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

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN (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, … more…

Bad Santa (review)

So, when I attended a screening on November 14, I was already primed for *Bad Santa,* the meanest, curmudgeonliest, blackest holiday movie I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen most of ’em. It’s like, How much more black could it be? And the answer is None, none more black. I haven’t laughed at film this hard all year, and maybe not last year, either. And much of that laughter sprung from shock: I spent half the film saying to myself, ‘Holy crap, I can’t believe they did that!’ and ‘They did *not* just do that!’ It’s hard to be shocking in the era of the Farrelly Brothers, but *Bad Santa* is shocking partly because it’s so unrepentant and unapologetic. There’s no attempt to infuse the film with heart or soul or sweetness or light. *Bad Santa* unrelentingly twisted. And that’s just wonderful.