I sat down the other day to write down all the movies I've seen this year and was pleasantly surprised to find that my UGC Cineworld Unlimited Card is still worth the money.
Despite the constant supply of sequels and remakes I actually found a lot more enjoyment in the cinema in 2005. While I have endless debates about how Hollywood is imploding there are still enough good films coming out of the big studios to keep me entertained. 4 out of 5 of my top films this year are from Hollywood, though I would argue that only one of them is totally mainstream. While I would like to think that the works of Frank Miller or Joss Whedon are mainstream, the truth is, that they aren't.
But I digress.
Out of the 30 or so films I saw for the first time this year I didn't have too much difficulty choosing a top 5. Despite late challenges from the likes of King Kong, my top 5 this year had all booked their places by mid-August.
5) The Aviator
The most 'Hollywood' of all my selections, it was way back in January when I saw this Scorcese/DiCaprio opus about the early life of Howard Hughes. If you like biopics, then you should love this film because it is done superbly. I make no apologies for being a fan of DiCaprios work and here he gives one of his most powerful post-Titanic performances.
4) Sin City
Oh if only all comic book screen-adaptaions were like this. Three stories, all shot in digitally rendered blacks, whites and yellows. This one is a comic book geeks wet-dream and leaves me in no doubt that Robert Rodriguez is one of the most talented directors on the planet. Hell if he can make Josh Hartnett look and act cool, then he can do anything. Some guy called Tarantino did a small directing cameo too.
3) Batman Begins
For years and years I laboured under the impression that Tim Burtons Batman was a truly superb opening to the dark knights world. I was wrong. Christopher Nolan brings Batman into the 21st Century with a movie that delves deeper into the psyche of Bruce Wayne than any before it. The only thing that could top it now, was if Nolan agreed to make a movie adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns.
Adolf Hitler with feelings. Downfall portrays depserate people in truly desperate times. That many of these people are responsible for some of the worst atrocities known to man make it all the more poignant. "It is quite simply, the most important movie to ever come out of Germany and possibly the most significant war movie ever made."
Was there ever any doubt? It almost feels wrong to call Serenity a Hollywood movie, but it is. A movie so great I paid hundreds of pounds to take my girlfriend to Edinburgh for the World Premiere. Joss Whedon is a fantastic writer, and proves his raw talent as a movie director too with a film that crosses the rigid boundaries of science fiction into comedy and drama. If you have only a day to live, spend it watching this movie, over and over again!
Best of the rest
Put simply, the movies that when joined with the top 5, would nearly make a top 10!
Peter Jacksons post Lord of the Rings labour of love so nearly made my top 5. It was a superb movie. If you can ignore the fact that the film is just a tad (30 minutes) too long you should love it.
The Brothers Grimm
Poor Terry Gilliam. The audiences really don't seem to appreciate him. But hey, you keep making 'em, I'll keep watchin 'em. Superb fantasy comedy mixing more fairytales than I would have thought possible, and teaching us all the real reason why you shouldn't go into the dark woods.
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
Oh how many more adaptations will this one get? How about a play on broadway? Despite initial fears that this would be awful, I was really impressed with this latest interpretation of the Douglas Adams story.
It seems like an age since I saw this movie but it really did strike a cord. Superb movie about the seedier side of relationships with strong performances from Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts and Clive Owen.
Errr, the movies that while they wouldn't have made the top 10, still deserve a mention for quite random reasons (i.e. I wanted to mentioned them some how and this was the only way I could think of doing it).
Superb puppet movie fantasy. Rather than try to avoid the fact that all the characters have strings, the director makes them an integral part of the movie. I don't really know what else to say, except that it was absolutely fantastic.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
This was the year that Tim Burton proved that you could remake a still superb movie and do it well enough to not get lynched. Aside from some sickly moments, this adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic is worth a thousand Harry Potters
Harry Potter 4
Which brings me nicely onto the final special mention. I've never really got into the Potter hype. I found the early books a little too childish for my liking and ditto with the movies. The third movie in particular had me wincing in pain as the director felt it necessary to explain every little plot point for the little ones in row L. Then along came Mike Newell and with him a crew that has produced the first truly accessible Harry Potter movie. It offers something for the kids (although young ones should stay away) while not insulting the intelligence of those in the audience over 12! I was genuinely impressed with it and very happy to see that Newell had done what was needed and cut large sections of utter dross from the book.
The movies that quite simply wouldn't make it into my top 5, even if the films in the top 5, best of the rest and special mentions did not exist.
OK, was it really that bad? Well, yeah actually. It is symptomatic of the problems with all these movie adaptations of comics. The bad guy was dull, the conclusion contrived, the heros boring (except The Thing who was pretty cool). And don't get me started on FlameBoy... aka, most annoying man on the planet ever, whose jokes were only beaten for crapness by the leads in the turkey below.
The Legend of Zorro
OK, forgetting for a second that I think Catherine Zeta Jones is the most annoying actress ever to grace the screen (maybe her and FlameBoy above should get together for a Gigli style flop), I still hoped that Antonio Banderas could make Zorro watchable. Alas, the result was an awful comedy action reminiscent of the worst parts of Romancing the Stone. Banderas looked old, very old. And as for the jokes? OH MY GOD... they were worse than I could ever have imagined.
Not worth the Hype
These are the movies that I quite simply had to mention because even though they didn't get in the top 5, nearly top 10, special mentions or turkeys, they involved people or franchises that I just had to mention even though I shouldn't because all it leads to is me ranting about the problems I have with the said people and franchises.
Said people and franchises include, but are not limited too:
- a) Steven Spielberg
- b) Star Wars
- c) Tom Cruise
- d) Both a) & c)
Star Wars: Episode 3
Despite my previous positive review of Ep3 it still doesn't mean that this film deserves the massive attention it receives. In the end Ep3 appeased me after the true horror of Ep2, but even at it's best it was still a long way off the magic of the original trilogy. Lucas is a hack and despite a thoroughly enjoyable final hour of Ep3, should never be allowed to go within 50 miles of a movie set ever again.
War of the Worlds
Yet another film of thirds. The first third was ok, the third... er third was awful... the middle third was superb. But one good middle section does not a great film make. I just don't get Spielberg. He has made some films I love, so I am not beyond praising the guy. But he just seems to have found a formula for endings that are so unoriginal I am thinking of leaving his next movie 10 minutes early!