Best Films of 2005

Well, at least these are my favorites at this moment… likely to change at any second.

KING KONG: Just plain fun. I usually go with a more obscure art film at No. 1, but this was one of those rare cases when a blockbuster Hollywood actually connected with me in exactly the way it was supposed to. It was a blast watching it with a big crowd that was obviously excited by the action.

CACHE: At the opposite end of the spectrum, a powerful and darkly troubling movie by the brilliant Michael Haneke. Without giving away any plot surprises, let me just say one particular scene from this movie is seared into my brain.

MATCH POINT: Woody’s back in form, with the best dramatic movie he’s ever made. Disturbing in a way that’s surprisingly similar to “Cache.”

THE NEW WORLD: Not without its flaws, and certainly not for all tastes, but I found it absolutely mesmerizing. It makes the meeting between English colonists and American Indians seem as bizarre as it probably was in real life. Terrence Malick’s best film yet?

DOWNFALL: Another powerful and disturbing film. I’ve read some criticisms that the film puts all the blame for Nazi Germany on the one man of Hitler himself, but I didn’t read it that way. It made him seem human but still monstrous.

CAPOTE: It’s all been said about how great this film and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance are. And it’s all true.

A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE: Like “Cache” and “Match Point,” this movie by David Cronenberg makes you feel complicit in some terrible acts of violence. Well-acted and filmed and thought-provoking.

THE ICE HARVEST: Not everyone liked this one, probably because they were expecting comedy from Harold Ramis, but I found it to be an accomplished and nasty piece of film noir.

HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE: Don’t laugh. Yes, it is a commercial movie, but this one (and the previous Potter movie) have been quite entertaining and nicely performed adaptations of the wonderful books by J.K. Rowling.

BROKEN FLOWERS: You may have to be a Jarmusch fan to really like this one, but you can count me in that crowd. Another great deadpan performance by Bill Murray. And the soundtrack’s fantastic.

Runners-up in alphabetical order:
The Aristocrats
Bang Bang Orangutan
The Beat That My Heart Skipped
The Best of Youth
Black Brush
Bob Dylan: No Direction Home
Brokeback Mountain
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Cinderella Man
The Constant Gardener
Darwin’s Nightmare
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
Good Night, and Good Luck
Grizzly Man
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
La Moustache
Mad Hot Ballroom
March of the Penguins
Me and You and Everyone We Know
Nobody Knows
Reel Paradise
Sin City
The Squid and the Whale
Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow
Turtles Can Fly
Well-Tempered Corpses