Anima's Best Movies of 2005
that time of year again, and as usual we critics line up to
spout out praises for our favorites, get in last minute retractions,
and take a few more parting cheap shots at those films that
were the cinematic equivalent to long fingernails scraped
across a classroom chalkboard.
15 for 2005:
– Heath Ledger deserves award recognition for his
stoic and moving performance as Ennis Del Mar. More importantly,
Ang Lee’s film is so endearing and monumentally affecting
that it taps into the very heart and soul of human love,
loss, and longing.
– Steven Spielberg’s film, like Ang Lee’s,
is an effort of polarizing insight and reflection. Fictionalizing
the events following the Black September attacks in Munich
in 1972, Spielberg crafts a tale that proves to be a relevant
commentary on the state of politics in a post-9/11 world.
Hustle and Flow
– Craig Brewer’s tale of homegrown hip-hop at
the hands of a former street pimp is more than it appears.
This is the ultimate testament to DIY craftsmanship, community
artisans, and remix culture-clashing. Not only is the film
punctuated by breakout performance by Terrance Howard, but
it also serves as a beacon and call out to all would-be
creators to pony up and produce before time wears you down.
Oldboy – This film slipped under
a lot of critics’ collective radar, but it deserves
a spot in the top 5 best of for 2005. Korean filmmaker Chan-wook
Park spins a yarn consisting of equal parts brain game revenge
thriller and Takashi Miike horror mind screw. Oldboy
speaks its language visually without ever cheating or failing
to serve up content behind the style.
The White Diamond – Fans of Werner
Herzog will likely question the placement of The White
Diamond here instead of the widely praised Grizzly
Man. Plain and simple, I failed to catch Grizzly
Man (ok, start throwing things), and The White
Diamond was so intriguing that it simply stuck to my
ribs and refused to let go. Herzog is such a poignant documentarian,
pushing for angles that even the subject doesn’t seem
to be cognizant of at times and never reluctant to explore
pain and possible failure.
Last Days – High School, for me,
was a steady diet of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, and Cobain’s
death was my equivalent to John Lennon...at the time. I
studied and searched for understanding within his suicide,
and Gus Van Sant’s Last Days feels like the
culmination of all of my searching in a reflective, if fictional,
recount of the singer’s final days on earth. This
is an artistic contemplation, falling right in line with
Gerry and Elephant, forming a trifecta
of American violence without exploiting Kurt or his legacy
in any way.
– Speaking of lacking exploitation, who would have
thought that someone like Robert Rodriguez would churn out
the definitive comic book adaptation, a rubric for coming
superhero films. Mickey Rourke’s Marv is pitch perfect,
in fact nearly every detail is rendered to Frank Miller
perfection. If you haven’t already, do yourself a
favor and pick up the “Recut, Extended, Unrated”
version that gives viewers the option of watching the Theatrical
Cut or the individual Graphic Novels in original sequencing.
Capote – It’s no doubt that Philip
Seymour Hoffman’s turn as Truman Capote will put him
in the forefront for an Academy Award come Oscar time, but
the film, overall, is a piece of work in and of itself.
A beautifully sterile widescreen snapshot of the interactions
between Truman Capote and killer Perry Smith that served
as inspiration for In Cold Blood, the novel that
sparked the true crime genre of modern fiction. Easily one
of the year’s best.
The Squid and the Whale – Noah Baumbach’s
painfully comedic tale of divorce and childhood trauma is
a see-saw of therapeutic ache, melancholy, and growing pains.
Baumbach brilliantly portrays his own dealings with parental
feuding with a keen eye for earnest, if brutal, sincerity.
Crash – Hot off of his success as
scribe for last year’s darling Million Dollar Baby,
it seems no surprise that Paul Haggis’ Altman-esque
portrayal of L.A. race relations, misunderstandings, and
ethnic clichés be in contention as one of the year’s
best this time around. It seems a little odd that the film
doesn’t have a bit more of a push behind it, but perhaps
it is a tough sell with Academy members. Either way, Crash
is compelling and moving to say the least.
– Lucky, lucky Christopher Nolan. Sure, Batman
Begins is easily the best entry into the bat-franchise,
reviving Warner Brothers in time for the upcoming Superman
Returns and priming the pump for a DC vs. Marvel film
standoff. The only thing is, Sin City has now given
viewers a taste of artful adaptations chock full of conviction
to source material. Where Batman Begins pays tribute
to collective sources, Sin City has a sole rooted
mythology to build up from. Despite this, it will be hard
for Warner Brothers to ignore Frank Miller’s take
on the Dark Knight much longer...
– Say what you will, Sam Mendes’ Jarhead is
effective. It is an anti-war film in the most “anti”
of formats in that the film is all about inaction, wasted
resources, and the feeling of utter uselessness. It doesn’t
aggrandize the events of the Gulf War, and it doesn’t
stand up and scream a blatant political message. Instead,
it weaves its message in subtleties.
A History of Violence
– Another comic
adaptation, this time from the mind of David Cronenberg.
After Spider, Cronenberg could have checked out
for a film or two, but instead chose to dig into a pulpy
source and find eerie was to creep us out while pulling
the rug out from under us in the process. William Hurt,
Ed Harris, and Viggo Mortensen all deliver.
– The film done in by a cell phone. Russell Crowe
really needs to focus on keeping his public life out of
the way of his career, because Cinderella Man is
an exquisite film about pugilist James Braddock, a depression
era boxer lucky enough to be given a second chance and manages
to pull himself up by the bootstraps and make history in
the process. Too bad Crowe couldn’t let one slide.
Walk the Line
– I really wrestled with this one...James Margold’s
Walk The Line is easily one of the “can’t
miss” films of the year. It isn’t merely coasting
on it’s laurels with Joaquin Phoenix’s turn
as Johnny Cash like Ray
did with Jamie Foxx’s performance. No, Walk The
Line is more than that, and yet there were so many
other films that placed ahead of it in my final breakdown.
Out of all the films in my top 15, this is the one I’m
most conflicted with, because it feels like it should be
higher up, but I can’t bring myself to make any changes.
So here it sits.
Went Ape For: King
Dream Come True: Wallace And Gromit: Curse
of the Were-Rabbit
It Didn’t Suck?: Red
By The Final Beat: War
of the Worlds
For Best Sex-Comedy: 40
Year Old Virgin and Wedding
Incorporation Of In-Theater Equivalent Of Rewind:
Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior
Use Of A Decent Screenwriter: Domino
Non-Adapted Superhero Film: Sky
Proof That Not Even Ben Kingsley Can Save A Film From Poor
Effects and Lazy Screenwriting: A
Sound of Thunder
5-Minute Video Game Sequence: Doom
Squandering Of Potential Franchise: Doom
Embarrassing Comeback Vehicle: Monster-In-Law
Embarrassing Performance: The
Socialite Death Sequence: House
Use Of A Cure Song Title: Just
Uncomfortable Film Screened: Into
Proof That Jennifer Garner Was Miscast: Elektra
Eager To Be The Next Indiana Jones Without Realizing That
There Will NEVER Be Another Indiana Jones: Sahara
Failed To Screen: The Aristocrats, Broken Flowers,
Dominion: The Prequel to the Exorcist, The Family Stone,
Grizzly Man, In Her Shoes, Junebug, Marebito, Match Point,
Reel Paradise, Syriana, Three...Extremes,