Title Screen Film Genre(s), Title, Year, (Country), Length, Director, Description
Adaptation (2002), 114 minutes, D: Spike Jonze
Meryl Streep played the captivating role of New Yorker writer Susan Orlean. In the weird and twisting drama, she was the author of the non-fiction book, The Orchid Thief, that writers'-block suffering Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) was struggling to faithfully adapt into a screenplay. In a parallel dramatization of the book, Susan went to Florida on assignment where she secretly fell in love with the subject of her own book, John Laroche (Chris Cooper), the orchid-stealing protagonist, and attempted to kill Charlie in the swamp. In the most startling improvised scene of the film, she snorted green powder derived from the orchid and became stoned - and got lost brushing her teeth, staring at her toes and re-creating the sound of a phone dial-tone.
Bowling for Columbine (2002), 123 minutes, D: Michael Moore
Chicago (2002, US/Can.), 113 minutes, D: Rob Marshall
City of God (2002, Braz./Fr./US) (aka Cidade De Deus), 131 minutes, D: Fernando Meirelles, Katia Lund
Far From Heaven (2002, US/Fr.), 107 minutes, D: Todd Haynes
This melodramatic, tearjerking romance was deliberately made as film homage to director Douglas Sirk's May-December romance drama All That Heaven Allows (1955), starring Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman. It was set in the same time period, but was reinterpreted with additional plot elements (sex, profanity, and violence) not possible for Sirk in his repressive era. It was advertised with the question: "What Imprisons Desires of the Heart?" In 1957, upper-class Connecticut housewife and homemaker Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore with her third Oscar nomination) was living a seemingly-perfect, insular life. Then, she found herself in a troubled relationship with her alcoholic husband Frank (Dennis Quaid), a closeted homosexual who was shockingly outed. Her pain, desperation and confusion spiraled out of control, but she for once was guided by her heart. For comfort and friendship, she found herself involved in an inter-racial relationship with kind, sensitive, well-educated, compassionate and non-judgmental African-American gardener and single father Raymond Deagon (Dennis Haysbert). Unfortunately, their socially-taboo friendship was further undermined by prejudiced gossip from Cathy's best friend Eleanor Fine (Patricia Clarkson), dashing its possibilities ("far from heaven"). She also experienced self-doubt, social ostracism, and more internal conflict in the bittersweet conclusion. She decided to give up her contact with Raymond when repercussions became too great and the world could not "see beyond the color, the surface of things."
Femme Fatale (2002), 110 minutes, D: Brian de Palma
Frida (2002), 120 minutes, D: Julie Taymor
Gangs of New York (2002, US/Germ./It./UK/Netherl.), 168 minutes, D: Martin Scorsese
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002, US/UK), 161 minutes, D: Chris Columbus
See Harry Potter series.
The Hours (2002, US/UK), 114 minutes, D: Stephen Daldry
Stephen Daldry's drama was about the stories of women (over generations) who were affected by the work and life of Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), an ailing lesbian who was writing her novel Mrs. Dalloway in 1923 England, and feeling despairing and depressed. Julianne Moore portrayed troubled, brooding, depressed, and pregnant housewife Laura Brown in early 1950s Los Angeles. In a heart-wrenching, restrained and controlled performance, she deftly portrayed a sexually-repressed, despairing, and miserable woman suffocated and stifled by her kindly husband Dan (John C. Reilly) and needy child Richie (Jack Rovello). In a baking scene in which she produced a lopsided chocolate cake for her husband's birthday, she exhibited her futility, suffering, exhaustion, and loathing. By film's end, although she flirted with the idea of committing suicide, she unapologetically and willfully chose to abandon her family to find her autonomous self and purpose. The other woman in the plot was Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) - a lesbian career publisher living in present day New York of 2001. Her nickname, given to her by her poet-friend Richard Brown (Ed Harris) (dying of AIDS) that she was caring for, was Mrs. Dalloway.
Ice Age (2002), 85 minutes, D: Chris Wedge
Irreversible (2002, Fr.), 97 minutes, D: Gaspar Noe
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002, US/NZ), 179 minutes, D: Peter Jackson
See The Lord of the Rings series.
Peter Jackson's monumental, big-budget action/adventure epic (all three films) was a dazzling synthesis of many fantastical elements from J.R.R. Tolkein's masterwork about Middle-Earth: an heroic quest, good vs. evil, war stories, sci-fi creatures (dwarves, elves, goblins, orcs, etc.) and ancient wonders. Multiple story lines and epic battles were interwoven together in a story of friendship, loyalty, honor and courage. The quest was specifically to destroy a powerful artifact known as the One Ring, created by the Dark Lord Sauron (the eponymous "Lord of the Rings"), in order to end Sauron's lordship over the Elves and Middle Earth. A series of awe-inspiring battles culminated with the defeat of Sauron, an end to corrupted Wizard Saruman the White (Christopher Lee), and the destruction of the Ring. Innovative motion capture created the unforgettable creature of Gollum (Andy Serkis) (once a good hobbit named Sméagol), who served as the wretched guide to young hobbits Frodo (Elijah Wood) and friend Sam (Sean Astin) during their mission - to return the Ring to Mordor and destroy it in Mount Doom's molten lava.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), 95 minutes, D: Joel Zwick
The Pianist (2002, UK/Fr./Germ./Neth./Pol.), 148 minutes, D: Roman Polanski
Punch-Drunk Love (2002), 95 minutes, D: Paul Thomas Anderson
The Ring (2002), 105 minutes, D: Gore Verbinski
Russian Ark (2002, Russia/Germ.) (aka Russkij Kovcheg), 96 minutes, D: Aleksandr Sokurov
Secretary (2002), 111 minutes, D: Steven Shainberg
Signs (2002), 106 minutes, D: M. Night Shyamalan
Solaris (2002), 99 minutes, D: Steven Soderbergh
Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002), 143 minutes, D: George Lucas
See Star Wars series.
Talk to Her (2002, Sp./Fr.) (aka Hable Con Ella), 101 minutes, D: Pedro Almodovar
28 Days Later... (2002, UK), 99 minutes, D: Danny Boyle
One of the best zombie movies ever and a big hit film - an intense struggle for survival, with creepy scenes of a desolate and deserted London. In this zombie film (shot on digital video), zombification took place almost immediately (10-20 seconds). Some would argue this post-apocalyptic, plague disaster-drama wasn't a pure 'zombie' film - the creatures were virus-plagued or infected monsters or ghouls. Animal activists had attempted to release experimental chimpanzees (infected with a zombie virus known as the "Rage") from their cages in a primate research laboratory in Cambridge, England, and one was bitten. 28 days later in post-apocalyptic London after the accidental release of a highly-contagious, blood-borne virus had decimated the city (and was rapidly spreading throughout the world), mad, "Rage"-infected, red-eyed zombies were running rampant. One of the survivors, Jim (Cillian Murphy) a bicycle messenger, awoke from a coma in St Thomas Hospital, after being run down. He realized that a completely devastated London had been evacuated. He met up with two other uninfected survivors: Selena (Naomie Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley) who were seeking shelter in the London Underground. There was a suspenseful scene in a tunnel as the group changed a tire and zombies approached. After Mark was bitten and infected - and had to be killed, the two met more survivors: taxi driver Frank (Brendan Gleeson) and his teenage daughter Hannah (Megan Burns). Eventually, the surviving trio (minus Frank who was contaminated with a drop of infected blood) reached a rag-tag military outpost (an old mansion) in northern England near Manchester commanded by Major Henry West (Christopher Eccleston), suspected to be power-hungry and mad. The two females were harrassed and needed protection from the sex-hungry military soldiers, who wanted to use them for breeding stock. One zombie, infected soldier Private Mailer (Marvin Campbell), was chained up for experimental purposes. It was revealed that the virus had NOT spread beyond the UK and had not infected mainland Europe. About two months after the outbreak after escaping the mansion and living in a remote cottage, Selena, Jim, and Hannah spotted a Finnish rescue helicopter - with the hopeful promise of being saved.
Unfaithful (2002), 124 minutes, D: Adrian Lyne
Whale Rider (2002, NZ), 101 minutes, D: Niki Caro