Friday, January 06, 2006

Top 10 movies of 2005 (Finally!)

Okay, finally. Here is my top ten list of 2005. Now, there were a few self imposed rules that I had to make in order to compile this list. Some of the films on this list were released in their native country in 2004. Though initially I was going to exclude them, they did in fact inform my 2005 viewing experience. Sadly, this means a few films that came around for festivals last year (Wild Side would have certainly found its place near the top of this list, had I not seen it last year at a film festival).

1.Tropical Malady

Tropical Malady was by far the best film I saw this year. At the film's close, I was left in an utter state of disbelief of the images I saw play across the screen. Of course, the parallel of predatorial carnality to sexual desire is one of my main areas of focus, but this film takes the top place on my list as I know I will never forget the breathtaking images the film presents.

2. Cache

Michael Haneke's restrained magnum opus takes on percolating race relations, societal structures, and clasisct guilt. He masters the difficult task of altering cinematic points of view. It is with a far less treacherous hand that Haneke leads us through the traumatic surveillance of a middle aged Bobo couple with a not-too-clean past. He squeezes fantastically apt performances out of both Auteuil and Binoche.

3. Transporter 2

By far the most honest film of the year, Transporter 2 took the time to ask just what the audience expected from it. The answer - tits, explosions, outrageous car chases, explosions, big guns and some car chases. Statham might be the last action hero with ethics (not morals, these are two very different things). It was the only film that made me jump from my seat laughing and cheering this year. The scenes are so fantastically choreographed that one cannot help but smile wide-eyed and allow the child like glee of destruction and acrobatics to take their course.

4. A History of Violence

The complete antithesis to the aforementioned title (sort of), Cronenberg's newest and most restrained effort has been likened to the director's Chinatown and this simile is not without merit. The film is a precise exploration of the excitement we feel as we watch mediated violence. It exposes the inherent violence at the heart of American culture. But it does not take a holier than thou approach to the subject matter. Cronenberg's knowledge of how to incite an audience with disruptively violent events and his willingness to show the aftermath of these events are the reasons that the film works.

5. Grizzly Man

In this doco crazy time, when a documentary that comes out that transcends the of circumstance of its subject (which, admittedly as a cynical reaction, but when I first read the account of the now infamous Timothy Treadwell in a sardonic newspaper, you could help but guffaw at the idiocy of the circumstances) and allows the story to become a parable of...well, many things. Herzog's hand in the editing of the footage is masterful and his kind (can you believe it?) voice allows Treadwell the respect that most filmmakers would probably have happened over. Because of its personal approach, Grizzly Man is certainly one of the best documentaries in the last few years, and, dare I say it, one of Herzog's best.

6. Brokeback Mountain

Ang Lee's box office smash is not the landmark it claims to be, but neither is it unremarkable. The film is a beautiful ode to nostalgia - decimating the cowboy with subtle, passive aggressive props (a newer tent, an electric cutting knife). Our lovesick cowpolks are well acted, particularly Ledger who embodies the sad mythos of the lonesome cowboy with a fresh (and sexy) contemporary flair.

7. Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit

By far the funniest film I saw this year was the bad pun heavy homage to old Hammer horror by way of claymation brits. I have little to say about the film, really. It is creative and exciting, unlike most pathetic children's movies - or really, adult movies whose accoutrements are marketed towards kids.

8. Last Days

The surprise film of the year was probably Gus Van Sant's latest offering. After all of the angry grungies, the film held a bad vibe, but after seeing the film I realized it really isn't about Cobain really, but about rock itself and its power as a religious force. The film is lop sided and has long sequences that it ultimately could have done without, but ultimately, this is the overall point of the film, that it, just like rock music, is an uneven composition by a man in a room with a guitar/camera.

9. Mysterious Skin

Six LONG years after Araki putrid Splendor he released this film, which marked a complete turn in approach for the director. Low on this list because of his inability to let go of the signature traits that, in his early films create a brilliant burst of surreal vitality, but here infringe of the magical drama. And it is magical. Considering Araki's older work, it might come as a surprise that this film would be an earnest exploration of human emotions, but he really pulls it off in this dreamlike adaptation of Scott Heims acclaimed novel.

10. Keane

Perhaps because of its smallness, or because director Kerrigan is the master of squirm in your seat, too close to home discomfort or it could just be because the film confused all of my expectations of it half way through, Keane surprised its way onto this list. It is an unremarkable film that has some very bad moments but ultimately proved worth sitting through for an oddly transcendent(?) ending. It is something I will not forget for quite some time.


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