Tuesday, January 03, 2006
2005 Top Ten Movies
After reading the year’s top ten lists from a number of film critics whom I respect, including Richard Corliss, David Ansen and Roger Ebert, I have decided to compile my own list of best films from the past year. I do so not having seen A History of Violence, a film that has landed on most critics’ lists, and I omit Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, a very flawed film but one which I enjoyed immensely.
Instead of rating them one through ten, starting with the best and moving down the list, I will merely offer, in alphabetical order, my ten favorite from 2005:
Capote – A film not only about the eccentric writer himself, but about the writing of the book In Cold Blood, still one of the most chilling written by an American author. Capote trivia: his assistant on In Cold Blood was Harper Lee, the woman who wrote another of the 20th Century's most important books, To Kill a Mockingbird.
Crash – Writer Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby, one of my favorite films of 2004) boldly tackles tough questions about racial prejudice as writer and director of this tightly written and superbly cast motion picture.
The Constant Gardner – Adapted from the novel by John Le Carre, this taut thriller features a powerful performance by Ralph Fiennes and wholly exceeded my expectations.
Good Night and Good Luck – A terrific jazz soundtrack backs a provocative and intense telling of the on-air battle between Senator Joseph McCarthy and CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow, played with riveting power by David Strathairn. Strathairn and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Capote) give the year's finest motion picture performances.
King Kong – Three terrific hours spent at the movies, Kong is everything a Saturday afternoon matinee should be.
Munich – This is a superbly directed thriller with a fine cast, and although I recognize it as a superb film, I cannot say that I particularly enjoyed the taste this one left in my mouth. Still, an important film for 2005, directed by Spielberg at the top of his game.
The Squid and the Whale – It was great to see Jeff Daniels flexing his acting muscles in this bitter tale of a family disintegrating under the weight of a bitter divorce.
Stay – Yes, I am actually including this one on my top ten list. And yes, I enjoyed it very much. Marc Forster (Finding Neverland) helms a capable cast led my Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts. And if anyone has any idea as to what on earth this movie was about, please let me know.
Syriana – This is George Clooney’s year. Syriana is a thinking man’s thriller which requires multiple viewings to truly appreciate. Writer/director Stephen Gaghan (Traffic) spins a tight, thought-provoking and tragic tale about big oil and international politics.
Wallace and Gromit and the Curse of the Wererabbit – One of those movies that delivers pure joy, moment by moment; the best family film of the year.
Among the biggest disappointments at the cinema this year were:
Herbie: Fully Loaded -- Despite a decent cast, this reincarnation of the beloved Love Bug offers none of the magic of the 1970s Herbie films.
The Fantastic Four – Considering what has been done in recent years with the X-Men, Spider-Man and Batman, this super hero flick could have been much better.
Elizabethtown – I enjoyed this latest offering from Cameron Crowe, but somehow never fully connected with this one. I don’t know if it was the script or the performances by Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom; either way this movie (despite a fantastic soundtrack) left me flat.
Chicken Little – This is a mediocre film from the folks at Disney and a reminder that the mouse should have never split with the whiz kids over at Pixar.