Top Ten Movies of 2005
1. 2046 (Wong Kar-Wai): a sequel of sorts to In the Mood for Love, and a completion of an unofficial trilogy (first instalment: The Days of Being Wild), 2046 is entirely worthy of sharing company with these fine predecessors. Gorgeous and sad. Beautiful and haunting. Mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful (apologies to ee cummings).
2. 3-Iron (Kim Ki-duk): about the worst thing I can say about this one is that as a follow-up to Kim's sublime Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring, it doesn't quite measure up to that film's exquisite standard. Still, this is a fine film examining the metaphysical nature of our relationship with objects and people in the material world. Soulful and affecting.
3. A History of Violence (Cronenberg): a cutting analysis of the pleasure we get out of cheering another's acts of violence in the appearance of a rather straight ahead genre film, Cronenberg's film is raw and nasty. Mortensen and Bello, Hurt and Harris all give award-worthy performances.
4. Land of the Dead (Romero): The best (fictional or otherwise) political film of the year. Romero's deadly assault upon Bush's America of entitlement and privilege is unrelentingly gory and deliciously vicious. Two thumbs in yer gullet.
5. Kung Fu Hustle (Chow): delightfully cheesy fun, Chow's genre-blending assault on the senses is rarely dull and incessantly engaging. You know you are in for a good time when an axe-wielding gang of thugs spontaneously breaks into song and dance, while Chow's camera gives 'em the Busby Berkley treatment.
6. The Power of Nightmares (Curtis): this is the sorta thoroughly scholarly treatment of the post-9/11 world all you Michael Moore fans have been begging for. Three hours of intelligent analysis of the contemporary face-off between the two fundies, Christian and Islam.
7. Brokeback Mountain (Lee): it is a close call which is the more affecting love story, BM or King Kong, but this is the slightly better film. Anchored by evocative cinematography and a great performance as the tightly wound and terribly repressed Heath Ledger, this tale of forbidden love between two gay cowboys spans a couple of decades, from the 60s through the 80s. Lee uses the iconography of the western, but this film is more Romeo and Juliet (or perhaps Mercutio) than Stagecoach.
8. King Kong (Jackson): Jackson's homage is loving and magnificent, despite its somewhat unfortunate depiction of the natives of Skull Island. The affection between Ann Darrow and Kong is more beautifully rendered than just about any other cinematic love story between homo sapiens recorded in 2005, while Jackson's recreation of 1930s New York is full of the sorta nostalgia that will make crusty old men soft.
9. Downfall (Hirschbiegel): Despite the structural and tonal inconsistencies, not to mention its larger than life narrative ambitions, there is much here to praise, not the least of which is Ganz's transformative performance as Hitler. Watching this particular group of Nero's fiddle while Berlin burned was as disturbing an experience as any I had in the theatres in 2005.
10. Wolf Creek (McLean): A most memorable effort by Aussie McLean, whose horrific film assaults his national reverence for the macho male with savage glee. McLean also toys with genre conventions in order to deliver a series of set-ups that are invariable subverted. A notable debut by a gifted filmmaker.