I must admit, there were many tiresomely bad movies in the first half of 2005. but just when cinema started to look pretty darn depressing, things picked up and it turned out to be a great year for film after all. There weren't too many soon-to-be classics, and it sure wasn't difficult to find contenders for the five worst movies, but all in all 2005 was a satisfying year for a film freak. And there are several promising features coming as I speak, some of which may well belong on this list too.
Movies as intelligent, touching and altogether wonderful as this one don't come around often. It's a joy watching such a simple movie with so overwhelmingly much to give. "Sideways" is a rich tale about life, mid-age crisis, friendship, love 's and wine. It's a profound, funny and completely unpretentious piece. Oh, what a wonderful feeling.
The best thing about this movie isn't the visual effects (which are fabulous) or the action (which is awesome) or the humor (which is great). It's the way the feature creates love between a woman and giant gorilla - love that's both convincing and beautiful. When Ann and Kong gaze tenderly into each others' eyes, you really believe its true 's and not a snicker from the audience.
War of the Worlds
This is a forceful, sci-fi/action-drama with entertainment written all over it. Packed with splendid visual effects and expertly shot action, "War of the Worlds" is a grand-scale movie, but at the same time a very intimate one. The film is incredibly well formulated and bursting at the seams with suspense, energy and oomph. The big-budget flick is a joy to watch again and again.
A touching, road-trip movie about existential self-discovery, "Broken Flowers" is at once subtle and in-your-face. Throughout this well-turned narrative, which glows with minute detail and delightfully understated humor, director Jim Jarmusch presents some of the most lovable, intriguing, sad and delightfully crazy characters I have seen in a movie this year. Bill Murray is wonderful.
With "3-Iron," notable South Korean director Kim Ki-duk has created an alluring and mesmerizing romantic drama. It's a mystical and strange love story with emotional depth and highly symbolic, spellbinding visuals. The two almost unearthly main characters are strikingly radiant together. The simplicity of the movie is captivating and the poignant and enigmatic narrative is really quite wonderful.
Alone in the Dark
Watch it and weep. "Alone in the Dark" is yet another crap-outlet from the worst director of our time. Uwe Boll makes terrible, terrible movies. In fact, "Alone in the Dark" would more accurately fit the definition of trash than film. Tara Reid as a scientist? Insane. How this director manages to keep making movies is one of the world's great unsolved mysteries.
"I'm a serious filmmaker. No, better yet: I'm an artist," Guy Ritchie is screaming at the top of his lungs. This crime/drama or something consists of endless speeches drenched in pseudo-philosophical gobbledygook. Suffering from delusions of ingenuity, this unoriginal piece lectures us on trivial truths with incredible persistence. The nonsense-overload is massive. This is nothing but stolen ideas and pompous egocentrism. Bwadr.
Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
I absolutely loathed this movie - plain as that. This is something so unbelievably horrid and sincerely unfunny, you can't believe your own eyes and ears. Incredibly gross and downright malicious gags stream endlessly across screen. There is at least one absurdly distasteful profanity in every sentence, which is kind of an accomplishment 's albeit the movie's only one.
Son Of The Mask
It says everything when you can enter the cinema with the lowest hopes possible, and still be unpleasantly surprised. This movie is obnoxious and embarrassing. There isn't the shadow of a decent joke in sight. It's doubtful that even toddlers will enjoy the movie since that sicko CGI-baby is seriously frightening.
Nothing really quite works for "Fantastic Four." There is the inept directing, the lousy storytelling, the bad casting, the poor CGI and the terrible acting to blame for this feature's total failure. Something actually has to happen for a movie to be entertaining - and nothing ever happens in "Fantastic Four." The movie is a disappointment of mammoth proportions.
One of the most frustrating things about living in Riga is the woeful lack of good films that get shown here. Aside from the odd film festival, there is hardly a way to see good European or world cinema. Even DVD rental shops deal almost exclusively in Hollywood. So given the circumstances, my five best films of the year are not a real reflection of the five best films of the year (I've at least read about some excellent-sounding films on the Internet). Films should only ever be judged for what they are trying to be, by which logic the following five films are extremely good.
Hirokazu Koreeda's film about four young siblings who are left to fend for themselves when their mother goes off to "work" for prolonged periods of time is a subtle, restrained and deeply disturbing work. Loosely based on a true story, the story focuses on how the siblings stick together and try to survive in their tiny Tokyo apartment with little or no money. It highlights alienation in modern society while showing the tenuous difference between the emotional state of children and adults.
The story of Hitler's final days is a real highpoint in recent German cinema. Countless films have dealt with Nazism, but few have been so bold as to give its chief architect a distinctly human and fragile face. "Downfall" is an utterly absorbing film that attempts to demystify Hitler and his closest aides, along with the millions of ordinary Germans who suffered because of them. A brilliant example of how valuable a part film can play in tackling historical subject matters.
If you ignore the obscene budget that it took to make "King Kong," this is the finest blockbuster to come out of Hollywood for a long time. Special effects haven't been put to such good use since "The Matrix." Peter Jackson's superb retelling of Kong can be enjoyed as jaw-dropping entertainment and as a multi-layered story that creates one of the most moving on-screen romances in recent years, even if it is between a woman and a giant sized ape.
A History of Violence
This is probably director David Cronenberg's finest film to date. "A History of Violence" poses as a mainstream film, just as its central characters seemingly belong to your average small-town American family. But this is a dark and nightmarish film that strips away perceptions to reveal a grotesque underside to life. Like David Lynch before him, Cronenberg has finally realized that nothing is more terrifying than so-called normalcy.
"Factotum" is no masterpiece. In fact, it's a distinctly flawed and rough film but that is why it is so immensely moving and inspiring. Matt Dillon gives the best performance of his career as Henry (aka Charles Bukowski), a laconic, hard-drinking, chain-smoking writer who just can't keep a job down. The film is beautifully observed and in places is almost Beckettian for the brutal beauty of its dialogue. An absolute joy to watch.
This film represents everything that is wrong with the world. I can't really condemn it in stronger words than that. It's a comedy, but it's hysterical rather than funny. In fact, it's verging on the psychotic. I understand that it's trying to stay in the cheesy spirit of the popular TV show it's based on, but we all know what really went on behind those picket fences that symbolize that non-existent golden era of America. Women were miserable, which is why they took solace in mindless and hysterical comedies like "Bewitched."
Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
It's almost cruel to knock this film. As Cervantes pointed out in the introduction to "Don Quixote," a work of art is like the child of its creator for it reveals all their flaws and faults. Rob Schneider, the mind behind Deuce Bigalow, is probably a nice enough man, despite the fact that he likes to laugh at invalids, blind people and anyone else afflicted by nature. He's probably planning the third installment right now, scouring the dictionary to find a word that rhymes with Bigalow. We wish him the best of luck.
The Dukes of Hazzard
I don't think I have suffered as much this year watching a film as I did sitting through this one. End of story.
Episode III 's Revenge of the Sith
This was actually the best of the new "Star Wars" trilogy, which is really saying something. When future historians want proof of just how hopelessly gullible and malleable people were from our period of history, they may well turn to the "Star Wars" franchise for proof. The first three films were atrocious but nostalgia blinded everyone to the fact. The next three were so bad as to defy belief, but everyone still went to see them anyway. The force was certainly with George Lucas on this one.
There were those who said this was the best film yet to be adapted from a computer game. I say why is anyone adapting films from computer games at all? "Doom" is a new level of dumb in film, if anything. I shudder to imagine the creative process that brought this computer game "to life." But then I grew up with Pac Man and Frogger, so what do I know?