WHO'S BETTER, WHO'S BEST:
TOP MOVIES 2005
My latest DVD column for the Oni Press site is now online. Read the new "Can You Picture That?" and absorb my thoughts on the extended DVDs of Sin City and Hellboy.
And with that up, what better time than now to post my list of my top 25 movies of 2005? And about time, too. It's been weeks since I did my music list.
I am going to cheat on this list in several ways. For one, production dates aren't going to be strictly observed, as so many foreign movies take so long to find their way to America. So, I am working from films I saw this year either in the theatre or on DVD that were released in the U.S. in the last twelve months. Thus, despite having seen 2046 on a Chinese DVD in 2004, it shows up here. 2046 is also part of breeching another rule of etiquette as far as these lists are concerned. I am going with two ties for the top spots. I honestly couldn't decide between them, and I think as my explanations will demonstrate, there are things about the movies in question that make them fit together.
Both of these films were romantic and spiritual, while also portraying a unique vision that wasn't as concerned with conventional storytelling as it was in following the whims of the heart. Both are stunning to look at, and both defy expectations at every turn. There were no two more rewarding experiences at the movies this year.
George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh have done some incredible work with their Section Eight production company. This year they put it all on the line with two creative and daring political movies that were neither simplistic nor jingoistic. They had their points, sure, but you had to puzzle them out for yourself, and even if you didn't want to think about what it all means, you probably enjoyed yourself anyway.
3. The Best of Youth, dir. Marco Tullio Giordana (Italy) - Nearly seven hours long, this epic story of one family spans decades without ever growing weary. It's about how life repeats, how connections continually insist themselves into being noticed, and that how we relate to one another is all that matters once the day is done.
4. The 40-Year-Old Virgin, dir. Judd Apatow (U.S.) - This crass comedy is on here for one reason only: it made me laugh from start to finish. A rarity these days.
5. Broken Flowers, dir. Jim Jarmusch (U.S.) - Jarmusch is a distinctive auteur obsessed with the things unsaid and undone. In Broken Flowers, he tells a tale of a man who has loved and left countless women over his lifetime, and when one of them anonymously writes to inform him that he has a son, he is forced to revisit his past to reconnect to something he never realized he was missing. Bill Murray gives yet another brilliant performance, working towards an answer to the emptiness an older man is forced to confront as his life wears on.
6. Reconstruction, dir. Christoffer Boe (Denmark) - A writer suspects his wife of infidelity, and rather than succumb to the nagging suspicions in his head, he sits down and begins to write about them. As he changes the course of action for his characters, so too are the real-life people affected. Or are they? Is this a warped reality, or merely a filmmaker playing with the fabric of story? However you choose to see it, Reconstruction is an engrossing and playful meditation on emotion and the creative process.
7. Saraband, dir. Ingmar Bergman (Sweden) - In what may be his last film, Bergman returns to one of his best, Scenes from a Marriage, making a sequel where the decades have passed and bringing the characters into the present. Saraband is every bit as natural and honest as its predecessor, continuing and building on the original without being repetitive. The very definition of what a sequel should be.
8. In The Realms of the Unreal: The Mystery of Henry Darger, dir. Jessica Yu (U.S.) - A lot of the films on this list are about the creative process, seeking to divine how an artist's work reflects and influences his life. Yu's film is a documentary about a very real and very mysterious creative personality, Henry Darger, who died unknown, leaving behind a huge body of interconnected work, both visual and prose. Yu uses the art to try to piece together an image of the man.
9. Brokeback Mountain, dir. Ang Lee (U.S.) - A very human story where the question becomes what is more dangerous: suppressing one's feelings or releasing them in a world that may not understand?
10. Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic, dir. Liam Lynch (U.S.) - A hilarious send-up of P.C. values that manages to remain humanist while being wholly offensive. Silverman has a keen mind and a fearless urge to give it expression.
11. Memories of Murder, dir. Joon-ho Bong (Korea)
12. Munich, dir. Steven Spielberg (U.S.)
13. Not on the Lips, dir. Alain Resnais (France)
14. Howl's Moving Castle, dir. Hayao Miyazaki (Japan)
15. Happy Endings, dir. Don Roos (U.S.)
16. Heights, dir. Chris Terrio (U.S.)
17. Kontroll, dir. Nimród Antal (Hungary)
18. The Aristocrats, dir. Paul Provenza (U.S.)
19. Capote, dir. Bennett Miller (U.S.)
20. 5X2, dir. Francois Ozon (France)
21. Mr. & Mrs. Smith, dir. Doug Liman (U.S.)
22. Sin City, dir. Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller (U.S.)
23. Untold Scandal, dir. Je-yong Lee (Korea)
24. Melinda & Melinda, dir. Woody Allen (U.S.)
25. Wedding Crashers, dir. David Dobkin (U.S.)
One movie I haven't had a chance to see yet that would likely make this list is the new film from Hsiao-hsien Hou, Cafe Lumiere. Once I get a chance to check it out, though, I will write my impressions here.
Current Soundtrack: XTC, Oranges & Lemons
Current Mood: pissed off (don't ask at what, I just am; if you don't know, it means you didn't do it)
[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2005 Jamie S.