02 January 2006

2006: Thought We'd Be Driving in Flying Cars By Now...

2005 was a B+ movie year- not a ton of great stuff, but the best was really, really incredible. Financial constraints kept me from seeing EVERYTHING I wanted to check out in 2005, but I saw most of it, so without anything else better to write about, I figured I'd tackle it...

No more "adieu"s...


  1. Munich (dir. Steven Spielberg)

  2. King Kong (dir. Peter Jackson)

  3. Hustle and Flow (dir. Craig Brewer)

  4. Broken Flowers (dir. Jim Jarmusch)

  5. Capote (dir. Bennett Miller)

  6. The 40 Year Old Virgin (dir. Judd Apatow)

  7. Good Night, and Good Luck (dir. George Clooney)

  8. Batman Begins (dir. Christopher Nolan)
  9. Wedding Crashers (dir. David )

  10. The Aristocrats (dir. Paul Provenza)

  11. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (dir. George Lucas)

  12. Syriana (dir. Stephen Gaghan)

  13. Sin City (dir. Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller)

  14. Jarhead (dir. Sam Mendes)

  15. Land of the Dead (dir. George A Romero)

Now, of course, I still very much want to (and plan on) seeing The Constant Gardener, A History of Violence, Wallace and Gromit and the Search for the Were-Rabbit, You and Me and Everyone You Know, Brokeback Mountain, and The New World, which could easily alter this list. I mean, I liked Jarhead... but I didn't love it.

The two worst movies I saw all year were The Ringer and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Total shit, the both of them.

Now, this is where one would normally fulminate on the individual performances given in these selected films. But, since the discussion of modern film acting on nearly any level makes me break out in hives (Colin Farrel on Angelina Jolie in Alexander: "She's such a gifted actress, and she attacked and inhabited this role with such bravery, and... integrity... and... vigor."), I'm going to just make some random observations. Jim Lipton I ain't.

  • The portrayal of a real, idiosyncratic "famous" figure seems, to me, an especially difficult thing to do without resort to impersonation and making the material into not much more than sketch comedy. That's why Philip Seymour Hoffman was so fun to watch in Capote- it was this guy you knew about, but it was still a character in a movie. It wasn't "Truman Capote's greatest hits," it was a movie about what it was like to be Truman Capote. Big difference, and strikes me as being especially difficult.

  • Bill Murray is the best.

  • Looking at this list, it strikes me that I really, really love watching a movie with any one of Eric Bana, Jeffrey Wright, Peter Sarsgaard, Gary Oldman.

  • Remember back when George Clooney was just getting popular, right around ER and those romantic comedies he would do? Remember how his performances in all these roles inevitably had him with his head down, smirking and his eyes looking upward toward the camera? Yeah, he's not like that anymore. Now he's a guy who's consistently fun and inventive and "different" in his roles and directs really great films every now and then. Hey, why not?

  • Ewan McGregor was, in Star Wars III, actually really great and convincing, especially considering the character he was "mirroring" from a past film. This of course means his presence stuck out like a sore, puss-infected thumb in this particular movie. Still, really cool to watch.

  • All that "there are no roles for women in Hollywood" business is absolutely the truth. Not that my list is any real proof, but take a look at it and show me a really good female lead role. Asia Argento anyone? Phyllis Diller was really funny in The Aristocrats...

  • One final thing, something not even tangentially related to the movies of 2005- for whatever reason, I'm constantly inventing hypotheticals pitting Back to the Future against other movies. A case in point would be when I asked Mike which was the better trilogy- the B2F trio, or the Indiana Jones one. Mike chose B2F, I chose Jones, arguing that the entire trilogy is stronger than B2F, even if the first film in each series tilts towards the McFlys. He, of course, disagreed as to the weakness of B2F II and III- and, of course, he was dead wrong. It's ok.

    So anyway, after watching it on TV last night for the 5,045th time, I wondered- which is the better film: Back to the Future (the first) or Ghostbusters. Since Mike doesn't have a computer at the moment, apparently, instead of simply emailing him the question, I've posed it here for debate (comments section?).

    The more I think of it, it's The Ghostbusters, and really, it ain't even close.

    Also, please realize that, despite how it seems from this entry, I am a full-on "Back to the Future" devotee. Just got me thinkin' is all...

    Here's the thing- when you don't have money for modern pop music trial-and-error, you end up going with what you (sorta) know. The White Stripes, Beck, Sleater Kinney, Kanye West. It rolls along and doesn't necessarily disappoint (but doesn't surprise, either), until you stomp di-rectly into a massive fly-buzzin turd like Foo Fighters Best of You. Just one of the worst pieces of shit I've ever heard, and from a band I was, by all accounts, one of the last men standing in defense of.

    Then you log onto iTunes and buy "Beverly Hills" by Weezer, giving them one last chance, and you're prompted to then do the following:
    a) cease giving artists "one last chance"
    b) cease buying music in 2005

    What a shit year. Even the White Stripes record wasn't all that great. This, of course, explains why my list is really, really lame.

    1. The White Stripes- Get Behind Me, Satan
    2. Kanye West- Late Registration

    3. Seu Jorge- Cru

    4. Beck- Guero

    5. Franz Ferdinand- You Could Have Had It So Much Better

    6. Sleater Kinney- The Woods

    7. The Game- The Documentary

    8. Mars Volta- Frances the Mute

    Thank you to Bill for burning me the Mars Volta and Franz Ferdinand records. The Mars Volta wasn't something I was expecting much out of because I was pretty down on their first album, which I thought sounded like a bunch of guys who'd never heard YES thinking they were onto something. Of course I'm aware that they've likely heard YES.

    Frances the Mute is beautiful though. And Seu Jorge- the guy from City of God and the one singing Bowie tunes in Portugese for The Life Aquatic released a folk record which was great too.

    I also thought the Beck album was a terrible Odelay-lite the first time I heard it, then hearing it non-stop while in Mike's car for a weekend made me like it. So I dig it.

    1. Kelly Clarkson- "Since U Been Gone"

    2. Missy Elliott f/ Ciara- "Lose Control"

    3. R. Kelly- "Trapped in the Closet"

    4. Kanye West- "Golddigger"

    5. Arcade Fire- "Rebellion (Lies)"

    6. The Killers- "All These Things That I Have Done"

    7. The White Stripes- "My Doorbell"

    8. The Game- "Hate It or Love It"

    The number 8 wasn't meant to convey anything. It was total coincidence- I just filled out the list until I stopped thinking of great stuff. That's all.

    Please don't tell me how wrong I am about Clarkson, either- that's the best Top 40-style song in about 15 years. It's awesome. Here's a quote from Pitchfork's list about the song (they had it #4 of the year):

    It's undeniable that, for certain people, a lot of the fun in first hearing "Since U Been Gone" was figuring out the formula. It went something like Pink (vocals) + Interpol (verses) + the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Maps" (right down to that crunching guitar noise on the bridge) + Max Martin (Swede-pop overdrive chorus). I have my doubts that the Bjorns and Bjornettes who fashioned this Urban Outfitters monster were actually sitting around cherry picking tunes from "The O.C.", but clearly something was in the air.

    Now, I know "Trapped in the Closet" was ridiculous. I am WELL aware of that. But I'd be lying if I didn't set reminder timers on my TV to VH1's replaying of it everytime it came on, so since I'm not a liar, I have to include it. I fucking loved that shit. It's entertaining, what can I say?

    As for TV, making a seperate list out for that would be a waste of our time. Suffice it to say, for someone who doesn't watch a lot of "regular" TV outside of baseball (as in, tuning in habitually to a specific show), I think it goes without saying that I'm all about LOST. That'd take up about the first 45 spots on my list, followed by Arrested Development (RIP) The Comedians of Comedy, and, of course... Real World/ Road Rules Challenges.

    Goodbye, 2005. Hallo, 2006!

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