I work in the retail film industry, so I have to see a lot of films. Not as many as the average film critic, but that's a good thing, because unlike them, I stop watching if it really sucks. Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2. White Chicks. God, just typing those titles hurts my brain all over again.
I saw that the fat man posted his Top Ten of 2005 yesterday, so I thought I'd do the same, but with a little less pretentiousness. This list might change in a few months, as there are still plenty of films this year that I haven't seen (Syriana, Jesus is Magic, King Kong, Dukes of Hazzard). There were also a lot of really good films that didn't make the list: Murderball, Mysterious Skin, March of the Penguins, and some other films that don't start with the letter 'M'. Also, this list is based on films that were released theatrically in the U.S. in 2005, so while one of these films was released first overseas, and I saw it last year, I'm still counting it on this list.
Enough talking, let's do this!
10) The Weather Man. Just when I going to give up on mid-life crisis movies, this one came from out of nowhere and surprised me. Cage actually stops mugging for a couple of hours, and makes the most of the role. A sad film, but not a depressing one. And I'll never watch the morning weather reports the same way again. Oh, and one more thing. "Cameltoe."
9) Serenity. This one was the most fun I had at the movies in 2005, and I don't give half a shit about Joss Wheedon or his flock of Browncoats. It's funny, it's action-packed, it has fight scenes that are well-edited (which apparently is asking for a lot nowadays), and has the best pacing of any film I saw all year. Don't let the mish-mash DVD artwork or the lack of a triple-A star keep you from giving it a try.
8) Grizzly Man. One of the best 'car-wreck' documentaries I've seen in a long time. Timothy Treadwell became my hero and my biggest annoyance at the same time. He proved that 'brave' ain't that far from 'stupid.' Herzog's place in the film is a welcome addition to the story.
7) Appleseed. Confession: I'm not the biggest anime fan (although the original Ghost in the Shell is one of my all-time favorites). If you're like me, the sci-fi story in this one won't win you over. However, the animation in this film is stunning, and hopefully will start a revolution in the industry. They used motion-capture for all of the characters, and it looks life-like without creeping you out (Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, anyone?) Disclaimer: If you don't have an HDTV and a 5.1 surround sound system, either don't buy this one, or upgrade your setup, for god's sake!
6) The Devil's Rejects. What a difference one film makes. Rob Zombie made me forget all about his first film with this great ode to 70's exploitation horror. He must've learned a lot while making House of 1000 Corpses, because this one is 1000 times better. More humor, more action, better editing, better use of music, and most of all, he made me like William Forsythe. Many of his lines in the film will undoubtedly be showing up as samples on death metal albums in the near future, especially his 'We are playing on a level that most will never see' speech.
5) Jarhead. Truffaut once said that it's impossible to make an anti-war film, because the action scenes argue against themselves. Sam Mendes has proven him wrong, not by reinventing the action scenes, but in that this film has no real action scenes. However, don't let that hold you from seeing it, as it is extremely well-paced and the performances are solid all-around.
4) Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. If this film doesn't piss you off, you weren't paying attention. Some of the phone conversations in this film literally had my jaw hanging towards the floor. And the DVD comes out on the same day that Kenneth Lay's trial begins! I hope he gets what he has coming to him: A cell with a seven-foot linebacker named 'Rapist.'
3) The 40-Year-Old Virgin. "You know how I know you're gay? You haven't bought this film yet!" Seriously though, what a great comedy. It's vulgar, but has a heart of gold. It's a guy flick, but not one that will bore or offend women. It also doesn't stoop down to the typical third-act dumbing-down that most recent comedies resort to (Wedding Crashers, I'm talking to you!). If you liked Old School, run out buy this one immediately. And for god's sake, throw out those Asia records.
2) Hustle & Flow. A Memphis pimp's mid-life crisis turns into a chance at making it in the rap music industry. Terrence Howard should get a Best Actor Oscar nomination for this performance, although I doubt it will happen, as the film was released too long ago for most dim-witted Oscar voters to remember it. His portrayal of D-Jay is subtle and unforgettable, and some of the nuances in it come out on repeated viewings. And Anthony Anderson is surprisingly good in it as well, so I will no longer refer to him as 'that guy who was with the kid from Stand By Me in Kangaroo Jack.' And you also don't have to like rap music to appreciate this film, although it definitely helps if you do.
1) Oldboy. An ultraviolent masterpiece. It does what all great films do. It challenges. It shocks. It shows you things you've never seen before. For me, it did all that and more. It borrows from 'The Count of Monte Cristo,' Tarantino, Peckinpah, and Miike, and makes something completely fresh and innovative out of all of them. It took second place at last year's Cannes Film Festival, and had it not been an election year, it probably would've beaten Fahrenheit 9/11. See this film, or the squid gets it. Again.
So that's my list. Hopefully you agree with some of them. If not, let the name-calling begin!