I keep thinking that movies are getting worse and worse.  I go to fewer of them.  I never watch the Academy Awards, and I
could care less who wins.  So why do I keep doing this little exercise?

                                                           BECAUSE I CAN.

So let's look at this year's faves.

Before I begin, I would like to give special kudos to the following films that didn't make the list, but I feel deserve some sort
of attention:

The first five minutes of
Austin Powers in Goldmember were as funny as anything you've ever seen.  Then Mike Myers
showed up, and the rest was as predictable and dull as anything you've ever seen.

After shunning the first
Harry Potter movie last year, I do want to admit that I liked Harry Potter and the Chamber of
quite a lot.  Not enough to put it on the list, but quite a lot anyway.

Finally, in 2003, the bicentennial of the Voyage of Discovery, the best experience you will hope to have in a theatre is
Lewis and Clark: Great Journey West.  It's stunning.  It's  spectacular.  And it's not just "based on a true story," it IS  a true
story.  Check it out at an IMAX near you.

Now, as Casey Kasem would say, back to the countdown...

 About a Boy Hugh Grant as a rich, smart, useless playboy.  (Quite a stretch for him as an actor,  I'm sure.)  It also
     features the always wonderful Toni Collette.

Cat's Meow The always wonderful Kirsten Dunst stars as a beautiful, talented and spoiled actress (see Hugh Grant
     smackdown above).As Miriam Davies, she shines n Peter Bogdonovich's first film in about twenty years.

Sunshine State If Angela Bassett's in the movie, I'm there.  In this wonderful film she's an ambivalent Yankee who
     returns to her home in the South. (I'm biting my tongue.)

 Igby Goes Down Say what you want about McCauley, but there is a heap of acting talent in the Culkin  family. Keiran
     is as good as any of them, and he's terrific in this sharp black comedy about Manhattan life.   (BONUS: Susan
     Sarandon dies. How bad can it be.)

 About Schmidt I'm not a big Jack Nicholson fan, but in this wonderful and touching movie, he plays my worst
     nightmare-- myself at 65.

Far From Heaven I've never been a big Julianne Moore fan, either,  but she's outstanding in this evocation of both
     the mores of the 1950's and the films that danced around them.

Possession Talk about the worst title of the year for a movie!  You'd think it was "The Exorcist 4".  In reality it's a
     great story of a pair of modern lovers following in the physical and psychological footsteps of two Victorian poets.
     Gwynneth, Aaron Eckhart, Jennifer Ehle and Jeremy Northam are perfectly cast.

Spirited Away Yes, it's a cartoon. (Japanese anime to be precise), but it's a magical story that will change the way
     you think about fairy tales.

 Big Bad Love This year's winner of the "Best Movie Filmed in Mississippi Award" stars Debra Winger in a film based
     on Larry Brown's novel.  It evokes the Mississippi sense of place wonderfully.

And my favorite movie of the year (and also the first DVD I ever bought) is...

 Lilo and Stitch I'm totally serious.  I liked it well enough during the year to see it twice, but what really
     "sealed the deal" was seeing it on a Delta flight in early December.  The English channel on my
      headphones didn't work, so I listened to it in Spanish.  Even though I recognized hardly any of the\
      dialog, I still liked it quite as much as any other film I've seen this year.  It's a beautifully drawn fable of
      the meaning of family, and as far as I'm concerned, it's as good as anything Disney has ever done.