2004: A Viewer's Guide

The best films of 2004. The first 20 are in list of preference. The rest are listed alphabetically.
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1.
Tarnation (2003 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Filmmaker Jonathan Caouette's documentary on growing up with his schizophrenic mother -- a mixture of snapshots, Super-8, answering machine messages, video diaries, early short films, and more -- culled from 19 years of his life. (88 mins.)
 
2.
Darwin's Nightmare (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A documentary on the effect of fishing the Nile perch in Tanzania's Lake Victoria. The predatory fish, which has wiped out the native species, is sold in European supermarkets, while starving Tanzanian families have to make do with the leftovers. (107 mins.)
Director: Hubert Sauper
 
3.
Oldboy (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
After being kidnapped and imprisoned for fifteen years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in five days. (120 mins.)
Director: Chan-wook Park
 
4.
Turtles Can Fly (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Near the Iraqi-Turkish border on the eve of an American invasion, refugee children like 13-year-old Kak (Ebrahim), gauge and await their fate. (98 mins.)
Director: Bahman Ghobadi
 
5.
Downfall (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Traudl Junge, the final secretary for Adolf Hitler, tells of the Nazi dictator's final days in his Berlin bunker at the end of WWII. (156 mins.)
 
6.
Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
In Shanghai, China in the 1940s, a wannabe gangster aspires to join the notorious "Axe Gang" while residents of a housing complex exhibit extraordinary powers in defending their turf. (99 mins.)
Director: Stephen Chow
 
7.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a procedure to have each other erased from their memories. But it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with. (108 mins.)
Director: Michel Gondry
 
8.
Nobody Knows (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
In a small Tokyo apartment, twelve-year-old Akira must care for his younger siblings after their mother leaves them and shows no sign of returning. (141 mins.)
 
9.
The Woodsman (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A child molester returns to his hometown after 12 years in prison and attempts to start a new life. (87 mins.)
Director: Nicole Kassell
 
10.
Riding Giants (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Documentary detailing the origins and history of surf culture. (105 mins.)
Director: Stacy Peralta
 
11.
House of Flying Daggers (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A romantic police captain breaks a beautiful member of a rebel group out of prison to help her rejoin her fellows, but things are not what they seem. (119 mins.)
Director: Yimou Zhang
 
12.
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The Bride continues her quest of vengeance against her former boss and lover Bill, the reclusive bouncer Budd and the treacherous, one-eyed Elle. (137 mins.)
 
13.
Kinsey (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A look at the life of Alfred Kinsey, a pioneer in the area of human sexuality research, whose 1948 publication "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" was one of the first recorded works that saw science address sexual behavior. (118 mins.)
Director: Bill Condon
 
14.
Head-On (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
With the intention to break free from the strict familial restrictions, a suicidal young woman sets up a marriage of convenience with a forty-year-old addict, an act that will lead to an outburst of envious love. (121 mins.)
Director: Fatih Akin
 
15.
Undertow (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Following the death of his wife Audrey, John Munn moves with his two sons, mid-teen Chris Munn and adolescent Tim Munn... (108 mins.)
 
16.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
After New York City receives a series of attacks from giant flying robots, a reporter teams up with a pilot in search of their origin, as well as the reason for the disappearances of famous scientists around the world. (106 mins.)
Director: Kerry Conran
 
17.
Sideways (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Two men reaching middle age with not much to show but disappointment embark on a week-long road trip through California's wine country, just as one is about to take a trip down the aisle. (126 mins.)
Director: Alexander Payne
 
18.
Moolaadé (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
When a woman shelters a group of girls from suffering female genital mutilation, she starts a conflict that tears her village apart. (124 mins.)
Director: Ousmane Sembene
 
19.
Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
When an unconfident young woman is cursed with an old body by a spiteful witch, her only chance of breaking the spell lies with a self-indulgent yet insecure young wizard and his companions in his legged, walking castle. (119 mins.)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
 
20.
Closer (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
The relationships of two couples become complicated and deceitful when the man from one couple meets the woman of the other. (104 mins.)
Director: Mike Nichols
 
21.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Ron Burgundy is San Diego's top-rated newsman in the male-dominated broadcasting of the 1970s, but that's all about to change for Ron and his cronies when an ambitious woman is hired as a new anchor. (94 mins.)
Director: Adam McKay
 
22.
The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Based on real life events, Assassination is set in 1974 and centers on a businessman who decides to take extreme measures to achieve his American dream. (95 mins.)
Director: Niels Mueller
 
23.
The Aviator (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A biopic depicting the early years of legendary director and aviator Howard Hughes' career from the late 1920s to the mid-1940s. (170 mins.)
Director: Martin Scorsese
 
24.
Before Sunset (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Nine years after Jesse and Celine first met, they encounter each other again on the French leg of Jesse's book tour. (80 mins.)
“ CC ” - millsy
 
25.
Birth (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
A young boy attempts to convince a woman that he is her dead husband reborn. (100 mins.)
Director: Jonathan Glazer
 
26.
The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
When Jason Bourne is framed for a CIA operation gone awry, he is forced to resume his former life as a trained assassin to survive. (108 mins.)
Director: Paul Greengrass
 
27.
The Bridesmaid (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A hard-working young man meets and falls in love with his sister's bridesmaid. He soon finds out how disturbed she really is. (111 mins.)
Director: Claude Chabrol
 
28.
Brothers (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Two brothers must negotiate changing roles and shifting family dynamics when one is sent to war in Afghanistan. (117 mins.)
Director: Susanne Bier
 
29.
Campfire (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
The story of one woman's personal battle for acceptance, but also a portrait of a political movement that has forever affected millions of lives in the Middle East. (96 mins.)
Director: Joseph Cedar
 
30.
Cellular (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A young man receives an emergency phone call on his cell phone from an older woman. The catch? The woman claims to have been kidnapped; and the kidnappers have targeted her husband and child next. (94 mins.)
Director: David R. Ellis
 
31.
Clean (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
London-based Emily Wang gained minor notoriety from her VJ-ing on cable television. She is now more... (111 mins.)
Director: Olivier Assayas
 
32.
Collateral (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A cab driver finds himself the hostage of an engaging contract killer as he makes his rounds from hit to hit during one night in Los Angeles. (115 mins.)
Director: Michael Mann
 
33.
Control Room (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A documentary on perception of the United States's war with Iraq, with an emphasis on Al Jazeera's coverage. (84 mins.)
Director: Jehane Noujaim
 
34.
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Michael Moore's view on what happened to the United States after September 11; and how the Bush Administration allegedly used the tragic event to push forward its agenda for unjust wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. (122 mins.)
Director: Michael Moore
 
35.
Finding Neverland (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
The story of J.M. Barrie's friendship with a family who inspired him to create Peter Pan. (106 mins.)
Director: Marc Forster
 
36.
Friday Night Lights (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Based on H.G. Bissinger's book, which profiled the economically depressed town of Odessa, Texas and their heroic high school football team, The Permian High Panthers. (118 mins.)
Director: Peter Berg
 
37.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
It's Harry's third year at Hogwarts; not only does he have a new "Defense Against the Dark Arts" teacher, but there is also trouble brewing. Convicted murderer Sirius Black has escaped the Wizards' Prison and is coming after Harry. (142 mins.)
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
 
38.
Hellboy (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A demon, raised from infancy after being conjured by and rescued from the Nazis, grows up to become a defender against the forces of darkness. (122 mins.)
 
39.
The Hidden Blade (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
During the time of change of the mid-19th Century, Yaichiro is bid farewell by his fellow samurai friends... (132 mins.)
Director: Yôji Yamada
 
40.
Hotel Rwanda (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Paul Rusesabagina was a hotel manager who housed over a thousand Tutsi refugees during their struggle against the Hutu militia in Rwanda. (121 mins.)
Director: Terry George
 
41.
I Heart Huckabees (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A husband-and-wife team play detective, but not in the traditional sense. Instead, the happy duo helps others solve their existential issues, the kind that keep you up at night, wondering what it all means. (107 mins.)
 
42.
Incident at Loch Ness (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A documentary exploring the myth of the Loch Ness monster. (94 mins.)
Director: Zak Penn
 
43.
The Incredibles (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A family of undercover superheroes, while trying to live the quiet suburban life, are forced into action to save the world. (115 mins.)
Director: Brad Bird
 
44.
Intimate Strangers (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A Frenchwoman tells her marital troubles to a man she mistakes for a psychiatrist, and soon they form an unusual relationship. (104 mins.)
Director: Patrice Leconte
 
45.
The Intruder (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Louis Trebor, a man nearing 70, lives alone with dogs in the forest near the French-Swiss border. He has heart problems... (130 mins.)
Director: Claire Denis
 
46.
Jersey Girl (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
After his career is sidelined by an unexpected tragedy and a personal blowup, a single man must take care of his precocious daughter. (102 mins.)
Director: Kevin Smith
 
47.
Keane (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A man in his early 30s (Keane) struggles with the supposed loss of his daughter from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York... (100 mins.)
Director: Lodge Kerrigan
 
48.
Kings & Queen (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Parallel storylines tell the current state of affairs for two ex-lovers: Nora's a single mother who comes to care for her terminally ill father; holed in up in mental ward, Ismael, a brilliant musician, plots his escape. (150 mins.)
 
49.
Layer Cake (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A successful cocaine dealer gets two tough assignments from his boss on the eve of his planned early retirement. (105 mins.)
Director: Matthew Vaughn
 
50.
A League of Ordinary Gentlemen (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Filmmaker Christopher Browne documents the mission of a group of middle-aged bowlers as they attempt to revitalize the sport and get the television-watching public interested in it again. (93 mins.)
 
51.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
With a plan to exact revenge on a mythical shark that killed his partner, oceanographer Steve Zissou rallies a crew that includes his estranged wife, a journalist, and a man who may or may not be his son. (119 mins.)
Director: Wes Anderson
“ CC ” - millsy
 
52.
Look at Me (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A french girl gifted with a great voice, has a complex about her weight and her appearance. (110 mins.)
Director: Agnès Jaoui
 
53.
The Machinist (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
An industrial worker who hasn't slept in a year begins to doubt his own sanity. (101 mins.)
Director: Brad Anderson
 
54.
Maria Full of Grace (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A pregnant Colombian teenager becomes a drug mule to make some desperately needed money for her family. (101 mins.)
Director: Joshua Marston
 
55.
Mean Creek (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
When a teen is bullied, his brother and friends lure the bully into the woods to seek revenge. (90 mins.)
 
56.
Melinda and Melinda (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Two alternating stories, one comedy and the other tragedy, about Melinda's attempts to straighten out her life. (99 mins.)
Director: Woody Allen
 
57.
The Merchant of Venice (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
In 16th century Venice, when a merchant must default on a large loan from an abused Jewish moneylender for a friend with romantic ambitions, the bitterly vengeful creditor demands a gruesome payment instead. (131 mins.)
Director: Michael Radford
 
58.
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A documentary crew followed Metallica for the better part of 2001-2003, a time of tension and release for the rock band, as they recorded their album St. Anger, fought bitterly, and sought the counsel of their on-call shrink. (141 mins.)
 
59.
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A determined woman works with a hardened boxing trainer to become a professional. (132 mins.)
Director: Clint Eastwood
 
60.
Millions (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Ethics, being human and the soul come to the fore when a 7-year old finds a bag of Pounds just days before the currency is switched to Euros and learns what we are really made of. (98 mins.)
Director: Danny Boyle
 
61.
Mysterious Skin (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A teenage hustler and a young man obsessed with alien abductions cross paths, together discovering a horrible, liberating truth. (105 mins.)
Director: Gregg Araki
 
62.
Palindromes (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Aviva is thirteen, awkward and sensitive. Her mother Joyce is warm and loving, as is her father, Steve, a regular guy who does have a fierce temper from time to time. The film revolves around her family, friends and neighbors. (100 mins.)
Director: Todd Solondz
 
63.
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Depicts the final twelve hours in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, on the day of his crucifixion in Jerusalem. (127 mins.)
Director: Mel Gibson
 
64.
The Polar Express (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A young boy embarks on a magical adventure to the North Pole on the Polar Express. During his adventure he learns about friendship, bravery, and the spirit of Christmas. (100 mins.)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
 
65.
Primer (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Four friends/fledgling entrepreneurs, knowing that there's something bigger and more innovative than the different error-checking devices they've built, wrestle over their new invention. (77 mins.)
Director: Shane Carruth
 
66.
Ray (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
The story of the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven, to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s. (152 mins.)
Director: Taylor Hackford
 
67.
Red Lights (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Antoine and Helene drive to South France to return their kids from a holiday camp. The traffic is dense... (105 mins.)
Director: Cédric Kahn
 
68.
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A man decides to turn his moribund life around by winning back his ex-girlfriend, reconciling his relationship with his mother, and dealing with an entire community that has returned from the dead to eat the living. (99 mins.)
Director: Edgar Wright
 
69.
Silver City (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
The discovery of a corpse threatens to unravel a bumbling local politician's campaign for governor of Colorado. (128 mins.)
Director: John Sayles
 
70.
Spartan (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
The investigation into a kidnapping of the daughter of a high-ranking US government official. (106 mins.)
Director: David Mamet
 
71.
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Peter Parker is beset with troubles in his failing personal life as he battles a brilliant scientist named Doctor Otto Octavius. (127 mins.)
Director: Sam Raimi
 
72.
Super Size Me (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
While examining the influence of the fast food industry, Morgan Spurlock personally explores the consequences on his health of a diet of solely McDonald's food for one month. (100 mins.)
Director: Morgan Spurlock
 
73.
The Syrian Bride (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
In Majdal Shams, the largest Druze village in Golan Heights on the Israeli-Syrian border, the Druze bride Mona is engaged to get married with Tallel... (97 mins.)
Director: Eran Riklis
 
74.
2046 (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
The women who enter a science fiction author's life, over the course of a few years, after the author loses the woman he considers his one true love. (129 mins.)
Director: Kar Wai Wong
 
75.
Van Helsing (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
The notorious monster hunter is sent to Transylvania to stop Count Dracula who is using Dr. Frankenstein's research and a werewolf for some sinister purpose. (131 mins.)
Director: Stephen Sommers
 
76.
Vanity Fair (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
Growing up poor in London, Becky Sharp defies her poverty-stricken background and ascends the social ladder alongside her best friend, Amelia. (141 mins.)
Director: Mira Nair
 
77.
Vera Drake (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Abortionist Vera Drake finds her beliefs and practices clash with the mores of 1950s Britain--a conflict that leads to tragedy for her family. (125 mins.)
Director: Mike Leigh
 
78.
A Very Long Engagement (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Tells the story of a young woman's relentless search for her fiancé, who has disappeared from the trenches of the Somme during World War One. (133 mins.)
 
79.
The White Diamond (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
About the daring adventure of exploring rain forest canopy with a novel flying device-the Jungle Airship... (88 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog