Well, it's that time again. Time to get 2005 out the way before a new cultural year can begin. Here are my Top 10 movies of the year. It didn't seem such a great year for films, but maybe that's because I didn't go to the cinema as often as usual. However a few long-distance flights meant I caught up on a load of mainstream movies that I maybe wouldn't have otherwise seen. Which was good, but only one of those made it into my top 10 (See if you can guess which one). Here they go...
Wong Kar-Wai’s follow-up to In the Mood for Love, is a visually stunning epic which follows Chow Mo Wan (Tony Leung) back to a 60s Hong Kong, and into future parallel world. Great cast (also including Zhang Ziyi and Faye Wong), sumptuous cinematography (Wong regular Christopher Doyle) and a glorious soundtrack combine to make an amazing film. I reviewed this a while back.
Director: Wong Kar-Wai
Over the course of a day or so in LA, an excellent ensemble cast are forced into encounters with one another in different ways, exploring themes of life, love, and particularly racism and prejudice.
Director: Paul Haggis
3. The Edukators
Three idealistic young people play pranks on the rich by breaking into their houses, not to steal, but to unsettle them. They get a bit more than they bargained in one house though, which leads to a road trip and much consideration of their dearly-held ideals. I reviewed this one too.
Director: Hans Weingartner
4. Maria Full of Grace
Maria (a worthily Oscar-nominated performance from Catalina Sandino Moreno) is a young Columbian woman who gets out of her boring job and signs up to be mule to smuggle drugs into the US. What could possibly go wrong?
Director: Joshua Marston
Two old friends with little common interests embark on a stag road trip – one wants to enjoy the finest wines of California, the other wants one final pre-marital fling. A gentle comedy that’s (almost) never forced, has a lot to say about male relationships, and most importantly, it’s funny.
Director: Alexander Payne
6. A History of Violence
Perhaps a more mainstream move for Cronenberg, but along with a great cast (Vigo Mortensen, Maria Bellow, Ed Harris) he constructs a movie that plays as a straight genre thriller, but has also got plenty to say about violence.
Director: David Cronenberg
7. Broken Flowers
Another road trip movie. This time it’s cult US director Jim Jarmusch directing Bill Murray, deadpanning as he travels around his former lovers, trying to find out which one has borne the mysterious son he’s just heard about.
Director: Jim Jarmusch
8. The Beat That My Heart Skipped
An unusual remake – this time it’s a French remake of an American film. Romain Duris excels as a dodgy property dealer who rediscovers his old talent for playing the piano, whilst still existing in the Paris underbelly.
Director: Jacques Audiard
9. Life is a Miracle
Another crazy mess of boozing, fighting and gypsy music from cult Bosnian director Emir Kusturica, this time set against the backdrop of the Balkan war. It’s not a film to be analysed, just enjoy the manic energy, comedy and romance of it all.
Director: Emir Kusturica
10. Bombon El Perro
This one almost gets the ‘nice family film vote’. An old man receives a big dog as a gift, which becomes his travelling companion. His friend however, has other designs – making it a champion show dog. But it never becomes Best in Show. And despite appearances, it never becomes cheesy either.
Director: Carlos Sorin
Honourable mentions: King Kong (Peter Jackson), Downfall (Oliver Hirschbiegel), Vera Drake (Mike Leigh), In My Father’s Den (Brad McGann), Palindromes (Todd Solondz)