Our Top 10 Lists of 2005 - "Time to throw down!"

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Kristian, Dec 30, 2005.

  1. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

    Aug 2, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Top 10

    1. Cinderella Man
    2. In Her Shoes
    3. Murderball
    4. Batman Begins
    5. Jarhead
    6. Sin City
    7. Good Night & Good Luck
    8. Walk The Line
    9. King Kong
    10. Capote

    Also Seen:
    Corpse Bride
    A Love Song For Bobby Long
    The Interpreter
    Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price
    Charlie and The Chocolate Factory
    Star Wars: Ep III
    The Constant Gardener
    Me and You and Everyone We Know
    Grizzly Man
    North Country
    The 40 Year Old Virgin
    Broken Flowers
    Oliver Twist

    To See:
    Brokeback Mountain
    The Chronicles of Narnia: TLTW&TW
    March of the Penguins
    The Brothers Grimm
    Pride & Prejudice
    A History of Violence
    Enron: The Smartest Men in the Room
    The Squid and The Whale
    A History of Violence
    The New World
  2. Fred Bang

    Fred Bang Stunt Coordinator

    May 7, 2000
    Likes Received:

    1. MUNICH
    The best movie I've seen in years. An excellent thriller that reminded me of The French Connection and The Godfather . I love the subtle way Eric Bana changes his opinion in the course of the movie, and how either sides are right (and wrong).

    Best Scenes:
    Avner not sure if he should close the light.
    The Little girl.
    The final conversation.


    2. KING KONG
    The most entertaining movie of the year. Amazing how a movie about a big ape can be so good.

    Best Scenes:
    The V-Rex battle.
    Juggling in front of Kong.
    The Empire State Building.


    3. CRASH
    Another movie with no good side or bad side but only shades of grey. My most poignant scene this year comes from that movie, when Dillon rescues the girl from the truck.

    Best Scenes:
    Saving the black woman.
    Little girl saves dad.


    Strange how in this movie I thought the batless scenes were better than the one with the badly choregraphed action scenes. But that's a testament of how good this movie is and how much we believe Bale's Bruce Wayne. Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine steel the show.

    Best Scenes:
    Building the suit
    Calling 'backup'
    The Tumbler!


    Even though Azkaban was better artistically, I think this is the best Potter ever made.

    Best Scenes:
    The dragons.
    The Maze.


    Curious slow movie, but enthralling, but an excellent performance by Viggo and a memorable one by William Hurt. This is the kind of movie I'll want to see back in the future years and will become better.


    It used to be number one on my list, but unfortunately, I'm not sure its a movie that holds well after numerous viewing. Still the 3rd best Star Wars movie ever made after Empire and A New Hope.

    Best Scenes:
    Order 66
    The Duel


    8. JARHEAD
    Am I the only one who enjoyed this movie? An original view on how inaction can drive soldiers insane as much as the ones under fire.

    Best Scene:
    Having a shot, but calling the airstrike.


    An uneven movie with huge plotholes, but with scenes so tense, it had to make its way in my top ten.

    Best Scene:
    The first appearance of the aliens.
    The Ferry.


    Charlize Best role as far as I'm concerned. I was captivated by both her fragility and strength.

    Almost Made It

    SERENITY: Highly Enjoyable and refreshing
    SIN CITY: Very well Made, but too uneven.
    MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA: Beautiful, but too formulaic.
    THE ISLAND: Interesting, but too much schizophrenic (Scarlett was amazing though)

    I always read reviews first, so I didn't really see bad movies... But here are two movies with good reviews that I thought sucked:

  3. Josh.C

    Josh.C Second Unit

    Dec 20, 2005
    Likes Received:
    1. Cinderella Man
    INSERT: Walk the Line, Wow! I was blown away
    2. Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire
    3. Batman Begins
    4. The Chronicles of Narnia
    5. Sin City
    6.Star Wars Episode 3 ROTS
    7. Serenity
    8. The Constant Gardener
    9. Mr. & Mrs. Smith
    10. Exorcism of Emily Rose
  4. Shawn_KE

    Shawn_KE Screenwriter

    Nov 25, 2003
    Likes Received:
    My top 10 based on how I enjoyed them.

    Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

    Batman Begins

    The Devils Rejects

    Sin City

    Saw II

    Dukes of Hazzard

    March of the Penguins

    Lords of Dogtown

    War of the Worlds

    The Island
  5. Nathan V

    Nathan V Supporting Actor

    Jul 16, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Top Ten with Comments

    1. The New World

    Unquestionably the film of the century for me. A truly breathtaking experience.

    [posted in the new world thread]
    [many small spoilers, which I’m not spoilerizing because the film’s focus isn’t its story]

    “It’s more of an experience film,” Terrence Malick recently said, in a rare public appearance at a Bartesville screening of his new film. “Just get into it. Let it roll over you.”

    Indeed, pure cinema, or the idea of using the cinematic medium to its full extent (as opposed to simply a storytelling device derived from theatre and literature) to convey a visual and aural EXPERIENCE, is an approach so far removed from traditional film that to apply typical Hollywood standards for judging a movie to any of Malick’s works is a profound mistake.

    The New World isn’t about plot progression and conflict resolution; it doesn’t reduce human actions to cookie-cutter motivations and easy cause and effect relationships. This is a film about many things. It is about people alone with their innermost thoughts. It is a film of moods, sounds, emotional textures. It is about the atmospheres of being in an alien (or “new”) territory, whether external or internal. The film washes over the viewer as if a dream; it achieves a level of communication beyond the verbal. The film reaches us on a plane below the ‘gut,’ engaging our souls more than our intellect. Malick’s work speaks to me on a level that no other filmmaker can quite reach. How he accomplishes this rare feat I will never know.

    Here are my initial reactions to the film’s complex thematics, which are bound to change as I rewatch the film in the future-

    The film is comprised of 2 sections: the “Colin Farrell section” and the “Christian Bale section.” In the Farrell segment, we see, from an omniscient POV, the English “discovery” of a world and people new to them. Colin basks in the area’s natural beauty, and we hear his yearnings to “start over,” establish a utopian society. The Indian community he is inducted into shares many of the characteristics of Smith’s (Farrell’s) utopian dream. It is here that he discovers purity, in the form of Pocahontas (who is never referred to by name). The sequences involving the 2 of them, Farrell and Pocahontas, are utterly transcendent. I don’t believe there has been a more powerful or beautiful cinematic realization of the joy of innocence, the sheer exhilaration of pure love and the sense of discovery inherent. The sense of discovery exists on 2 levels: Pocahontas’s first experience of love as an emotion, and Smith’s rediscovery of and subsequent delight in simple purity. We hear the private thoughts of each of them, offering character development like no other.

    Smith’s realization that his very presence around Pocahontas will eventually degrade that aspect of her he values most- her purity and innocence- leads to the end of the relationship. Malick’s use of voiceover is astounding, nowhere more so than during the main battle, in which the sound and fury of the chaos surrounding Farrell evaporates, replaced by his quiet plea to God, asking that he not turn away. The moment is reminiscent of the Ben Chaplin wife cutaways in Thin Red Line, and is equally as powerful. (Incidentally, Chaplin has a role in the New World, as a colonist, and onscreen for somewhere around 15 seconds.) Malick’s soundscapes are also worthy of note particularly his use of silence or near-silence, as when Farrell overturns a table in anger, with no sound and a quick cut to black.

    The remainder of the film shows us the gradual ‘westernization’ of Pocahontas, as she reluctantly marries Christian Bale and adopts European clothing styles. It is here that the film takes a turn I did not expect; I thought the film was going to be about the westernization of Pocahontas as a negative event (i.e. the tragic loss of innocence), but instead it actually takes the opposite approach, which is something I did not even notice until the film’s final shot. Pocahontas grieves a great deal for Smith, whom she believes dead. She is living in the past, yearning for an existence that is not present, nor will ever take place again. During this period, she is told by an English maid that she must continue to “grow upward,” using the metaphor of a tall tree, which does not, she says, stop growing when one of its branches is broken. At the moment Pocahontas steps into western wear for the first time (a profoundly heartbreaking scene) and begins her grieving stage, we hear her inner voice, plaintively speaking on the soundtrack: “I will find joy in all that is around me.” Interestingly, she does not take up this worldview until the film’s final moments. The Christian Bale segment is the journey towards the realization and adoption of this viewpoint. Consider the contrast in which Kilcher (Pocahontas) greets her new world (England) to the manner in which the Englishmen greet theirs (America). The settlers reject the new world, whereas Kilcher learns, tentatively, to embrace it. The film, for me at least, after first viewing, is about learning to “move on,” to grow upward, to live and experience the present. Before seeing the film, I had assumed Pocahontas would reject the new world, but this would mean she is no better than the English settlers who reject Virginia; the film advocates the embrace of new experience, new culture. The trait that separates Pocahontas from the rest of the film’s characters is her awareness of “the big picture,” as Roger Ebert puts it. In this respect, the film, especially with its final, glorious shot, is incredibly optimistic.

    Not enough can be said about the film’s impeccable atmosphere. We get a pervading sense of newness; through the entire film, we are with characters in environments they have never seen before. Witness Wes Studi wandering around the sculpted English park in a daze, or Farrell sifting his hands through the tall reeds. Jump cuts are used with abandon; the concern is not physical continuity, but in creating an intuitive flow. Cutaways of daily activities and the aching beauty of the nature surrounding are peppered throughout the film. Shots are shown at one point and revisited later. There are a number of tremendously effective cuts to black. I am pretty sure this is one of those rare films, like Michael Mann’s Heat, that is composed entirely of straight cuts, with no fades or dissolves. Malick and his cinematographer (a Mann veteran) shoot exclusively in natural light, almost entirely with handheld steadicam, eschewing dollies, filters, tracks, long lenses, and cranes. Much of the movie has that beautiful “10a.m.” look that is rarely seen in movies, and the natural lighting brings an immediacy to the proceedings. Malick’s command of visual technique simply must be experienced. All the acting is excellent, but Kilcher is a revelation; she is quite literally perfect here. Her eyes and expressions, both facial and bodily, betray such incredible vitality and youthful energy, and at the same time show the gradual “maturation” and change in worldview. She is so alive.

    As in The Thin Red Line, the narration, this time by the three protagonists, is achingly beautiful. To type out lines of narration diminishes their immense power; they have to be heard as intended, with the appropriate flow of images. The use of Wagner’s swelling horn intro and especially Mozart’s 23rd concerto are sublime. Like Wong Kar Wai, Malick will use the same cue repeatedly and effectively, subtly changing its meaning each time. Even in moments of supposed silence, there’s always something going on on the soundtrack, ambient tones, subtle bass, leaves rustling, bids in the distance, wind, barely perceptible strains of music (which are hugely effective in the main battle scene).

    And then there are the shots. It would appear as if Malick is incapable of creating a normal-looking image. Every single shot is either very good or breathtaking, and more often the latter. This is all the more amazing with the use of only natural light. He favors low angles, moving the camera freely around his characters, observing their faces, reactions, and surroundings. There is a palpable freshness in the cinematography that contributes a great deal to the atmosphere; every image adds something to the mood, or changes it. We really do feel as if we are seeing this world for the first time. Note the shafts of light reaching through the hut in the scene in which Farrell is captured. The harsh shadows on the Indian’s faces. Note lush green backgrounds. Or the shadows on Kilcher’s face when she opens the window of her hut in the English colony. Or the opening shot of Kilcher with her hands reaching to the sky, a shot which is revisited and concluded later in the film. Or the unique mise-en-scene, such as when Smith looks at Pocahontas for the last time in America; we don’t even see Farrell, just a shaft of light of an opening door in Pocahontas’s room.

    I could go on, but I think the film’s power is diminished by breaking it down and discussing it, although I find that irresistible. I can’t stop thinking about the movie. The best thing is to simply experience the film itself. My best advice to people is to just go and watch the movie. Just don’t expect a narrative-based picture; expect a dreamy wave of an experience, like a long sunrise. Premiere magazine smartly stated that if you’re the sort of person who finds a sunrise tedious, or worse, anti-climactic, then this isn’t your movie.

    2. Munich
    I consider this one of Spielberg’s best, just under Schindler’s List and alongside SPR and Close Encounters. The film tracks the gradual loss of Avner’s (Bana’s) soul, loss of direction, as he spends several years assassinating people. The film is rich in character development and finely paced, very well shot (one of Spielberg’s rare 2.35:1 outings), and is brilliant chiefly because it takes the action/revenge thriller template and takes it so much further in terms of examining the nature of vilolence and what it does to an individual over time. The film’s killers and killees are ordinary men with real lives. There are no stock characters here, not even on Avner’s team. A brilliant and thoroughly engaging picture. The moments of extreme violence (esp the heartbreaking finale, which juxtaposes violence and sexuality in a very uncomfortable manner) are exactly what they should be: uncomfortable, visceral, realistic, and hugely effective. The final scene in New York, as the rest of the film, is pure brilliance.

    3. A History of Violence
    This is the new screenwriting model. Every second, every motion and line of dialogue, is layered full with meaning. The film functions on 4 levels: a political allegory (mainly with regard to American foreign policy; this was what attracted Viggo to the project), biblical allegory (Cain & Abel; “Jesus, Joey.” “Jesus, Richie.”), examination of violence in human nature (is it inherent? Is it good?), and finally, simply as a highly visceral kickass thriller. The ultimate example of storytelling economy.

    4. 2046
    The emotional ramifications of a failed previous relationship affect how a man treats everyone around him in the future. A heartbreaking and beautiful film, brimming with visual poetry, emotion, and occasionally, humor. A writer, plagued with the loss of a previous relationship, builds an emotional shield around him, devastating all the women he comes into contact with, while writing a sci-fi book involving his view of the people around him, a search for lost memories, and hot, horny robots with “delayed reactions.” Similar in flow to Malick, being not based in narrative but in character and atmosphere. The movie’s structure is ever flowing, looping back on itself, exploring avenues for a while and drifting off to other things, only to return to them later. Christopher Doyle’s cinematography is absolutely ridiculous.

    5. The Constant Gardener
    A political thriller about a timid man who, for the first time in his life, sheds his timidity learns to put one foot in front of the other. Fiennes’s discovery that his late wife really loved him is powerful. Shot with a unique flair, Meirelles has some very exciting and unconventional techniques.

    6. Batman Begins
    Finally, a comic book movie that stands on its own as a straight drama, with rich character development, strong acting and excellent directorial choices. Michael Caine is pitch perfect, as usual.

    7. Domino
    Yes, this film has a 36 on Metacritic and made $4 million on opening weekend, so just hear me out here-

    “A Tony Scott Film.”

    With his last two films, Man on Fire and Domino, Mr. Scott has changed the meaning of the above phrase. It used to signify the presence of a capable action-thriller. Now, it means a film that is so creative, exhilarating, and utterly original that almost no contemporary critic has been able to comprehend it.

    My feeling while watching Tony Scott's new film about his good friend Domino Harvey was that Scott, now 61, has finally come into his own, after years of making good-to-average thrillers, has finally discovered a style that no one has ever even thought about doing. I remember reading interviews with him years ago, talking to Mike Figgis- he'd be musing, "I'm always trying to find new ways to shoot action. Action's been done to death, you know." Well, he more than succeeded in his goal: he's found a new way of seeing. His enthusiasm for the medium is infectious; watching his new work, one can feel him thinking, "why the hell not? no one else has ever done this!" Before Man on Fire, I didn't think there was a way to incorporate non-stop hand-cranking and multiple exposures into narrrative film. And on top of that, we have bleach bypass, black-and-white, wild changes of film speed, aperture, and shutter speed, often within the same shot, 16mm, reversal stock, underfixing film, supersaturation, and more match action than Oliver Stone and Michael Bay combined. Tony Scott has created what is arguably the most high-impact visual and aural style in cinema, ever. I was waiting for the film reel to simply explode. And the fact that he accomplishes all this by hand, with no digital sprucing (aside from the subtitles) at all, is extremely impressive. This is a serious development in film, and is nothing to sneeze at.

    Scott's only applied this technique to two scripts, both of which are suited very well to the approach. The sprawling, massively unfocused plot of Domino matches well with its go-for-broke visuals. In interviews and commentaries Scott is quick to say that the style emerges out of the story ("I'll look at a scene and ask, 'This is the emotional center of the scene; how can we best amplify that?'"), and is not used simply to be hip, or cover up script problems. I actually thought Richard "Donnie Darko" Kelly's script had a fair amount to say about the breakdown (and possible reaffirmation) of the nuclear family system and what would/could replace it, the inescapable and pervasive qualities of American popular culture, as well the choosing of fringe/outcast culture as the one thread that holds the myriad characters together; these are characters that never get their proper screentime in hollywood movies. This is a film about those on the edge, those misunderstood individuals who exist on the fringes of society (that the film itself is so misunderstood underlines this idea in a fascinating way). It is interesting to note that just about all the current stereotypes are represented in the film- white trash, middle-eastern terrorists, foreigners who don't speak english, gay people, sex offenders, mobsters, prophets in the desert, and more; the very last scene, which shows a convergence of two such subgroups, gives the film an optimistic outlook.

    Although there is subtext here, Domino functions primarily as visceral entertainment. This is a film that must be seen twice- once for its sheer visual audacity, and once to comprehend its sprawling, convoluted story. The acting by all present is good, with the performances and sense of camaraderie between the three leads being excellent. Knightley in particular is superb, perfectly embodying a character quite different from her typical dainty self.

    I can certainly see how Tony Scott's new style might be disagreeable; he makes Baz Luhrmann look like Todd Field. He goes so far past mainstream that he practically comes out the other side; Domino is almost an avant-garde picture. And although it supports the content, it's so interesting in it's own right that it's impossible to keep up with the content or the style, especially with this film, which has both a complex form and complex content. Nevertheless, I urge all those interested in cinematography and the advancement of film as art to check this film out. If ever there was a movie that warranted repeat viewings, it was this one. The amount of visual information conveyed here cannot possibly be expressed in words. If you blink, or look down even once while watching Domino, you're liable to miss something.

    8. Syriana

    (posted in the Syriana thread)

    I have a feeling this is a film that must be seen twice- once to soak in the atmosphere and performances and situations, and another time to comprehend the story. I attempted to do both in my first viewing, which I think was a mistake. Too much intellectual thought spent outside of taking in what is happening onscreen moment for moment (which is what I try to do most of the time) distracted from my ability to appreciate the perf's, etc. About an hour into the film I said to myself, "wow, I have no clue what the hell's happening!" Regardless, I'd give it 3.5 stars on first viewing. The film does an excellent job of capturing a sense of "the global;" that is, conveying the complex nature of interconnected events in different places across the globe. Sort of capturing the "dance" that all these players perform, without quite knowing how everything's going down (Ebert says in his review, none of the characters know exactly what's going on, so why should we?). The film truly lives up to its tagline "everything is connected." That is the dominant idea I took away after first viewing. It accomplishes this 'global interconnectedness' better than perhaps any film I've seen. That the story is not in any way dumbed down to be comprehendable to average audiences was a great relief. I greatly look forward to seeing this again. On a scene by scene basis, the film is excellent. Gaghan has a very unique way of starting and especially ending scenes which I also noticed in Traffic- usually starting/ending right in the middle of something, and showing us the "in between" moments as often, or more often, than 'actual moments,' if that makes sense. The scene in which the Jeffrey Wright character is introduced is a perfect example. It ends about 15-20 seconds after it would traditionally begin in a normal film. Also, the level of detail, both plot-wise and physically (locations, etc) is rather astounding. The level of atmosphere in the middle east scenes is palpable. Note the opening scene with Clooney with its use of subdued natural lighting and lower-t-mid level medium shots. Great stuff. Clooney's performance is outstanding, especially his eyes- they have a haunted quality here that I have not seen in his other roles. The man deserves every nomination he can get. Gaghan's use of music and overall sound editing (Soderberghian sound introductions of scenes, minimalistic use of music and frequent withdrawl of natural sound) is admirable. The man has certainly learned a thing or two from watching Soderbergh, and readapting it to a different style. Gaghan and Robert Elswit's framing is also quite good, lots of long-lens closeups and great focus pulling. The minimalization of color is interesting, and matches the gray-blue emotional state of these business brokers and political people. Good decisions by Gaghan to set the scenes, which are almost exclusively dialogue, in as varied locations and times of day as possible- hotels, cars, campfires, deserts, meeting rooms, warehouses, barbecues- really keeps the visual interest going. The climactic moments stated above by Kyle D were extremely devastating for me, especially the Clooney-Nassir moment. Something about that recognition is just absolutely haunting. So beautiful and heartbreaking and great. I look forward to seeing this again.

    Edit: I’ve seen the film again, and the film is a lot easier to absorb the second time. Not quite perfect, but very worthy of high reviews and attention. The film is different from other political/war films such as All the President’s Men or Apocalypse Now in that it is about stuff that is happening RIGHT NOW.

    9. Good Night, and Good Luck.
    Clooney’s B&W film is very short but very good. It took a while for me to get into this picture. It wasn't until about 2 days later that I realized how good it really is. It is so spare, so lacking in traditional bio/based on a true story elements, like episodic structure and set design fetishizing, and lacking even in traditional movie elements, like character development or a final set piece, that it's such a completely different movie-going experience that it's difficult to digest at first. The thread connecting the scenes is the ongoing event, or, as the characters see it, their work. This really is a film about people at work, and not much else (i.e. no personal lives, private struggles, etc etc). Sort of like Michael Mann's films, which almost always concern people and their jobs, except with all the character development taken out. Obviously,Striatharn's perf and Clooney's direction and choice of B&W are all pure brilliance. Great work by Stephen "Traffic" Mirrione and Robert "Magnolia" Elswit. Also, the characters actually talk like people in the 1950s! It's great. Really transports the viewer. I love how literate Murrow's dialogue is. A terrific departure from mainstream fare, with very important relevance today.

    10. Kingdom of Heaven
    This is on here on the basis of a second viewing, which works wonders. This isn’t even the finished cut of the film, missing 30% or more footage, and it’s still terrific. Sorely lacking in character development (to be reinstated later this year), the film makes up for it through stupendous visuals. I would feel comfortable calling this Ridley’s best-looking film and one of the best shot films I’ve seen in a theatre. The film’s attitude towards spirituality, excellently verbalized in a monologue by David Thewlis, dovetails precisely with my own. Scott’s direction of the scenes that ARE in the film is excellent. He has a knack for staging, blocking, and framing that is impeccable. I believe that the director’s cut will, in terms of quality, be the towering masterpiece of recent epic wave.

    Other films worth noting:

    The editing flow of the Interpreter. Editors or fans of editing need to see this movie. Each shot says something, and is onscreen only long enough to convey whatever the meaning of the shot is, and then the film goes on to the next shot. There is no extraneous visual material here whatsoever.

    Hustle & Flow. A solid crowd pleaser with a terrific character played by a terrific actor in a terrific performance.

    Island, The. Bay’s first film to have character development is a mostly good movie and very well shot.

    Cinderella Man. Ron Howard’s first attempt to do something interesting directorially, using some interesting editing rhythms. Note the way he covers his scenes. He stated in an interview that he wanted to get into actual ‘interesting’ directing a little bit more, instead of just turning out a good picture, and this film represents a step in that direction.

    The Jacket. Severely underrated picture starring Adrien Brody and Keira Knightley, with an interesting story, excellent shooting, and a great Brian Eno score. The film leaves you with such a happy feeling. Worth checking out.

    Consantine. Very well shot drama with occasionally hokey but entertaining story elements. A good exercise in “smooth” visual style. The film is all composition and tracking shots; there is no handheld at all.
    Sin City. Another unique visual exercise. Enough has been said about this film already, so I won’t add any more.

    Lord of War (Andrew Niccol)
    An outstanding piece of cinema documenting the illegal arms trade from the 1980s to now. Terrific entertainment and a sobering wake-up call all at the same time.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: this film is not available in OAR. It was shot in 2.35:1; there are 2 r1 releases, one that is 1.33 and one in 1.78. The 1.78 version is not open matte, but cropped on both sides, with a loss of about 20% of picture; read more in the Lord of War dvd thread. Please email Lions Gate. The only OAR edition is r3 and maybe r2, I am not sure. The film seen in its original ratio is gorgeous, very well framed.

    Here is my review of the film-

    In the early 1980s, Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage) discovers that his true calling in life is to sell guns. And sell them he does. The son of a Russian immigrant family, Orlov uses his uncanny business instincts and flair for salesmanship to become one of the world's most important, and illegal, arms suppliers. He uses his vast earnings to seduce the woman of his dreams (played by Bridget Moynahan), while unwittingly destroying her life as well as that of his brother (played by Jared Leto) with his chosen profession. All the while, a dedicated Interpol agent (Ethan Hawke) pursues him across the globe.

    It has been said that with regard to cinema, everything's been done. Although this would often appear to be the case, it seems as if writer-director Andrew Niccol has hit upon something new here. Although there have films about mid-level criminals before (the films of Martin Scorsese come to mind), Niccol's Lord of War is the first film whose primary topic is international illegal gunrunning in the past quarter-century. Niccol takes full advantage of this fact, peppering the script with fascinating, and at times horrifying, truths. He realizes that much of his audience knows little about the intricacies of illegal gunrunning, and much like Scorsese's Casino or the recent City of God, part of the fun of the film is learning how the system works.

    The film could easily have turned into what we all too often see- an original idea tacked onto a cliched narrative. Not so here. The script is brazenly original not only in terms of content, but also in its approach to the material. For so serious a subject, the film is remarkably lighthearted. Many funny moments are expertly written into various scenes; unlike many other films, the humor grows out of the situations rather than being shoehorned into them. And although the film has its share of comedy, it maintains a truly admirable balance of tone. The film is both highly entertaining and very serious. Niccol makes no attempt to gloss over the more rotten aspects of Orlov's profession; it's all there for the viewer to see. Orlov's way of life has several particularly devastating long-term effects on his brother. As is to be expected, Jared Leto's performance here is brilliant. The other actors do fine work, and Nicolas Cage is his usual good self.

    It is my belief that Niccol's script is one of the strongest to come out of a mainstream production in quite some time; its unique subject matter jeopardizes its chances at being a workable film, but it succeeds astonishingly well- it is an original concept with an original approach that manages to maintain a finely balanced tone, humanizing all of its characters and presenting multiple points of view, while educating the viewer and remaining massively entertaining. The film's political message is a blunt one, but Niccol doesn't hit us over the head; he lets the images speak for themselves.

    A word must be said about the visuals. Niccol and his cinematographer, Amir M. Mokri (who also lensed the visually accomplished Bad Boys II), have worked wonders here. Every single shot of this picture is aesthetically pleasing. Niccol uses wide shots a good deal more than many other directors, and he employs them to great effect. His trademark filters are very much on display here, filling the frame with beautiful saturated blues and yellows. There are also a number of great telephoto close-ups. Niccol's compositional sense is stunningly good; the scope frame is used to its absolute full potential here. It is rare to see a content-driven film so visually stimulating. Niccol's use of CGI is also worth noting. This film is an example of how computer graphics ought to be used- creatively and only when necessary. The sheer ingenuity of the opening credit sequence- a single, unbroken shot following a bullet from its creation to its final purpose, from its point of view, played against Buffalo Springfield's "For What it's Worth"- is staggering. Niccol has a strong sense of how music works with an image.

    Lord of War is a rare breed of film, one that hardly ever gets made- a sizable production about a relatively little-known topic, aimed at no demographic in particular, that fires on all cylinders and is consistently intelligent and entertaining. This is one of the best films released so far this year.

    Brilliant film, brilliant performance, highly interesting subject matter. Also quite good direction, from a relative unknown (Bennett Miller).

    XXX: State of the Union
    A motion picture of incredibly poor quality. The film’s premise is ludicrous (president hires street hustlers and pimps as security), the direction is outrageously bad (note especially the train subway sequence). A useful film to watch for filmmakers who wish to avoid making unintentionally hilarious films.

    Memoirs of a Geisha
    2.5 hours of actors communicating to each other in a second language, with no fluency or sense of comfortableness. Note Rob Marshall’s elementary staging of the scenes, hidden behind Dion Beebe’s excellent lighting and framing and the great sets and costumes. Suffers from biopic syndrome in a big way (disparate events mashed together). Marshall has transferred the material to film without translating it; he has not captured the vitality of the book, only filmed select events. And the character development is laughable. A great chance that was sorely bungled. The acting is as good as can be, given the circumstances. Ziyi Zhang is the real deal; see her perf here and in 2046. And Ken Watanabe is a badass as always, chewing up the scenery like no one else since Daniel Day-Lewis. The film overall is a good example of what not to do in terms of book-to-film and life-story adaptations.

    Ballad of Jack and Rose
    Very good film directed by Arthur Miller’s daughter Rebecca, who is Day-Lewis’s wife. Day-Lewis turns in another incredible, dynamite performance. The film is about how value systems change over the course of an individual’s life. Interesting stuff, marred by a largely pointless epilogue.

    Films not seen:

    Match Point

    Some tops of previous years:
    2004: Aviator, M$B, Passion of the Christ, Collateral, Farenheit 9/11
    2003: City of God, 21 Grams, ROTK
    2002: Pianist, Hours
    2001: Ali: Director's Cut, Mulholland Drive
    2000: Traffic, George Washington, Amelie, Requiem for a Dream

  6. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

    Feb 4, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Los Angeles
    Real Name:
    Quentin H

    BATMAN BEGINS – for my top pick of the year in an overall weak year, I have to go with one of the best comic book movies ever. Even Karen liked it. It’s top notch genre filmmaking with great performances. Superman has a tough act to follow.

    OLDBOY/SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE – I always get confused by release dates. Apparently, SFLV was released in 2005 all around the world, but OLDBOY was just released in the US on DVD and never had a US theatrical release. I had to buy the Korean disc of SFLV to watch it. Chan Wook Park is one of the best directors working today, and both these films are incredible. The only reason they aren’t #1 is that I’m confused about what year to attribute to them.

    40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN – The smartest, best written, sweetest, and most complete comedy I’ve seen in ages. So spot-on hilarious. I watch it all the time and quote it more.

    THE NEW WORLD – What can I say? I’m a Malick fan. Film can be so beautiful and poetic, and no one hits that like Malick. This is a truly wonderful visual experience.

    TSOTSI – A great and intensely emotional film about young hoods from South Africa. Watch it and marvel.

    CRASH – Biggest misconception of this film is that it is “over the top” or that it “hammers you with a message”. The film is a parable. It is purposefully not realistic. It is not TRAFFIC. The characters are symbols, and the coincidences are part of the conceit. Yet, despite being a very straightforward parable about human interaction, I see people criticize it for a lack of subtlety. That’s the style of a parable. I loved it.

    CAPOTE – Wow. An intimate portrait of a monster at work. And, I’m not talking about Perry. I’m talking about Truman. What a great performance.

    THE CONSTANT GARDENER – Up to the point Ralph visits his wife’s apartment, this is the best film of the year. Utterly heartbreaking and I can’t take my eyes off of it. The second half of the film does not reach that emotion because it is busy wrapping up the mystery and suspense. It’s still a great film.

    WEDDING CRASHERS – What can I say? In a great year for comedies, I have 4 on my list. This one may have the most laughs of the bunch. Again…so quotable.

    KUNG FU HUSTLE/KISS, KISS, BANG, BANG – An overall weak year, but a great year for comedies. KFH is brilliant and creative and original. KKBB is a wonderfully irreverent inside joke for all movie fans. I love both these movies and had to include them both.

    All good films, but not spectacular. I’d recommend renting them all if you haven’t seen them.

  7. Dave Hackman

    Dave Hackman Stunt Coordinator

    Jan 11, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Top 10 of 2005

    1.Mysterious Skin
    2.Nobody Knows
    3.Mad Hot Ballroom
    4.Cinderella Man
    5.Good Luck and Good Night
    6.Pride & Prejudice
    8.Rory O’Shea Was Here
    9.North Country
    10.The Memory of a Killer
  8. RyanAn

    RyanAn Screenwriter

    Jun 5, 2004
    Likes Received:
    NEW TOP 10!!!! As of 03/06/06!!!!

    1. Brokeback Mountain
    2. Cinderella Man
    3. Crash
    4. Munich
    5. Good Night, and Good Luck
    6. North Country
    7. King Kong
    8. Walk the Line
    9. Syriana
    10. Great Raid, The

    Honorable Mentions:

    Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
    Hustle & Flow
    Batman Begins
    40-Year Old Virgin
    Dear Frankie
    Unfinished Life, An

    JUST ADDED!!!!

    Munich, Capote, Producers, Brokeback Mountain, plus others.

    I am taking a spot, my temporary top 10:

    1. Cinderella Man
    2. North Country
    3. Millions
    4. King Kong
    5. Hustle & Flow
    6. Great Raid, The
    7. Crash
    8. Batman Begins
    9. Sin City
    10. 40-Year Old Virgin

    11. [​IMG] Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

    *** My theatre still has yet to get or just got and I have yet to see them: Brokeback Mountain, Producers, Murderball, Capote, Me and You and Everyone We Know ***

    Here is the list of movies I saw at the theatre, in a basic order of good to not so good.

    Cinderella Man
    North Country
    King Kong
    Hustle & Flow
    Great Raid, The
    Batman Begins
    Sin City
    40-Year Old Virgin
    Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
    Broken Flowers
    Dear Frankie
    An Unfinished LIfe
    In Her Shoes
    Skeleton Key
    March of the Penguins
    Coach Carter
    Walk the Line
    Kung-Fu Hustle
    Phantom of the Opera
    War of the Worlds
    Dark Water
    Good Night, and Good Luck
    Constant Gardener, The
    Ladies in Lavender
    Sky High
    The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Waredrobe
    Jacket, The
    Land of the Dead
    The Interpeter
    In Good Company
    Chicken Little
    Melinda and Melinda
    Assault on Precinct 13
    Weather Man, THe
    Devil's Rejects, The
    Saw II
    Family Stone, The
    Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
    Fever Pitch
    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    Exorcism of Emily Rose, the
    Pride and Prejudice
    Bride and Prejudice
    First Descent
    Aristocrats, the
    Bad News Bears (2005)
    Roll Bounce
    Four Brothers
    A Lot Like Love
    Be Cool
    Cheaper by the Dozen 2
    High Tension
    Lord of War
    Oliver Twist
    Mr. and Mrs. Smith
    Tim Burton's Coprse Bride
    Island, The
    Ice Princess
    Longest Yard, The (2005)
    Guess Who?
    Lords of Dogtown
    Red Eye
    Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    Ice Harvest, The
    Upside of Anger
    Beauty Shop
    Two For the Money
    In the Mix
    Wolf Creek
    Legend of Zorro
    Deuce Bigalow: European Gigalow
    Rumor Has It
    Just Like Heaven
    Into the Blue
    Aeon Flux
    Cry Wolf
    Amityville Horror, The (2005)
    Just Friends
    Kicking and Screaming
    Gospel, The
    Kids in America
    Howl's Moving Castle
    Transporter 2, The
    Fantastic Four
    Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl
    Must Love Dogs
    Miss Congenilty 2: Armed and Fabulous
    House of Wax
    History of Violence
    Fog, The (2005)
    Ringer, The
    Man, The
    Yours, Mine, and Ours (2005)
    Dukes of Hazzard, The
    Herbie: Fully Loaded
    Cave, The
    Brothers Grim, The
    Ocean's Twelve
    XXX: State of the Union
  9. Andrew Schwarz

    Andrew Schwarz Stunt Coordinator

    Mar 11, 2002
    Likes Received:
    TOP TEN OF 2005:

    1. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
    2. Batman Begins
    3. Sin City
    4. Munich
    5. Oldboy
    6. Layer Cake
    7. Wedding Crashers
    8. The 40 Year Old Virgin
    9. Land of the Dead
    10. Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit
  10. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

    Jun 21, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Reserved...still a few films left to see.
  11. Dana Fillhart

    Dana Fillhart Supporting Actor

    Feb 8, 1999
    Likes Received:

    Folks, I have had one very tumultuous year, and my moviegoing has suffered quite a bit. I've also been doing a tremendous amount of fiction-writing, lately with the intent on getting something published in print (I already have one book on my own website). I've only seen about 25 films in theaters this year, compared to around 60 in years past.

    I hope that'll change and I'll be able to get back in the swing of things, movie-wise. That includes doing the tabulations I've done for HTF. They were always exhausting, but *always* a lot of fun. As more folks post their lists here I'll evaluate if it's worth it - if we get a lot more as we go into February, I'll likely do it. I still want to see how we stack up against the Oscars - which, by the way, I've not seen a single potential candidate (except King Kong).

    Meantime, I'm looking forward to seeing what everybody else thinks are the best picks of the year.

    As Ah-nuld would say, "I'll be bahhhhhk!"

    PS, I'm a guy not a girl. [​IMG]
    ("And a fine husband she'll make some lucky woman." -bastardization of a Brothers Grimm quote)
  12. Nicu

    Nicu Extra

    Apr 17, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Best films of 2005: 'Broken Flowers' and 'The Death of Mr Lazarescu'. Everything else sucked.

  13. Jose Martinez

    Jose Martinez Screenwriter

    Dec 18, 2003
    Likes Received:
    I haven't seen some of the top ten mentioned (the ones with pics). I only watch OAR. [​IMG]
  14. John Bryant

    John Bryant Second Unit

    Mar 18, 2002
    Likes Received:
    John Bryant's 2005 Top 10 List
    Rankings as of 03/16/2008
    Removed A History of Violence upon second viewing, added kiss kiss bang bang










  15. Vickie_M

    Vickie_M Producer

    Dec 31, 2001
    Likes Received:

    Was that really necessary? Couldn't you have taken your "Everything else" to the Worst Movies thread?

    Would it be asking too much to have ONE thread where people actually celebrate movies they thought were good and don't have to put up with others farting and stinking the place up? Is that too much to ask?

    Sometimes I hate the Internet, because I can't go anywhere without someone wanting to inject negativity and cynicism.

    Happy freaking New Years.

    Placeholder, for after I've seen Match-Point, Mrs. Henderson Presents, and The New World, which haven't opened in Chicago yet, at which point I'll delete the above, but I had to get it off my chest.
  16. Craig S

    Craig S Producer

    Mar 4, 2000
    Likes Received:
    League City, Texas
    Real Name:
    Craig Seanor
    To date (2/4/2006), I have seen 80 films released in 2005. It was actually a pretty good year. Here, in my opinion, are the ten best films of 2005:
    1. The Constant Gardener
    2. Capote
    3. The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada
    4. Good Night & Good Luck
    5. Munich
    6. Crash
    7. Sin City
    8. Cinderella Man
    9. Brokeback Mountain
    10. Pride & Prejudice

    Special 11th Place "Jury Prize":

    Batman Begins
    The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe
    Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire
    King Kong
    Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge Of The Sith
    Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit
    War Of The Worlds

    Sequels. Prequels. Franchises. Remakes. TV adaptations. All dirty words to most serious critics. The 8 films above fit into one or more of these categories. In addition, they're all "genre films", that catch-all used to describe fantasy, SF, horror, comic book, etc. movies. And of course, every one of these was designed to be an audience-pleasing blockbuster, a "tentpole" for a studio's moneymaking plans. In other words, these are considered by many to be not worthy of serious consideration on any "best of the year" list.

    But a funny thing happened this year. Hollywood put out an unusually high number of top-notch genre blockbusters. Films that were made with passion, with heart, with intelligence. Films that also managed to entertain millions of moviegoers. Most of them cost a lot of money, and every cent showed up on screen. They had stories that worked, and special effects that served those stories.

    I see many Top Tens here filled with these titles. All these came close to my own Top Ten at one time or another. In the end, although all fell just short, I felt it important to highlight these 8 films to point out what a damn good year it was for films of the imagination.

    The Best of The Rest:

    The 40-Year Old Virgin
    The Family Stone
    The Great Raid
    Howl's Moving Castle
    The Lord Of War
    Match Point
    Mrs. Henderson Presents
    The New World
    The Upside Of Anger
    Walk The Line
    The Weather Man
    The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill
  17. Jake Yenor

    Jake Yenor Stunt Coordinator

    Aug 13, 2005
    Likes Received:
  18. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor

    Apr 19, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Metro NYC
    Real Name:

  19. Brian.L

    Brian.L Supporting Actor

    Feb 5, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Top Ten of 2005

    1. Oldboy

    2. The Squid and the Whale

    3. The 40-Year-Old-Virgin

    4. Syriana

    5. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

    6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

    7. Capote

    8. Serenity

    9. Grizzly Man

    10. Downfall (Der Untergang)

    Honorable Mentions (in order of ranking):
    Hustle & Flow, Sin City, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Caché (Hidden), Murderball, Good Night and Good Luck, Junebug, Thumbsucker, Broken Flowers
  20. Cory S.

    Cory S. Supporting Actor

    Sep 7, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Top Ten Films of 2005

    1. Munich
    2. The Constant Gardener
    3. Jarhead
    4. Batman Begins
    Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith
    (Begins and Episode III are tied for my FAVORITE FILM OF 2005 not necessarily the BEST.)
    6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
    7. Spielberg's War of the Worlds
    8. Walk the Line
    9. The Family Stone
    10.The Upside of Anger

    Honorable Mentions of 2005

    Frank Miller's Sin City
    Brokeback Mountain
    Lord of War
    An Unfinished Life
    Kingdom of Heaven(although depending on how the Director's Cut turns out, could elevate to the Top Ten.)

    That's it. That's the list!

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