Wednesday, January 04, 2006

MOVIES: Top Ten of 2005

I guess it's about time I got around to looking at the movies I watched in 2005, and seeing if I can cobble together a top ten. As always, I'm surprised by how many movies I missed that I'd really been looking forward to (like Broken Flowers, The Squid and the Whale, A History of Violence, and Jesus Is Magic), and I'm also surprised at how many more of the year's releases I wound up seeing on DVD than I thought I had (even though very few of those DVD viewings were especially great).

And now that I'm looking at a list of which 2005 releases I've seen (with my memory aided by this list -- which I found via Monty), I'm surprised once again to find that there are more candidates for a legitimate top ten than I would've expected. If push comes to shove, I guess this is how I'd break it down.

The Top Ten

1. The Devil's Rejects
I honestly tried to think of a reason not to put this at #1. Seriously, is this who I am? But if I'm going to be honest, I genuinely enjoyed this movie more than any other I saw this year. Is it, objectively speaking, the best made film? No, I can't pretend that it is. But for me, for who I am, for the great time I had in the theater, and for the additional enjoyment I got out of it when I bought the DVD, for an unabashed lover of all things horror: this was my favorite film of 2005. Make of that what you will.

2. Munich
Objectively speaking, this is the best made film I saw this year. Spielberg has created a brutal, brilliant, thoughtful and thought-provoking reflection on violence, and what drives men to it, and whether it can ever truly be justified.

3. King Kong
My gripes about its length aside, this is not only the best action film of the year, it's also got a real heart to it.

4. Sin City
With its amazing visual style, its hilariously hard-boiled dialogue, and its gleeful embrace of sex and violence, this most faithful comic book adaptation ever was sheer joy.

5. The Aristocrats
The movie that made me laugh more than any other in 2005. For a fan of stand-up comedy, it's a revelation, even if it mostly only reveals what kinds of filthy depravity comedians can imagine.

6. Serenity
In a fair world, this would have been the year's big sci-fi blockbuster, not George Lucas' latest corruption of the vision of his youth. Terrific action and a winning cast, and a satisfying conclusion (if it is the conclusion) to the Firefly saga.

7. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
There were some people who hated it for not being more faithful to the book. But I loved it. I loved the humor, I loved the cast, and I was genuinely surprised and thrilled by many of the visual effects.

8. Oldboy
Twisted, cruel, mesmerizing, stunning.

9. Walk the Line
Reese Witherspoon should win an Oscar, and Joaquin Phoenix was just as good in this biopic of a music legend.

10. Me and You and Everyone We Know
I didn't expect to like this film so much. Its skewed vision of the world turns things that should be shocking or offensive into oddly tender and innocent moments, and its love story between two misfits is touching and original.

A Few Runners-Up

The Upside of Anger: Great work from Joan Allen, Kevin Costner, and all four of the young actresses in this funny and moving story about a woman who wallows in her bitterness following a betrayal.

Kung Fu Hustle: A giddily cartoonish kung fu flick so far over the top, you can't even tell where the top ended.

George A. Romero's Land of the Dead: The least of Romero's four zombie flicks, but still more than worthy, and a delight for a horror buff like myself.

The 40 Year Old Virgin: Raunch with a heart. Steve Carell is awesome, as is Paul Rudd.

Wedding Crashers: Raunch without much of a heart. But still very funny.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The best Potter film yet.

The Ice Harvest: Darkly comic film noir with great performances from John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, and Oliver Platt.

Bad News Bears: Every bit as good as the original, with (to its credit) no effort made to soften up either the venal, abusive coach (Billy Bob again) or his foul-mouthed team of losers.

Wish I'd Waited For The DVD

Batman Begins: All the stuff with Bruce Wayne is great. The Batman stuff, not so much.
The Interpreter: Well-made, but nothing special.

Worthwhile DVD Rentals

Hitch: Mostly for the parts with Kevin James.
Havoc: Mostly for the parts with Anne Hathaway being naughty.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith: Pretty people blowing shit up. What's wrong with that?
Kicking and Screaming: Extremely juvenile, but Will Ferrell's always good for a laugh.
Madagascar: A favorite Christmas gift for my two-year-old niece. I think I'd like it even more if I had just once watched it without being forced to quit watching and play Candy Land in the middle of it.

Didn't Hate It

War of the Worlds: Though I sure did hate the ending.
Fantastic Four: I was feeling generous when I saw it.
Fever Pitch
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith: Still better than I and II combined, but the more I think of it, the less I like it.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Can't hold a candle to the Gene Wilder version, but not completely without merit.

Hated It

The Dukes of Hazzard

Worst Movie I Saw This Year

High Tension: The dumbest (and most ruinous to my opinion of the film) "twist" ending I've ever seen. Still, it's miles better than the worst movies of 2004, Butterfly Effect and The Grudge.

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