Inspired by Dave Hicks’ excellent blog, I have decided to write about my favorite film for each year from 1926-2008.

2004: Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood)

A tough year for me to choose. The re-issue of the Samuel Fuller film The Big Red One really blew me away. But I finally gave the year to Clint, as he strikes me as a model of simplicity, modest craftsmanship and intelligence that is so special in today’s landscape.

Generally I like more audacious cinema, and I often find myself wowed and inspired by some of the medium’s great stylists. But minimalism and simplicity at the height of post-modernism also feels most welcome. I won’t deny that this one can be overly sentimental at times. But it also has real heart, three strong performances (Eastwood, Freeman and Swank) and a really nice look.

I keep wondering who will carry on this tradition of classicism and professionalism once Clint is gone. Please, I welcome all comers.

What moviemakers can learn: Keep the ingredients fresh and simple. In other words: Good acting and good story. Can it really be that basic?

Other contenders for 2004: From this year, I still have some titles to see. These include: Pedro Almodóvar’s Bad Education, Zhuangzhuang Tian’s Springtime in a Small Town and Alain Resnais’ Not on the Lips. I love Hong Sang-soo’s Woman Is the Future of Man. And my closest runner-up is Samuel Fuller’s The Big Red One – The Reconstruction.

After living in Los Angeles for seven years, Jeffrey Goodman returned to his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana to direct The Last Lullaby. Co-written by the creator of Road to Perdition, and starring Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander, The Last Lullaby was filmed entirely in and around Shreveport and financed by 48 local investors. Goodman is now at work raising money for his next feature, Peril.