Short Cuts

Austin film -- top 10 with a bullet

Thirty-One Million, Five Hundred and Thirty-Six Thousand Seconds Dept.: But don't you think it felt like a helluva lot less? Yeah, us too. 2003 blurred by in a haze of "who'da thunk it?" moments, with 2002 barely shuttered before, um, we went to war. Right. So, OK, it wasn't all daffodils, puppy dogs, and birthday cakes elsewhere, but let's face it: Austin's film community has enjoyed a banner year and then some. It's not just that there are more and more major studio productions (and that goes double for indies, especially those of the homegrown variety) arriving in town on what often seems to be a daily basis, flush with cash (or the equivalent thereof) and desperate for the kind of skilled crew base Austin sports in droves. And it's not simply because Austin filmmakers have had a veritable field day at the national box office over the course of the past 12 months, although it's certainly beyond our powers to recall a previous year in which local directors so consistently scored boffo box office every time you blinked. And though legions of ravenous film fans might argue the point, it's not simply due to the raft of special screenings, premieres, and just plain cool film events that crowded the weeks and made clearing your schedule for a simple night at home nearly as unlikely as winning a date with Paris Hilton. (Not that you'd want to, but, dude, think of the footage you could get.) Like our friend Nicki said the other day, "It's like nirvana around here sometimes, except the post facilities charge more to do your transfers and the color correction's always a little bit off." Amen. In no particular order, then, here's our highly subjective Austin Film Top 10 List for 2003.

1) The Alamo Drafthouse(s) -- They breed so fast it's like Night of the Lepus around here, but with John Saxon, Jim Kelly, and Gordon Liu instead of Janet Leigh and her bountiful, bouncing bunnies.

2) Austin Studios -- Three years old and toddling no more. (Solid foods! Yesss!)

3) The University of Texas Film Institute -- UCLA? We don't need no stinkin' UCLA.

4) The Triple Header -- Late summer, early fall, Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, and Tim McCanlies all have their films -- School of Rock, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and Secondhand Lions -- in the box-office top 10, simultaneously.

5) Regal's Arbor Cinema reopens in a new-ish location -- still has that magical Arbor smell, too!

6) Incoming productions -- Diverting traffic near you! (But damn well worth it for the opportunity to chuck water balloons at Johnny Knoxville.)

7) Austin Festival exports -- We might as well be running Park City at this point.

8) Jason Archer and Paul Beck -- Former Waking Life animators win Latin Grammy, MTVla Video of the Year, save rain forest, baby seals, look good in suede. Taste the magic at www.jasonarcherpaulbeck.com.

9) Harry Knowles' Butt-Numb-a-Thon 5 -- If we hadn't seen it with our own eyes, we'd have plucked them out and cast them down, like Mel Gibson casting The Passion of the Christ before the assembled 230-strong throng. Scariest demon-baby ever. Messiest Alamo Drafthouse ever.

10) Freewheelin' -- Sorry Mel, Lars is God: www.alamodrafthouse.com/trailers/freewheelin.html.

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