January 2, 2006

Glenn's Top 10 of 2005

Okay, now, if I do a Top 10 of 2005 based on American releases I'd still be here in April without a concrete list (hell, I add on to all my year-end things years after the actual year has finished) so I've decided to indulge your Top 10 thirsty minds to produce Glenn's Top 10 of 2005... based on Australian release dates. It's completely silly, but whatever. You'll notice that out of the 10 films only 5 are from a US 2005 release date. The others are 2004.

And, hell, there'd be one less if I really went overboard and included the fact that Safe (from 1995) only recieved a release date here in 2005.

Anyway, here we go

10. The Constant Gardener (dir. Meirelles)
I consider Meirelles a great director. He takes me on stories that aren't necessarily the biggest or the best, but definitely interesting. And he does it in such a style that I really pay attention. Some people have said this film is too heavy-handed or whatever - I think that's exactly what it needed to be. Would you care if this was a quaint little movie about a man in Africa watering plants? I don't think so.

9. The Machinest (dir. Anderson)
I love it when movies, and the people behind them, are in love with movies. It means that I get a bonus as a viewer. I get people creating a movie that encompasses everything that film is meant to do. I think The Machinest does exactly that. Yes, it's just one of those movies where the main character doesn't know if he's awake/asleep/alive or dead, but I loved it. It's twisty, it's quick, it's intriguing and it wants to keep me entertained - which is more than I can say about a lot of movies.

8. Bad Education (dir. Almodovar)
I Love Pedro Almodovar. And instead of writing a big long passage, I'll just direct you to re-read the above musings of The Machinest and substitute this film into the equation. Interesting fact - both this film and The Machinest are Spanish - but you wouldn't know it from watching the movie (er, the latter that is. This one's obviously Spanish)

7. The Aviator (dir. Scorsese)
When has three hours ever felt so much like two? When I watching The Aviator in the cinema. It was an all-encompassing "epic" that is so extremely interesting that when the credits started to role I wanted to go for another hour or so. And what makes Cate Blanchett's show-stealing scenery chewing so much better than Jamie Foxx's in Ray (of which i am nowhere near a fan)? Cate seemed to have realised that Katherine Hepburn was a larger-than-life character who would probably have been angered if she knew she was to be played as some ordinary person. I think that's true.

6. Look Both Ways (dir. Watt)
The true Australian gem of the year. So Australian, but never sounding like some bad ocker-comedy (of which Aussie film-makers seem to have made an abundance of lately). It is a movie about such things as testicular cancer, trains hitting people, death and hyper-fantasised scenes of violence all wrapped up with a light feather touch. The reason for that can be attributed directly to writer/director Sarah Watt (who, coincidentally discovered she had breast cancer during filming and didn't tell anyone, including her husband and lead actor in the film William McInnes). Not only has she written a brilliant screenplay - she inbedded sequences shown entirely in animation. The result turns out to be a wonderfully truthful experience that doesn't leave an anvil on your heart like it so could have (and Little Fish did, ahem).

5. House of Flying Daggers (dir. Yimou)
Okay, I don't have any belief that this film speaks volumes to the soul or anything like that, but merely is a near-perfect action film. It looks absolutely stunning, sounds it too, and has so much fun with the genre that I had about as much fun as I could have expected.

4. Pride & Prejudice (dir. Wright)
I was so surprised by this movie. I randomly felt like seeing it one day - random because before that day I really had little to no interest in it - and so me and a friend went to see it. And wouldn't ya know BOTH of us fell in love with it. I just got swept up in it all. Everything about it just felt so right. The performances, the technical achievments are stunning, the relationship dynamics, everything. And I think the success of the film can be measured by my thoughts about Darcy. At the start I was all "meh, he's not much. He's not even good looking" - yet, two hours later I was swooning like there was so tomorrow. I'm so Mathew MacFayden - I'm a devotee now.

3. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (dir. Park & Box)
The reason this is here and so high? I was laughing all the way through. Not only at the hilarious jokes that are always there right up front, but also because of the sly nods to horror movies that I've been watching for yeeeaaars. I even chuckled at the mere sight of a garden gate swinging in the midnight wind. I had an absolute ball with this movie and couldn't imagine it being any better than it was. Another adventure is hopefully not too far away.

2. Mysterious Skin (dir. Araki)
I saw this film more as a curiousity. Religious and Family groups wanted it banned, yet failed spectacularly. When I left the cinema however, I felt (much like The Aviator up there) that I wanted more. Despite the fact that these characters aren't exactly Amelie or anyone like that, I wanted to spend more time with them. I was fascinated by them, their quirks, their lives, their ills and soforth. I was stunned by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and fell in love with his crew of small-town misfits. Despite the icky nature of many early scenes, it never felt manufactured. It felt like that was how they played out to the boys and I never doubted it for a second.

1. Birth (dir. Glazer)
I didn't have quite a reaction to a film this year than the one I had to Birth. After Nicole Kidman and Danny Huston walked off along the beach and the credits started to role I just had to sit there. I had to sit there and take it all in. What had I just seen? Well, now I can tell you this. I had seen Nicole Kidman give the finest performance of her still-growing career. I had seen what could have been a landmine of a movie plot get turned and twisted into an almost poem-like daze of a film. I had seen brilliant cinematography and score (curtosy of Harris Savides and Alexandre Desplat respectively) go hand-in-hand to create a concoction of fairy-tale and mystique. Has there ever been a score that went to perfectly with the material? We all know this story of reincarnation would be silly if played for 100% serious drama, but Desplat gives us that all-time great score that turns it into a folk tale and I am just so grateful for it. Loved every second of it and can't imagine not having this film in my life.

....so, there you do. It's annoying that a lot of the great-looking films of "2005" will be released in 2006. What exactly does withholding these movies for months of end do in the grand scheme of things except make people such as myself pissed off that I have to wait a month for Match Point, over a month of Brokeback Mountain, over 2 months for Good Night & Good Luck, over three months of Walk The Line and nearly 5 months for A History of Violence. Oy...


JavierAG said...

Hey, quite a list you have here! Though the mix of 2004/2005 films is a little disturbing, you've managed to come up with great titles. And you'll SO be rewarded by your #1 placement of "Birth"! That movie will become one of those great obscure classics one day, like "Persona" and others.

Kamikaze Camel said...

I am certain that it is just entirely misjudged in this day and age (obviously, by people who didn't like it. The people who liked it REALLY LOVED IT) and decades into the future people will see it and realise it for what it is. A brilliant movie.

In a time when people aren't hung up in creating suspicion and scandal it can be seen out of that context. Jonathan Glazer is one our most important new filmmakers.

adam k. said...

I wasn't THAT in love with Birth, but Nicole Kidman was terrific, and the cinematography was beautiful. And the score...! The score is one for the ages. That was one of the most ridiculous oscar snubs I've ever seen in my life - along the lines of Naomi Watts for actress in Mulholland Dr. and Thelma & Louise for best picture. Particularly when they had snubbed Desplat the year prior also, when he was also better than any of their nominees. Truly haunting and beautiful score that was.

Ali said...

What an interesting, varied top ten you have here. I like it! I love that Brad Anderson's The Machinist made the cut; good to know that someone else enjoys this creepy, Kafka-esque thriller. Christian Bale is incredible in it.

Bad Education is criminally underrated. Dare I say I think it's better than Talk to Her?

Your thoughts on The Aviator perfectly mirror my sentiments. It was a long film, but it didn't feel like it at all.

I'm not a big fan of Birth at all, but the passionate love shared by you, Nathaniel and Nick has made me reconsider my position. I recently bought the DVD used and plan to watch it again. In any case, I'm glad to own it if only for Desplat's score and Kidman's perf.

Damn it, I really have to see Mysterious Skin asap.

Kamikaze Camel said...

glad to know the list is interesting and not completely boring.

Birth is also one of the movies I've discussed like Bad Education and The Machinest. it's a movie in love with movies and everything they can be. It's exists in it's own filminc world.

And depending on how you interpret the ending (there are at least four ways I've considered) then it can be such a different experience.