Chick's top ten movies of 2005

How many rules of film noir did Wor of the Worlds follow?

Here are my picks:

1. Good Night and Good Luck
Great cast, great performance by Strathairn, and a subject I care about passionately. Thumbs up. Also: great choice to not have anyone play McCarthy, and just show him as he was.

  1. Syriana
    You can agree or disagree with what it says (I’m sort of in the middle), but thank God for a movie that makes you pay attention to keep up. One of the few movies I saw this year that wasn’t written at a level where a child could understand what was happening. Also, another really good cast with a couple standout performances. And the scene at the king’s house with the swimming pool – really well done.

  2. Munich
    Another movie that takes on controversial issues and does a great job, mostly because it refuses to wrap anything up in a nice neat package. Good cast of mostly (to me) unknowns, and great performance by Eric Bana, too. He does a really good slow descent into paranoia. And the action stuff is exciting, which is like a bonus. Falls apart at the very end, or it might have been #1.

  3. A History of Violence
    A very good movie that looks at violence and takes things one step further than an action movie. Bonus points for great ambiguous ending, and movie-stealing performance by William Hurt.

  4. War of the Worlds
    I know there’s a lot of hate out there, but I have to agree with Tom that this is a really good movie. It takes a typical alien-invasion storyline but then switches the perspective to some Joe Average guy on the ground. That one decision turns it into a much better action movie than average. Also had great effects. It falls apart in the last 20 minutes, but for the first 2 hours it’s really terrific.

  5. The Constant Gardener
    I realize this is getting sort of one-note, but 2005 was a great year for “issue” movies. I liked this one because it combined an interesting “issue” piece with a pretty great mystery. They went overboard on the “issue” storyline, but the mystery stuff and the two lead performances more than made up for it.

  6. Red Eye
    Totally unbelievable premise, and the last 20 minutes or so are sort of useless and over the top. But in the middle, there’s about 90 minutes of pure cinematic awesomeness. Two people, one row in an airplane. That’s it. A really great cat-and-mouse game between two intelligent and believable adversaries. Plus, Cillian Murphy is like the scariest motherfucker since I don’t know who. Great stuff.

  7. The Aristocrats
    It’s too long and there are too many “filler” comedians, but when it hits, it hits big, and that makes it worth it. Bonus points for being a totally original concept, although it’s one I probably wouldn’t want to see repeated. It’s also cool because you get to see some comedians that you hardly see anymore. Anyway, there are 3 or 4 bits that will have anyone who can get over themselves rolling in the aisles, and that’s enough to land on the list.

  8. Mr. & Mrs. Smith
    This is a total popcorn movie, with a plot that really makes no sense and a final showdown that is so laughably unbelievable I have to assume they made it that way on purpose. But, like “Ocean’s Eleven,” it gets by on personality alone. And that hand-to-hand fight between Pitt and Jolie is awesome. Vince Vaughn’s funny supporting role also helps.

  9. V for Vendetta Trailer
    This was probably one of the happiest things I saw all year. It looks like they’re actually going to get it right. Fingers crossed.

Disclaimer: I haven’t seen Brokeback, Kong, or Match Point yet.

(Edit: typo)

I expected the thread to be taken up with people saying ‘You liked Constantine?’ I figured that would be my Charlie’s Angels/Troy slot for the year.

Yeah, I know. Can we please not talk about that part? Let’s just pretend Speilberg actually grew a pair and left that off, okay? In the War of the Worlds in my head, Robbie died.

There’s still a bunch of stuff from this year I have to see. Munich, New World, Match Point, yeah, I guess 40 Year Old Virgin as well. As fellow beret wearers, I’m particularly glad for Preston’s and Equis’ lists. I’m curious if either of you has seen Brokeback Mountain and, if so, why it’s not on your lists.

Also, the rules* are that a movie belongs to the year in which it gets a North American release. So Old Boy belongs, Thank You for Smoking (which I’m dying (ha ha!) to see) doesn’t.

I really hated Crash. Gordon Cameron told me there’s a Crash backlash starting up and I just want to know one thing: where do I sign up? Okay, two things: where do I sign up and can I be one of the club officers?

Finally, tromik, you actually went to see House of D? What the fuck were you thinking? If you do that kind of irresponsible shit, my brother, you get what you deserve!

-Tom

  • Which I just made up

EDIT: Yeah, Rywill’s list is in! Can we get Whitta and Dungsroman in here, too?

I seriously doubt the film even found a distributor for the U.S. It was filmed entirely in Quebec in French, so it’s sub-titled and has that working against it. Hopefully it will make it onto the art house circuit and will be coming to a town near you next year. Also, C.R.A.Z.Y. is an acronym for the first letter of the 5 boys in the family. You can read more about it here.

  1. Serenity(like there was a question?)

  2. 40 Year Old Virgin. “I got friends that fuck guys… in jail.”, though Erik’s quote is the line of the movie. Seth Rogen justs nails that “Fuck you.”

  3. Oldboy. Somebody on this forum said Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is better, but I forget who. They are absolutely lying, Oldboy is much, much better. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is Dummy+crime. Oldboy is probably the best revenge movie ever, with an absolutely sublime twist.

  4. Crash. I also thought this was a 2004 movie, but here it sits.

  5. Syriana. I’m kind of a sucker for ensemble movies.

  6. Layer Cake. I’m reasonably sure this was a 2004 movie as well, but somebody else put it on their list and I was apparently wrong about Crash. That’s 2 DS9 alumni in a row, bitches! I don’t think Avery Brooks made a movie otherwise it would be a lock.

  7. Batman Begins. War of the Worlds? Batman was the big budget movie that was surprisingly good. War of the Worlds was too long, kind of stupid, and the ending really did happen. Nolan’s movie shames the first 5 attempts to put Batman on the big screen.

  8. Sin City. I’ve never read a comic book in my life, normally I abhor gimmicky crap and this movie was 100% gimmick, but somehow this movie made it all work.

I won’t fill out the list because I’m reasonably sure movies made in 2005 that I haven’t seen yet will take 9 and 10. I haven’t seen Munich, Good Night and Good Luck, or Brokeback Mountain. In the event that they don’t…

  1. A History of Violence. Mostly for William Hurt.

  2. The Chronic-what-cles of Narnia.

Edit: TomChick says Oldboy in and his word is law. He also sends helpful PMs that point out there is an absolutely badass enhanced posting option hidden deep in your profile that allows easy bolding.

Rywill, I think you need to ease up on that lawyer stuff so you can see more movies. I loved Constant Gardner, too, but it fell off my list last night after I saw Brokeback Mountain. Also, cheers for including Red Eye. I liked that quite a bit. Glad to see Wes Craven sticking to something simple, tight, trenchant, and focused (again, as with War of the Worlds, let’s just forget the last 20 minutes*).

I really liked how smart Syriana was as well, but I was turned off by how contrived it got at the ending. Fuck if I know why George Clooney flew ten thousand miles to wave a handkerchief at the reformist Saudi prince, much less how it happened to coincide with the exact moment of a CIA assassination by missile.

So, yeah, cool movie that left me behind by the time it was over. And, like Traffic, there were bits that I loved that I wished hadn’t been swallowed up in the latticework wonkiness (in Traffic, the parts with Benecio del Toro’s Tijuana cop; in Syriana, the parts with Matt Damon’s distraught financial analyst).

-Tom

  • One of the reasons I loved Constantine was that it got better as it went along, and the last 20 minutes, which would normally suck in a movie like this, were excellent.

“I don’t want to cram pimpage.”

Haven’t seen it, but I want to. I’m an Ang Lee fan and like just about every one of his films. I also want to see New World as I’m a Terrence Malick fan and love every one of his films.

What!?! This is precisely the sort of blinkered, philistine, reactionary egalitarianism that makes non-film snobs think they can participate in these threads. I mean, what did I spend $1,000 for to go to the Toronto Film Festival festival (again) if not to name-drop achingly poetic foreign films that will never get distribution in the U.S. and will disappear like a rose petal down the Grand Canyon?! I’m really disappointed, Tom. Turn in your beret on the way out the door to see your second showing of King Kong. ;)

I DEMAND the protocol be kept!
There’s nothing worse than threads like this degenerating into everybody just posting their own list without reading anybody elses and without any explanation (not saying you did that, mind you. This kind of behavior just needs to be nipped in the butt… bud?!)

Anyways, I’ve only seen one movie on Toms list and it’s on mine too, but only by default - my list consists of only five movies… and three possibly four of them (Star Wars III, Harry Potter, Constantine and The Interpreter) wouldn’t be on my top 10, if I had managed to see the 14 needed to push them off (having a kid will do that to your moviegoing).
But keep the lists going - I liked Toms list enough to put the other movies on my must rent list.

So my list:

The Aristocrats
(A bit too long and not laugh out loud funny, but a lot of great comedians in a situation I hadn’t seen them in before. And some I didn’t know that well or outside certain typecast roles suddenly revealing a dark side. A great documentary about a weird subject and when it was funny, it was really funny - the Cartman/Kyle comedian/straightman act was still the best, though…)

The other four movies that I managed to see but which weren’t really that great…

Edit 1:
Forgot that I saw Batman Begins too - it makes the list (allthough I still think Batman Returns was the best Batman)

Edit 2:
It was implied, but… you liked Constantine?!?

(Ok, it was much better than I dared to hope for being a fan of the comic and all. Keanu did good - allthough somebody like Damien Lewis and a London setting would do so much better - and I agree about Swinton - Stomarte also makes a good devil, but not better than fellow scandinavian Mortensen in The Prophecy. But it was still only ok storywise and had it’s very silly moments)

<shatner>Netflix… queue… GROWING!</shatner>

I couldn’t agree more. If any federal agents are reading this board, can you guys ease up for a few weeks? kthx.

I really liked how smart Syriana was as well, but I was turned off by how contrived it got at the ending.

That’s a fair criticism, but up until then the movie is really good. For me, it was so great and refreshing to go to a wide-release movie that wasn’t sort of talking down to me. Like, if you stopped paying attention you would actually not know what was going on. In a weird coincidence, most of my favorite movies from this year actually have lousy endings. Bizarre.

  • One of the reasons I loved Constantine was that it got better as it went along, and the last 20 minutes, which would normally suck in a movie like this, were excellent.

I agree with you, but for me it just couldn’t redeem the middle half of the movie. Although Tilda Swinton rocks my world.

PS What is going on with Hanzii? Holy crap.

And Edit: You know, the more I think about it, Mr. & Mrs. Smith gets kicked off the bottom of my list in favor of Narnia. That was really a pretty good movie. And Tilda Swinton rocks my world.

I’m curious, why?

As for the rules being North American release, I’d modify my list with Oldboy and Infernal affairs. But like every Asian for the actual east, I saw it way before in 2003. It would have made my top 3 back then.

As for War of the worlds. I don’t get the love for it. It’s a decently made movie, but it is Spielberg, how can I expect anything less? Yet, ultimately for me, I couldn’t get pass the whole Tom Cruise was a normal guy with normal guy problems untill his kid gets into danger and suddenly, he’s superhuman. That shift in tone, no matter how subtle Spielberg was distracting. And then there was the ending, the sunshine, bloom effect, happy glowy ending with the kid.

Whoa, Hanzii edited out his own list. Harsh!

Equis, Crash was just so glib and pat. It’s a fascinating contrast to Magnolia, where the stylized interconnections actually work to drive the movie, which has the tone of a fable throughout. Magnolia also has the benefit of some immediately apparent virtuoso directing and acting, which I think you have to respect even if you don’t like it.

But I found the writing in Crash really awful, particularly the dialogue and characterizations. There were so many unbelievable things and stupid motivations from beginning to end: the murderous shop keeper, the cop coping a feel, the superficial screechy DA’s wife, the crash victim not wanting to be touched by the guy saving her life, the sensitive articulate black carjackers, and so on.

Some good performances and some nice moments. I just wish they were in a movie that didn’t smack of some kid with a My First PT Anderson Movie template on his copy of Final Draft Pro.

As for War of the Worlds, we had a really good thread on it that starts to get underway about here.

-Tom

These are mine in approximate order:

Munich
I’m a sucker for movies featuring political intrigue, assassinations, conspiracies, etc., so this one as well as Syriana were right up my alley. Spielberg plays this Isreali vengeance tale and it’s personal repercussions about as even-handedly and straight-faced as could be expected. I found it ironic that Daniel Craig is amongst the team, whose operations feel a lot more realistic and organic than those of the cartoon world of James Bond he’s about to enter. I also liked the little touches that recalled some of the great 1970s-era espionage flicks, such as casting Michael Lonsdale (from Day of the Jackal) and when Eric Bana gives his pad a Harry Caul style makeover. I could really have done without the moaning woman soundtrack, though. That crap wore out its welcome 5 years ago. Somebody please put this person out of my misery!

Curse of the Were-Rabbit
I’m a big fan of stop-motion animation. I’m glad to see that while the big creature flicks have long since replaced its use with CGI, it continues to live on in the more comic fantasies of Wallace & Gromit and pictures like The Corpse Bride. It’s interesting that I also found the stories and characters of both these films to be much more engaging than the two big CGI flicks (Star Wars & King Kong). Perhaps being forced to take their time with the animation also forces the filmmakers to carefully craft their characters and economize the storyline. I’m amazed at how expressive Gromit (who cannot speak and doesn’t even appear to have a mouth) is in this, just by using his eyes and brow. And just like all the W&G shorts, none of the technical wizardry ever gets in the way of the comedy.

40 Year Old Virgin
Wedding Crashers
It’s about time we got some good R-rated comedies that didn’t feel like they were written for the grade school crowd. Fresh topics with laughs that don’t overstay their welcome. Virgin gives it’s title character a strong supporting cast (I love the video game exchange) - something rarely seen anymore in movies of this type and Wedding Crashers has a great montage of crashed weddings at the beginning, punctuated by a clever gag involving dance-dipped girls. Crashers runs a bit too long and labors some at the end (cue Will Ferrell), but Owen Wilson continues to show what I’ve always suspected - get Ben Stiller away from him and your film improves 200%.

Good Night & Good Luck
Aside from the cool B&W photography, Strathairn’s awesome performance as Murrow, and the neat move of inserting McCarthy as himself into the interviews, the thing I like about this picture is the look at how vastly different 1950s era TV news is from the current day. The director tapping the reporter to let him know he’s on air, the on camera chain-smoking, and my favorite - an arguement where the program director tells his newsman to be LESS editorial in his reporting. After this and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, I think Clooney is one of the more interesting new directors to come around.

Lord of War
The first good black comedy in I don’t know how long. Nicolas Cage is great as a man who simultaneously criticizes and wallows in the moral swamp of an arms dealer’s life. Good cat and mouse interplay between Cage and Ethan Hawke as the Interpol agent trying to put him away. Also features one of the best opening credits scenes since Fight Club.

The Great Raid
Solid, straight to the point war movie about a rescue mission to free American survivors of the Bataan Death March. Free of jingoism and Oscar-courting stunts, and notes the contribution of allied forces (in this case, the Filipinos) who so often get the shaft in US made war films. Performances from some of the leads are a little weak, but overall a fine entry in the war-film genre.

Batman Begins
Not liking comic book movies in the least, it was the cast and crew that attracted me to this movie, and the first two hours didn’t disappoint, as all (save Katie Holmes as an unbelievable D.A.) live up to the task. Great settings and characters, but it ultimately falls apart at the end as the film descends into the usual played-out comic-book shenanigans. Still, nearly everything up to that point is great, and almost washed from my mind that last horrid Burton batman movie.

Syriana
I didn’t know what to make of this movie as I left the theatre - so much of it was still processing for quite some time afterwards. But that in itself is something very few other movies do. A big conspiracy film, and a bit heavy on the fantasy, it still gives an interesting portrayal of how fragile a world that’s becoming increasingly interconnected and dependant on oil could be. Maybe it was the way I was thrown into the story and character’s lives, but all I know is I want to see it again. Perhaps the climax was a little contrived, but what the hey - it’s a movie.

War of the Worlds
What I like about this picture is the abundant collection of scenes of terror - the mob scene with the minivan, the bodies floating down the river, Cruise realizing he’s got the ashes of a dozen dead people all over his face, the capsizing ferry, the crashed jumbo jet, the blaring foghorn-like calls of the alien tripods, and Cruise having to decide which of his children he’s going to save, and probably a few more that I’ve forgotten. It’s a bit more primal than say, Close Encounters, where the presiding trepidation was the fear of discovery, but it still works. The daddy reform subplot and copout ending undermine it considerably, but overall it still manages to convey a tangible sense of terror rarely seen in sci-fi action films these days.

Honorable mentions: Unleashed, Corpse Bride, Kingdom of Heaven, Fever Pitch
Still want to see: Jarhead, Constant Gardener, Millions, Broken Flowers, Lady Vengeance, Squid & the Whale, The New World

I’d make a list of worst movies too, but I didn’t really see any. Most of the bottom of my list would consist of films I found to be just mediocre, like Star Wars, History of Violence, Sin City, King Kong, The Interpreter, Serenity. etc. I saw - or rather endured - Miss Congeniality 2 and Guess Who, but I was trapped on an overseas flight for those, so I don’t really count 'em. Overall, I’d say this has been a pretty decent year for movies, compared to the rest of the decade.

Sadly, my main counterargument for this is that I’ve seen much much worse in the independent scene. (perhaps that why they stay independent, hmmm? hmmm?)

As for War of the Worlds, we had a really good thread on it that starts to get underway about here.

I think I was in that thread, but for War of the worlds, I’m happy enough to agree to disagree. I’m hoping Munich will be a better Spielberg effort.

I also wanted to argue with you about the merits of Constantine. Of which I count 2, at most 3. Cinematography, Peter Stomare and Tilda Swinton. Everything about the writing of Constantine smacked of third grade fantasy writer given the cliff notes to the Bible and Milton’s Paradise Lost. That and the fact that it strays so much from the source material which itself was far more imaginative in terms of plot, storyline and characterization.

Same here. WotW was a hideously bad movie, it’s like Spielberg consulted with Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich on how to make a collosal piece of shit. Hah talk about jumping the couch!

It was a really bleh year at the movies for me. Nothing stood out at all for Best of the Year awards. Just lots of thoughts…

I liked the first 3/4 of War of the Worlds, but was really hoping they’d rewrite the ending. But the two things that hacked me off was that there wasn’t any king of cathertic rage vented at the aliens when they were dying and the son popping up at the end. That movie really needed some kind of scene where the human suvivors just go caveman on those fuckers.

I also liked Munich, and it’s probably in my top 10 somewhere, but I don’t know where. Just tense moviemaking. I cringed about a half dozen times in that movie, expecting something to happen. And the scene where the team whack the hitwoman was just chilling. It was a horrific act of voilence, but strangely detached at the same time. The pity of seeing Daniel Craig in this is knowing that all of his Bond movies won’t have anywhere near the same amount of emotion as this.

And just a thought on Spielberg, but the man just solidified his god status amongst directors. Do you guys realize he made both War of the Worlds and Munich is less than 12 months? He was still shooting principle photography on War of the Worlds in January, and then they hauled ass to edit and put in the special effects in time for the May release. And as soon as that was done, he jetted off to Europe and filmed Munich over the summer, then edited and put it together in time for December. The only other year I can think of that was even comperable for him was 1993, when he released Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List, but he didn’t concentrate both productions into such an incredibly narrow timeframe. It’s just awesome to see the guy work without a tightrope. He’s relying on sheer instinct alone, and his movies are better for it.

Wedding Crashers deserves huge kudos. Such a shamelessly raunchy comedy that also worked thanks to Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, who need to be teamed together in more movies.

Wallace & Grommit also deserves some praise. Grommit is like the bestest character ever, even if he never says a single word.

Okay, call me a girly man, but I really liked Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice. Keira Knightley is just stellar in it (not to mention unbelievably hot), it had that cool MI-6 dude as Mr. Darcy, I loved the production values and the music, etc. The A&E version of Pride & Prejudice is roundly considered to be the best Austen adaptation ever made (partly because all those literary sluts pause the screen when Colin Firth walks out of the lake with a clingy white shirt on), but I like this new P&P better. And I still can’t believe I didn’t recgonize Jena Malone (who I love) in this movie.

Hey, I want to be a member of the Crash-hating club, too! God, what a pretentious movie. It just screams, “Look at me, I’m a critical movie because I talk about race, even if it’s the most absurd situations imagineable.” Bah.

Walk the Line: Great acting. I only wish they would have given us a closer look at June Carter’s life. The film posists her as an angel saving Cash’s life, but I prefer to think that they saved one another.

Capote: More inspired acting. Such a disturbing movie on so many levels. I didn’t realize Capote was such a petty man.

Batman Begins: I missed the earlier Batman’s but this one really worked for me. I like how dark this world is. A comic book movie that isn’t afraid to take itself seriously.

Pride & Prejudice: I took my kids to this. I’m typically not into period movies, but this one won me over. Good acting, nice pacing, good job overall. No warts to ignore.

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill: I could relate to this dude getting so focused on a hobby. He is such a laid back rebel. I had no idea what I was going to see, so maybe that is why I liked this so much. Awesome movie.

Hustle and Flow: I remember having a problem with how this ended, but luckily the rules seem to allow for us to toss out the parts of a movie we didn’t like and focus on only the good. There is a lot of good in Hustle and Flow.

Syriana: I didn’t care for the ending, but I liked the way the parinoid feel of this movie. I liked how the oil industry comes off as a charecter, like a haunted house in one of those old horror movies.

Sin City: Crazy visuals. This one won me over with it’s visual style. I am looking forward to the next one.

War of the Worlds: Anyone who has been a fuck up most of their life can’t help cheering for Tom Cruise as he becomes a man. Too bad about the Hollywood ending.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: I never read this but enjoyed the movie immensely. After so many recent Christmas looking to Peter Jackson for fantasy, I got my fix here ths year.

Honorable mentions: Jarhead, The Interpreter, Serenity, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Harry Potter.

Worst movies: Sahara; The Aristocrats. The Aristocrats may go on my worst movies of the century. I thought it was humor meant for adults, but it was so stupid it could have been an Airplane or Police Academy comedy.

Seems to me you guys are missing Kung Fu Hustle from your lists.

Was that this year? I know I saw it this year, but I thought it came out, like, last December or thereabouts.