best production design of 2004 (plus some other bests and worsts of the year)

(encompassing production design, costumes, and makeup)
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
I usually favor invented worlds when picking the year’s best production work… and maybe I’ve done that here, too. Steve Zissou’s universe feels like it’s a baby step off skew with our own — the colors just a tad flat, the light just a little brighter. Fresh and retro at the same time, everything is kinda familiar but also strange in a way you can’t quite put your finger on. Like the odd amphibious and waterbound creatures who scurry and slither and swim through the film — you’ve never seen their like before, and yet you’ve no doubt that that’s just cuz you’ve never visited the exotic locales to which Zissou’s adventures take him.

almost as great
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
(if it’s not baroque… the whimsical grotesquerie of this gothic fairy tale trips the dark fantastic)
Code 46
(from dusty, thirsty desert vistas to the cozy confines of a plant-filled flat, this near future visually brims with warring aspects of despair and hope)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
(grittier and more brooding than its predecessors, the look and feel reflects its hero’s plunge into moody adolescence)

worth a look
The Saddest Music in the World
Napoleon Dynamite
House of Flying Daggers


Best cab ride: Collateral
Worst cab ride: Taxi

Best performance as a cat: Antonio Banderas, Shrek 2
Worst performance as a cat: Halle Berry, Catwoman
Best performance by a cat: Pickles, The Ladykillers

Best supervillain hairdo: Syndrome, The Incredibles

Best beast (reformed): James Hetfield, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
Best beast (unreformed): the corporation, The Corporation

Worst twins, American: Jamie and Jenny, Eurotrip
Worst twins, European: those French kids, The Dreamers
Worst twins, cloned: Adam 1.0 and Adam 2.0, Godsend

Worst cameos by a Wonder of the Ancient World: The Great Library at Alexandria, Alexander, National Treasure
Showiest cameos by a lighting fixture: gaudy chandeliers, National Treasure, The Phantom of the Opera

Best cameos by wacky weather: wild sandstorms, Hidalgo, Flight of the Phoenix
Great, now weather can chase you: cold, The Day After Tomorrow, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; sunlight, The Chronicles of Riddick; cracking ice, King Arthur, The Polar Express

Best title of the year: Shaun of the Dead

Coolest opening titles: Napoleon Dynamite, Thunderbirds, Spider-Man 2, The Last Shot
Grossest opening titles: Seed of Chucky
Best end credits: Cellular

Best performance in a bad movie: Billy Bob Thornton, The Alamo
Bad performance in a worse movie: Angelina Jolie, Alexander

Up all night: Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Collateral
Up all knight: Garden State, Ned Kelly

Funniest ratings explanation: “Rated R for graphic crude and sexual humor, violent images and strong language – all involving puppets,” Team America: World Police
Most inexplicable ratings explanation: “Rated PG-13 for violence, language, horror images, slime and gore” (slime?), Alien vs. Predator

Screen Hog of the Year: Jude Law, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, The Aviator, Alfie, Closer, I Heart Huckabees, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
Don Cheadle, The Assassination of Richard Nixon, After the Sunset, Ocean’s Twelve, Hotel Rwanda, The United States of Leland
Dennis Quaid, The Alamo, The Day After Tomorrow, In Good Company, Flight of the Phoenix
Scarlett Johansson: A Love Song for Bobby Long, In Good Company, The Perfect Score, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie

Ben Stiller shoots horses, don’t he?: Starsky & Hutch, Envy

Vigilantes shoot people, don’t they?: Man on Fire, The Punisher, Walking Tall

Make up yer mind already: After the Sunset, Before Sunset

Comic-book theology: Hellboy, Van Helsing
Non-comic tautology: The Passion of the Christ

Anatomically incorrect puppet sex: Team America: World Police, Seed of Chucky
Anatomically incorrect human sex, with pizza: Ben Stiller, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
Anatomically incorrect human sex, with robots: everyone, The Stepford Wives
Anatomically correct but disgusting human sex: National Lampoon’s Gold Diggers

New Jersey? What exit?: Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Little Black Book, Garden State, Jersey Girl

Fast-food odysseys: Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Around the Bend, Super Size Me, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie

If only: New York Minute, The Forgotten

Looking back at 2004.
The Best and Worst Films of the Year
Best Performances
Best Writing and Direction
The Most Memorable Movie Lines
The Funniest Bad Movie Lines
The Year of Activist Documentaries
2004 Films Ranked

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