I was debating whether to do this list in January or wait until I had seen most of the films I wanted to. I waited and now am bringing out my list in the middle of Oscar season. I will get the my Oscar favorites next week. For now, these are my favorite films of 2005. Not the ‘best’ films, I do not know what those are. In no particular order:
- Me and You and Everyone We Know– Hands down my favorite film of the year. Miranda July is my hero, a star- fresh and vibrant, a performance artist, writer, director and an actress after my heart. This is a film about simple love and simple sex and candid people with transparent intentions, with a straightforward manner a younger Hollywood. But was Hollywood ever this fresh and uncynical? The lack of cynicism is what makes the characters of Me and You… alike and sets them vastly apart from everyone else they encounter. The scene where Mirana July and John Hawkes walk to his car as a metaphor for the relationship they could have had was one of the best time I’ve had at the movies in years. That is, barring the next film on my list…
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith– This was the best time I had at the movies last year. It is difficult to describe the impact of these films on me and I will not attempt it here. I love them dearly and loved this film like none other. The final scene on Tatooine was one of my most emotional. Are we prepared for life after Star Wars?
- Black– This is the only Hindi film on my list; from the great, mythical land of “Bollywood”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bollywood. Black is not your traditional Bollywood movie, however. Hindi cinema’s former angry young man, Amitabh Bachchan, who for 30 years has been a super star, the likes of which have never been seen in Hollywood, stars as a man who teaches the deaf/blind/mute/beautiful Rani Mukherjee to live her life. Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who previously has given in to the excesses of Bollywood cinema, creates a sparse and subdued drama like none other
- Good Night, and Good Luck– George Clooney’s great triumph in this film was in keeping every single extraneous element out of the film and maintaining a documentary-style approach to Edward R. Murrow. We do not get to see how his family life is or whether his personal life was affected by his attacks on McCarthy. All we see is what he says at CBS, on camera and off. Everything else, Clooney and Straithairn let us create for ourself.
His primary acheivement has been confusing the public mind as between the internal and the external threats of communism. We must not confuse descent from disloyalty. We must remember always, that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another, we will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason. If we dig deep into our history and our doctrine, we will remember we are not descendant from fearful men. — Edward R. Murrow
- Brokeback Mountain– Yes, I loved this film too; along with all those critics, Hollywood types and media hypers, I liked it too. It is a beautiful film to look at and harkens back to a simpler Hollywood if it ever had the fortitude to tackle a subject like this. The power of Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain is that it would have been a good film even if it was about a heterosexual romance that triumphs over obstacles. He doesn’t give the film more or less delicacy just because the romance was truly forbidden, instead of the family/lover/war/insert-manufactured-obstacle-here of regular Hollywood romances. Heath Ledger is brilliant and will loose out on the Oscars only because Joaquin Phoenix rescued Walk the Line.
- Howl’s Moving Castle– What a gorgeous film this was! I have no words and will “use my own”:http://www.devanshanu.com/things/2005/06/18/howls-moving-castle-2005/ from June:
There is no way to speak of this film without dealing in superlatives- Howl’s Moving Castle, from Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke) is the most imaginative animated fantasy I have ever seen, the best animated film I have seen since Finding Nemo and probably the best film I have seen so far this year.
- Millions– This film and the next one, Turtles Can Fly, were those films that truly understand children and the worlds they create for themselves. In Millions, Danny Boyle (yes, that Danny Boyle! Yes, the guy who made Trainspotting!) allows the kid Alexander Nathan Etel to be the star; to create a character who is 10 years old, not a caricature or stereotype of a 10-year old. This is a true family film; a film that every single member of any family any where in the world will enjoy equally.
- Turtles Can Fly– This film is about a boy names Satellite in pre-war Iraq; but it is not about the war in Iraq, directly. It is about how the fearless children are the only ones who can really control the destiny of any society, and especially ones where the adults have been beaten into submission by despots, by beaureacracies and by age. Satellite is a particularly resourceful kid who rules his neighborhood by being a fearless child; and in a time and place where everyone is looking for trustworthy leaders, he is an unlikely, but charming one.
There are three more films I am not sure about; they are great films, among the best of all time, but I am not convinved they belong on my list yet. They are Steven Spielberg’s tremendous Munich, Woody Allen’s chilling Match Point and the most charming and surprisingly fresh Pride and Prejudice.
Also, I have not seen the following, which could enter my list if and when I see them: Sarkar, Transamerica, History of Violence and Hustle & Flow. We shall see.