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2003 Milk Plus Droogies

Best Picture
Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Director
Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Actor (tie)
Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean

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Bill Murray, Lost in Translation

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Uma Thurman, Kill Bill Vol. I

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David Hyde Pierce, Down With Love

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Miranda Richardson, Spider

Best Screenplay
Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation

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Irreversible

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Harris Savides, Gerry

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The Blog:
Saturday, March 30, 2002
 
I don't have much to add to the Panic Room discussion since we all seem to agree that it's an exceptionally well made thriller that works within the confines of the genre to prove that Fincher is a most excellent craftsman. I'll just make a couple points that I found interesting about the movie. First of all, I like the way Foster's character was shown as a woman who had been so stifled by a patriarchal, rich, older husband that she barely knew which end was up when she moved in the house. Over the course of the night she got her strength and independence back, and when the roles were reversed -- the father was a beaten, crippled, bloody, helpless mess in a chair while Meg controlled the family -- she proved to be a woman who could once again feel alive through action. It's a nice feminist story and an indictment of the subservience women often feel when relegated to the role of dutiless housewife to a rich businessman.

Another thing I liked about the movie was the subtle anti-gun, liberal message in the script. Screenwriter David Koepp did this more overtly in The Trigger Effect, which he also directed, but I like how he has the weapons that the crooks bring into the house used against them. A lot of pro-gun right-wingers think that having a gun makes you safer, but the opponents argue that just the existence of one will mean it could be used against you. The crooks bring a gun and a sledgehammer into the house, and Foster uses them both to defeat them.

As a Kubrick fan, I loved that Fincher directly referenced him twice -- first in the shot of Yoakam limping along carrying the sledgehammer in front of the floor light (taken right out of The Shining) and then when Whitaker's money swirls around him in the wind, which is the last shot of The Killing. The great directors always know who the other great directors are. After Kubrick, the director clearly most often referenced by Fincher is Hitchcock, and this is the best Hitchcock film since With a Friend Like Harry or Suture.

Fincher usually gets great performances from his actors, and this film was no different. I think Foster was at her best since The Accused. Funny, sympathetic, physical, and intelligent. I bought her character and every reaction she had. I also loved Leto, who delivered some questionable dialogue with a lot of humor. Whitaker and Yoakam were dependably good, and I also liked the daughter who looked a hell of a lot like a boy. Visuals were obviously brilliant. Sound design and editing also top notch. Like Tobias says, I'd have liked a little more Funny Games-style subtext, which is still a better home invasion movie, but Panic Room is a damn sight more suspenseful than almost any recent Hollywood film I can think of. As Alec Baldwin on Friends would say, "Aces!"