Sunday, July 19, 2015
MrMovieETC's TOP 10 FILMS of 2005
Greetings, Movie Lovers!
I hope everyone had a great week and were able to watch some great films along the way.
This week, I will be tackling my top films of 2005 - a year that kind of feels like I missed as far as cinema goes. I viewed a decent chunk of them, sure, but there are a handful of popular titles that I have not made it around to yet. Simply put, if you happen to check out this list and there's a film that you feel should easily be on there and it's not, I would likely agree with you that it should be there but I cannot currently comment on it. In my defense, I had also only turned 20 in 2005, and let's just say that my cinematic tastes were still in development. I still stand behind some of the movies that I saw back then, and, a couple of them have made this list - so there's that.
I won't waste any more time here, so let's get started:
I'm not at all familiar with the comic that "Constantine" is loosely based on, so my affinity for this film has nothing to do with that in case you're wondering why I would hold a movie like this to a high enough regard to make a Top Ten list. I can vaguely recall my draw to seeing "Constantine" in the cinema - which was I still being on a Keanu Reeves high from the Matrix films, and the premise about angels and demons was easily in my wheelhouse (10 years later, it still mostly is). In case you're unfamiliar with the story, the titular character Constantine has been tasked with policing the demons of Hell and making sure they are not breaking the rules and having too much fun at humanity's expense. He additionally accepts the job because he attempted suicide (and failed), so he believes his soul is claimed by the Devil. After a lung cancer death sentence, he assumes that performing exorcisms will get him back in God's good graces. I wouldn't say the performances, even by Reeves, are particularly outstanding in this film, but I find it to be too much of a good time to dismiss. It moves at a slick pace and the climax is fairly entertaining as well. I've watched it multiple times since 2005 and still continue to enjoy it.
9. SIN CITY
It is not very often that I give a film such high praise based almost solely on eye candy, but c'mon, "Sin City" is that and much more. I think the ensemble cast members work well together when they cross paths in the narrative and a majority of them bring an entertaining game. I wouldn't go so far to say as the different stories reach a level of perfection or cohesiveness that completely work, but to bring something from the Frank Miller arsenal with such style has to be commended by itself. Instead of being a typical violent and gory comic adaptation, it takes those characteristics and mixes them with a color palette that really was one of the first of its kind.
There's really not much more I can say about it, because either you're well aware of what "Sin City" is by now, or else you found it so drastically unappealing that you could not care less. I've yet to watch it on blu-ray, although I am looking forward to it as I'm sure its vibrancy will look nothing short of awesome.
8. GRIZZLY MAN
I don't think I've even seen "Grizzly Man" since its debut in 2005, and yet it is one of the documentaries of seen in my life time that has stood more than all the rest. As with most films studying wildlife and its impact on the Earth and its inhabitants, "Grizzly Man" offers a cautionary tale - except this movie in particular has a message with a double-edge. The documentarian here is Timothy Treadwell, a researcher that spent multiple summers in Alaska studying grizzly bears. Over time, he starts to realize (mostly in his own mind) that bears and humans can co-exist in close spaces as long as there lies a mutual respect. Even if you can guess the result of that hypothesis, I won't spell it out here. What I will tell you is that Treadwell's journey is a pretty fascinating one. Anybody that has any kind of love of nature can relate to many of the emotions Treadwell experiences during his interactions with the bears - that is, until, he spends so much time away from humanity out in the wilderness that he goes, for a lack of a better term, fucking nuts.
As the film's tagline suggests, it's one thing to stand up for nature and educate the world, it's a whole other matter to try to walk in their line and not expect negative consequences. I thought Werner Herzog did an outstanding job of putting this documentary together, and if those films are in your wheelhouse, I'd highly recommend it.
7. KING KONG
So, yeah, this blockbuster take on "King Kong" is still a lot of fun to watch, for me at least, and the climax of Kong's dual atop the skyscraper still gives me chills. Say what you will, I really like this movie.
6. WALK THE LINE
I wasn't sure in the beginning, but after seeing "Walk the Line" for the first time, I don't think anyone could have played through the life and times of the great Johnny Cash quite as good as Joaquin Phoenix. I was (am) a fan of his work, but I had not heard of any musical backgrounds that he clearly boasted, and I have to say that he nailed the part completely. Truth be told, it's a kind of role that is really tailor-made for his type of talent - secure and confident in a dramatic role, and yet he does it so subtly that he's engaging without being over-the-top. As far as the story, if you know your Cash history, it goes steadily straight-forward: Johnny's rise to fame; his fall as a result of substance abuse; and finally, his resurgence.
Don't get me wrong, the story goes much deeper and personal than that, but those details are best left for the actual viewing experience. It's an excellent film and well worth the watch.
5. THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN
Perhaps this isn't quite as intellectually stimulating as some of the other films that came before it on the list, yet, "The 40-Year-Old Virgin", Judd Apatow's directing debut, is still one of my favorite comedies to date. Steve Carell makes a hilarious big stage debut as Andy Stitzer, a shy yet sweetheart video game nerd of sorts that reveals to his new friends (Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd) that he has never had sexual intercourse in his life. I suppose this film could be to blame for the recent explosion of raunchy comedies, and even if that's true, this movie at least got the formula correct. There's a healthy blend of heart and humor that Apatow has made a bit of a trademark from. His streak has not always been strong, although this one has always had me laughing consistently throughout its entirety. Again, its predictable as most comedies are, but it does have a few tricks up its sleeve to keep the audience rolling in the aisle. There have been a few comedies since and prior to 2005 that have come close to dethroning "Virgin", but it has still held on as my favorite.
I could be a little jaded on this one seeing as I did not view for the first time until after the tragic passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman. That, and I'm ashamed to say that I didn't really know much about the life of Truman Capote outside of his most famous work, "In Cold Blood". Coincidentally, that ended up working out pretty well for me as that is what the film is based around - Capote's research into a gruesome homicide. Hoffman, of course, is a revelation in this movie as Capote. He helped create a perfect balance of vulnerability and the ever-so-slightly snobbish side of Capote that was really a facade more than anything else to cover for his own insecurity. I think what makes the film even more powerful and tragic now more than ever is the coinciding tragedies of both Capote, the man, and Capote, the actor who played him because both passed away too young due to drug-related complications. They will be missed and their talents were gone far too prematurely.
3. A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
If you haven't checked this film out yet, I would easily suggest to do so.
2. BATMAN BEGINS
You can definitely tell, even back in 2005, that the comic crowd or Batman fans in particular had not quite recovered from the deflating hangover that was "Batman & Robin", as "Batman Begins" paled at the box office in comparison to its two follow-ups. Perhaps its understandable as every successful series has to start somewhere, and for an origin story card that Hollywood seems to love to play a little too often in the past decade, "Batman Begins" is one of the best in the deck in recent memory. Christopher Nolan was still trying to make a name for himself, and what better way to do that than try to raise a beloved comic character from the ashes? Not to mention totally steering the trademark away from the comic book feel that Tim Burton left behind in the late 80s and early 90s, and turn it into a realistic, gritty, and dark outing with an intimidating punch. While I wouldn't call Christian Bale the greatest actor to wear the cape and cowl, he did take the role to heart and was easily a believable Dark Knight as far as physicality. Nolan also could not have had a better cast to round out his trilogy than Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman. Need I say more? Cillian Murphy additionally brought a lively performance to the Scarecrow, and the nightmare sequences of this film were top notch, in my opinion.
I may not watch this installment of the trilogy as much as "The Dark Knight", but that doesn't decrease its value.
1. A SOUND OF THUNDER
A majority of the time, Hollywood is seemingly incapable of making a proper film based on a popular and/or classic novel; however, when tackling the timeless story from Ray Bradbury, they finally go it right. The original novel was fairly short, so sure, they had to make some creative decisions to fill in the gaps, but outside of that, the story stays true to the material, the special effects rivaled even that of the aforementioned "King Kong", and....I can't keep this up.
Give me a break, I have not done this for a while! Yes, of course, I'm not being serious. I attempted to watch this atrocious piece of sh-, no, feces deserves better than that, and I could not make it to the end credits. Of course I had high expectations due to being a huge fan of the book, but for the love of all things film, what exactly did they spend the $80 million budget on? It wasn't on story, effects, acting or anything that constitutes a film. I wouldn't recommend you watching this even for a laugh, because you won't laugh, you'll sob.
And now, my actual #1 film from 2005 is;
1. LORD OF WAR
Despite his more comical reputation as of late, Nicolas Cage, believe it or not, does have a batch of strong dramatic performances under his belt; and in my opinion, none are more of a standout than Yuri Orlov from "Lord of War", a young entrepreneur of sorts that discovers that his big talent is dealing guns to lesser developed countries in Africa, mostly illegally. For Yuri, it's not about the money, it's about the game, and while he could walk away at any given moment, he feels too compelled to continue his work even if it costs many innocent lives. While watching him battle his own moral boundaries in hostile environments is entertaining enough, Yuri also gets the pleasure of being hunted by Jack Valentine (Ethan Hawke), an Interpol agent whom lives and breathes the opportunity to bring Yuri down for good. Some of Cage's most captivating lines are from his own inner monologue as it breaks down his job and the admittance that he does cater to the scum of the Earth.
For its run time, "Lord of War" is a slow-burner, but it has just enough going on at any given moment and intriguing characters to make said time pass rather swiftly. I find this film to be infinitely re-watchable and that is why it's my favorite film of 2005.
Thank you very much for reading! See you next week for my Top Ten List of 2004.