|by Scott Weinberg
The way I see it is this: How the HELL can I be expected to produce only one Top Ten List for 2005? I saw about 220 films that were released theatrically in 2005, and I'm expected to pick a measly TEN that are worth remembering? Puh-leeze. And since it took me three sittings and four hours to finalize my Top Ten Movies of the Year, I felt a little annoyed at having to leave so many flicks out of the spotlight. And since everyone and their Italian grandmother puts together a Top Ten Movies of the Year list, I thought it'd be fun to go the extra mile and bang out nine more lists, partially because I love to write, but mainly because I'm what you call a Pathetic Movie Geek.
So let's start off with the biggie first. My...
Top Ten Favorite Movies of 2005:
10. Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith -- Oh, quit your giggling. I feel no shame in admitting that I adore a good space adventure, and with all its crazy action, wacky creatures, semi-fascinating characters, and surprising emotional heft, I had a big stonking ball with the Sith. So there.
9. The 40-Year-Old Virgin -- Sweet, smart, drop-dead funny, and eminently quotable, this one proves that the most underrated producer on television can somehow become a Hollywood golden boy. You go, Judd. You're one project away from becoming the Joss Whedon of comedy.
8. Brokeback Mountain -- I walked into this one more than a little skeptical, but it won me over within 25 minutes. And more than one scene has really stuck itself into my brain. Plus it's gorgeously shot, scored, and written. And it's got a surprisingly fantastic ensemble. It's not about the GAY, it's about the PEOPLE.
7. Batman Begins -- Much as I love Raimi's Spider-Man flicks, this is a wonderfully moody and dark way to tell a hero's origin tale. Kick-ass action, a peerless cast, a really smart and twisted screenplay, and the brilliant Chris Nolan breaking some new ground. Makes Burton's Batman look like Burton's Planet of the Apes.
6. Munich -- Spielberg goes serious and delivers one of the most discussion-worthy films of his career. Yes, we all know that the terrorists who killed the Israeli athletes were evil and despicable guys, but here's a movie that wants to discuss, y'know, how they got that way. Plus it's a tightly-wound Frankenheimer-y spy-time thriller that reminds me of movies from 1975. And he won't get any Oscar notices, but Bana gives the best performance of his career here.
5. A History of Violence -- I grew up madly in love with David Cronenberg's cinematic obsession with mutilation, madness, and mayhem, and the guy's done nothing but age like a fine wine. DC might not be doling out the gore-packets like he used to, but he's still turning out some brilliant movies. Josh Olson's adapted screenplay, the work from Mortensen, Bello, Hurt & Harris... This is a film for multiple viewings and mucho conversation.
4. Good Night, and Good Luck. -- You know how just about every "based on actual events" movie is, like, 88% complete bullshit? Well, I guess it takes an already wealthy and respected stand-up guy like George Clooney to bypass the artifice in favor of the pure juicy facts. This is not a flashy or grandstanding "audience stand up and cheer" wankfest, but a soft-spoken, intense, and powerfully sincere story about one man's battle against government-sanctioned stupidity. Plus I'm a sucker for a good B&W movie.
3. Serenity -- OK, roll your eyes now if you must. I deserve it. But every movie critic should be a movie geek, and, as I am such a geek, I get one Top Ten Geek pick. And Serenity is it. Forgive me if I think the best Space Adventure since 1980 deserves a fair share of attention. Plus it's my list, so there. Built with heart, wit, irreverence, and a whole lot of passion, this is a wonderfully entertaining movie. Especially if you grew up watching stuff like Battle Beyond the Stars and the progressively stupider Star Trek sequels. Great action, great cast, great script, great directorial debut from a filmmaker bigger than Jesus.
2. King Kong -- Peter Jackson knows how to hit the film critics where they live: right in the inner 5-year-old. Laden with spectacle, crafted with real heart, and absolutely ooooozing with eye-popping monsters, this is a flick I'll be coming back to over and over. And I don't wanna hear any of that "ohhh, the first hour was so looooong" whining, because if it hadn't been there we'd be crying about a lack of plot construction or character development or whatever else we bitch about when we're not blown away by giant monkeys, dinosaur stampedes, or amazingly gorgeous blondes.
1. Sin City -- The magic of old-school film noir fused with a modern sense of ass-kickin' mayhem. And the massive cast. And the score. And the mood, the attitude, the intensity, and the style. Oh, and there's the way it LOOKS, too. The term "comic book adaptation" has been redefined ... and it doesn't mean guys in tights and CGI volcanoes. Passionately faithful to its blistering source material and addictively entertaining to behold, Sin City is my very favorite movie of 2005, mainly because it's just so cool, but also because I've never seen a damn thing like it.
But they're all five-star flicks in my book, so the whole "You put Sin City over Munich?!?!??" question is pretty moot. Ten excellent movies. Apples, oranges, and grapefruits all. I rank 'em because that's how Top Ten lists are done, but (snif) they're all winners in my book. (Oh, and if you already saw all those ones, here are some "honorable mentions," whatever that means: Broken Flowers, Capote, Corpse Bride, Lord of War, Match Point, Pride & Prejudice, Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and War of the Worlds.)
Now moving on... Let's go with:
Top Ten Overlooked Movies of 2005
10. The Great Raid -- More of a wartime procedural than an out & out action epic, but this one sucked me in with very little effort. Not John Dahl's finest piece (or even his second finest), but the flick deserved a whole lot better than being used as a dust-collector in the Miramax vault for two years. Give it a rent.
9. Dark Water -- Anyone who knows me understands that I'm not only Jewish, but Connellish. I just love the gal. But there's a lot more to DW than just JCon and yet another stellar performance. Disney tried to sell this one as a jolty-type horror thriller, and they did the film a big disservice by doing so. This is a heartrending story about mental illness, isolation, and the potential horrors of heredity. Darkly gorgeous to look at, packed with great supporting performances, and full of smartly unsettling themes, this is a damn good movie.
8. Thumbsucker -- Sort of like Igby Goes Down or Tadpole ... only good. (OK, "better.") Plus how often do you get to see Keanu Reeves being funny? That alone should be worth a rental.
7. The Ice Harvest -- A hearty pat on the back to whoever green-lit this guaranteed flop. I borderline-loved the movie, and even I could have predicted nobody would go see it. Dark-comedy, neo-noir, bleak anti-xmas ensemble piece ... call it what you like. But you'll have to see the thing before making that judgment, so my job here is done.
6. Sky High -- Here's an excerpt from an inner monologue held inside my brain on the way to seeing Sky High: "Yeah, OK. Disney movie about high-school superheroes, which means Spy Kids meets The Incredibles, only really, really stupid. Plus I'm missing LOST tonight. And I have to eat Raisinets for dinner. Dammit." But man oh man there is nothing I love more than being proven wrong by a movie that's about 45 times better than it oughtta be. And Sky High is sweet, silly, colorful, and warm. Action, comedy, cute kids, and even a few really nifty action scenes. What's not to like? Well done on this one, Disney.
5. High Tension -- You didn't think I was gonna stay all sweety nice-nice, did you? C'mon. This wet, wild, and gristly slasher thriller from Frenchyland hit me in the face like a cup of ice-cold yak plasma ... and I loved it. Scoff at the insan-o ending if you will, but I'll take a borrowed twist over a stupid sequel-tease peter-out. Horror fans who hate subtitles ... you're retards. Sorry, but true. Turn on the original uncut French version, turn down the lights, keep your yaps snapped, and have a ball.
4. MirrorMask -- Prior to seeing this flick, I only knew Neil Gaiman as "some cool artsy guy that smart people knew about," but 100 minutes later I was a big freakin' fan. Picture Alice in Wonderland tossed into a blender with The Wizard of Oz, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and Tim Burton on acid, and you'll still have only half the picture. Entirely weird, but in a strangely inviting way, this is one that'll find a LOT of new fans on DVD. Or it freakin' should, anyway.
3. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang -- Some movies just drip with movie-geekism, and KKBB doles out about 45 gallons. It's a modern-noir coloring book full of action, humor, hot chicks, and actors who are clearly having a whole lot of fun. Bring on the DVD already, because I want a second visit.
2. Millions -- Danny Boyle is some sort of mad genius with cinematic schizophrenia, because I can't believe that such a sweet, sunny, funny movie came from the same guy who delivered Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, and 28 Days Later. I saw this flick at a half-empty festival screening, and the thing had me actually grinning as it unspooled. I've yet to meet a person who doesn't really dig this movie. Well, except the ones who haven't seen it yet because they're busy renting The Dukes of Hazzard.
1. Pretty Persuasion -- I saw this movie about six months before it came out, and I distinctly remember predicting that it would cause a whole lot of controversy. Unfortunately I neglected to realize that in order for a film to cause real controversy, people have to have seen it. (Controversy is weird that way.) Anyway, it's Heathers with an even more poisonous disposition, only it doesn't have anybody delivering a really distracting impersonation of Jack Nicholson. Dig up my full review for the full reasons why, but Pretty Persuasion is a movie I simply adore, sick vulgar mind and all. It just made me laugh a whole lot, and it did so in a really twisted, audacious way. (Maybe the theatrical cut was different from the version I saw??)
Top Ten Unreleased Films of 2005
Festivals are awesome. Except when you see a movie that you can't wait to discuss with other people, only to realize that the damn thing is still sitting on a shelf somewhere. So here are my favorite as-yet-unscheduled-for-release picks that I saw last year:
10. Azumi -- I'm informed by people "in the know" that this drop-dead kick-ass action flick will be released on DVD a little later this year. Rent it.
9. A Life Without Pain -- Imagine you lacked the ability to feel pain. Sounds awesome, right? Shit no. And this doco explains why in fascinating fashion.
8. The Dry Spell -- A geek can't get laid. Sounds like an Adam Sandler movie, right? Well, no, because this movie is funny! (Zing!)
7. Isolation -- "Killer mutated cows? Wha...? Is it a comedy?" Nope, it's a horror. An Irish one, to be precise. And damn is it starkly, darkly, and dingily entertaining. (What? "Dingily" is a perfectly acceptable adverb here at the Bitchslap.)
6. Southern Belles -- The very definition of a "light comedy," but it's really quite disarmingly charming. Boasting broad and adorable performances from Anna Faris and Laura Breckenridge, this one hit me mid-festival and refreshed me like a nice glass o' lemonade ... delivered by two surprisingly funny hotties. This one will pop up on DVD/cable some time soon; you watch it and then tell me if I'm crazy.
5. Stephen Tobolowsky's Birthday Party -- Hey, wanna watch a character actor engage in a series of conversations at his bday party? No? Well, then you're missing a big treat. Tobolowosky comes off like Spalding Gray mixed with Jon Stewart, and there's little denying that the guy has a real gift for the yarn-spinning. C'mon, who doesn't love Ned Ryerson?
4. Evil Aliens -- From across a pond comes one blissfully insano-tastic horror flick with a wonderfully strange, sick, and twisted sense of humor. It's clearly aiming for early Peter Jackson-style nuttiness, and whaddaya know, it comes pretty damn close. Expect the horror whores to pounce upon this one once it hits the DVD shelves, as well they should.
3. Kekexili: Mountain Patrol -- I coulda sworn Sony bought this title, but it's never seen the inside of a U.S. movie theater or DVD store. At least not yet. It's a doco-style film about a journalist who joins up with a mountain patrol in Tibet, and it's just brilliantly engrossing. Trust me on this one, especially if you own a multi-region DVD player.
2. The Quiet -- Camilla Belle plays a deaf girl who goes to live with Elisha Cuthbert, her family, and their skeleton-laden closets. This one took a good while to warm up to, but by the start of Act III you couldn't have pried me out of my seat with a crowbar and a box of Raisinets. It's a bleak black comedy and kind of a twisted mystery in one package. Plus, and this is mainly for the fellas: Elisha Cuthbert has never been hotter than she is in this movie. And she's never not been hot.
1. The Puffy Chair -- If you frequent at least one worthwhile movie blog, then you've probably already heard of this flick ... so why the hell hasn't someone bought the damn thing already? This is a romantic comedy for people sick to effin' death of WitherpoonBullockLopez rom-coms, with a strong sense of humor, a zesty pace, some fantastic tunes, and a few excellent indie performances. Write your congressman; tell him you want some small-time distributor to pick up The Puffy Chair already. Make sure you tell him it's a movie and not a piece of furniture.
...so there's a list of movies you can rent nine months from now before emailing me with "Dude, you're on crack. That movie wasn't all that good." I'll apologize in advance for the 3-dollar rental fee and the time spent away from your Xbox.
Let's make the next list an easy one, because my wrists are starting to hurt. (And yes, I'm just making all this stuff up on the spot, because lord knows creativity strikes at the weirdest places.) I don't think I'll do all the different genres, but I'm a lifelong gorehound, so I have to offer up this one:
Top Ten Horror Movies of 2005
10. Alone in the Dark -- Earns a spot because, oh man.... Just because something's entertaining by accident doesn't mean it's not still entertaining. I challenge you to watch and it not yell "Hah!" at least three times. Most comedies can't pull that off.
9. Corpse Bride -- OK, so it's not exactly a horror movie and I admit I'm a cheating bastard, but here's the thing: it's dark enough to semi-qualify and I'm just now realizing there weren't ten excellent horror movies released last year.
8. The Exorcism of Emily Rose -- It's only so-so when it focuses on the courtroom dramatics (which is way too often), but when it sticks to the scary side of the story, there's some really creepy stuff to behold.
7. Dead & Breakfast -- Southern-fried zombie musical comedy lunacy. It's a hoot and a half, and it goes great with beer.
6. Zombie Honeymoon -- Yeah, you read the title right. It's gross, it's funny, it's oddly romantic, it's hitting DVD for Valentine's Day. Queue it.
5. Saw 2 -- Sue me, the torture-trap stuff really creeps me out, and I enjoy being creeped out. Not as good as the original, which I still maintain is an excellent horror movie, and you can quote me on that. Please do, actually.
4. King Kong -- Oh, gimme a break. Any movie that has giant worms devouring human heads while those heads are awake and screaming is at least partially a horror movie. So if King Kong is 12% horror movie, it earns the #4 spot. (My list, my rules.)
3. Dark Water -- See Connelly-related ravings above.
2. Land of the Dead -- Romero storms back and brings a new parcel of zombies, human meatbags, and satisfying social commentary with him. Sure the guy's just spinning the same old plates, but it's an act that just doesn't get old. Let's hope Georgie A. has at least one more zombie-fest left in him.
1. High Tension -- As much as I hate to repeat a previously mentioned flick, we're talking about a 2005 that delivered Boogeyman, The Cave, Cry_Wolf, Cursed, The Devil's Rejects (yeah, I hated it; don't email me), Doom, Hide and Seek, Murder Set Pieces, The Skeleton Key, Undead, Venom, White Noise, Wolf Creek, and a trifecta of borderline worthless remakes in The Amityville Horror, The Fog, and House of Wax... So let's just say the pickin's were slim for the horror-hos in '05. Trust me when I say that '06 looks a whole lot better.
So with that out of my system, I'll turn my attentions to something a little more mature. I'll fake it.
Top Ten Documentaries of 2005 (with my apologies to Murderball, which I somehow still haven't seen)
10. Inside Deep Throat -- You'll go for the porn, but you'll stay for the story.
9. March of the Penguins -- I'm a huge fan of animal documentaries (especially Shark Week!), so obviously I was pretty entranced by this portrait of the world's hardest-working and arguably cutest birds. Too bad about the mawkish, sappy, and entirely unnecessary narration, though.
8. The Boys of Baraka -- Trouble-makin' pre-teens from inner-city Baltimore attend a very special program in Kenya, learn a lot, and are then forced to return home because of some pesky war. I kid, but it's actually a pretty fascinating story.
7. Occupation: Dreamland -- Kind of a lot like Gunner Palace. Only better.
6. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room -- Smart documentarians will never "create" a villain. Real life does that quite effectively by itself, tyvm.
5. Twist of Faith -- Sad to say that the whole "pedophile priest" problem might be a whole lot bigger than we expected.
4. After Innocence -- "Do you love the death penalty and hate lawyers? Then go see this movie." I can't believe I just quoted one of my own reviews, but there you have it. This doc made me want to get up and DO something socially activistical ... but I was at a film festival and had three more movies to see that day.
3. Grizzly Man -- I knew this one would be an Oscar nom lock, and I was wrong. I guess animal documentaries can't get nominated unless its creatures are cuddly and sweet and didn't just get done eating the leading man.
2. The Aristocrats -- If you think it's just about one stupid joke, you weren't paying close enough attention.
1. Up for Grabs -- I watched this on a screener tape in a hotel room. I don't think I moved once. (Then again, I was laying on a comfy bed.) It's a brilliant documentary about a trivial subject, and it's a slyly scathing indictment of what Americans consider "important."
I know, I know; I gotta see Murderball already.
Top Ten Funniest Movies of 2005
10. Waiting... -- It sure as hell isn't high art, and it's even kinda sloppy throughout, but if you've ever worked in an Applebee's, Bennigan's, Friday's, Fuddluckers, or Uncle Moe's Family Feedbag, you'll find a whole lot to laugh at here. You can practically smell the rotten tips, the stupid side work, the corporate crap, and the spiteful line cooks.
9. Just Friends -- Hey, I guess I'm a Ryan Reynolds fan. It's probably because he so clearly reminds me of a Foul Play / Seems Like Old Times-era Chevy Chase. And that guy used to really make me laugh. Reynolds does, too.
8. The Producers -- Just for Nathan Lane and Uma Thurman alone. Broderick and Ferrell are fine, I suppose, but Uma really steals it. As do Roger Bart and Gary Beach, two guys who had me rollin' on every other syllable.
7. The Ice Harvest -- Oliver Platt's performance alone would get this film onto this list. Luckily John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton are along for the ride. I'm just a big sucker for cynical, dark comedies. Like...
6. Pretty Persuasion -- Yes, another repeat pick. I'm shameless. Rent it.
5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory -- Man, that Johnny Depp can really flip the Weird switch on when he wants to, eh? Combined with Tim Burton and this source material, hoo boy ... even the production design is funny.
4. Wedding Crashers -- Half raunchy frat-boy fare and half sweety romance comedy. Everybody wins. Bring on the sequel.
3. Kung Fu Hustle -- "It reminded me of a live-action cartoon." is not usually a compliment. It absolutely is in this case.
2. The Aristocrats -- It reminded me of why I used to love stand-up comedy so damn much.
1. The 40-Year-Old Virgin -- Funniest movie of the year. Funniest movie of the freakin' decade as far as I'm concerned. There are deleted scenes on the DVD that are funnier than the entire collected and combined works of David Spade, Rob Schneider, and Martin Lawrence.
Loads of laughs are great and all, but sometimes we just need that jolt that comes only with bullets, explosions, kung fu, and evil-bastard villains who finally get theirs but good. So logically it's time for...
Top Ten Action Movies of 2005
10. Zathura -- Giggle at the silly title if you like, but this solid "kids in space" adventure had more than a few exciting, intense, and LOUD set pieces. I liked the part when the house got hit with a rocket. If this pick is too silly, I'll let Zathura and Sky High share the honor. Both had cooler action sequences than I expected, and they're both good flicks.
9. The Island -- Yes, you've found me. The one movie critic who not only likes The Island, but is not embarrassed to admit it. Maybe it's because Michael Bay's last two movies could suck the milk from a male dog's nipples, but I had a big-time ball with this sci-fi/action/mayhem circus. It's got one of my very favorite actors, one of the world's very hottest actresses, and several plot threads from a dozen great sci-fi movies. Call it a guilty pleasure if you like, but after three visits to The Island, I still have a pretty good time there. (Did I just turn into Earl Dittman for a second?)
8. War of the Worlds -- If the exploding bridge sequence and the toppled ferry scene hadn't been ruined from the trailers, they'd have blown us away. Plus the whole grenade-jammed-into-the-alien-sphincter bit? Awesome.
7. Sin City -- OK, so it's not exactly Die Hard, but the action scenes in this movie come with a little extra oomph, because the stories are so intense and the characters are so damn cool.
6. Mr. & Mrs. Smith -- Slick, sleek, sexy, and adorably bullet-ridden. That Doug Liman might be a pill to work with, but apparently there's a real method to his madness, because this flick not only holds up to repeat viewings; it improves!
5. Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith -- The first 25 minutes is its own action movie, and don't even get me started about the ultimate saber battle. Because I'll get all geeky and probably freak you out.
4. King Kong -- That "vine sequence" by itself would earn the #10 spot on this list. Fortunately there's even more action than that and ... to paraphrase a Seinfeld hottie ... it's spectacular.
3. Serenity -- Maybe it's because I was already invested in the characters by watching every Firefly episode three times, but there were three separate action scenes in this movie that had me pumping my fist, only I did it real subtly so nobody would know the true depths of my geekness.
2. Kung Fu Hustle -- Some of this stuff has to be rewound and rewatched to be believed. Pure blissful insanity.
1. xXx: State of the Union -- Just. Fucking. Kidding.
1. Batman Begins -- 'Nuff said.
Moving on to the good stuff!!
Top Ten Sexiest Movies of 2005
(And no, Jennifer Connelly in a soaked blouse is not enough to get Dark Water on this list. The gal's as lovely as ever, but Dark Water is about as sexy as an Escher exhibit.)
(Also: While I can understand that Brokeback Mountain might be pretty darn sexy to some people, my barn door doesn't simply swing that way.)
10. Havoc -- Earns the bottom spot mainly because it went direct-to-video, but also because it's really, really bad. But it's got shots of Anne Hathaway and Bijou Phillips that you'd NEVER get to see on The WB or The OC or whatever you horny teenagers watch these days.
9. Aeon Flux -- Watch it on MUTE and it's a 90-minute perfume commercial starring Charlize Theron, several guns, and the kind of realllllly tight jumpsuit that, apparently, can only be manufactured in dystopian futures.
8. D.E.B.S. -- It's those damn schoolgirl outfits!
7. High Tension -- This pick will come back to haunt me one day. "Your honor, he's obviously guilty of mannequin molestation! He once called THIS movie SEXY!" And then I'll go to jail.
6. Mrs. Henderson Presents -- On one hand, it's an enjoyably light and breast-laden comedy. On the other, you WILL see Bob Hoskin's penis in this movie. Kinda balances the whole thing out.
5. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang -- The bangs aren't only in the title. And you really haven't lived until you've seen Michelle Monaghan in her little Santa outfit.
4. The Island -- The flick might be as deep as a shower puddle, but it's got the crazily curvy Scarlett Johansson squeeeeezed into a jumpsuit that recalls the halcyon days of Erin Gray as Col. Wilma Deering. And how could that be a bad thing? Oh, and the Oxygen Network once told me that Ewan McGregor is "sooo hot," so I'll take their word for it. For more of Ms. Johansson (but not THAT much more, you perverts) see also: Match Point.
3. The 40-Year-Old Virgin -- There's nothing sexier than a funny woman, so watch Elizabeth Banks' reaction to Steve Carrell when he threatens to put his "bike" in her "trunk." Better yet, just watch Banks' bathtub scene or the final sequence between Carrell and Keener. It's a raunchy comedy, but it's a pretty sexy one, too.
2. Sin City -- It's a dark, rough, and aggressive kind of sexy, but hey, who's complaining? Between Alba, Dawson, Bledel, Aoki, Murphy, Gugino, and Jaime King, you might be tempted to sue Robert Rodriguez for whiplash. For the ladies, there's a gritty Clive Owen, a scarred-up Bruce Willis, a disturbingly hungry Elijah Wood, an entirely yellowed (and penisless) Nick Stahl, and a deformed Mickey Rourke.
1. Mr. & Mrs. Smith -- Just so you don't think "Top Ten Sexiest" means "Top Ten Bare Boob Shots," I include this, which I think is a DAMN sexy movie. Moreso because of Angelina than because of Pitt-stop, of course, but I hear there's an entire gender out there that thinks he's just dreamy.
OK, so the Sexy List might not have been all that hot, but I'm working on my fourth hour here, and I may have forgotten about some foreign flick that has eleven lesbian scenes. My apologies.
Top Ten DVDs of 2005
10. War of the Worlds (1953) – All of the classic sci-fi flicks deserve a DVD treatment like this: a sterling transfer, a kick-ass audio track, a whole lot of extra goodies, and a list-price under 12 bucks. If only someone would give The Incredible Shrinking Man this sort of release.
9. Laura (1944) – My very favoritest film noir presented with superlative A/V specs, two audio commentaries, a controversially deleted scene, and two 45-minute documentaries, one on actress Gene Tierney and the other on the immortal Vincent Price. And again, a low low price!
8. Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith (2005) – I love the movie, I love the audio/video beauty of the DVD, and I drop-dead absolutely adore the feature-length “Within a Minute” documentary, which gives you a taste of how much hard work and craftsmanship goes into every single minute of the action sequences. Toss in a solid commentary track and a bunch of mini-doco featurettes, and you’re looking at one truly stocked edition.
7. Toy Story (1995) & Toy Story 2 (1999) – I guess if I owned the vaunted “Ultimate Toy Box” that was released many moons ago (and has long since gone out-of-print) I’d be less geekily dazzled by this pair of stand-alone releases, but I do not. And I love both of the toy stories like a mother pigeon loves mashed-up worms. Hit your pause button at any random moment during the movies and just soak in the picture-perfect beauty of these video transfers. The extra goodies (some old & some new) are just the icing on the cake, toy-fans.
6. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) – Universal re-releases one of the finest dramas ever made as part of their “Legacy Series,” and it’s a release truly worthy of such a moniker. On disc 2 you’ll find a 90-minute documentary about the making of the film that’s called “Fearful Symmetry,” and I’ll go on record and call it one of the finest DVD docos I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a whole freaking lot of ‘em.
5. Bambi (1942) – Knock Disney for their frequently tacky DVD practices if you like, but when it comes to their “Platinum Edition” releases … the Mouse House doesn’t screw around. The studio’s finest animated film comes home with a wonderfully refurbished (but not jazzed up) transfer, tons of historical goodies, an insightful look at the restoration process, and even some nifty little games for the kids. This is the finest “Platinum” release yet, which is saying something because they’re all pretty damn fantastic.
4. The Wizard of Oz (1939) – As soon as I heard this re-release was coming, I dumped my single-disc release onto eBay and promptly began salivating. WB’s 3-disc “Collector’s Edition” is so amazingly stuffed with historical goodies, archival doo-dads, “lost” versions of Oz, and classy little additions, I may start a petition to get this release sold in museums only.
3. The Incredibles (2004) – I think we should just start using the word “Pixar” as slang for “excellent,” as in: “Dude, you just won the lottery for 68 million dollars and you’re giving me ten of it? Pixar!!” One of 2004’s very finest films (indeed, one of the best animated movies I’ve ever seen) comes home in a stocked release with flawless video and audio that’ll have you begging your wife for new speakers. I paid 17 bucks for this package and it’s paid for itself twice over by now.
2. The Fly (1986) – Didn’t expect to see this one so high, did you? Well why not? A blisteringly excellent horror film (arguably Cronenberg’s very finest) delivered in a 2-disc package that should thrill the fans and entice the uninitiated. Packed with phenomenal extra features, including director’s commentary, some legendary deleted scenes, and a feature-length documentary on disc 2 that’ll knock you on your Brundle-ass, this is a DVD release for the gorehounds to cherish.
1. King Kong (1933) – Well, really, what else could be #1? I guess WB wanted to wait for Kong Fever to hit the world before unleashing this unquestioned classic onto DVD, or maybe it just took them this long to put together such a stellar package. Regardless, the eighth wonder of the world is now a part of my DVD collection, and you’ll pull back a stump if you try to take it out of my house. So don’t. Get the “collector’s tin,” or the triple-feature monkey collection, or the “plain old” 2-discer, and you’ll still be getting one amazing package. An awesome, wonderful, blissful DVD release, period.
And now we come to the last and final list of the day. Or maybe it’s been two days. Damn this is a long article. We all know the beauty of movies lies in the enjoyment, the sharing, the goose bumps, the laughs, and the tears of the cinema … but it’s just so goddam much fun to talk about…
Top Ten Worst Movies of 2005
10. Son of the Mask – New Line spent over $80 million on a years-too-late sequel to a Jim Carry movie … only they didn’t have Jim Carrey. They got Jamie Kennedy instead, and the result was an abysmal shitpile that grossed about $17 million. This is what happens when greed drives the bike and incompetence rides the handle bars.
9. Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous – Or, “How to turn a surprisingly charming little comedy into a slack-jawed chore for all involved.” Witless, worthless, and amazingly chintzy-looking, it’s enough to make one look back and say “You know what? Screw the first one, too.”
8. The Perfect Man – I don’t subscribe to the whole “it’s made for tweenies and can therefore be awful” mindset, and this thing is so damn bad it’ll make you yearn for the Olsen twins. From its moronic concept and sitcom-style set-up, from the amazingly poor direction and the endlessly eye-rolling jokes… I’d rather let a 14-year-old girl watch “Hostel” than this.
7. Alone in the Dark – Yes, I realize that “Uwe Boll” is actually German for “fish in a barrel,” but you simply cannot understand Bad Cinema without sitting through stuff like this.The thing looks like it was written on toilet paper using a very large hunk of doody, shot with Sony’s very first Handycam, and edited together with a vintage 1929 Singer sewing machine. But, yeah, it’s also hilarious.
6. The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D – As much as I hate to knock the director of the year’s best movie, he’s also responsible for 2005’s most migraine-inducing piece of eye-poop. It’s nice to know that Robert Rodriguez loves his little boy enough to produce the kid’s very first screenplay, but this thing looks like it was slapped together in two weeks using a Mac, some crayons, and 14,000 broken cymbals. And don’t even get me started on the 3-D gimmick. How many times does 3-D have to die before we can finally bury it?
5. Dirty Love – While I’d contend that Jenny McCarthy can be a very funny woman, you won’t find one shred of evidence of it here. Everyone always talks about the scene in which Jenny waddles through a supermarket while leaking menstrual blood all over the floor, but there’s a pretty good reason nobody’s ever lensed this gag before: it’s not funny. And the remaining 79 minutes are what I imagine would play on an endless loop in Hell’s only multiplex.
4. Are We There Yet? – It’s reasons like this that I wish general moviegoers knew a little more about film directors. It’d be great for Mom & Dad to see this trailer and know that the movie was directed by the man who gave us Jingle All the Way, Snow Dogs, and both Flintstones movies. But they don’t, which is why this astonishingly loud, hateful, and obnoxious movie made over $80 million at the box office. It almost makes me want to cry. Find me a movie with two kids more worthy of a good, strong slap and I’ll buy you lunch at your local Burger King.
3. Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo – Gives raunch comedy a bad name. Saving Private Ryan has more laughs than this horrific piece of garbage. I mean, did someone actually get PAID to write a gag about a woman whose deformed nose looks like the tip of a cock? Sheesh. (Has Nothing But Trouble taught us nothing about dick-nose gags?)
2. The Pacifier – Further proof positive that American parents will take their kids to see absolutely ANYTHING that’s deemed “family friendly,” regardless of who’s in it, what it’s about, or how outrageously awful it is. The nightmarishly consistent Adam Shankman strikes again.
1. Stealth – I’ve seen stupid concepts turned into halfway-decent flicks before, but Stealth starts out as a fool’s errand … and it never comes back. Aggressively, consistently, and frequently hilariously bad, this one picks the corpses of a half-dozen other bad movies, and logically turns out to be even worse than the rest of ‘em. Toss in a hatefully simplistic exploitation of today’s wartime climate, a screenplay that never once rises above insipid, and the complete waste of three pretty solid actors… I digress; you could have made 150 watchable indie flicks for the price of this laughable piece of techno-dreck. Frankly I’m amazed that anyone even green-lit this retard in the first place.
Well, that wraps up 2005, I guess. Most movie critics will tell you that ’05 was a pretty awful year for movies, but we’re a bitchy bunch and we like to say that every year. Despite all the unmitigated crap floating through the multiplexes, you could always find something good to see if you knew how to navigate the box offices and the DVD stacks. Will 2006 be any better? Looks to be, but what do I know? I just saw a TV commercial for Big Momma’s House 2.
OK, one more list, just for the hell of it:
Top Ten Movies of 2006 (as of 1/16/06)
10. The Wendell Baker Story
9. Breaking News
8. Unknown White Male
7. One Last Thing...
5. Dead Man's Shoes
4. Harsh Times
3. The Proposition
2. The Descent
1. The Notorious Bettie Page
Make sure you see 'em.
link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=1688
originally posted: 01/17/06 05:17:58
last updated: 02/20/06 19:19:05