Midnight Eye’s Best (and Worst) of 2002

22 January 2003

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Beginning of a new year, closing of the old. The traditional best of lists are back. With the growth the site has gone through this past year, we decided to let all our contributors have their say. So without further ado, here are our loves and hates for the cinematic year 2002.

(The votes of the Best of 2002 Reader's Poll are in! And the winner is...)

Tom Mes

Best Japanese films of the year

1. Graveyard of Honour (Takashi Miike)

The German distributor Rapid Eye Movies quoted the following line from my review: "It's brutal, it's raw and it's uncompromising, but it's also thoughtful, deeply emotional and rich in significance." And that really sums it all up. Astonishing.

2. Blue Spring (Toshiaki Toyoda)

Not just another violent teens-on-a-rampage flick, Toyoda's thoughtful yet intense Blue Spring presents us with what would happen if rampant kids did indeed take over. There'd be more graffiti on the walls, but the power struggles, deceit, jealousy and destruction are eerily familiar to our current corporate society.

3. A Snake of June (Shinya Tsukamoto)

It's Tsukamoto in every way, including the quality. Grandiose.

4. Hush! (Ryosuke HashiguchiRyosuke Hashiguchi)

Hashiguchi embraces comedy and creates something perhaps even more poignant than ever. No mean feat for a filmmaker who already made an indelible mark on the last decade with his first two features A Touch of Fever and Like Grains of Sand.

5. Agitator (Takashi Miike)

Doing the yakuza genre the old-fashioned way, Miike delivered a film that was too slow and intricate for many of his so-called fans, those who only flock to his films to see gore and craziness. What they failed to see is that Miike is above all a filmmaker, not a shock merchant. And Agitator certainly is proof of his extraordinary capacities. Too bad no one got to see the full, breathtaking 200-minute version that was released on video in Japan.

Honourable mentions

Mask De 41 (Taishi Muramoto)

From what I gather it's quite similar to the Korean film The Foul King (which I haven't seen), but viewed in its own right this hugely enjoyable film stands out for two things: for managing to tell a moving, human story about something as superficial as pro wrestling, and for Tomorowo Taguchi's magnificent lead performance. We've grown so accustomed to seeing this insanely prolific actor in supporting villain roles, that Mask De 41 is a much-needed reminder of the man's great talent and ability to effortlessly carry a film.

Rustling in Bed (Yuji Tajiri)

A classic of contemporary pinku that goes far beyond the call of duty.

Worst Japanese films of the year

Wave (Hiroshi Okuhara)

There was little I've seen that was as unendurable as last year's H Story, but this one came pretty close. Giving new definition to the term navel gazing, the mind-numbing Wave had me begging for a swift end.

Kewaishi (Mitsutoshi Tanaka)

Lifeless, archaic postcard sentimentalism. Perfect long distance in-flight entertainment (which is in fact how I saw it): it'll put you to sleep in no time.

Best non-Japanese films of the year

  • The Pianist (France/Poland, Roman Polanski)
  • Divine Intervention (Palestine/France, Elia Suleiman)
  • Bloody Sunday (Ireland, Paul Greengrass)
  • 8 Femmes (France, François Ozon)
  • The Man Without a Past (Finland, Aki Kaurismäki)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (USA/NZ, Peter Jackson)

Jasper Sharp

Top 5 Japanese Films

As per usual, there's been so many films released in Japan this year it's been a case of too many films, too little time to even watch them, let along given them their due attention on these pages. With so many recent productions sidelined into short runs in the obscurer corners of Tokyo's single screen arthouse theatres, barely making it to local audiences, yet alone onto the festival circuit and onto a wider international platform, there's undoubtedly many worthy candidates that passed right beneath our collective noses here at Midnight Eye. Ah well, there's always next year...

In the meantime, trying to whittle down the list to this year's finest seems even more difficult this year, as whilst 2002 has seen the releases of some good solid films, unlike last year's Battle Royale or Not Forgotten there's been little of real standout quality. So I find myself unwilling to plump for any one particular favourite, and am presenting my top 5 in no particular order.

Laundry (Junichi Mori)

Whimsical, unpredictable, and touching romantic comedy-cum-road movie featuring Yosuke Kubozuka's simple minded laundry attendant and a suicidal singleton with a penchant for shoplifting. Low-key in tone, but none the less satisfying because of it.

Go (Isao Yukisada)

A trifle over-played, it's true, but Yukisada's energetic portrayal of the trials and tribulations of a young ethnic Korean teenager (again played by Yosuke Kubozuka) growing up in Japan was full of some impressive standout moments and should be commended for tackling issues which barely get addressed within the Japanese mainstream.

Ping Pong (Fumihiko 'Sori' Masuri)

Yet another Kubozuka vehicle, Ping Pong is frisky, simple-minded fun fashioned firmly in the mould as other such feel-good greats as Shall We Dance? and Waterboys, and perhaps the first film in history to fill me with the desire to pick up a ping pong bat.

Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki) / The Cat Returns (Hiroyuki Morita)

It's true, whilst neither of Ghibli's last two films match up with the quality of the studio's earlier work, they still capture the magic which lies at the heart of the finest of family-oriented Japanese animation. Miyazaki's latest foray into the fantastic was admittedly dazzling, yet something seemed rather lacking beneath the window dressing. In comparison, Morita's straightforward no-frills approach seems almost slight and inconsequential, but perhaps the more entertaining because it didn't try so hard to please. It's unfortunate that Ghibli have set themselves such high standards to live up to: both films still come highly recommended.

Millennium Actress (Satoshi Kon)

In tone at least, a complete about-turn from the director's earlier Perfect Blue, but Kon is still one of the few pushing the envelope in terms of what can be achieved within the animated format. Even if it lacks the immediate impact of its predecessor, Millennium Actress still provides us plenty of food for thought.

Honorary mentions go to Ryosuke Hashiguchi's Hush!, which though impressive I found a little too slow-moving and talky to really win me over. Yukihiko Tsutsumi's Egg was quirky enough to catch my attention, though I have to admit to being a little disappointed by Trick, the large screen incarnation of the same director's cult TV series, which maintained a prominent position in the Japanese box office charts during the final quarter of the year.

And one final aside, though not exactly a new release, but seeing as it only made it to international attention at this year's Udine Far East Festival during their focus on pink film and it also received a belated DVD release on Uplink's Nippon Erotica label, Yuji Tajiri's Rustling in Bed is worthy of mention if only to demonstrate that Japanese erotic cinema is still alive and well, and progressing in some very interesting directions.

As for the worst Japanese films of the year, it barely seems worth drawing attention to such execrable offerings as Platonic Sex or Hotel Hibiscus. Similarly, the recent straight-to-video remake of Jigoku would similarly barely warrant a mention were it not for the cult credentials of that veteran of violence Teruo Ishii at its helm and the fact that the original has to be one of the most stunningly original horror films ever to be released in the world. I was forewarned away from Kitano's latest turkey, Dolls. However, perhaps the greatest disappointment for me this year had to be Toshiki Sato's Perfect Blue - Yume Nara Samete. In retrospect, it wasn't quite as bad as any of the aforementioned films. It's just that the original anime seemed to offer so much scope for a live-action remake.

Top 5 General Films

International release schedules differing as they do, some of these films were screened elsewhere before they reached Tokyo.

  • 1. Gosford Park (USA, Robert Altman)
  • 2. Monsoon Wedding (India, Mira Nair)
  • 3. Insomnia (USA, Christopher Nolan)
  • 4. Sous Le Sable (France, François Ozon)
  • 5. My Life as McDull (Hong Kong, Toe Yuen)

Worst film of the year has to be Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down. I don't feel I need to explain why.

Michael Arnold

The year 2002 was an uneven one for me, spending two thirds of it in the land of the rising unemployment rate and the remainder out of it (like everyone else here) in America, safely insulated from the world. Last year, picking the best would have been easy: Eureka, Crayon Shinchan: The Grown-ups' Empire Strikes Back, Distance, Avalon, and Hole in the Sky, with several "honorable mentions." Fingering the worst would have been easier: that god-awful feature length soup commercial, Tokyo Marigold. This year however, I was impressed by only a handful of the films I was able to track down. Anyone in Japan can catch the new Star Wars sequel, but to see the Japanese film you've read all about you first have to wait for it to clear the hurdles at the Western film festivals, and then you might be able to find it while it plays the "late show" for a few weeks on one tiny screen in Tokyo. Miss that and you get to wait for the video, hoping the local rental store will throw caution to the wind and stock a copy in their dust-covered Japanese film selection. All year long I drooled over other Midnight Eye reviews of films that hadn't even been released in Japan, and now I'm stuck in a place where "Japanese movies" fall into sadly predictable patterns orbiting around weird violence, kinky sex and mature (?) animation. So it's hard to call these "The Best," but they certainly made the biggest ripples in my small pond over the last 12 months.

1. Devotion, A Film About Ogawa Productions (Barbara Hammer)

Hammer's meditation on the gender exclamations and financial question marks in Shinsuke Ogawa's legendary documentary film collective sheds light on a legend that's perhaps been too respectfully guarded over the years. She says it's the hardest film she's ever made, and responses in Japan were mixed to say the least. At one Tokyo screening, left-wing director Masao Adachi joked about Hammer's "weird" lesbian feminist perspective and somewhat uneasily criticized the director for cutting the interviewees apart and then putting them back together like an assorted sashimi plate. Still, Hammer's presence is exactly what makes the film so enjoyable, and the voices she pulls out from hiding add greatly to the human dimension in the group's history. The result is an intriguing look at the man, his group and the films that's as fresh as a slap in the face.

2. Ichi the Killer (Takashi Miike)

I still don't understand what the big deal is. From what I've seen, most of Miike's gangster movies are mute, his pictures of race are inarticulate, and his graphic violence doesn't have the guts to say anything. In Ichi the Killer however, the gory money shots come together in such a tight knot that they seem to transcend their own splatter. Somehow this masochistic experience works, and once we're numb to the spectacle, it's easier than most of his films to swallow what's left. The BBFC's criticism of the film's "titillating" violence totally misses the mark.

3. Tokyo X Erotica (Takahisa Zeze)

Maybe it's strange that soft-core pornos make up such a big hunk of Japan's political film scene, but compared to, say, the glossy daydreaming of the recent Asama Sanso movies and TV specials, cheap nightmares can still have charm. Zeze has always been a provocateur among pornographers, and Tokyo X Erotica showcases his feverish talent with another thought provoking and involving script. Definitely worth running to Tokyo for the late show, and more engaging than Dog Star, which was good but eerily too close to a PG-rated date flick.

4. Harmful Insect (Akihiko Shiota)

As I quickly lose patience with all these Japanese movies about pubescent girls, Shiota is proving to be becoming one of the few directors who can comment on the subject in terms other than panty shots. Without much chatter Harmful Insect communicates a great deal about a girl and the environment she's trapped in.

5. Suicide Club (Sion Sono)

I might be alone on this one. Backed up with a surprising cast - I thought Ryo Ishibashi and Akaji Maro were fantastic - Suicide Club has a story wrapped in mystery like raisins in a sticky cinnamon roll. I'm amused by the way Sono so easily transgresses the border between natural and laughable, but amazed that he maintains a level of dignity that was lost on many of the year's other films. Androgynous goth-butt-rocker Rolly's lucky lisp may have been wasted though; I'm guessing his short appearance was just a lure for teenage girls at the video store.

Honorable Mentions

A2 (Tatsuya Mori)

A fascinating demystification of the Aleph cult, despite Mori's somewhat uninspired treatment.

A Forest With No Name (Shinji Aoyama)

Leave it to Aoyama to give us the most entertaining puzzle in a sometimes-interesting TV series.

Giblies Episode 2 (Yoshiyuki Momose)

My feet were still on the ground after being Spirited Away. While Giblies features less of the handcrafted, virtually tangible atmosphere of the studio's big sellers, it has at least as much of the heart and a lot more humor. How long will Ghibli's younger talent be stuck in the shadow of Miyazaki's blockbusters?

The Happiness of the Katakuris (Takashi Miike)

Absurd, adolescent, pathetic; I laughed in spite of myself. I'd love to sing Richard's songs at karaoke sometime.

KT (Junji Sakamoto)

A well-executed and thought-provoking suspense film. By far the biggest bang in the recent explosion of big-name political dramas.

Big Disappointments

The Choice of Hercules (Masato Harada)

I spent the first 30 minutes laughing. This could have been a handsome movie, but despite the "true story," it reeks of a self-conscious attempt to become something it's not. The exaggerated acting and script recall TV stereotypes of argumentative Americans, and the camera flies around, rabid with the idea of giving 1970s Japan a superficial Hollywood sheen. Harada's insecure criticism of Japanese bureaucracy ends up mocking his own story and audience instead.

Concent (Shun Nakahara)

"And baby, if you do what you've been told,
My insulation's gone, girl you make me overload.
Don't pull the plug on me, no, no,
Keep it in and keep me high!"

Dark Water (Hideo Nakata)

Sometimes the scariest horror moves are the ones that sneak under the covers at night and tickle our more conservative fears. Suzuki and Nakata rip off the sheets, flip on the lights and make the moral so obvious it's embarrassing to watch. Yoshimi fails as a Good Wife but can she salvage the Wise Mother bit before the surrogate daughter-zombie gets revenge? Didn't a professor at Harvard write a book about this sort of thing?

Millennium Actress (Satoshi Kon)

Let's see if those library haiku classes paid off:
Pet store puppy dog
Wagging tail a thousand years
Satoshi's Actress

WXIII Patlabor the Movie 3 (Takuji Endo)

A big monster with breasts attacks Tokyo.

Best non-Japanese Films

  • Mulholland Drive (USA/France, David Lynch)
  • Talk to Her (Spain, Pedro Almodóvar)
  • In Praise of Love (France/Switzerland, Jean-Luc Godard)
  • Bowling for Columbine (USA, Michael Moore)
  • The Pianist (France/Poland, Roman Polanski)

Nicholas Rucka

I've been putting this off for the last month partly because I just didn't want to face it, but also in no small part because I was still looking for my top Japanese film of the year. Unfortunately it didn't materialize - although Spirited Away probably came the closest.

Sure I had lots of films that I thought were pretty good, but all in all, there was nothing that levelled me and was worthy of the word "top". To be more specific, I did see some fantastic Japanese films during 2002 but most of them were not from last year (most notably Yoichiro Takahashi's Sunday's Dream and Fishes in August) - and in fact quite of few were not even from the 1990s.

So what I've decided to do is list the comparatively best Japanese films that I saw - in no particular order - and the same for the worst.

Here we go:

Top films (in no particular order)

Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki)

Though released in Japan during 2001, Spirited Away was given a surprisingly wide US distribution in fall 2002. Miyazaki's failure to become a household name in the US has always been a mystery to me, because his films are, on the whole, totally amazing. This time out, the piece is a Japanese-style Grimm's fairytale that is funny, gruesome, exuberant, and - I absolutely hate using this word, but it applies - enchanting. The perfect introduction to Japanese anime for the uninitiated, it's a piece I would be happy to show my folks. Perfectly illustrating all the reasons why Dreamwork's Shrek was a regrettable insipid piece of pop-cultural nonsense, this is a first rate piece of filmmaking.

The Happiness of the Katakuris (Takashi Miike)

The kind of film that while watching it you repeat to yourself, "I can't believe it , I can't believe it" Miike opened up his (and other creative folks' - most notably the claymation artists') heads for this one. It is a messy place filled with song, clay, and sumo wrestlers squashing their teeny girlfriends under their immense naked bulk. My, oh my.

Graveyard of Honour (Takashi Miike)

Another Miike vehicle. A very respectable reinterpretation of master director Kinji Fukasaku's pitch-black tale of a live wire yakuza punter's full speed race to his death, while leaving whirlpools of pain and violence eddying from everything and everyone he encounters. Along with Spirited Away (what a combo!!) it might be the best Japanese film I saw last year.

Dead or Alive: Final (Takashi Miike)

I feel like Miike's cheerleader here, but I thought this was a great ending to the DOA series. Open for interpretation, brimming with cynicism, and some of the worst Jazz since John Woo's HK films (which is why the bad guy is named Woo, methinks), it works as a stand alone piece, but, as I said in my review, ultimately, this is a film for the Dead or Alive series fan.

No One's Ark (Nobuhiro Yamashita)

Flawed, but worth it for the deflating body scene. Yamashita and Kosuke Mukai are mining some interesting territory of the Japanese 'slacker' film. I don't know, I just sort of liked it.

Worst films

Harmful Insect (Akihiko Shiota)

I had heard a lot of great things about this film and then I saw it. TFor its abysmal portrayal of a 16-year-old girl, its disturbingly lustful gaze at her, and - possibly its worst offense - the dishonest direction that the narrative takes at the end, it personally offended me. It was as if the director couldn't stand where the story was going so he just sort of manhandled it into the direction he wanted. Who could've predicted it? The most offensive film of 2002 was not done by Miike and didn't have excessive blood, sex, or filth in it.

All About Lily Chou-Chou (Shunji Iwai)

I don't get it and I don't get the leeeeennnnnnnggggggtttttthhhhh of it.

Dark Water (Hideo Nakata)

Well, not really belonging in the worst film category, but it gets a big minus sign for ruining what could've been a good horror film through some mediocre writing and a regrettable ending that even Disney would balk at. The truth of the matter is that it should've been a shorter (and slightly darker) film.

Best non-Japanese films

  • Bowling for Columbine (USA, Michael Moore)
  • Narc (USA, Joe Carnahan)
  • Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (USA/NZ, Peter Jackson)
  • Songs from the Second Floor (Sweden, Roy Andersson)
  • Punch-Drunk Love (USA, Paul Thomas Anderson)

Tun Shwe

Best Five (in alphabetical order)

Blue Spring (Toshiaki Toyoda)

A stark bombardment of imagery from the bleak manga set in an all boys' school, where hierarchy is marred by a uniform disdain towards teachers. It showed a flipside to the coin that Battle Royale previously sold, but focusing more on the struggles within school premises. Despite the tragedies and rivalry, underneath it all, Blue Spring presents itself as a virtuous tale of loyalty that withstands time and interminable change.

Go (Isao Yukisada)

Shot like an MTV music video entwined with an MTV documentary, Yukisada presents to the viewer an alternative viewpoint through one of the many foreigners in Japan. "Fresh" and "artistic" are a few words that can describe this impulsive heartbeat-skipping film as it rocks and bounces to adjust to the tracks left in the wake of its protagonist, a Korean living in Japan. A mixture of amazing talent and character development starts the way it means to finish: in style.

The Happiness of the Katakuris (Takashi Miike)

Allegedly bearing some resemblance to the film it was based upon (Korean film The Quiet Family), Miike decides to kidnap the original and walk it down the other less travelled road, turning it into an all-singing, madcap adventure where the humour oozes out as a comedic black deluge. Despite being highly irreverent, it would be highly irrelevant if I wasn't considering the top spot for the most surreal and twisted musical from Asia. It seems Miike is forever trying to debunk any theories that he might be sane and with this film (and if that is the intention), he would be achieving what he set out to do quite admirably. Absolutely unforgettable.

Metropolis (Rintaro)

Having seen Fritz Lang's original black and white version, I was intrigued as to how the story would be rendered in animation. What resulted were vibrant colours and views into a pseudo-futuristic backdrop holding its many denizens in a society that has spiralled into a melting pot of dystopia. With Rintato, Osamu Tezuka and Katsuhiro Otomo holding the reins on this film, I was able to wholeheartedly bet that it was not going to gallop away into mediocrity.

Transparent (Katsuyuki Motohiro)

Always emphasising quality in his selection of backdrops and talents, Motohiro is able to achieve the desired effect by making his characters' emotions jump through flaming hoops to the sound of his whip. He moves his hands and orchestrates the coming together of another original celluloid tale. Suddenly, an otherwise simple story is turned into an epic fantasy of a unique boy's struggles in a community that knows him all too well. Recommended if you are in the need of a little tug on the heartstrings.

Honourable mention

Waterboys (Shinobu Yaguchi)

When it comes to starting an all boys synchronised swimming team, rest assured that all the determination required to stay afloat can be conjured up with one minor detail: if the swimming instructor is a pretty young lady. Her premature departure sets the scene for a rocky climb to the top of everyone's expectations. Even though Waterboys moves along slowly at times, it works up to some parts that are truly hilarious. It stormed the Japanese box office and so it should have.


The Princess Blade (Shinsuke Sato)

A good case study which shows how a good looking and talented cast, great set design and impulsive choreography can all collectively fall flat on its face if the story establishes (and embellishes) itself as an action fest, then decides to turn into a melodrama. With Donnie Yen onboard to choreograph the fight sequences, there was so much potential (and to be fair, much expectation). Unfortunately, the bits interspersed between the action lacked the magic in an otherwise beautifully filmed swordplay fantasy.

Best non-Japanese

  • My Sassy Girl (South Korea, Jae-Young Kwak)
  • The Eye (Thailand/Hong Kong, Oxide and Danny Pang)
  • Princess D (Hong Kong, Sylvia Chang)
  • Bowling for Columbine (USA, Michael Moore)
  • Minority Report (USA, Steven Spielberg)

Andrew Cunningham


1. Ping Pong (Fumihiko 'Sori' Masuri)

Elation made film. One of the best artists in manga's best manga made into a great movie. Every stylistic eccentricity in the original is brought to life with a frightening degree of faithfulness.

2. Graveyard of Honour (Takashi Miike)

There's this bit where the main character lies on his back, music turned all the way up, pushing himself around the apartment and unloading guns into the ceiling. How many other movies like this bother to show us how the characters kill time?

3. Drive (Sabu)

I loved this movie with every cell in my body and couldn't begin to tell you why. Bit of a nightmare, really.

4. Madness in Bloom (Kenji Sonoda)

A violent urban action drama so deeply rooted in politics that I found large chunks of it unintelligible. I hope the DVD has subtitles. On here simply because it was so well made, but my inability to nail down the actual political stance of the film prevents me from reviewing it.

5. Metropolis (Rintaro)

So what if this was really last year? 2002 was not a great year for animation, and this excellent film was sort of buried in the hype for Spirited Away.


1. Dolls (Takeshi Kitano)

Beat Takeshi tries to make a movie for women and proves he really hasn't got a clue. Or maybe he does: I think this was his biggest commercial success in Japan.

2. The Happiness of the Katakuris (Takashi Miike)

To date, the only Takashi Miike movie I haven't finished. To be sure, it comes springing to life during the musical sequences, but the creaky comedy in between is depressing. Poorly acted sitcom filled with cliché stereotypes.

3. Detective Conan: The Phantom of Baker Street

Clearly running out of ideas at long last, the sixth movie spin-off from the absurdly long TV series/manga crams too many characters into a confusing story that forgets to actually include a mystery amidst all the puzzling science fiction trappings.

4. Laundry (Junichi Mori)

A minor supporting character came very close to making his sections of this watchable, but the rest of the film is painful.

5. Dark Water (Hideo Nakata)

While the climax is certainly scary, this gives the impression of having been written too quickly. There are major flaws in the screenplay, not least of which is the characterization of the protagonist as a deranged lunatic in dire need of a visit from child services.

Best non-Japanese

  • The Devil's Backbone (Spain, Guillermo Del Toro)
  • Volcano High (South Korea, Tae Gyun Kim)
  • Barbershop (USA, Tim Story)
  • The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition (USA/NZ, Peter Jackson)
  • Gangs of New York (USA, Martin Scorsese)

G. Allen Johnson


  • 1. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki) - slam dunk
  • 2. Harmful Insect (Akihiko Shiota)
  • 3. Letter from the Mountain (Takashi Koizumi)
  • 4. Dark Water (Hideo Nakata)
  • 5. (tie) Suicide Club (Sion Sono) / Waterboys (Shinobu Yaguchi)

Best non-Japanese films

  • 1. Far From Heaven (USA, Todd Haynes)
  • 2. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (NZ/USA, Peter Jackson)
  • 3. 25th Hour (USA, Spike Lee)
  • 4. Minority Report (USA, Steven Spielberg)
  • 5. Take Care of My Cat (South Korea, Jae-Eun Jeong)
  • 6. Bowling for Columbine (USA, Michael Moore)
  • 7. Enigma (USA, Michael Apted)
  • 8. The Pianist (Poland, Roman Polanski)
  • 9. Solaris (USA, Steven Soderbergh)

Robin Gatto


  • Tokyo X Erotica (Takahisa Zeze) - A truly delightful blend of wild eroticism and witty Donnie Darko-esque imagination.
  • Chicken Heart (Hiroshi Shimizu)
  • The Mars Canon (Shiori Kazama)
  • Suicide Club (Sion Sono)
  • A Snake of June (Shinya Tsukamoto)

Honourable mention

  • Women in the Mirror (Kiju Yoshida)


  • Dolls (Takeshi Kitano) - Kitano is striving toward a masterpiece but here the sum of the pieces doesn't amount to much masterly work.
  • Dark Water (Hideo Nakata)
  • Woman of Water (Hidenori Sugimori)
  • Genji: A Thousand Years of Love (Tonko Horikawa)

Five best non-Japanese films

  • The Magdalene Sisters (GB, Peter Mullan)
  • Reign of Fire (USA, Rob Bowman)
  • Spiderman (USA, Sam Raimi)
  • Ken Park (USA, Larry Clark)
  • L'Auberge Espagnole (France, Cédric Klapisch)