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2005: A film odyssey

By Celeste Meiffren
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, December 7, 2005
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2005 was not a good year for Hollywood. Sure, there were a couple of worthwhile blockbusters (literally a couple), but for the most part films flopped. We saw the rise then fall then rise again of the comic book genre (rise: "Batman Begins" and "Sin City;" fall: "Fantastic Four" and "Elektra"), classic literature being turned into mediocre films ("Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and "War of the Worlds") and really shitty remakes and sequels (too many to list).

The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel for films in 2005, however, were the incredible films that came out of the independent circuit. There were also a couple of Hollywood stragglers that defied convention and were actually both crowd pleasing and did not cater to the lowest common denominator.

The best films of the year are (in no particular order):

"The Squid and the Whale": This film by "Life Aquatic" co-writer Noah Baumbach is subtle, hilarious, brilliantly written, phenomenally acted and deeply moving.

"Capote": Philip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal of Truman Capote is going to win him an Oscar. It is also quite possibly the only movie about the writing of a book that will have you at the edge of your seat for most of the film.

"Thumbsucker": This film is unlike any other this year. Even though it was marketed as a teen angst/coming-of-age film, it is far deeper than that. It follows Justin (Lou Pucci) as he deals with overcoming his addiction to sucking his thumb. It is a very sweet and satisfying film.

"Good Night, and Good Luck": George Clooney goes behind the camera again and gives us a film that presents the ethical dilemma Edward R. Murrow faced while covering McCarthy and the Red Scare. The performances, direction and cinematography make this one of the most intricate and technically well-made films of the year.

"Broken Flowers": Jim Jarmusch is a god. And so is Bill Murray.

"Batman Begins": This is truly the most remarkable comic book film since Tim Burton's "Batman." Its blend of realism and comic book fantasy blurs the lines of good and evil, which gives the film an added sense of humanity. Bruce Wayne becomes a real person instead of just a caricature.

"Kiss Kiss Bang Bang": Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer bring the funny in this film. With witty dialogue and bizarre plot twists, "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" could possibly be the most purely entertaining film so far this year. Kilmer, although plump and pink, proves that he has great comedic timing, but Downey definitely steals the show.

"Sin City": With inventive shots, lighting, coloring and graphics, backed up with interesting but not very deep storylines and decent performances, "Sin City" proves that style, in some cases, can be more important than substance. And stylistically, this film is a head above the rest.

"Crash": In this film, the interweaving of the lives of several people in Los Angeles shows us how actions have an impact far beyond the reach of our comprehension. It is masterfully done, though pedantic at times. But the filmmakers are forgiven because it grapples with difficult subject matters with a relatively high success rate.

"History of Violence": This film was good. To be honest, all I remember about this movie is that I liked it, and that there was a really awkward full frontal scene of that woman from "Secret Window."

This list is not complete since most of the really great films in 2005 are going to come out around the holidays. But film in 2005 has shown that spending a lot of money on a film does not make it great. Making remakes of stupid TV shows or sequels to bad movies is not a worthwhile idea. But what is a good idea is making an original film with some substance. Otherwise, it's just a waste of time.

While we're on the subject, here is a list of the worst movies of the year. Definitely steer clear of: "Just Like Heaven," "Shopgirl," "Stealth," "Bewitched," "The Dukes of Hazzard," "Elizabethtown," "Fantastic Four," "The Island," "Guess Who," "House of Wax," "The Pacifier," "Be Cool," "The Ring Two," "Hide and Seek," "Cursed," "Elektra," "Alone in the Dark," "Into the Blue," "Chicken Little" and "Doom." Consider yourself warned.

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