Art and Soul

From our innermost insecurities to the wildest flights of fantasy, 2002 stimulated both heart and head

5. One Hour Photo. Robin Williams was born to play creepy, and writer-director Mark Romanek finally expanded upon this potential. Critics unfairly bashed the ending -- there's more ambiguity to it than initially meets the eye. Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek's eerie, moody score was outstanding.

6. Spider-Man. The best live-action, cinematic, superhero comic-book adaptation ever. Organic webshooters aside, it's nice to see that faithfulness to source material can work. Pay attention, DC Comics.

7. Scarlet Diva. Everyone I know who owns a camcorder has made a self-confessional, semiautobiographical piece of videotaped wankery, but Asia Argento does it better than all of them. Maybe her fame gives her more resources, or maybe she's just more shameless, but this self-portrait looks a lot like art.

8. Das Experiment. Moritz Bleibtreu looks like Freddie Prinze Jr., which is off-putting, but unlike Mr. Michelle Gellar, he can act. A tense thriller about societal roles and their relationship to brutality, Oliver Hirschbiegel's powerful feature debut makes a useful statement in the era of reality TV and PATRIOT acts, and has earned its director a possible slot at making Blade III.

9. 25th Hour. Spike Lee tends to do better when using someone else's script, and together with David Benioff he's created his finest film yet, a meditation on macho bullshit, denial, redemption and wrong paths that extends -- allegorically and obviously -- to the state of the nation post-9/11.

10. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. I know what you're going to say, and I can't entirely disagree with any of the major criticisms leveled against Mr. Lucas's opus. Nonetheless, I also can't dispute the fact that the last 30 minutes or so are some of the greatest ever committed to celluloid (or not, since many "prints" never touched the stuff and remained pixels). From arena battle to Clone War to Yoda whaling on Christopher Lee, this was sheer spectacle as only the movies can deliver, and I'll stack it up against the battle of Helm's Deep any day.

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