Riding the Range

The year in film, 2005

<i>Brokeback Mountain</i>
Brokeback Mountain


'The Austin Chronicle' Top 10 Films of 2005

1) Brokeback Mountain

2) Mysterious Skin

3) Nobody Knows

4) Murderball

5) (tie)

The Aristocrats

Crash

Good Night, and Good Luck

6) (tie)

Capote

Munich

Oldboy

<i>Keane</i>
Keane


Marjorie Baumgarten

1) Brokeback Mountain – So many things are so perfect – the original story, screenplay, acting, and direction – that the ache it imparts feels as hobbling as a broke back.

2) Caché – Austrian auteur Michael Haneke clinically exposes the uneasy guilt of bourgeois intellectuals and foreshadows the immigrant riots that swept France last year. (Opens locally in 2006.)

3) Mysterious Skin – Filmmaking provocateur Gregg Araki comes of age with this impeccably wrought study of the lingering effects of childhood sexual abuse.

4) Keane – Filmmaker Lodge Kerrigan and actor Damian Lewis successfully encircle us within the harrowing confines of one man's madness/grief/perversion (all are real possibilities).

<i>Good Night, and Good Luck</i>
Good Night, and Good Luck

5) Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada – Tommy Lee Jones' eloquent border story resides in a place where the values of the Old West do battle with the vulgarities of the new. (Opens locally in 2006.)

6) Good Night, and Good Luck – Supremely crafted historical drama illuminates the past and present, and is one of the only films this year whose tautness leaves you actually wanting more.

7) Nobody Knows – This Japanese drama is the rare film that successfully tells its tale of childhood neglect from the perspective of the kids, who don't realize its sadness.

8) A History of Violence – David Cronenberg stunningly demonstrates how those who don't study the history of internalized violence will be forever doomed to repeat it.

9) King Kong – Peter Jackson assumes the unrivaled mantel of showman of the new century, even though self-indulgence gets the better of him from time to time.

10) Murderball – Looking to compete rather than inspire, the quadriplegic athletes in this entertaining and illuminating doc apparently frightened potential viewers into staying away in droves.

<i>The Constant Gardener</i>
The Constant Gardener


Steve Davis

1) Crash – A polarizing film about a polarizing subject – the way we make judgments based on stereotypes – it was easily the most surprising movie of the year.

2) Brokeback Mountain – This heartbreaking love story of two men over a 20-year period transcends all labels. You've never seen anything like it before.

3) Capote – The price of success and the cost of genius have rarely been so dear as in this morally complex film about the writing of In Cold Blood.

4) Mysterious Skin – Gregg Araki matures as a director in this disturbing yet poignant movie about two very different young men linked by a traumatic past.

5) Pride & Prejudice – Who knew Jane Austen could be so lively and romantic? A film adaptation of an English literature classic that sets the bar for period pieces.

6) Good Night, and Good Luck – George Clooney's straightforward telling of newsman Edward R. Murrow's decision to challenge Sen. Joe McCarthy is as timely as ever in a day in which media heroes are few and far between.

7) The Aristocrats – Comedic riffs on the world's filthiest joke – a form of artistic expression or just an excuse to be as nasty as possible? Either way, it's unbelievably funny.

8) Munich – Not so much a political thriller as a meditation on the ultimate futility of revenge, this provocative film is a welcome change in the Spielberg oeuvre.

9) A History of Violence – David Cronenberg's expertly filmed modern-day Western about a good man with a bad past who must again resort to violence to protect what he loves.

10) The Constant Gardener – A tantalizing conspiracy thriller about pharmaceutical intrigues in AIDS-ravaged Africa, inventively directed by Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Meirelles.

<i>The Squid and the Whale</i>
The Squid and the Whale


Kimberley Jones

File these first three picks under What Happens When We Don't Watch Our Children Closely: The Nineties' great gay provocateur Gregg Araki settled down with a devastating look at the aftereffects of child molestation in Mysterious Skin (1); Hirokazu Kore-eda's Nobody Knows (2) is a lyrical, almost-wordless essay on abandonment; and Noah Baumbach's hyperverbal, autobiographical tragicomedy The Squid and the Whale (3) is a swan song for his own fractured family.
<i>2046</i>
2046

4) 2046 – Welcome to the Swoon: This is cineaste porn, with the clothes kept (mostly) on. Sexy androids, sad-eyed Tony Leung, and a hypnotic score. Cigarette, anyone?

5) Munich – Ambitious, ambiguous, and almost unbearably tense. And yet all that good work nearly undone by the ridiculous sex scene intercutting.

<i>Happy Endings</i>
Happy Endings

6) Happy Endings – A hard shell, but a warm gooey center: Don Roos' underrated charmer is an expertly acted celebration of love both romantic and familial.

7) Head-On – Turkish filmmaker Fatih Akin's brutalizing yet perversely romantic film limned love as collision course. And what a glorious smashup it was.

8) The Aristocrats – A cheeky dissertation on the art of delivery. Further topic: Bob Saget – sick bastard or hilariously sick bastard? Discuss.

9) Funny Ha Ha – Andrew Bujalski's DIY movie got the quarter-life crisis before it got hip. Funny weird, funny sweet, funny gut-punch, and funny … well, you know.

10) The Constant Gardener – Bested Syriana in this year's Important Political Movie Sweepstakes with a gorgeous palette, greater coherence, and a swell sexpot for the smart set, Rachel Weisz.

<i>Oldboy</i>
Oldboy


Marc Savlov

1) Murderball – Simply one of the most revivifying documentaries ever made – a full-contact, life-affirming scrum-and-a-half.

2) Oldboy – Grim, grimmer, grimmest: Chan-wook Park's lushly demented ode to misplaced vendettas is as gorgeous as it is disturbing.

<i>King Kong</i>
King Kong

3) Brokeback Mountain – Love and nothing but.

4) The Devil's Rejects – Rob Zombie erases the bad memory of his previous cinematic outings with this (very) sick and (extremely) twisted portrait of an American family. "Free Bird," dude!

5) King Kong – Merian C. Cooper and Willis O'Brien would have loved it.

<i>The Aristocrats</i>
The Aristocrats

6) The New World – Epic visual poetry and splendor as only Terrence Malick can do it.

7) Sin City – Native son Robert Rodriguez trumped pretty much everyone by creating a whole new world of cinematic possibilities. Astounding!

8) The Aristocrats – As cathartic a comic masterpiece as any yet made.

9) Hustle & Flow – Butterscotch-smooth Terrence Howard steals the show as the big pimpin' rhymer with big-time dreams.

10) War of the Worlds – Apocalyptically entertaining in all the right ways.

<i>Hustle & Flow</i>
Hustle & Flow


Marjorie Baumgarten

NEAR MISSES

Syriana, Hustle & Flow, The Squid and the Whale, The Aristocrats, Oldboy

MOST OVERRATED

The Constant Gardener, Match Point, Munich

MOST UNDERRATED

Murderball, Keane, Junebug

ACTING KUDOS(MALE)

Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote), Jeff Daniels (The Squid and the Whale), David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck)

<i>The New World</i>
The New World

ACTING KUDOS(FEMALE)

Claire Danes (Shopgirl), Catherine Keener (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Capote, The Ballad of Jack and Rose, The Interpreter), Naomi Watts (King Kong)

BEST DIRECTOR

Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain), Michael Haneke (Caché), Gregg Araki (Mysterious Skin)

BEST SCREENPLAY(ORIGINAL & ADAPTED)

Brokeback Mountain (Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana); Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Guillermo Arriaga); Good Night, and Good Luck (George Clooney and Grant Heslov)

WORST FILM

The New World: So many trees, so much hokum: In this new world, Malick strives for poetry and pans for gold but finds only banality and barnacles.

WILD CARD – SUGGEST YOUR OWN CATEGORY

Best Film Not Released as a Film: No Direction Home: Bob Dylan

<i>March of the Penguins</i>
March of the Penguins


Steve Davis

NEAR MISSES

March of the Penguins, Oliver Twist, Prime, Junebug, Inside Deep Throat

MOST OVERRATED

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, King Kong, Walk the Line

MOST UNDERRATED

Prime, Cinderella Man, Jarhead

ACTING KUDOS(MALE)

Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Mysterious Skin)

<i>Crash</i>
Crash

ACTING KUDOS(FEMALE)

Amy Adams (Junebug), Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain), Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line)

BEST DIRECTOR

Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain), Gregg Araki (Mysterious Skin), Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardener)

BEST SCREENPLAY(ORIGINAL & ADAPTED)

Capote (Dan Futterman), Crash (Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco), Brokeback Mountain (Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana)

WORST FILM

The Amityville Horror: This ridiculous remake of the 1979 schlocker about a haunted house achieved the unthinkable – it made the original film look like a masterpiece.

WILD CARD – SUGGEST YOUR OWN CATEGORY

If there is a God, there will be a tie in the Best Actor Oscar race this year: Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain and Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote.

<i>A History of Violence</i>
A History of Violence


Kimberley Jones

NEAR MISSES

Brokeback Mountain, Murderball, Lords of Dogtown, A History of Violence, Thumbsucker

MOST OVERRATED

Broken Flowers, Batman Begins, Sin City

MOST UNDERRATED

Thumbsucker, Happy Endings, Serenity

ACTING KUDOS(MALE)

Jeff Daniels (The Squid and the Whale), Damian Lewis (Keane), Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow, Crash)

<i>Junebug</i>
Junebug

ACTING KUDOS(FEMALE)

Joan Allen (The Upside of Anger), Lisa Kudrow (Happy Endings), Robin Wright Penn (Nine Lives)

BEST DIRECTOR

Gregg Araki (Mysterious Skin), Wong Kar-Wai (2046), Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardener)

BEST SCREENPLAY(ORIGINAL & ADAPTED)

The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach), Munich (Tony Kushner and Eric Roth), Junebug (Angus MacLachlan)

WORST FILM

War of the Worlds – At once exploitative and deeply shallow, shamelessly terrorizing and yet deadly dull. Spielberg should stick to making grownup movies.

WILD CARD – SUGGEST YOUR OWN CATEGORY

Not a Banner Year for the Masters of the Universe: The Constant Gardener, Syriana, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room … hell, even Revenge of the Sith stuck it to the Man.

Ang Lee
Ang Lee


Marc Savlov

NEAR MISSES

Three ... Extremes; Grizzly Man; Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang; Me and You and Everyone We Know; Layer Cake

MOST OVERRATED

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit; The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; High Tension

MOST UNDERRATED

War of the Worlds, The Constant Gardener, Constantine

ACTING KUDOS(MALE)

Bruno Ganz (Downfall), Ed Harris (A History of Violence), Cillian Murphy (Red Eye)

ACTING KUDOS(FEMALE)

Cécile De France (High Tension), Claire Danes (Shopgirl), Tilda Swinton (Constantine)

BEST DIRECTOR

Peter Jackson (King Kong), Chan-wook Park (Oldboy), Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain)

BEST SCREENPLAY(ORIGINAL & ADAPTED)

Shopgirl (Steve Martin), The Devil's Rejects (Rob Zombie), Sin City (Frank Miller)

WORST FILM

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D: On the heels of the marvelous Sin City, this is Rodriguez's first total wipeout, a hastily paced eye-bleeder that makes Spy Kids seem like the Rosetta Stone of kid flicks.

WILD CARD – SUGGEST YOUR OWN CATEGORY

Best Scenester Porn Film: Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs garnered faint praise outside its native UK, but its blisteringly hip soundtrack turns this sensual pas de deux into steamy Brit-rock porn.

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