The Cinéaste's Progress from This List to That Which Is to Come (He Hopes)

Once upon a time, I used to play a coy, rather pointless game w/r/t my annual top ten list -- dramatically "unveiling" it sometime in January, as if most everybody who reads this site didn't already have a pretty good idea of what it was gonna look like. Instead, I now publicly revise the sucker as I go along, so that the whole affair becomes a suspenseful Journey Toward Aesthetic Nirvana. Or something.

Here, then, is what my list would look like if (god forbid) I were forced to make it today:

01. Dogville (Lars von Trier, Denmark/Sweden/UK/France)
02. Primer (Shane Carruth, USA)
03. Hero (Zhang Yimou, Hong Kong/China)
04. Cowards Bend the Knee (Guy Maddin, Canada)
05. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, USA)
06. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson, USA)
07. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring (Kim Ki-Duk, South Korea/Germany)
08. Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, USA)
09. Distant (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey)
10. The Forest for the Trees^ (Maren Ade, Germany)

(Films marked with an asterisk, if any, have not yet been released commercially in the U.S. but are currently scheduled for release during 2004. Films marked with a caret, if any, currently have no U.S. distributor. Films marked with both an asterisk and a caret, if any, have a U.S. distributor but currently have no set release date and hence may or may not turn up this year, who the hell knows. Lithium is no longer available on credit.)