The Aviator), Ray Charles (Ray), Bobby Darin (Beyond the Sea), Alfred Kinsey (Kinsey), J.M. Barrie (Finding Neverland), and Cole Porter (De-Lovely) all being brought to the big screen during the second half of 2004.
As for this site's favourite films of 2004, it was an interesting batch. Every year, we poll our entire staff from coast-to-coast to get our list of the Top 10 films of the year. In the past three years, the top of our list has been dominated by the three Lord of the Rings film, as well as other huge blockbusters with big-name directors and big-name stars. A few of those types of films still find their way onto our list this year, but it is dominated (including the Top 3 films) by low-budget, independent films that – though playing to smaller crowds and earning less money at the box office – resonated with people across North America (and clearly, our staff as well).
|1. Garden State|
|"Zach Braff managed to create an intelligent, hilarious, original, and very relatable film despite it being his first time both writing and directing for the big screen. Targeting twentysomethings with its unusual pace and the perfect soundtrack, this film hit home more than any other film ever has."
– Paul Little, Webmaster
|2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind|
|"Jim Carrey proves that he's capable of more then just zany antics as he finally gives a dramatic performance worth mentioning. This is a fun and intriguing film from early in the year that might not have gotten the exposure it truly deserved."
– Mark McLeod, Critic
|3. Napoleon Dynamite|
|"Jon Heder was definitely the right choice for this role. We've all known someone like him in high school. The best part of this movie is the fact that it wasn't as predictable as I thought it would be. I thought it would be a bore but it ended up being a movie for the whole family – and there are far too few of these 'clean' movies."
– Mary Meister, Edmonton Promotions
|4. The Aviator|
|"It is a brilliant biopic and shows us that even with all the money, vision, and execution, it still takes a great man to bring it all together... [DiCaprio gives] an utterly brilliant and career-changing performance."
– Dean Kish, Critic
|5. Million Dollar Baby|
|"It's rare in this day and age for a film to affect me as much as this one did. Every second of the 132-minute long film is dealt with in meticulous detail and there is hardly a misstep to be found."
– Mark McLeod, Critic
|6. Shaun of the Dead|
|"This was yet another lesson from the Brits on how to make a movie!"
– Tom Milroy, Critic
|7. Spider-Man 2|
|"With Sam Raimi's top notch directing, along with excellent cinematography, special effects, and above average acting, this movie was definately the best action movie of the year, and BY FAR the best super hero movie to date (waiting for Superman Returns)."
– Cam McLeod, Winnipeg Promotions
|8. The Incredibles|
|"Brad Bird's superhero family brings the medium of computer-animated films to a whole new level as it takes on a non-traditional story and succeeds on so many levels."
– Dean Kish, Critic
|"An absolutely brilliant mind f*** for such a little budget."
– Farhan Daya, Calgary Promotions
|"James Wan's psychological thriller is an absolute masterpiece, made even more impressive by the fact that it is his first film. Often painful to watch and to listen to, the characters exhibit terror and psychosis through histrionic performances that never seem counter to the horrific environment that Wan has created for them (and us)."
– Jeremy Maron, Critic
Paul Little is the founder and Managing Editor of ShowbizMonkeys.com. When not interviewing his favourite musicians and comedians, he can also be found at The Purple Room in Winnipeg, where he is Artistic Director. (@comedygeek)