(prologue) As we can begin to hear the death rattle of the oughts, we in the third row decided to start on this continuing series throughout 2009 that will look back at our favorite films of each of the past ten years (2000-2009). This will ultimately culminate in a “ten best/favorites of the oughts” piece sometime in early 2010.
This is probably our most inaccurate list of this series so far. With so many titles in 2005 that were on the cusp of being legendary, it really watered down the list of potentials. With movies like Brick, Good Night and Good Luck, Match Point and Batman Begins to contend with, it’s hard to put together a consensus top five list. Especially considering there were quite a few under-seen gems that popped up from 2005 over the past few years (Squid and the Whale, Lady Vengeance, Tristram Shandy). Once all of the staples of the year grace one’s list, it’s hard to fill in the blanks with a common consensus with so many great titles flying around. But anyway, if nothing else 2005 is a year that delivers weeks of quality film watching and more than a few week’s worth of discussion and debate. So here’s RowThree remembering 2005…
How we came up with these lists is pretty simple. The same way in which we always do our annual top ten list, each of the admins here took our top five (plus two honorable mentions) of the assigned year and relegated a point system (with a bit of arbitrary) and came up with a consensus list of our top five favorite films for that year.
Before getting started, a few honorable mentions (besides the titles already mentioned above) that barely missed the cut, but on any other day could well have worked their way to #1:
Grizzly Man, Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Caché, Paradise Now, Pride & Prejudice
5) The Proposition
– A hard core, visually stunning but brutal Aussie western… covered in flies. This is a rough and tumble world captured perfectly by the camera to put the viewer as far from ease as possible. No discernible good guys and not even really anti-heroes. The viewer is plunged into a dark world and forced to sink or swim. With terrific performances by all involved, the movie examines contemporary emotions set against the early settlement history of Australia and the violence that ensued directly because of western civilization’s emergence. Written and scored by Nick Cave and directed beautifully by John Hillcoat, this is a film that took audiences by brutal surprise in 2005.
– – “Australia. What fresh hell is this?”
4) A History of Violence
– What makes A History of Violence so interesting is what it gives its audience as opposed to what the audience expects. It’s the perfect juxtaposition of small town drama melded with the typical machismo actioner. Which is real? One is merely an illusion and one is the underlying truth of a particular American family. The most explicit and rawest sex scenes of the year (with very little, if any, nudity) exemplify this sentiment in their two variations at the start of the film and nearer the end. Evil on the outside brings about the evil that has always existed on the inside. Actually a pretty fascinating film that manages to entertain as much as preach.
– – “This isn’t a completely dead eye, it still works a bit. The problem is, the only thing I can see with it is Joey Cusack, and it can see right through him.”
3) Brokeback Mountain
– A movie that at the time not only broke some obvious boundaries, but the title itself actually became the definition of anything remotely “gay.” The film itself transcended American society and became the film to talk about around the water cooler. “I wish I knew how to quit you” became the new “show me the money” and that alone says a lot about what the film accomplished. Raking in huge box office success and becoming a critical darling, everyone was beyond shocked (and even angry) when it lost the Oscar for best picture. Though a slow burn of a film, it executes everything a film should do perfectly both technically and thematically. Ledger’s performance underscores his brilliance while director Ang Lee couldn’t have realised this material any better, capturing with perfect balance the silences and the words, the darkness and the light and the comedy and tragedy. It is a mood piece that will haunt you for days.
– – “You ever get the feelin’… I don’t know, er… when you’re in town and someone looks at you all suspicious, like he knows? And then you go out on the pavement and everyone looks like they know too?”
2) The New World
– Poetry on screen. A visually stunning film with a wonderful, almost ambient score to back it up, The New World showcases a very realistic vision of what life must have been like to early settlers in what eventually became known as America. With little dialogue (especially for a 150 minute running time), the film speaks directly to one’s senses, as every great film should do. Malick’s brilliant sense of time and place makes the environment the most important character in the entire film. The green of the vegetation, the brown of the soil, the sound of the birds, etc.; these things communicate the kind of complex language that no amount of words could convey. Bale and Farrel might’ve been the initial draw for American audiences, but it is newcomer Q’Orianka Kilcher, who at age 15 is tremendous in her role as Pocohontas. A strikingly beautiful young woman, her non-verbal acting is truly something to behold. Not the film one would just pop in a whim, but prepared for Malckean goodness, one could argue that this is one of the most superbly crafted films of the decade.
– – “I thought it was dream… what we knew in the forest. It’s the only truth.”
1) Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
– The fact that this made #1 on this list pretty much invalidates the list right off the bat. Clearly not even close to being the best film of 2005, yet somehow it really resonates with everyone. It was a surprise sleeper with quality performances, a manipulative, yet unique, method of storytelling and editing. And most of all it is funny as hell. So while not the most amazing experience of the year, it managed to eek on to everyone’s final list and somehow managed to work its way to the top.
– – “Wow, I feel sore. I mean physically, not like a guy who’s angry in a movie in the 1950’s.”
We’ll see you in a couple weeks with our picks for 2006.