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I love 2004
by Tony Farinella

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Jamie Foxx

Jamie Foxx
I hate to live in the past, but, man, I miss 2004. 2004, without question, was one of the best years at the cinema in quite some time. You see, I like variety, because I'm a very unpredictable person. If you don't believe me, you don't need to look any further than my CD player. I have a ton of mix Cd's with a variety of different tunes. Track 1 is the Duck Tales theme song, for god's sake! If you look at track 20, you'll find Megadeath's Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? Yes, I like to change it up and keep it fresh. Truthfully, it all depends on my mood, which is why I loved 2004 so much. You truly had everything at the movies in 2004. In 2004, I would go to the movies every weekend and check out three movies. It was THAT good. Now, you're lucky to find one good movie at the cinema in a given weekend. The times have changed and not for the better. With this week's column, I'm going to relive the magic that was 2004 at the movies. Ah, what a magical time at the movies. In fact, I was just looking at my ticket stubs the other day from that year. Sorry, I live in the past way too much. I can't help it! 2004 was just so much fun. I miss that magic. We need to find that magic again and hold onto it.

First, let's focus on the most successful actor of 2004. It was none other than Jamie Foxx, a former television actor/comic. Now, he's one of the best working actors in the world. I first noticed Jamie Foxx during the trailer for Collateral. I remember thinking to myself, "Ugh. Why is Foxx in this movie? He's going to ruin it." I mean, at the time, Tom Cruise was well-liked by everyone. Why was Foxx in the same film as Cruise? Well, I was wrong, because Jamie Foxx stole the show. I was blown away, and I couldn't believe it. In fact, he was even better than Tom Cruise in the movie. It's also funny, because now Jamie Foxx is well-liked, and Tom Cruise is disliked by a good portion of American movie fans. I still like Tom Cruise and I really think he's misunderstood, but he's really pissed off a lot of people with his nonsense. Back to Foxx, after watching him in Collateral, I couldn't wait to see him in Ray. Needless to say, he went 2 for 2 with his performance as Ray Charles in Ray. Basically, it was perfect timing for Jamie Foxx. He was in the right place at the right time. Even though it took place in 2005, his speech at the Oscars was amazing. I'll always remember the Jamie Foxx run of 2004. He went from low-key comic to well-respected actor in one year. When talent meets opportunity, it's a beautiful thing.

2004 was also the return of the horror genre with the release of Saw. Saw was a low-budget horror film made
Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan
for only 1 million dollars, and it ended up making over 55 million dollars in the United States. Until the day I die, I'll never forget seeing Saw on opening night back on October 29th, 2004. Honestly, none of us knew what to expect from Saw. I just remember seeing the trailer for the film almost every week when I would go to the movies. I also remember seeing different posters and gimmicks in the movie theater. Plus, I would go on-line and see clips from the movie. My interest was peaked, and I couldn't wait to check it out. At the time, horror films were still somewhat of a gamble. Cabin Fever did well at the box office, but that was almost a year ago. We did have The Grudge, but that was rated PG-13. It's a lot easier to market a PG-13 horror film, because teens are ready to spend their money and get out of the house. When it comes to R-rated horror films, you have to really go out of your way to excite hardcore horror fans. Again, this was 2004, so horror films were not an easy sell. But after Saw came out and blew us away with its ending, horror was BACK. It was alive and well. And I was there to see it unfold with an opening night audience. You can't predict that kind of opening.

Mean Girls also debuted in 2004 on April 30th, 2004 and showed us Lindsay Lohan in a really good movie. Mean Girls was before Lindsay Lohan became the talk of the tabloids. Mean Girls was also before the dreadful I Know Who Killed Me. The movie was so bad and so funny for all the wrong reasons. After watching Mean Girls, I thought Lindsay Lohan was going to be one of the biggest movie stars in the world. Now, her career has really fallen apart, and she's been in one bad movie after another. It's really a shame. Whether you like Lindsay Lohan or not, she's a good actress. She's funny, sexy, and very charming. Sadly, it gets lost in the shuffle, because of her issues. But for a brief moment in 2004, she was hot and on top of the world. I miss that Lohan. As I type this column, I can't help but look at my Mean Girls poster from 2004. It almost makes me sad, because that Lindsay Lohan is dead and buried. It should also be a lesson to all of us that life is so short, and we should live every moment as if it's our last. I know it sounds cliche, but we don't need to look any further than Lindsay Lohan to see that it's true. Sorry, this is supposed to be a happy column! But, I think you get my point. 2004 was the year of Lohan, Foxx, and Saw. But I'm not done yet!

2004 also featured a lot of interesting films about some pretty complex topics. First, we had The Woodsman, which deals with the issue of
Million Dollar Baby

Million Dollar Baby
pedophilia. It was a tough movie about a subject that a lot of people don't want to talk about or face. But, as we all know, it's around us. After watching shows like How to Catch a Predator, we know it's out there. Kevin Bacon should have been nominated for an Academy Award for his work in The Woodsman. It was really a gusty piece of acting, and a role that a lot of actors would have turned down. We also had Vera Drake, which deals with the issue of abortion. Abortion is an issue that really splits people right down the middle. Sadly, there's no easy answer. But Vera Drake, starring Imelda Staunton, deals with the issue and doesn't give us any answers. It's a hard film to watch, but it's worth watching for Imelda Staunton's performance. Lastly, we had Million Dollar Baby, which won the Oscar for Best Picture. Now, I assume everyone has seen Million Dollar Baby . If you haven't, what are you waiting for? If you haven't seen the film, you should stop reading this column right now. Million Dollar Baby deals with the tough issue of suicide in a way that's profound and moving. Roger Ebert's review sums it up perfectly. Roger Ebert said the following statement about Million Dollar Baby: "It is the kind of movie where you sit very quietly in the theater and are drawn deeply into lives that you care very much about."

Wow. 2004 kicked major ass at the movies. It really opened up a lot of doors in the world of cinema today. I'll always remember that year fondly. That said, the summer of 2007 was pretty damn good! But that was only 3 months of good movies. In 2004, we had 12 months of fantastic movies. The scary part is that this column only touches the surface of 2004. If I had the column space and time, I could write about 2004 for pages and pages. I didn't even mention Michael Moore's film! Oh, I forgot about Scorsese's film! See what I mean? I really miss that excitement. I miss going to the movies with a sense of wonder. I didn't know what to expect at the movies from week-to-week. I miss getting greasy popcorn and not worrying about my weight. Sadly, I'm no longer a young pup who can get a tub of popcorn and think nothing of it. Now, it shows! I also feel the pain as well. I'll leave that image to your imagination. But, enough about me, I want to hear from you. I want you to tell me about a memorable year at the movies for you. Truthfully, I think I own about every movie from 2004. I even own the bad ones! The bad ones were even entertaining, like Alien Vs. Predator. Even though I'm almost done with this column, I can't leave out Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. I'll be dreaming about movies from 2004 tonight.

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Expect the unexpected from Tony as he'll give you his columns on the way movies used to be, the way movies are, and the way they should be.

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Tony Farinella
Tony is an Oak Lawn, IL based film reviewer and columnist looking to have fun and share his unique views on film with everyone. Tony also has an unhealthy obsession with Vanessa Lengies, but that is neither here nor there.

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