1. The Brown Bunny (Vincent Gallo, U.S.)

This film can still make me cry nearly nine months after seeing it, just remembering an exchange of dialogue or a sad glance from Gallo.  In essence, he's made a film so earnest and guileless that 90% of the kids in the schoolyard are going to line up to give it a wedgie, while the remaining 10% fiercely try to protect it like a mother.  (Cf. Humanité.)  Rigorous yet tender.  Unafraid of melodrama.  Damaged, affectless, and often blank, but human to the core.  My only hope for seeing it a second time is that some distributor takes the leap of faith.  (Here's hoping the return of the NC-17 rating makes the release of an unedited 90-minute Brown Bunny possible.)

 

2. Irreversible (Gaspar Noé, France)

It holds up.  After four viewings, its shocking moments have lost their shock value, but none of their horror.  And yes, it contains a few dumb lines of dialogue, mostly courtesy of Cassel.  Improv has its hazards.  Still, unquestionably the best film in competition at Cannes 2002.

 

3. Stan’s Window (Stan Brakhage, Canada) [s]

Reportedly this film is being removed from circulation at the request of the Brakhage estate.  If this is true, I hope they reconsider.  It stands among his finest photographic films, and benefits from its loose, casual structure. 

 

4. -Pistol Opera (Seijun Suzuki, Japan)

 

5. The Son (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, Belgium)

 

6. Come and Go (João César Monteiro, Portugal / France)

 

7. The Secret Lives of Dentists (Alan Rudolph, U.S.)

 

8. -Zero Day (Ben Coccio, U.S.)

 

9. Virgin of Lust (Arturo Ripstein, Mexico / Spain / Portugal)

 

10. In My Skin (Marina de Van, France)

 

Some runners-up:

Blue Gate Crossing (Yee Chih-yen, Taiwan)

Bus 174 (José Padilha, Brazil)

City (Ernie Gehr, U.S.) [v/s]

Un crabe dans le tête (André Turpin, Canada)

The Decay of Fiction (Pat O’Neill, U.S.)

Gerry (Gus Van Sant, U.S.)

Lost in La Mancha (Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe, U.S.)

The Man Without a Past (Aki Kaurismäki, Finland)

The School of Rock (Richard Linklater, U.S.)

28 Days Later (Danny Boyle, U.K.)