Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Top 20 Movies of 2005

2005 produced some gems of movies buried in the continuing output of Hollywood rough. The industry has had its worst year in nearly two decades, largely, I believe, due to mediocre remakes and disappointing sequels putting the punters off from buying tickets. So let us hope that Hollywood pulls its finger out and gets back to basics. Great films have always been about a great story, not CGI and explosions. Understand Michael Bay? Good. Now let us begin. Below are the top 20 movies of 2005 in no particular order.

The Descent - After a tragic accident, six friends reunite for a caving expedition. Their adventure soon goes horribly wrong when a collapse traps them deep underground and they find themselves pursued by bloodthirsty creatures. As their friendships deteriorate, they find themselves in a desperate struggle to survive the creatures and each other.

History of Violence - Based on the graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke, A History of Violence is the tale of Tom Stall. Tom is a loving family man and well-respected citizen of a small Indiana town. But when two savage criminals show up at his diner, Tom is forced to take action and thwart the robbery attempt. Suddenly heralded as a hero who took the courage to stand up to crime, people look up to Tom as a man of high moral regard. But all that media attention has the likes of mobsters showing up at his doorstep, charging that Tom is someone else they've been looking for. Is it a case of mistaken identity or does Tom have a history that no one knows about? Either way, someone's about to find out if there's a history of violence.

Sideways - Miles is a failed writer living a meager existence in San Diego as an English teacher. With his career seemingly fading and the fate of a book hinging on a publisher's decision, Miles is depressed with himself and what he hasn't achieved. Jack is a television actor whom some recognize but not many do, as if he were a minor actor who got a taste of success. With his best friend Miles, the two embark on a road trip through California's wine country. Miles wants to give his friend a nice sendoff before married life, while Jack simply wants to have a fling beforehand. As they're both nearing middle age with not much to show for it, the two will explore the vineyards while ultimately searching for their identities.

Garden State - Andrew Largeman is a depressed, out of work actor eking out his existence in Los Angeles. But a fateful call from his father has Andrew heading back to his home state of New Jersey. As he's about to confront his the personal demons in his life, Andrew just may find that life is worth living. But only when he can deal with the conflicts that arise from he and those around him.

Downfall - In April of 1945, Germany stands at the brink of defeat with the Russian Army closing in from the east and the Allied Expeditionary Force attacking from the west. In Berlin, capitol of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler proclaims that Germany will still achieve victory and orders his Generals and advisers to fight to the last man. "Downfall" explores these final days of the Reich, where senior German leaders (such as Himmler and Goring) began defecting from their beloved Fuhrer, in an effort to save their own lives, while still others (Joseph Goebbels) pledge to die with Hitler. Hitler, himself, degenerates into a paranoid shell of a man, full of optimism one moment and suicidal depression the next. When the end finally does comes, and Hitler lies dead by his own hand, what is left of his military must find a way to end the killing that is the Battle of Berlin, and lay down their arms in surrender.

Million Dollar Baby - In the wake of a painful estrangement from his daughter, boxing trainer Frankie Dunn has been unwilling to let himself get close to anyone for a very long time--then Maggie Fitzgerald walks into his gym. In a life of constant struggle, Maggie's gotten herself this far on raw talent, unshakable focus and a tremendous force of will. But more than anything, she wants someone to believe in her. The last thing Frankie needs is that kind of responsibility-- let alone that kind of risk--but won over by Maggie's sheer determination, he begrudgingly agrees to take her on. In turns exasperating and inspiring each other, the two come to discover that they share a common spirit that transcends the pain and loss of their pasts, and they find in each other a sense of family they lost long ago. Yet, they both face a battle that will demand more heart and courage than any they've ever known.

Spartan - A "lone wolf" U.S. government secret agent, Scott( Kilmer), is assigned the task of rescuing the kidnapped daughter (Bell) of a high ranking government figure, only to discover along the way a larger, more sinister plot.

Inside I'm Dancing - Michael is a 24-year-old who has cerebral palsy and long-term resident of the Carrigmore Residential Home for the Disabled, run by the formidable Eileen. His life is transformed when the maverick Rory O'Shea moves in. Michael is stunned to discover that fast talking Rory, who can move only his right hand, can understand his almost unintelligible speech. Rory's dynamic and rebellious nature soon sparks a flame in Michael, introducing him to a whole new world outside of Carrigmore.

Dead Man's Shoes - A disaffected soldier (Considine) returns to his hometown to get even with the thugs who brutalized his mentally-challenged brother (Kebbell) years ago.

The Constant Gardner - Based on the best-selling John le Carré novel and from the Academy Award-nominated director of "City of God." In a remote area of Northern Kenya, activist Tessa Quayle (Rachel Weisz) is found brutally murdered. Tessa's companion, a doctor, appears to have fled the scene, and the evidence points to a crime of passion. Members of the British High Commission in Nairobi assume that Tessa's widower, their mild-mannered and unambitious colleague Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), will leave the matter to them. They could not be more wrong. Haunted by remorse and jarred by rumors of his late wife's infidelities, Quayle surprises everyone by embarking on a personal odyssey that will take him across three continents. Using his privileged access to diplomatic secrets, he will risk his own life, stopping at nothing to uncover and expose the truth - a conspiracy more far-reaching and deadly than Quayle could ever have imagined.

Sin City - A collection of interweaving stories all based in the corrupt, crime infested hell-hole that is Basin City. Heavily influenced by film-noir, the main storylines concern a hulking brute called Marv (Mickey Rourke), who is seeking the murderer of a beautiful woman who was killed while asleep in bed with him; an ex-photographer called Dwight (Clive Owen) who accidentally kills a hero cop and has to cover it up; and a soon-to-be-retiring policeman called Hartigan (Bruce Willis) who is incarcerated for a crime he didn't commit. All based on the brilliant graphic novels "Sin City", "The Big Fat Kill" and "That Yellow Bastard", written and illustrated by Frank Miller.

Napoleon Dynamite - A listless and alienated teenager decides to help his new friend win the class presidency in their small western high school, while he must deal with his bizarre family life back home.

Batman Begins - As a young boy, Bruce Wayne watched in horror as his millionaire parents were slain in front of him--a trauma that leads him to become obsessed with revenge. But the opportunity to avenge his parent's deaths is cruelly taken away from him by fate. Fleeing to the East, where he seeks counsel with the dangerous but honorable ninja cult leader known as Ra's Al-Ghul, Bruce returns to his now decaying Gotham City, which is overrun by organized crime and other dangerous individuals manipulating the system. Meanwhile, Bruce is slowly being swindled out of Wayne Industries, the company he inherited. The discovery of a cave under his mansion, along with a prototype armored suit, leads him to assume a new persona, one which will strike fear into the hearts of men who do wrong; he becomes Batman!!! In the new guise, and with the help of rising cop Jim Gordon, Batman sets out to take down the various nefarious schemes in motion by individuals such as mafia don Falcone, the twisted doctor/drug dealer Jonathan 'The Scarecrow' Crane, and a mysterious third party that is quite familiar with Wayne and waiting to strike when the time is right.

The Edukators - In Germany, Jan (Daniel Brühl) and Peter (Stipe Erceg) are best friends and revolutionary activists calling themselves "Edukators". Berlin student Jule is hoplessly indebted due to an accident she caused, uninsuredly hitting a rich businessman's limousine. Evicted from her flat she moves in with her boyfrend Peter and soon learns that Peter and his flatmate, Jan, are breaking into luxurious mansions at night. Instead of stealing or vandalizing, though, they carefully and ornately rearrange furniture and valulables as a form of protesting against the system. This finding leads the three into a chain of dangerous events which leaves them as a love triangle and are forced tro confront their own identities and friendships.

Maria Full Of Grace - A pregnant Colombian teenager becomes a drug mule to make some desperately needed money for her family.

War of The Worlds - Ray Ferrier is a working class man living in New Jersey. He's estranged from his family, his life isn't in order, and he's too caught up with himself. But the unthinkable and, ultimately, the unexpected happens to him in an extraordinary sense. His small town life is shaken violently by the arrival of destructive intruders: Aliens which have come en masse to destroy Earth. As they plow through the country in a wave of mass destruction and violence, Ray must come to the defense of his children. As the world must fend for itself by a new and very advanced enemy not of this world, it's inhabitants must save humanity from a far greater force that threatens to destroy it.

Crash - Several stories interweave during two days in Los Angeles involving a collection of inter-related characters, a black police detective with a drugged out mother and a thieving younger brother, two car thieves who are constantly theorizing on society and race, the distracted district attorney and his irritated and pampered wife, a racist veteran cop (caring for a sick father at home) who disgusts his more idealistic younger partner, a successful black Hollywood director and his wife who must deal with racist cop, a Persian-immigrant father who buys a gun to protect his shop, a Hispanic locksmith and his young daughter who is afraid of bullets, and more.

March Of The Penguins - Each winter, alone in the pitiless ice deserts of Antarctica, deep in the most inhospitable terrain on Earth, a truly remarkable journey takes place as it has done for millennia. Emperor penguins in their thousands abandon the deep blue security of their ocean home and clamber onto the frozen ice to begin their long journey into a region so bleak, so extreme, it supports no other wildlife at this time of year. In single file, the penguins march blinded by blizzards, buffeted by gale force winds. Guided by instinct, by the otherworldly radiance of the Southern Cross, they head unerringly for their traditional breeding ground where--after a ritual courtship of intricate dances and delicate maneuvering, accompanied by a cacophony of ecstatic song--they will pair off into monogamous couples and mate. The females remain long enough only to lay a single egg. Once this is accomplished, exhausted by weeks without nourishment, they begin their return journey across the ice-field to the fish-filled seas. The male emperors are left behind to guard and hatch the precious eggs, which they cradle at all times on top of their feet. After two long months during which the males eat nothing, the eggs begin to hatch. Once they have emerged into their ghostly white new world, the chicks can not survive for long on their fathers' limited food reserves. If their mothers are late returning from the ocean with food, the newly-hatched young will die. Once the families are reunited, the roles reverse, the mothers remaining with their new young while their mates head, exhausted and starved, for the sea, and food. While the adults fish, the chicks face the ever-present threat of attack by prowling giant petrels. As the weather grows warmer and the ice floes finally begin to crack and melt, the adults will repeat their arduous journey countless times, marching many hundreds of miles over some of the most treacherous territory on Earth, until the chicks are ready to take their first faltering dive into the deep blue waters of the Antarctic.

The Sea Inside - Life story of Spaniard Ramón Sampedro, who fought a 30-year campaign to win the right to end his life with dignity. Film explores Ramón's relationships with two women: Julia, a lawyer who supports his cause, and Rosa, a local woman who wants to convince him that life is worth living. Through the gift of his love, these two women are inspired to accomplish things they never previously thought possible. Despite his wish to die, Ramón taught everyone he encountered the meaning, value and preciousness of life. Though he could not move himself, he had an uncanny ability to move others.

40 Year Old Virgin - 40-year-old Andy Stitzer (Steve Carrell) has done quite a few things in his life. He's got a cushy job stamping invoices at an electronics superstore, a nice apartment with a proud collection of action figures and comic books, good friends, a nice attitude. But there's just one little thing he hasn't quite gotten around to doing yet--something most people have done by his age. Done a lot. Andy's never, ever, ever had sex--not even by accident. So is that such a big deal? Well, for Andy's buds at the store, it sure is. Although they think he's a bit of an oddball, there's certainly a planet full of stranger (and homelier) guys who've at least had one go at having a go. They consider it their duty to help Andy out of his dire situation and go to great lengths to help him. But nothing proves effective enough to lure their friend out of lifelong chastity until he meets Trish (Catherine Keener), a 40-year-old mother of three. Andy's friends are psyched by the possibility that "it" may finally happen...until they hear that Andy and Trish have begun their relationship based on a mutual no-sex policy.

Well folks, there you have it. If you haven't heard of these movies and plan to have a quiet night in, check them out at your local DVD store. Will put up a festive gamespot tomorrow. Until then, I hope you're having a great holiday.

Caio!

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can honestly say that I haven't seen even one of these.

9:39 pm  
Blogger Jay Tea said...

Well, at least you'll be spoilt for choice the next time you hit the DVD shop ;)

10:48 pm  
Blogger Skry said...

That article you have a link to hit the nail on the head. Hollywood makes far too many terrible remakes, poor sequels and is clearly suffering for it. I'll bet the internet has a hand in lower ticket sales too, with film piracy on the increase.

Some of the films you listed there were very good (Batman Begins, The Constant Gardner, Downfall) and some were films that I hadn't seen but will look out for (The Descent, March Of The Penguins, History of Violence). However there were a few you included that were absolutely terrible.

War Of The Worlds for one - what was so good about it, if anything? Nice special effects but yet another cardboard acting job for Tom Cruise. Any more films like that and he'll go the way of Kevin "One Shite Movie Too Many" Costner... Napoleon Dynamite only had a 2 minute funny bit at the end and it certainly wasn't worth watching the whole film for. And don't get me started on Million Dollar Baby - that was no boxing movie, it was an episone of Oprah with a budget!

All in all I think that there were a lot of good movies out this year, but Hollywood is going to have to do much better this year if it's to attract people to the cinema. All the DVD's I got this year were TV productions (Red Dwarf, Podge & Rodge) or stand-up comedy. With cheap and affordable DVD's like that on the shelves, block-buster movies are going to have to up their game considerably...

Happy New Year everyone!

...Well bar Tom Cruise, who probably had a great time while his girl was locked up in a dungeon for the Scientology "Be good to your wife" holiday. Unfortunately 2006 happens to be The Year Of The Man, like every year for a Scientologist it would seem... Has she had her baby yet? Did she stay quiet? If not, what happens - back to the dungeon for the "Festival Of The Lady That Was Too Normal"?

That guy's a freak...

12:39 am  

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