I confess to having seen precious few movies in the theater this year. I've missed many of the picks on critics' best 10 lists, in particular. So the following group consists mostly of popcorn flicks that I enjoyed in 2004; I have not ranked them 1-10, so in no particular order:
Hero. A tremendous visual spectacle. Stunningly gorgeous.
Kill Bill, Volume 2. Far from perfect, but visceral when at its best. The scene of Uma Thurman being buried alive still gives me chills.
Farenheit 9/11. There surely are valid criticisms of Michael Moore's presentation, but but controversy aside, this stands as a fine piece of film-making.
The Passion Of The Christ. There surely are valid criticisms of Mel Gibson's presentation, but controversy aside, this stands as a fine piece of film-making.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Alfonso Cuaron's sure-handed direction raises the bar in the latest installment of this Warner Bros. franchise.
Super Size Me. An effective documentary in the best muck-raking tradition.
Spider-Man 2. This sequel successfully captured the spirit of Stan Lee's Marvel Comics in the 1960s.
The Incredibles. Like Spider-Man 2, this manages to be a lot of fun while making some thoughtful points. Terrific animated film.
Collateral. The best movie I saw this year. Great script, tremendous acting, excellent direction from Michael Mann.
Honorable mention: Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow. An underrated movie that does amazing things with digital technology. A throwback to the "B" movies of sixty years ago.