movie reviewer Mike Parnell offers his “Top Ten” movies from 2004.

No. 1: “The Incredibles”
This is the best movie of the year. Most impressive is that “Incredibles” was marketed as a family movie, but there is so much going on under the radar in the script. It apparently takes a cartoon to discuss Ayn Rand’s philosophy … One fine movie.

No. 2: “Spider-Man 2”
Not just another comic-book superhero movie, but an example of tremendous moviemaking. “Spider-Man 2” continues the franchise in grand fashion. What happens when you get tired of doing what you are called to do? What happens when your calling gets in the way of a normal life? “Spider-Man 2” lets us see what it takes to live out “with great power comes great responsibility.”

No. 3: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”
Jim Carrey proves again he is better playing a character with pathos than the crazy, insane persona that we normally associate with him. Add to this a great Charlie Kaufman script that asks the question, “What do we do with our painful memories?” What if you could just wash them right out of your hair?

No. 4: “Ray”
Jamie Foxx delivers the performance of the year, and the movie is worth seeing just for the performance pieces. “Ray” tells us about Ray Charles’ ride on dope and fame, and how he tried to balance the two while having family and mistresses. It is warts and all, but worth watching.

No. 5: “The Terminal”
Here’s a movie that suffered because of poor marketing. The trailers portrayed it as a “coming to America” story, but it’s really about fulfilling a wish—which America is for many people. Tom Hanks plays a man stuck in an airport, but on a mission. This one was overlooked, but a great message.

No. 6: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”
This is the third movie in the series and the first without Chris Columbus directing. Alfonso Cuaron brings a darker vision of Harry’s third year at Hogwarts. What we see is that as Harry grows, so does the danger. This is a wonderful vision of a movie.

No. 7: “Miracle”
This movie tells the greatest sports story of the 20th century: the American Olympic hockey team’s 1980 win at Lake Placid. The movie takes us from team selection to winning the gold. For those who lived in that time, it makes us flash back to the moment when we believed in miracles.

No. 8: “Collateral”
Tom Cruise proves he can act when working with a director of strong vision. Michael Mann puts Cruise in a cab with Jamie Foxx on the streets of Los Angeles. Foxx plays a decent man, escorting villain hit-man Cruise. Foxx should be nominated for Best Supporting Actor for this role.

No. 9: “Sideways”
Alexander Payne proves he is the best writer-director currently working. His “Citizen Ruth,” “Election,” “About Schmidt” and now “Sideways” give us visions of people who are not bad, but also not good either. Here, Paul Giamatti and Thomas Hayden Church play friends who are running from life in the guise of a wine-tasting trip. They meet two women, and the story focuses on two men who do not want to grow up.

No. 10: “Hellboy”
This list leans heavily on comic-book movies, but this was the best popcorn flick of the year. Ron Perlman plays a demon liberated from hell—and in service of the government. Sounds crazy, but it’s a great ride of a movie.

Mike Parnell is pastor of Beth Car Baptist Church in Halifax, Va.

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