December 29th, 2005

SilverLinings?

At The Movies, 2005

Time for a little "retrospection" on this year's cinema:

First, here's a wrap-up story I did about political/social issues in the films of 2005.

Plus, Slate has its annual year-end Movie Club, which is often very interesting (although this year some of the writers go on -- at length -- about no doubt brilliant movies that you've never seen and probably will never see).

I especially like this remark from A.O. Scott (taken from his longer discussion in Tuesday's entry): "I'm not talking so much about accusations of ideological bias as about the easier and more basic knock against these movies for being, well, movies—for simplifying history, for preferring spectacle to nuance, for counterfeiting emotion, etc. Some of Joseph McCarthy's targets really were communists. Steven Spielberg does not have a strategy for Middle East Peace. The CIA doesn't really operate at the bidding of the oil industry. Big Pharma wouldn't kill Rachel Weisz. Not everyone in Los Angeles is a racist. Couldn't Jack and Ennis just get a place in San Francisco?"

And, in the more-than-you-wanted-to-know category, here's a slightly amended version of my SEFCA voting ballot (At voting time I had not seen Murderball, The Squid and the Whale, Mysterious Skin and others):

TOP TEN
1. Good Night, and Good Luck.
2. Hustle and Flow
3. Capote
4. Downfall
5. Brokeback Mountain
6. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
7. Caché
8. A History of Violence
9. Munich
10. The 40 Year-Old Virgin

Not to mention:
11. The Constant Gardener
12. Murderball
13. Howl's Moving Castle
14. Kontroll
15. Lila Says

Best Foreign Language Film
1. Downfall
2. Caché
3. Kontroll

Best Director
1. Michael Haneke, Caché
2. David Cronenberg, A History of Violence
3. Chan Park-Wook, Oldboy

Best Actor
1. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
2. Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow
3. Bruno Ganz, Downfall

Best Actress
1. Emanuelle Devos, Kings and Queen
2. Maria Bello, A History of Violence
3. Felicity Huffman, Transamerica

Best Supporting Actor
1. George Clooney, Syriana
2. Ray McKinnon, Chrystal
3. Craig Bierko, Cinderella Man

Best Supporting Actress
1. Amy Adams, Junebug
2. Scarlett Johansson, Match Point
3. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Happy Endings
(Runner-up: Zhang Ziyi, 2046)

Best Original Screenplay
1. George Clooney and Grant Heslov, Good Night, and Good Luck.
2. Craig Brewer, Hustle & Flow
3. Judd Apatow and Steve Carrell, The 40 Year-Old Virgin

Best Adapted Screenplay
1. Tony Kushner and Eric Roth, Munich
2. Dan Futterman, Capote
3. Jeffrey Caine, The Constant Gardener

Best Documentary
1. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
2. The Aristocrats (WOULD'VE BEEN 'MURDERBALL' IF SEEN IN TIME)
3. The Untold Story of Emmet Louis Till

Best Animated Film
1. Howl's Moving Castle
2. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
3. Tim Burton's Corpse Bride

I'd say it was a pretty good year -- In making my Top 10 list, it was a matter of winnowing down an excess of deserving movies, and not, in an off year, a matter of grudgingly elevating movies that wouldn't otherwise be 'Top 10' material for me.
My only knock on 2005 was that it wasn't a great year for 'movie-movies." There were lots of thoughtful, challenging, serious-minded films engaged with real-world issues, but not so many ingenious pop artifacts like 'The Incredibles' or 'Shaun of the Dead.' ('King Kong' and 'Curse of the Were-Rabbit' could have been, but I was a little disappointed in them both.) I hate to have to choose between serious films and fun films -- can't we have both?
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