Friday, January 13, 2006

best films of the year, in my humble opinion

Although I have seen few films this year in comparison to past years, I have still chosen to list the best ones, according to my immodest opinion. Why?
  1. Even if it is much vaster, I have not heard every good album of the year, yet still have an opinion which I share.
  2. Blogs allow us to lay our ignorance bare for the world to see. I see very little reason to go against the vox populi.

Here they are (in no particular order, with a few surprises to show I have an independent mind)...

  1. Millions. From none other than Master of Darkness, Danny Boyle comes this wonderful family drama with much to say about religion, money and reality.
  2. The Upside of Anger. Kevin Costner at his best and Joan Allen as perfect as usual in a very underrated comedy drama with a jawdropping twist.
  3. Murderball is the best documentary in a strong year for docs. Inspiring, tough and emotionally resonant, the ending is great (especially the subtle dig at what the real cost of the War on Terror is to young men and women).
  4. Batman Begins. What makes a good adaptation of a comic book hero? The film must be about the person, not the costumed crusader. It must journey into the pathos of the person living with this contradiction and it must be exciting. This film is as close to perfect as a comic adaptation can come.
  5. The Constant Gardner. Although the plot was convoluted and the politics obvious and simplistic, it was nice to sit in a dark theatre and watch a film which presupposed it had an intelligent audience that did not need to be spoonfed.
  6. The Squid and the Whale. The more I think about it, the better this film gets. It demands multiple viewings.
  7. Syriana. Nobody else I saw this with liked it as much as me. I am a sucker for complex, multiple plotline stoytelling. Clooney was great and it asks very important questions. Like Constant Gardner, its politics are a bit simplistic, but Americans must watch and deal with this film (most important film of the year).
  8. King Kong. No matter what Dustin says, this is what popcorn Hollywood films are supposed to be like. As weird as it is to say this, it is the best love story of the year and Kong is among the best developed characters of the year. Plus, I am a huge fan of the 1933 version (and the 1976 version is among my earliest theatre memories).
  9. Kung Fu Hustle. Novel Idea. Make a funny film. Make a very funny film (reminds me of Undercover Brother, which is a compliment).
  10. Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Stretching W&G to 90 minutes is quite a stretch, but they pull it off (for the most part).

I thought this was a weak film year, with nothing as darkly funny as Sideways, as original as Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, as heartbreaking as Maria Full of Grace or as inspiring as Born Into Brothels (although Murderball comes close).

As for some of the other "great" films not on my list...

  1. Crash is a grand failure. It is grand in scope and grasped importance (like a Bush presidency), but it fails in a number of ways, including length (too short for proper character and plot development), character development (many characters have no consistency or act in ways which contradict the film's set up). It is well acted (for the most part, though the performances are uneven- thumbs up to Dillon and Cheadle/ thumbs down to Bullock) and elicits great discussion, even if some of its own answers are too pat.
  2. Jarhead was my favorite book of 2003, but an average flick.
  3. Walk the Line offered me nothing I did not already know about my favorite musician of all time. It was a nice film but followed the same pedestrian bio-pic plotline of Ray and every other movie about a drug addict finding inspiration through music and a woman (the acting is extraordinary, although Pheonix's voice had none of the power and pathos of Cash and his shoulders are not broad enough).
  4. Cinderella Man is a well acted (by the men) feel good flick that is above average for a Ron Howard movie, but mischaracterizes Max Baer and does not rise above its limitations. Plus, Renée Zellweger is becoming the hammiest over-actor since Pacino.
  5. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I wish I could put this on my top 10, but am unable.

I am yet to see A History of Violence, Matchpoint, Brokeback Mountain, 40 year-Old Virgin, Goodnight and Goodluck, Red Eye, Capote, Junebug or Munich

1 comment:

Brian Westover said...

I totally have to agree with your call for Batman Begins. Far too often, comic book movies are only about special effects, giving comic book fans a chance to see a 'real world' version of their favorite characters and trying to do something visually different. Sadly, the important aspects of character and plot are often cast aside, despite a wealth of materials upon which to draw. Nolan did an excellent job.