I usually find it hard to compile my top ten movies of the previous year, because I tend to forget the films I saw at the start of the year, or think they belonged to the previous year (I'm a bit of a scatterbrain). But I'm also a hoarder, and I keep the ticket-stubs of every movie I go to during the year in a pocket in my wallet. Over the last couple of days, being the "film-person" in my circle of friends, several of my friends have asked me what my top ten movies of the past year were. So this morning I took all of last years already-fading ticket-stubs from my wallet and reviewed the cinema of 2004. I was disappointed to find that, for financial reasons, I had only seen a total of 48 movies in the cinema last year, and even more disappointed to discover that only ten of those were foreign-language movies. Was 2004 a particularly bad year for foreign language movies? I rushed to my collected years' programmes from the only Arthouse cinema in Dublin, the Irish Film Centre, and found that, no, indeed there were a lot of foreign-language films screened in my city this year, many of which I had heard very positive things about. It would seem that the exhorbitant rate of inflation in this country has pushed ticket prices up so far, that I can no longer afford to support the cinema I love by taking a chance on an unknown foreign-language film. Now that makes me feel sad. So I'm breaking my resolution not to make resolutions, and I hereby resolve (with all of you lovely people as my witnesses) to take a chance on more foreign-language movies this year, in spite of the cost.
Looking back, this year was a good year for cinema, not a great year (because I've only got a top six, not ten). I don't know whether it's just the particular films I chose to watch, but it seems to me that unusual perspectives on love and relationships seemed a prevalent theme in the slightly skewed cinema of 2004, with films like Michael Winterbottom's first foray into the world of science fiction in Code 46, which was an unexpectedly beautiful affair, Michel Gondry's excellent Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, also the wonderfully acted Lost in Translation and I fell in love again watching Richard Linklater's poignant Before Sunset. Although these were my favourite films of the year, I also greatly enjoyed School of Rock, American Splendor, and the wonderful conversation in much of Jim Jarmusch's well casted, but flawed Coffee and Cigarettes, which, unfortunately, started me smoking again - Tom Waits told me it was ok to have one if I've quit (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. No more resolutions!)
Although they wouldn't make my top ten, Fahrenheit 9/11 and The Corporation gave the cinema-going public food for thought this year. With several new releases for 2005 already whetting my appetite, I'm eagerly anticipating the cinema of 2005. Watch out for Wong Kar-wai's long-awaited 2046, and I'm still awaiting the Irish release of Zach Braff's Garden State, which I fear will be the movie I've always wanted to make, but am looking forward to seeing anyway.