Ahhhh, the new year is here and it is time to reflect on the year that has passed, and if you ask me it was a horrible year for movies… HORRIBLE! I can’t begin to tell you how jaded I began to get toward the endless number of bad films that continued to hit the movie theaters. Then came along my own personal savior in the form of Laremy Legel, the man that managed to save me from seeing so many bad films by lightening my load and maintaining my sanity.
Thanks to Laremy I did not have to see such films as Underclassman, The Honeymooners, Herbie: Fully Loaded and A Sound of Thunder. Around the time Stealth hit theaters I think I was on the verge of strangling everyone in Hollywood, but this is not the Worst of 2005, this is the Best of 2005. Trust me, the Worst is yet to come as this is only the beginning in a series of 2005 look-back articles and the 2006 looking forward articles are also in the hopper.
As for my ten favorite films of 2005 it was not an easy list to compile, I hated so many movies this year I had to dig and dig to find my favorites. This is also coupled with the fact that there were a few I missed, such as the following, in no particular order:
Most of the movies on that list are just there because I wished I had seen them, not because I felt they would have been in my tope ten. I also felt it was necessary to let you know that I had not seen everything that came out this year and a few movies may have actually made their way on my list. Unfortunately I am not yet Superman as I am still learning to control my powers. Hopefully 2006 will grant me a few additional movie-going secrets.
As for my list, we will start from the bottom and work our way up to the numero uno spot. I guarantee there are a few surprises in here. My picks are based on how much I enjoyed a film and how likely I would be to want to watch it again. Like most movie lovers seeing a movie once is not enough for me and based on DVD sales it seems a lot of people agree with me. Therefore I look at a movie not solely on how much I enjoyed the first time, but how likely I would be to like it a second, third and fourth. Does it have staying power in my eyes? The movies that made this list certainly have that power and then some, if you disagree please let me know using the Talk Back system at the end of the article. Let’s go!
#10 Walk the Line
I really don’t know what to say about this film, which is frustrating since it comes in at number ten and is the first opinion you are going to read. Joaquin Phoenix may be the best actor out there right now without an Oscar on his shelf and this is a statement I would not have made five years ago. He was mean and nasty in Gladiator, but Phoenix has grown so much as an actor that he only gets better and better with each film.
Speaking of getting better, the last time I enjoyed a Reese Witherspoon performance she was playing Miss Innocent in Cruel Intentions (a favorite of mine by the way). Reese goes so far beyond what we have come to expect from her in this flick that her performance and the film on a whole truly deserves our attention.
#9 Sin City
What can I say? This isn’t a perfect film. The decision to rip the pages from the graphic novel and bring them to life was revolutionary. The dialogue is fantastic, even if it provides for far too much narration over the film itself. I know bringing four stories together for one film is too much and the pacing of Sin City is all over the place, but I have watched this movie so many times on DVD already it is impossible for me to ignore it.
Sin City looks amazing and what Robert Rodriguez did in bringing the graphic novel to life is truly phenomenal. The introduction of his recut and extended edition of the film on DVD, breaking the four stories out into independent movies is revolutionary and the only way I will ever watch Sin City again.
#8 Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
The most underrated movie of 2005 is, without a doubt, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. WHY THE HELL DID NONE OF YOU GO SEE THIS MOVIE?
I did a massive spread after covering the press junket, I gave it a good review and yet it only brings in just over $4 million at the box-office and slowly fades off the face of the Earth. Hell, I even saw that Ain’t-It-Cool-News and CHUD posted articles asking you to go see it, begging you! But no one listened.
The alternate tagline for this film should have been “Don’t Do Drugs”. Because thanks to drugs audiences were deprived of Robert Downey Jr.’s talent for far too long. Let’s hope those days are over. When this hits DVD I see it becoming a major cult hit. Just wait, you’ll see. I am right on this one.
Ahhhh, speaking of underrated. Serenity is another film I absolutely adored and was upset when I saw that no one supported it in the theater. Serenity brought in only $25 million domestically and only $38 million worldwide, which makes it a decided disappointment for Universal, those involved and fans alike.
Serenity is a highly unique sci-fi/western that will certainly gain fans on DVD and will hopefully live on in one form or another, which most likely means made-for-TV movies, but something is better than nothing.
#6 Wedding Crashers / The 40 Year-Old Virgin (TIE)
It almost isn’t fair to have two comedies this good in one year. I only regret not seeing The 40 Year-Old Virgin in theaters, but now that I have seen it on DVD and revisited Wedding Crashers on DVD I can safely say these two movies are the funniest films of the year and equally funny at that.
Watching Wedding Crashers again and hearing Vince Vaughn say, “You motor-boating son-of-a-bitch,” a second time around is too funny to ignore. If you haven’t seen either of these films rush out and add them both to your DVD collection, you won’t regret it.
#5 Cinderella Man
My list seems to be made of underdogs as I go through it as yet another [unexplainable] box-office disappointment finds its way into my top ten. I am still struggling to figure out why Cinderella Man did so poorly. Do audience members really hate Russell Crowe so much that they will not go see a movie he is in regardless of how good people say it is?
Why this film failed is beyond me, but it is a classic in my book.
Did I mention that I seem to like films American audience members didn’t seem to take to? Jarhead falls into that category as well, but I have a feeling I know why this one didn’t do so hot.
I think there is a large group of people out there that are not interested in “another war movie” and I think there is a group out there that was primed to see “more war”. What happens is that the “more war” audience was upset this isn’t your stereotypical war film and the audience not interested in seeing “another war movie” missed out because Jarhead is not just “another war movie”. This is the anti-“another war movie”, this is a film that will rack your brain. This one makes you think as you become emotionally involved with all the characters on screen. You also get performances by Jamie Foxx and Peter Sarsgaard that are easily two of the best performances of the year regardless of whether or not they are recognized by the Academy.
Sam Mendes also made good use of shooting this film going all digital. This style of shooting gave Collateral its unique look and with Jarhead it does just the same and creates for a beautiful palette of colors that left me in awe.
#3 Pride and Prejudice
So after all those films it might surprise you that a romantic drama would find its way into my top three, but I will tell you it was hard not to put this one up at number one. Pride and Prejudice is damned near perfect in every way. If you are a regular visitor of the site you already know that I think Keira Knightley is one of God’s gifts to man, but on top of her looks she provides a performance to remember as do the young actresses playing her sisters in this film, namely Jena Malone and Rosamund Pike.
It is a hard thing to bring another Jane Austen novel to the big screen and not have fanatics clamoring for your head on a platter, but director Joe Wright was fearless in telling this story making Pride and Prejudice one of the best of the year.
Here we have my one pick that is certain to have people a bit confused. Constantine? CONSTANTINE!?!? I can already hear you shouting in my ear.
Yes, I know Keanu Reeves is a bad actor, but this guy makes the best choices in movies! Somehow he manages to get into films perfect for his wooden acting style, films that don’t depend on a strong lead actor thanks to the fact that the story is so good. I was intrigued by this story, the battle between God and the Devil has always appealed to me, which is really the reason I loved this film so much.
Granted, this film would have been far better had a better actor been cast in the lead role, but Reeves was enough for me to be satisfied. On top of that Rachel Weisz is phenomenal and Peter Stormare as the Devil is only too good to be true.
#1 Batman Begins
Finally we come to numero uno. The cream of the crop. Batman Begins. You may wonder why I chose a picture of the Scarecrow for my picture to represent this film, and to tell you the truth it wasn’t Batman that made this movie for me. It was Cillian Murphy, Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman and the back-story that made Batman Begins so good.
Seeing a man fly around in a bat suit is all good, but Batman Begins went where no comic book adaptation has truly gone before. It went into the lives of those involved in a dramatic and adult way. The X-Men series of films is close to doing the same thing, which has made it so good, but this one goes a step further. You really get an idea of who Bruce Wayne is, you realize the true evil that is Jonathan Crane (Murphy) and you see that Batman isn’t some man with super powers, he is a man first, hero second as are his foes, they are men with evil intentions.
I could sell you this movie all day long, but I don’t have to, go buy it and find out for yourself.
Yeah, I do have some honorable mentions, some films that could have easily been on the list, there just isn’t enough room. Hell I squeezed 11 films into my top ten, what more can you ask for?
These aren’t exactly surprising choices, but four of these six break the rule I brought up earlier. I wouldn’t care to see them again.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Syriana are the only two on this list I would actually want to see again, and I only want to see Syriana again to get a better idea for what the hell is going on in that movie. I liked it, but I know I missed something that would make me like it even more.
As for the other four, they are simply good films, but just not good enough for me to add to the list. North Country has a powerful performance by Charlize Theron, Everything is Illuminated definitely wins for quirky film of the year, Munich is just too damn long and Brokeback Mountain just didn’t do it for me as much as it did for other critics.
If you haven’t read Laremy’s Top Ten Movies of 2005 you can do so right here, and stay tuned as there are more looks back at 2005 to come as well as a look forward at our most anticipated films of 2006. It will hopefully be a great new year!