You can read my top ten films of 2005 list here, but it's buried in among all the other lists, so I'm reproducing it, along with links to my reviews of the films where applicable. Although I can wholeheartedly recommend all of the movies on this list, this was not nearly as good a year for movies, at least the ones I saw, as 2004. Last year I could have picked a top 15 or 20 fairly easily, but this year it was all I could do to come up with ten. Even though I've been able to focus more on movie reviewing at Las Vegas Weekly this year, I still only managed to see about 140 new releases, around the same number I saw last year. There are plenty of acclaimed films of this year, many of which never played in Las Vegas, that I didn't get the chance to see, and maybe some of those would change my mind about the overall quality of cinema this year. At some point, though, you just have to let go and finalize the list, so here's what I thought was best in 2005.
1. The New World
Terrence Malick's wonderfully beautiful film about the life of Pocahantas won't be out in wide release until January 20, but it's easily the best film in a year that's had its ups and downs. With breathtaking visuals, astonishing performances (especially from newcomer Q'Orianka Kilcher) and heartbreaking romance, Malick's film transcends its historical context and becomes a deeply moving meditation on love and tradition.
2. A History of Violence
Thoughtful and gruesome, David Cronenberg's deconstruction of violence in America is a haunting triumph.
3. Nobody Knows
This story of Japanese kids forced to fend for themselves finds poetry in the everyday, while perfectly capturing the innocence and intensity of childhood.
4. Sin City
More than just a comic book come to life, this is a funny, dark, inventive and exhilarating film experience from Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller.
Mike Mills makes a striking debut with this insightful and well-acted drama that takes familiar ideas about suburbia and presents them in a fresh way.
6. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
Comedies rarely get the respect they deserve, but this clever madcap mystery from Shane Black deserves plenty.
7. The Aristocrats
In exploring the endless variations on a famous dirty joke, Paul Provenza provides a surprisingly deep insight into the construction of comedy and the way its creators think.
8. Match Point
Woody Allen's latest comeback (which opens wide on January 20) is an uncharacteristically dark and restrained romantic thriller that explores what people will do to protect their comfortable lives.
9. The Exorcism of Emily Rose
A challenging philosophical musing in an unexpected package, and worth a second look from critics who blithely dismissed it as simplistic.
10. The Weather Man
Flawed and overly ambitious, but admirable for tackling probing questions about life and not flinching in the face of troubling answers.
Finally, a brief mention of my picks for the worst films of the year, in no particular order: Monster-in-Law, Crash, A Sound of Thunder, Chaos and The Producers.