The 10 Best Films Of 2004With 2015 upon us, we figured it was a good time to look back on the movies the millennium has brought us. And so we’ve dug into the archives and are re-running our Best of the 2000s pieces, from way back in 2009 when the Playlist was a little Blogspot site held together with tape and string. Each list runs down the top 10 films of each year (it’s possible that, half-a-decade on, we’d put them in a different order and even change some of the movies, but we wanted to preserve the original pieces untouched as far as possible). Check out 20002001, 2002 and 2003 if you missed them, and today we continue with 2004. The original piece follows below, and thanks to staffers past and present who contributed.

Man, if compiling this list was any indication, 2004 was a very peculiar year and one of the weaker ones of the decade. For some years, we were unfortunately cutting tons of pictures from the top 10. For 2004, we struggled and struggled to find ten films we felt completely passionate about. Sure, there were lots of decent pictures (see our ample honorable mention section), but 2004 overall feels a bit more slight than every other year in the decade.

And note, people love to rag on Nicole Kidman, but she can do some excellent work. She’s in two pictures in our top five. Meanwhile in the film world in general, it was still sequels driving the box-office (“Spider-Man 2,” “Shrek 2” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban“). Clint Eastwood‘s 2003 film, “Million Dollar Baby” would take the Best Picture Oscar and in what was more of a statement move more than anything, Michael Moore‘s “Fahrenheit 9/11” would take the top prize at Cannes.

null10. “Anchorman”
Yes, “Anchorman.” With 9/11 still residing deep in the American psyche, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, galled by the callous and exploitative nature of the media, created one of the most searing indictments of broadcast news since “Network.” Half-satire and half-political screed, “Anchorman” set its sights on the most protected of American institutions: freedom of the press. Will Ferrell, in a haughty mustache and ironic blue suit, gave the performance of a lifetime as journalistic hero Ron Burgundy, a powerful reporter from the city named after a whale’s vagina, who is tempted by desire and constantly at odds with his own raw masculine hunger. The centerpiece of the film is a bitter street fight between rival network anchors complete with tridents, men on fire and desperadoes on horses. The sequence is the most scathing critique of bourgeois consumerist desires since Jean-Luc Godard‘s “Week-End.” Provocative, controversial yet imbued with deep understanding of the human condition, “Anchorman” is one of the bravest films of the decade. When in Rome.

null9. “Time Of The Wolf”
Michael Haneke‘s tense apocalyptic drama opens with a scene we can’t actually see. A family enters a home and we hear screaming, followed by a gunshot, and even further violence. While Haneke’s decision to not show the disturbance increases its own queasy, pornographic efficiency as far as troubling the audience, it also helps ground the film in a certain level of universality. It’s not the last such occurrence, as our orphaned characters make it through a desolate French countryside, shell-shocked by what we learn is an unspecified disaster that has left them without electricity or hope. Haneke’s genre trappings are clearly second place to the emotional and often familiar violence humans are capable of when society has been driven to its most primitive urges. This is clearly the movie “The Road” was trying to be.

null8. “The Dreamers”
An extremely polarizing NC-17 film upon its release, Bernardo Bertolucci’s wantonly naive — perhaps revisionist — paean to his ’60s counter-culture heyday is a valentine to the thrilling rush of New Wave cinema and an impetuous kind of sonic youth. It can be a little heavy-handed if you’re not a devout quixotic cineaste (but can you really hate on references to “Mouchette” and “Bande à part“?). But drunk on idealism, it throbs with erotic voltage and is fraught with romantic spontaneity — and it’s a film that is done wonders by repeat viewings and is deeply in need of a second glance. Featuring excellent performances by its three leads (especially a deliciously wicked and sultry Eva Green; the boys are Michael Pitt and Louis Garrel) the trio play disaffected youths insulated in a palatial Paris apartment, experimenting with sexuality, exploring abstract notions, philosophy and challenging social mores while the world outside is pregnant with unrest and discordant anomie. Its rich guilelessness is in essence its strength (the title says its all), as the film voluptuously (and profanely) lurches forward like an ardent molotov cocktail to the chest.

  • theschu

    Not even a mention of "The Bourne Supremacy"? Paul Greengrass\’s directing on that movie basically changed Hollywood action moviemaking.

  • Jimbo

    P.S. Huckabee\’s is not a \’severe mess\’. It\’s meant to be playful and freewheeling. That\’s its spirit. It\’s no masterpiece but it\’s a seriously impressive piece of work.

  • Jimbo

    Dreamers, Spotless Mind, Before Sunset and Dogville… amazing year… and I agree on reflection that Dogville should be No.1, but to put Birth ahead of those other too is just daft.

  • Chris

    Boo Wes.

  • Major Kalas

    Thanks for mentioning "Primer"!!!

  • MishuPishu

    Going through that long list of honorable mentions, it\’s hard to believe that this was considered a down year. This class feels better than the group you have up from the year before. I absolutely loved A Very Long Engagement. And let\’s face it, Eternal Sunshine is one of the greatest movies ever! Always makes me cry.

  • Edge

    Not even an honorable mention of Garden State?

  • Joe

    Eternal Sunshine has to be #1… come on guys. Great list though.

  • TheLaughingMan

    Really? The Superman monologue in Kill Bill Vol. 2 was so hamfisted. It was perhaps the first sign of how poorly Roger Avery\’s contribution was missed from the Tarantino experience.

  • cirkusfolk

    I too echo the sentiments that Sideways was the best film of the year, followed by Eternal Sunshine, The Life Aquatic, Garden State, I Heart Huckabees, Collateral, Finding Neverland, Napolean Dynamite, Dawn of the Dead, The Girl Next Door.

  • Monte Singer

    Dogville is in no way better than anything on this list, but opinions-opinions. That being said, whoever did the write up for Dreamers must have worked for Pitchfork back in the early 00\’s. The days when the reviews were so overloaded with pretentious writing and synonym-digging nonsense, that they were rendered laughable. Otherwise, good work.

  • Charles

    You guys have completely ignored the Bourne movies. They\’re at the very least deserving of honorable mention. And this list is ridiculous for not including The Incredibles and Sideways.

  • Daniel

    Thank you for including \’Birth\’. Still my favorite Glazer film. How it was overlooked, yet critics drooled all over \’Under the Skin\’ 10 years later is beyond me. Some of the best cinematography and easily the best score of the 00\’s.

  • Nathan Duke

    I agree on \’Dogville,\’ it\’s one of Von Trier\’s best films. I saw someone mention \’Tropical Malady\’ – was a 2005 film in the U.S. \’I Heart Huckabee\’s\’ would have been on my second ten list, as would \’The Life Aquatic.\’

  • VIC

    Dogville is one of Triers best films to date.

  • Fargo Tbakhi

    Just curious but why no love for Sideways? I\’ve always thought it was pretty excellent. Love these features though!

  • Darryl

    Man, this list is so on point, but wow did I hate Birth. Keep\’em coming.

  • Wes

    Also: huge Boo to "Dogville." I either love or hate a Lars von Trier film. I\’m thankful for that; he\’s interesting. But "Dogville" was a failure, not in concept, but in execution.

  • Wes

    Boo "Sideways." 1. 2046 (Wong Kar-Wai)
    2. Bad Education (Pedro Almodovar)
    3. Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry)
    4. A Very Long Engagement (Jean-Peirre Jeunet)
    5. Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
    6. Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood)
    7. The World (Jia Zhang Ke)
    8. House of Flying Daggers (Zhang Yimou)
    9. Kill Bill Vol 2 (Quentin Tarantino)
    10. Life Aquatic (Wes Anderson) I still haven\’t seen: Garden State (Zach Braff),
    I Heart Huckabees (David O. Russell), and
    Motorcycle Diaries (Walter Salles).

  • Nathan Duke

    Sort of shocked \’Sideways\’ is not on here. That was my favorite of 2004. Also, \’Bad Education\’ is my favorite Almodovar film, so I would have definitely included that one too. My picks would have been some of these: Sideways, Kill Bill Vol. II, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Dogville, The Aviator, The Motorcycle Diaries, Before Sunset, Time of the Wolf, Goodbye Dragon Inn, Million Dollar Baby, Bad Education.

  • Sergei

    I’ll go with Hotel Rwanda and Kinsey over Eternal Sunshine and Anchorman, but I’m a depressing bum too. Otherwise, way to pick the gems from a weak year!