So begins a brand new year, and with bringing in a new year, it is inevitable that we must pick apart the year we just endured. If you read this column, you know that there is plenty to pick apart: box-office results, websites, trailers and the best and worst of the movie news items. So I'm going to sit down with a full pack of cigarettes and a full box of Cheez-It's and dive head-first into all 41 of my The Week in Review columns and pick out the best and the worst in every category: box office performance, official websites for new movies, trailers and the Best and Worst News of the YEAR. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Of course it does.

BOX OFFICE CORNER 2004 BREAKDOWN

Of course, some movies will still be earning money towards their grosses in the new year, and movies like Meet the Fockers, The Polar Express and National Treasure could move up a few spots in the yearly rankings (as of now, they are 8th, 10th and 11th respectively). Still, barring a Passion-like miracle, the box office king for the year is definitely Shrek 2.

The Dreamworks sequel took in a whopping $441.2 million this year, which is good for 3rd best of all time behind Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (that extra run in 1997 sure did help, eh?) and Titanic. The hefty green ogre also had the highest opening weekend of the year with just over $108 million, which is good for 2nd best all-time behind Spider-Man's $114.8 million in 2002, and it was also released in the most theaters of all-time, showing in 4,163 theaters.

All together there were 21 flicks that surpassed the $100 million mark, and there will likely be a 22nd added to the list shortly, because Lemony Snickett's A Series of Unfortunate Events is sitting at $94.7 million after only 3 weeks of release. While you have to admire the massive grosses of Shrek 2, Spider-Man 2 and The Passion of the Christ, which finished 1-2-3 in the yearly rankings, another movie is well worthy of recognition.

This movie opened in only 6 theaters its opening weekend and it is currently #63 in the yearly rankings. Napoleon Dynamite's run, however, is still impressive nonetheless. The comedy is still in over 100 theaters, and it was released almost 6 months ago! It's even on DVD already and it's still in over 100 theaters. Speaking of DVD, it blew up the DVD charts, taking in $9.8 million in sales and rentals during its first week. It has currently made $44.3 million in the theaters and it was shot on a miniscule budget of $400,000. It made its money relying almost totally on word-of-mouth, and on some great reviews (71% "Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes), and the theater counts kept shooting up until late September. Even after it peaked, it didn't really decline that much. Excluding the Christmas weekend, which was the weekend after it premiered on DVD, the biggest decline Napoleon suffered was 36%. Most studio execs would kill for a decline that small, yet that was the BIGGEST decline Napoleon suffered. This year, there were even 2 movies that earned over $120 million and DIDN'T make a profit (Troy, Van Helsing). Sure, I will tip my hat to all the big winners of the year, even Fahrenheit 9/11 which made more money than any documentary in history. These movies had a ton of help, though, with millions upon millions in marketing campaigns that made sure every human being heard about their movie. But I respect a little flick like Napoleon that crawled and scratched its way through the theaters and that made money almost entirely because people liked it, not because people simply heard about it.

GOING LIVE 2004 BREAKDOWN

When I first put this column together, this section was not a part of my initial plans, but when Mr. Balchack suggested I do something like this for my column, and it's turned out pretty good, although this section usually frustrates me more than the rest, simply because of the lack of effort taken on some of these websites that I check out.

These websites can be broken down into 3 basic categories: Creative and Original, Typical and Horrendous. Creative and Original are obviously the best sites and they have an enormous amount of thought put into it, with interactive elements that really gets the surfer involved in the site. Typical sites all have the same categories in the sites. There is almost always a Cast/Crew section, About the Film section, Photo section, Download section, a Synopsis section and a link for the surfer to sign up and register for updates. Some sites might have a few more sections (some have Press Kits which are always cool) but they are normally all about the same. The Horrendous sites are obviously the worst and they usually have absolutely no content but they're thrown on the Net anyway. They might the title on the only page there, and maybe even a picture and usually the words "Full Site Coming Soon" or something like that, but their still worthless. Teaser websites just don't make sense to me, but they're out there. So I will give you an example of each of these categories, with my Best Official Website of the Year Most Average Website of the Year and Worst Website of the Year.

BEST OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE YEAR

It was a rather tough decision because there were 4 quality sites to choose from in The Bourne Supremacy (http://www.thebournesupremacy.com/), The Chronicles of Riddick (http://www.thechroniclesofriddick.com/), National Treasure (http://nationaltreasure.movies.go.com/) and the upcoming Are We There Yet? (http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/arewethereyet/). They all offer browsers many interactive games to play and other great things to look at. But I think the best site of the year goes to the Are We There Yet site at http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/arewethereyet/. The thing that sets this site apart from the rest is the fact that the actual cast is involved with the website. Not in the form of a letter to fans or something like that, but their physically seen in video feeds throughout the site, introducing all of the sections. While the previously mentioned sites are all wonderful sites with some great games to play, I think this site slightly stands out because of Ice Cube and the kids participation with the site. I hope we see more of this sort of thing in the new year, because I thought it was just great.

MOST AVERAGE SITE OF THE YEAR

I honestly don't have a lot of options for this category, because older sites that were previously considered average when I wrote about them, were updated, so I had to pick a newer site for this category. This site does fit the category well, though, and my pick for Most Average Site of the Year goes to the Son of the Mask site at http://www.sonofthemask.com. You get the regular stuff here at the bottom of the site: the trailer, a photo gallery, a brief synopsis, some downloads and a couple of games. When you click on each character in the middle, you get a tiny bio of the actor. It's a decent site with some nice style, and a couple of corny games. They make a nice effort here with the site, but greater efforts have been made.

WORST SITE OF THE YEAR

The three main sites I had picked for possible Worst Site of the Year had been updated significantly, so maybe this section has been doing some good after all, eh? But, when I looked at some other possibilities for this pick, two pretty bad sites had not been updated, and, conveniently enough, they are both sites for Sony movies: Bewitched at http://sonypictures.com/movies/bewitched/ and xXx 2: State of the Union at http://sonypictures.com/movies/triplex2/. These sites both have the trailers to the movie and... umm that's it. Oh sure, you can register for updates. I forgot about that. These sites are both pratically the same, and they're both just the worst sites of the year.

TRAILER PARK 2004 BREAKDOWN

This section is probably the most time consuming, or at least it used to be. I had a very slow computer and these trailers would load rather slow, and sometimes the sound would even clip out on me! But I have a new computer now, and that should all change. Trailers are supposed to get the viewer excited for seeing that particular movie. With that in mind, I'm giving out 3 awards in this category: Best Trailer of the Year, Worst Trailer of the Year and Best Trailer for a Bad Movie, which is the trailer that gave us false hopes in the trailer in which the actual movie sucked, which is much worse than seeing a bad trailer. Here we go.

BEST TRAILER OF THE YEAR

This year saw one of the most highly anticipated trailers of all-time in the Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith trailer, which was a wonderful trailer. My choice for the Best Trailer of the Year, though, is The Assassination of Richard Nixon. This trailer is phenomenal, giving us just enough plot info to get us pumped up for this flick, it shows us some lofty words of praise from some top critics and, best of all, shows us one of the best actors of all time, Sean Penn, who looks to deliver another towering performance. There were truly some great trailers this year, but this one tops them all.

Honorable Mentions: White Noise, Ray, Undertaking Betty, Collateral.

WORST TRAILER OF THE YEAR

While there surely were some great trailers this year, there were also quite a few terrible ones. I am going to have to pick National Lampoon's Gold Diggers. This trailer was utterly retarded, and it's clear National Lampoon is going right back downhill after a brief stint of decency with Van Wilder. I just can't believe that they're putting The Sherminator and that dude from Boy Meets World on the topline. The story looks horrible, as does the acting and every other possible facet of this movie.

BEST TRAILER FOR A BAD MOVIE

There were a few trailers that were able to trick me into going to see some bad or disappointing movies. It was a very close call here, but I'm going to have to pick the Anchorman trailer as being the most deceitful. I laughed my balls off when I saw the trailer...each and every time I saw the trailer, but when I saw the movie, nearly EVERY funny part from the trailer could not be found in the actual movie. What we were left with was a collection of goofball moments of Will Ferrell overacting the crap out of his Ron Burgundy role in a most unfunny fashion. If anything redeemed the movie, it was Steve Carrell's wonderfully offbeat performance, but I wasn't expecting that. I was expecting to see the true comic genius that I kept hearing people tell me about, but wasn't convinced of. What I got was another disappointment.

Honorable Mentions: Open Water and King Arthur

BEST NEWS OF THE YEAR

So many news bits to choose from...and so few cigarettes and Cheez-It's left...so this column must come to an end. After reviewing all of my Best News of the Week picks, it was a very tough choice to pick a Best News of the Year. A choice must be made, though, and after some deliberation, I'm going to have to select (drumroll) the dynamic duo of Christian Bale and David Ayer pairing up for Harsh Times as my Best News of the Year. David Ayer is a wonderful writer who is surely deserving of getting a directorial stint. Christian Bale has given us some great performances in movies most have never heard of (See: Equilibriium and Laurel Canyon). I think this news item has the best chance to turn into a great movie out of any other item this year.

Honorable Mentions: Richard Linklater helming Bad News Bears, Scott Frank's directorial debut

WORST NEWS OF THE YEAR

It's time for the cream of the flop, the worst of the worst. This one was a little harder to choose, because there were 4 items that really chapped my hide. But, of course, a decision must be made and the Worst News of the Year goes to (drumroll) Rob Reiner's takeover on Ted Griffin's Graduate remake flick. This item took the lead in this category after I saw Ocean's 12, and how sorely that flick missed Ted Griffin. I don't know for a fact that he didn't write Ocean's 12 because he was supposed to write and direct this project, now titled Rumor Has It, but I can assume that was the case. I was really looking forward to Griffin directing here. His scripts for Ocean's 11 and Matchstick Men were simply wonderful and I really wanted to see what he could do at the helm. But, 10 days after shooting resumed, he was fired and almost immediately replaced by Rob Reiner. Reiner has been more of an "actor" than a director in the past 12 years or so, because 12 years ago was when he had his last good movie as a director, A Few Good Men. This just really pissed me off when I heard about it, and it pisses me off even more now because, he should've done Ocean's 12 and held off on this project. Now, Ocean's 12 sucked, and Reiner is at the helm, thankfully with Griffin's script that I hope won't get overly butchered. It just doesn't get any worse than this, but here are some items that came close.

Honorable Mentions: Sci Fi Channel's documentary debacle about M. Night Shyamalan, The highly overrated Eli Roth's retarded new project and a movie called The Easter Egg Escapade.

Well, that's all folks. Thanks for stopping by to my big old Year in Review. Swing on next Monday for a new batch of news bits, box office stats, websites, trailers and the first candidates for 2005's Best and Worst News of the Year. Take care folks, and always remember, if it looks like a good time, feels like a good time and sounds like a good time...it's probably not free.

Cinemark Movie Club