This has to be the oddest "top ten movies" list I've compiled since I've been compiling. My lists are usually choked with foreign films and artsy fare. This year, some of the big studios delivered very satisfying stories. That seems to be what I'm looking for now when I hand over my $10 and walk into the dark. If it's not a well-told story, I'm liable to get real fussy like. Without further ado:
Nictate's Top Ten Movies of 2005
Number one by a silken landslide. Romantic, alluring, lush, provocative. Wong Kar-Wai is a genius.
I didn't expect to like it. (Admittedly, most people won't like it.) But this is one L.A. story that susses out painful truths about post-modern dating and displays them in a jewelry case of subdued sophistication. Kudos to Mr. Martin for his keen observations and to Mr. Schwartzman for the much-needed comic relief. Even Stare Danes was good, and it takes a lot for me to admit to that.
Me and You and Everyone We Know
Freakin' weird. Freakin' beautiful. More of a collection of short stories, but crafted with the light touch of an ace student of human behavior.
Kings and Queen
This movie has a split-personality, telling the story of a manic-depressive artist and a chilly hearted femme fatale. Fascinating French fare.
The Constant Gardener
I think you would call this a sweeping tale of corporate corruption viewed through the fragile framework of a mysterious marriage. It's brilliant and calls attention to real-world ugliness. And Ralph Fiennes! My god, Ralph Fiennes.
The Holy Girl
Most exciting new director of 2005 (in my book): Lucrecia Martel. This film is neatly arranged with evocatively framed shots and minimalist storytelling elegance.
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
I didn't expect to like it, but it was hilarious and heartwarming. I wish the 40-year-old virgin was real.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
A.K.A. Jennifer Didn't Have a Chance in Hell. Don't hate me because they're beautiful. Good grief, the on-screen chemistry between Pitt and Jolie could create nuclear fusion. While the story is merely a playful romp with action sequences strung through it like holiday lights, it's obvious B and A were having a blast making this movie. That's what makes it so much g'damn fun to watch. Some clever dialogue manages to squeeze its way in-between the sparks, too.
I want you to know that I didn't put this one on my list just because a friend of mine has a role in it, but it is fun to cast drop. While this film is heavy-handed at times, it shines a light on the everyday racism beating just under L.A.'s steaming asphalt.
The Squid and the Whale
Storytelling-wise this film is seriously flawed, but the perfect parts make up for the sloppy whole. Noah Baumbach's film captures the painful fallout of divorce pitch-perfectly and Jeff Daniels should get Best Actor nominations up the ying yang. (Please note: I haven't seen Woody Allen's Match Point yet. That film might sink this one to number 11.)
Honorable mention for stylish experiments in black and white:
Gritty, ultra-violent and damn cool.
Good Night, and Good Luck
A politically minded gem.
(See entry below for the reasons why.)
WTF? The movie nerds luv it. First half? Quiet, slow, mkay. Second half? I'd rather club baby seals than sit through that again. Nah, it would be a tie.