1. Revenge of the Sith What a fitting finale to the Star Wars saga! Those of you who know me know that I am slightly obsessed with Star Wars. I love it all even the flawed, but in my opinion, worthy prequels. After six years of me feeling the need to be a prequel apologist, Lucas finally showed everyone that he still has it in him to deliver a great fun (and dark) movie. "Revenge of the Sith" made me better appreciate the earlier prequels and see the original trilogy in a new light. For the first time ever, I am able to really view the saga as the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker (in fact, he's become one of my favorite characters). "Revenge of the Sith" perfectly bridged the gap between new and old, but it was also a great movie on its own. The tragedy builds throughout the movie, and Ian McDiarmid owns! We finally get to see Yoda take on the Sith, Alderaan, the Jedi purge, and Anakin versus Obi-Wan! And it was awesome!
2. Serenity An enormously fun and sadly underwatched movie that resurrected Joss Whedon's "Firefly" 'verse. This movie is top-grade popcorn fun in the same vein as the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies. If you have not seen this movie, you must get your hands on the newly released DVD. This a movie that few people I know have seen, but everyone I know that has seen it loved it! Hopefully this is not the last we have seen of the crew of Serenity.
3. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe Watching this faithful adaptation of C.S. Lewis' classic brings the same warmth and excitement as reading the book. Remarkable special effects and wonderful acting (notably Georgie Henley, William Moseley, and Tilda Swinton) create inspiring and frightening characters and spectacles. Upon my first viewing of this movie, I was just a little bit disappointed. I still loved it, but it just wasn't quite as good as I expected. However, after having now seen it several more times, the movie seems to get better with each viewing. This is a future family classic. It's already inspired a classic SNL sketch Hmm, I wonder how many more times I can use the word "classic" in this paragraph?
4. Batman Begins This movie came as close to being like an actual Batman comic story than any that came before it. By being faithful to the story (for the most part) and respecting the source material (no camp), Christopher Nolan brought to the silver screen the same joy I get from reading each month's issue of "Batman." A truly all-star cast, a strong score, and amazing action sequences (you really feel those punches) add to the coolness of this movie. The movie is not the typical comic book action movie, but, like the great "Superman: The Movie," it really gets into what makes the character who he is. The results delve deeply into the psychology of Bruce Wayne and the nature of heroism. 'Twas not Bane that broke the Batman, it was Joel Schumacher. Nolan creates a brilliant resurrection of the Batman movie franchise. Here's praying this year's "Superman Returns" (Superman is my all-time favorite superhero) is just as good.
5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Growing up many of my friends were huge fans of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." I didn't quite understand why. Yes, it was an enjoyable movie, but I didn't think it was the classic that they made it out to be. Now, I was a fan of Roald Dahl. Although I still have not read "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," I knew that the old movie did not feel like a Dahl story. Thankfully Tim Burton rescued it. Burton, like Dahl, is a master of creating wonderful, twisted fantasies. In "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," he does it again. His unique style permeates the entire movie. I have a hard time putting into words all that I like about any Burton movie (so much of it depends on "the look" of it), but watching this movie brings back childhood joys of seeing "Batman" and "Edward Scissorhands." If "Finding Neverland" wasn't enough to convince you that Freddie Highmore is one of the best child actors ever, his performance here is further evidence of his talent. Johnny Depp gives a brilliant preformance as Willy Wonka. He creates a delightfully maniacal character that one is both apprehensive of and sympathetic for. While Gene Wilder was the best thing about the previous adaptation of this story, Depp far surpasses him. Yeah, I said it Depp's Wonka is better than Wilder's.
Now we are into the top five. These movies are all really close. These five have all become some of my most favorite movies already. The ranking of these was extremely difficult and very likely to constantly change depending on my mood.
6. Crash Like "Hotel Rwanda" the year before, this was a movie that really haunted me. It made me look at my own life and attitudes and re-examine how I live. The movie feautres an amazing cast and all of them bring their A-game (even performers I don't really care for, like Sandra Bullock, do well here). It is really an ensemble piece that features interloping stories that force us to deal with the issue of racism. I liked how no character was portrayed as simply a villain or simply a victim. All of them were both victims and perpetrators of racism in some way. This was a challenging and haunting movie that I think teaches us a great deal without being preachy.
7. Cinderella Man Ron Howard starred in one of my favorite movies (American Graffiti) and old TV shows (The Andy Griffith Show), but I think that perhaps he was born to be not an actor but a director. While many of his previous films have been hit-or-miss for me, this one played like a classic. I was hesitant to see this. Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger are both actors I do not usually care for, but I went along with a group of friends to see this and was mesmerized. I loved Jim Braddock and his story. I loved seeing such a strong marriage and family portrayed on the screen. For some hard to explain reason, this movie reminded me of Frank Capra.
8. Walk The Line This Johnny Cash biopic is made great by three amazing preformances from Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, and Robert Patrick. I liked all three of these actors before, but this movie moved them all up a notch in my book. I had some problems with the way the movie portrayed aspects of Cash's life and and elements were lifted straight out of "Rock Star Biographies 101," but the acting (even among the supporting cast) and the power of this man's story make the movie great.
9. Pride & Prejudice Another surprise for me. Keira Knightley proves that she is more than just a pretty face with a winning performance as Miss Elizabeth Bennett in this beautifully filmed adapatation of the Jane Austen classic. Effectively condensed for the screen, the movie does a great job of capturing the spirit of Austen's wit.
10. Hostage A surprisingly good movie that strikes a nice balance between old-school Bruce Willis action movies and his more recent somber Shyamalan thrillers featuring a downright creepy performance from "Freaks and Geeks" alum Ben Foster.
As we begin a new year, let us look back at the movies we saw last year. Overall, 2005 was not the "Year of Great Movies" that I thought it was going to be this time last year. Most of the movies were rather mediocre. Picking out my ten favorite was actually easier this year because these were about the only movies I was passionate about at all. However, despite many disappointments, these ten were really good and many of them are already among my favorites ever. These may have been the only ten movies I liked this year, but I really enjoyed them. Check back daily to see what makes the top spot.
I did find it to be a disappointing year. At the start of the year, there were a ton of movies I was really excited about seeing, but as more and more came and went, I was left feeling kind of "meh" about most of them.
Granted there are still a lot of the smaller releases and end-of-year releases that I have not had the chance to see yet so my opinion and choices are (as always) subject to change.
Finally, some movies I've seen! You know how I feel about "Cinderella Man", but I really like "Walk the Line" a lot... It almost made my second-best list... Reese Witherspoon was great as always and I really hope she finally gets some Oscar attention for this role... One of my top three female leads this year...
Haven't seen "Pride & Prejudice", but I really want to. I think I'll need to go out soon before it disappears from our local multiplex...
ok.. so brandon, I'm totally jiving with ya here so far-- well, except for Hostage.. haven't seen it, and honestly I'm not sure if I will. I'm not much of a horror flick chick. *gasp!* Looking forward to see what your top 2 movies will be!
Thanks, Jen! An while I would guess that "Hostage" probably isn't a movie you would enjoy as much as me; it's not a horror movie. There are some scary parts, but it's more like heart pounding because of the tension kind of scary. I would call this movie an "action thriller."
OK, I'm feelin' your list so far... "Serenity" was one that I had on my Second Best List, but I took it off to make room for another movie... "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" was another one, though he wasn't as hard to take off as "Serentity"... I was really resistant to seeing it because I was still sore at Joss Whedon for the final season of "Buffy" and I didn't really like "Firefly" when I sampled it (though I really liked the final two seasons of "Angel" which finished after those too... but whatever). Anyway, my friend made me go even though I wanted to see another movie... And I liked it a lot! And then after a few days of reflecting, I liked it more and more! The movie I wanted to see that night at the theater instead made it onto my Top 10 list though, so I consider myself as still being 'right' to a degree. About that Top 10 list, it's coming... I'm working some crazy schedule on this project and I'm trying to find time to make some entires worthy of the awesomeness of the movies I've selected... I think I will have to just give up and post it... By Friday.
"Revenge of the Sith", eh? I can dig that... Very awesome movie that almost made my Top 10 as well... Bravo, Brandon, you have a respectable list here... "Cinderella Man" and "Narnia" notwithstanding. I guess I'll check out "Pride & Prejudice" and "Hostage" this year sometime...