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What Would People Think?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas! (From Ben the movie buff)

My gift to my readers: the gift of my opinions. Ok, that's lame. Let's say "the gift of movies."

2005 was a pretty pathetic year for movies. The summer, especially, was disappointing. But, as always, good movies lurked around the corner (or in plain view) if you just looked. I've been compiling year-end lists of movies that made going to the theaters a worthwhile experience since 2003.

So here's my list for 2005. If you haven't seen these movies...do so. They were the bright light in a dismal cinematic year.

  1. Sin City (the most violent movie since Kill Bill...and the most visually stunning)
  2. Batman Begins (thank Christopher Nolan for rescuing the Batman series from the hole Joel Schumacher dug for it)
  3. Crash (excellent ensemble piece about race relations in L.A.)
  4. Hustle and Flow (Terrence Howard for best actor!)
  5. A History of Violence (Viggo Mortensen proves he's more than Aragorn. David Cronenberg proves he can still gross us out on the level of Scanners)
  6. Walk the Line (yes, it's basically a White, country retread of Ray. So what? Ray was a damn good movie and so is this)
  7. Pride & Prejudice (seen it twice now. Both times I had to hold in the urge to literally cheer for Elizabeth and Darcy. Keira Knightly for best actress nominee)
  8. Shopgirl (Steve Martin and Claire Danes shine)
  9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (this ain't your little brother's HP flick. Darker, and better, than its already good predecessors)
  10. King Kong (see my previous post explaining why Peter Jackson is God)
  11. Millions (an enchanting little fable about greed . . . and lack thereof)
  12. Serenity (cowboys in space. Who knew it would actually be good? Makes me want to seek out the canceled TV show it is based on)
  13. The Chronicles of Narnia (a rousing epic. A children's fairy tale. The movie I've had in my head for 12 years now. Remind me to write more in depth about this wonderful film.)
  14. Four Brothers (better than I thought it would be. A satisfying revenge flick which takes the time to develop its characters and throws a few twists into an otherwise straightforward revenge tale.)
  15. Red Eye (inspired my post on the Well Constructed Thriller)
  16. The Merchant of Venice (Al Pacino proves he can still say more than "hoo-ah". Shakespeare proves he's freakin' Shakespeare.)
That's all I can think of. Mind you, I have a number of 2005 films that I want to see but haven't yet:

  • The Family Stone
  • Me, You, and Everyone We Know
  • Cinderella Man
  • Syriana
  • Munich
  • Brokeback Mountain
  • Match Point
  • North Country
  • The New World
  • Grizzly Man

Feel free to disagree with me on my list. Point out movies I should have put up there. In fact, I want you to. There are a number of critically loved movies (i.e. Good Night and Good Luck, The Constant Gardner) that I intentionally snubbed because I wasn't all that impressed by them.

If there is popular demand, I will post my old lists from 2003 and 2004 (which were longer because those were better years for movies).


  • Regarding Serenity: I've seen some of the old Firefly shows, and they're every bit as excellent as the movie. And they have more wisecracks.

    I saw "Munich" and "Syriana" in consecutive days this past week, which made Dani and me act paranoid for several days afterwards.

    "Syriana" - you'll want to leave after thirty minutes. Don't. It brings itself together nicely after that, and turns into a quite excellent - if heavily political - movie.

    "Munich" - you know how with most three-hour movies there's some point in it where you're checking your watch and wondering when it's speeding up? Doesn't happen.

    Both are highly recommended, though I can imagine that Munich loses something if you're not familiar with the way Jews view Israel.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 12/26/2005 12:01 AM  

  • And how DO Jews view Israel? Enlighten me so that I can know when I see the film.

    Actually, I usually don't start checking my watch in 3 hour movies. The caveat is the 3 hour movies I watch tend to be films like Lord of the Rings, which is the cinematic achievment of our lifetimes. If I watched a BAD 3 hour film, maybe I'd be checking my watch.

    By Blogger Ben, at 12/26/2005 4:21 PM  

  • I think you'd really like Cinderella Man. . .I expected to be somewhat bored in a boxing movie, but I was very impressed. I actually thought Paul Giametti did a better job in this movie than in Sideways (i know everyone worshipped Sideways, but to me, it was only good, not great, and that went doubly for Giametti's performance, which felt like he was just playing a slightly more unhinged version of himself) and should definitely be recognized come Oscar time.

    While Russell Crowe was also excellent, it's a shame he had to cast such an unpleasant pall over the publicity for this film with his antics. . .same as Tom Cruise did.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/26/2005 5:52 PM  

  • Oh, that was Amy, btw. Sorry I forgot to sign.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/26/2005 5:59 PM  

  • "Memoirs of a Geisha" was actually fairly decent in spite of average reviews. Of the ones you listed that I've seen, it's not quite up to their level, but still enjoyable.

    I haven't seen all that many films this year because I don't really have any movie people around me and, though I don't mind going alone, sometimes I worry that it looks weird. (For example, I may end up being the only straight guy to go see "Brokeback Mountain" by himself.) Still, I'll break that cycle eventually.

    Oh, and leave it to Mike to nitpick: Merchant of Venice was 2004 - I know because I saw it in 2004. :-P

    By Blogger Mike, at 12/28/2005 11:56 AM  

  • Brokeback Mountain lives up to the hype, I was very appreciative of the adaptation, the acting (Michelle "Dawson's Creek" Williams, for chryinoutloud) and the direction was outstanding and definitely up to what I've come to expect from Ang Lee.
    Amy (again) YAY MOVIES!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/29/2005 11:16 AM  

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