Ron Perlman is "Hellboy" in Guillermo del Toro's adaptation of the Mike Mignola graphic novel

‘Hellboy’ – A demon of a superhero on Amazon Prime

Hellboy (2004) – Before Marvel recreated the superhero movie in the context of a connected universe of characters and storylines, like the comic books that inspired them, the best comic book movies created their own, self-contained worlds. One of the best of these was Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of Mike Mignola’s cult comic Hellboy and […]

Clint Eastwood and Hilary Swank in 'Million Dollar Baby'

Clint Eastwood’s ‘Million Dollar Baby’ on Amazon Prime

Always one of America’s most undervalued directors, Clint Eastwood proved himself American cinema’s national treasure in the third act of his impressive career. Million Dollar Baby (2004), an understated, unpretentious, powerfully told drama, adapted from F.X. Toole stories by Paul Haggis, earned Eastwood his second round of Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture (his […]

Tom Hanks in Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Terminal’ on Netflix and Amazon Prime

Tom Hanks winds up in the longest airport layover in the history of mankind in Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal (2004). He plays Viktor Navorsky, a traveler from the fictional Eastern European country of Krakozhia that, as fate would have it, dissolves between the time he boards his flight in Europe and arrives at JFK in […]

‘Napoleon Dynamite’ – high school eccentrics arise

Napoleon Dynamite (2004) is the quintessential high school misfit. Gawky and slack-faced under a red afro and windowpane glasses, Napoleon (Jon Heder) runs in a squatting shuffle, whines every single utterance, and punctuates his eternal disappointment with a sigh like a slow leak on a Mack Truck. With a fantasy inner life and an outsized […]

Leonardo DiCaprio is Howard Hughes in 'The Aviator,' directed by Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Aviator’ on Paramount+

The Aviator (2004), Martin Scorsese’s epic biography of the life of Howard Hughes, is his love-letter to the old-Hollywood bio-pic. This is high-style filmmaking wrapped up in a tormented hero whose soaring flights of greatness are matched by the mortal pull of his devils, which Scorsese establishes (perhaps too patly) in a childhood prologue bathed […]

Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx collide in ‘Collateral’ on Amazon Prime

Tom Cruise is well cast as a coldly efficient professional assassin and Jamie Foxx is excellent as the cabbie who picks unwittingly drives him to his targets in Michael Mann’s coolly attenuated thriller Collateral (2004). Mann is the king of crime movie professionalism and his characters are the best at what they do, consummate professionals […]

Matt Damon in 'The Bourne Identity' directed by Doug Liman

‘The Bourne Identity’ and ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ on Peacock

Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne is the anti-Bond of Hollywood action cinema. He’s almost emotionless when he clicks into gear and lets his training take over, like a killing machine suddenly switched on. Doug Liman directs The Bourne Identity (2002), an adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s novel (previously made as a TV movie with Richard Chamberlain) about […]

James Caviezel is Jesus in Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ'

‘The Passion of the Christ’ on Amazon Prime and free on Kanopy

The Passion of the Christ (2004), Mel Gibson’s passionate, personal, and visceral take on the final 12 hours of Christ’s life on Earth is, in its own way, as controversial as Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis’ The Last Temptation of Christ. Taking the Gospels as his source, Gibson creates his own cinematic version of […]

‘Steamboy’ – steampunk animation on Amazon Prime

Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 animated landmark Akira is one of the essential titles of cyberpunk cinema. With Steamboy (Japan, 2004), he steps to the industrial revolution of 1866 England to take on steampunk, a historical genre of science fiction with an alternate reality of scientific advancement. Idealistic boy inventor Ray Steam is happy to tinker over […]