2002: The Year in Movies

Ending the Year on a High Note
Critic vs. critic.
Jan. 7 2003 4:56 PM

2002: The Year in Movies

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Dear David, Tony, and Roger,

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David, your post yesterday afternoon was so rich and entertainingly frenzied as you cross-cut between your take and various readers' fresh points of view that it felt like a great climactic chase scene. Tony, yours today was like a well-crafted ending. Conflict not tucked into bed too neatly. Reconciliation on the horizon. Roger, I'd love to hear more from you on Gangs but half-hope you're too busy vacationing, wherever you are, to read this.

Which leads me to feel like ... the blooper reel that plays as the final credits start to roll?

We could have fought harder, but thank God there were just too many good movies this year to stay mad for long. Of course, I'm behind the defense all three of you mounted, at various points in the last week, of critics against knee-jerk critic-haters. But, closing my week with a mixed message as so many movies are doing these days, I do care how the audience feels and factor that in as I try to understand a movie. Not that I necessarily change my mind, but it matters, it's inherently important, when something strikes a nerve. I have no illusions about the fact that posterity will regard the unprecedentedly ambitious, often beautiful The Two Towers, and the whole LOTR project, as the most important movie phenom of our time and that many of our puny critics' preferences will be like pottery scraps buried at Pompei. And who knows? Maybe that's just as it should be.

On the other hand, it's not just blockbusters that strike a nerve. Her Big Fat Annoyingness proved that. And on a much smaller but no less genuine scale, so did The Fast Runner. Who would have thought a three-hour Inuit epic could prove a word-of-mouth success?

Anyway, I'm off to a screening of a film that's coming out four-and-a-half months from now, which means that by the time it's out and people ask me if it's good, I'll have trouble remembering. Such is the life of a long-lead critic.

As always, it's been dizzying, impossible, and unexpectedly fun.

Warmly,
Sarah

Roger Ebert is the Chicago Sun-Times' film critic. David Edelstein is Slate's film critic. You can e-mail him at movies@slate.com. Sarah Kerr is Vogue's film critic. A.O. Scott is a film critic at the New York Times.

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