Counting down, because it is ever so much more fun that way...
5. The Constant Gardener - from the director of City of God, Fernando Meirelles, adapted from the thriller by John LeCarre. This was a smart, thriller about a murder and corruption in the drug industry (the legal one), that entertained without being mind-numbing or requiring an imaginative stretch.
4. Capote - a narrative debut of a documentary filmmaker, Bennett Miller, it is a fascinating look inside the famed author of Breakfast at Tiffany's Truman Capote and at the same time contains an intriguing mystery. The mix of styles that Bennett Miller brings to the table along with the outstanding performances enhances the strong story making it often feel as though you're watching a documentary.
3. Syriana - written and directed by the screenwriter who wrote Traffic, and produced by George Clooney and Stephen Sodorberg (who directed Traffic), this is a film in the same vain as Traffic, an engrossing and massive story told from the view points of many different characters who interact sometimes in small ways, and sometimes in larger ones. Instead of being about drugs (illegal ones in Traffic's case) it is about the oil industry. Every actor is fantastic including Matt Damon, who is often times hit (Talented Mr. Ripley) or miss (nearly everything else). It is better then every one of the best picture nominees. But then so are the other two on my list, so on to number...
2. Walk the Line - I have to admit, I wasn't sure going in about Reese Witherspoon, but damn, she was really, really good. And I can't say enough about Joaquin Phoenix, he was unbelievable. After seeing this film last Thanksgiving with my best friend, I walked out saying, "We've just seen the movie that will win Best Picture." I was sure of it. Unbelievably it isn't even nominated. Ray was nominated, and compared to Walk the Line, Ray was awful. The music was good, and Jaime Foxx was outstanding, but the movie wasn't that great. Here, the music is amazing (I thought after first seeing the preview that they were actually using Johnny Cash's songs, I was blown away to find out it was Joaquin Phoenix. Face it, he nailed that signature Cash sound), the acting was as good as it gets, and the story was phenomenal. I truly don't understand how this film was ignored for best picture.
And now, let me preface by saying that it is entirely possible that no one will agree with me about my first place movie of the year, but considering I feel it is the best movie I've ever seen, it would be hard not to put it at number one for the year. (Are you listening Ebert, my number one movie of all time is also number one in the year in which it came out. It only makes sense.)
Okay, okay, some of you are saying, "I've never even heard of that movie" which means you don't think I'm crazy, you just figure it is some obscure independent film that only twelve people have seen despite it's brilliance. Well, you're partly right. Those of you who know what movie I'm talking about either A. think I've finally gone insane, or B. have seen the television show Firefly, been broken hearted by the way it was treated by FOX, heard Joss Whedon (yes the Buffy and Angel Joss Whedon) was going to be making a feature film continuing the story line of the television show, proceeded to try not to let your expectations get too high (because as we all know whenever your expectations are high for a film, or almost anything for that matter, you are inevitably let down), failed as your expectations shot through the roof with the news that every actor from the show would be reprising their roles, the talk of people who saw early cuts and said it was amazing, and just the fact that it was being based on the single greatest television show you had ever seen. Then, with hopes that could not be higher, you found yourself in the movie theatre for the midnight opening, and as the movie unfolded, found that your hopes and expectations were not only met, they were exceeded. Not only exceeded, but embarrassed. It was far better then you could have even dreamed. If you're in camp B (and I'm actually not the only one, but there are few of us out here) you can understand why I say this is the best movie I've ever seen. For those in camp A (who probably now include all those who previously didn't know what Serenity was), let me say (in addition to that absurdly long sentence above) I had Star Wars prequel sized expectations for this film and they weren't high enough. That, in my book, is unbelievable. Due to that, I have to say it is the best movie I've ever seen and therefore the best film of 2005.
Until Next Time, be sure to stay tuned for my upcoming Preview and Prediction Post for the Oscars. Only one of these films is nominated.