A Second Opinion

Our critics pick the flicks that the best-of list overlooked

Robert Wilonsky -- Six of my year's top films made the top 12, so no complaints here, save for the inclusion of The Matrix Reloaded, about which we will agree to (vehemently) disagree. The selected dozen remind us, perhaps, that it's still more important to see films that project our own reflections than to escape into franchises. What's most striking about the films selected is how they're often about little people living little lives, which makes their situations no less extraordinary. I would add, among a small handful, Finding Nemo and Bad Santa to this list -- the former, because its story of a missing child (or Pixar-generated fish, whatever) resonates without ever sacrificing its dry laughs for saltwater sobs; the latter, because there hasn't been so bleak and brilliant a comedy released for as long as I can recall. They're both father-son stories: Marlin wants his Nemo back and will risk life or fin to make it so, while Billy Bob Thornton's Willie Stokes lugs around the baggage his abusive, alcoholic dad foisted upon him. He's not bad, Daddy just made him that way, which makes his scenes with Brett Kelly, the round mound of reject, all the more poignant, at least when Willie's not demanding of him, "Kid, are you fucking with me?!"

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