There were some huge movies in 2005. When I say huge, I literally mean B.I.G. “King Kong” reintroduced a new audience – via the film stable of Peter Jackson which equals great special effects drawn out over three hours of celluloid – to the mountain-sized Ape. While Kong was tearing up Manhattan, Steven Spielberg was destroying the rest of the world in another remake – “War Of The Worlds”. George Lucas wasn’t going to be outdone by other special effects wizards with the concluding part to his Star Wars prequels with “Revenge Of The Sith”. And, for good measure, Tim Burton got on the remake bandwagon with his excellent re-imagining of Roald Dalh’s brilliant book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. With Harry Potter making his fourth and darkest journey yet in “Goblet Of Fire”, Hollywood was awash with big-budget, highly stylized effects-driven crowd pleasers. But – which ones merit a Top 10 placing in Top10Films’ Best of 2005?
10. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Mike Newell, UK/USA)
The first two Harry Potter films were enjoyable despite the young actors’ limited range. By 2005, and finally out of the shadow of the Lord of the Rings franchise, Harry Potter was beginning to flourish. With the Prisoner of Azkaban and now Goblet of Fire, the Harry Potter franchise had found its own big screen voice. Here the actors are better than ever, the film is darker and the story more inventive and immersive.
9. League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse (Steve Bendelack, UK)
Comedy troupe The League of Gentlemen take their unique brand of dark humour to the big screen. Perhaps more suited to fans of the original television programmes, the film’s inventive plot (featuring the writer’s creations coming into the real world and forcing their creators to write their characters the way they want to be written) should suit viewers even if they are not familiar with the show.
8. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Tim Burton, USA)
Tim Burton’s update on Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book is a visual treat and Johnny Depp is great as Willy Wonka.
7. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, USA/Germany)
David Cronenberg’s twisty, violent thriller features some top-notch performances and a great script.
6. The Descent (Neil Marshall, UK)
The best horror film of the year. Director Neil Marshall proves once again that he’s a master of suspense even if he borrows heavily from the horror films he loves. “The Descent” is great for trying to spot the homage reference.
5. Sin City (Robert Rodriguez, USA)
Based on Frank Miller’s graphic novels Robert Rodriguez’s “Sin City” is arguably his best work. The film features four inter-weaved stories of murder, revenge, and police corruption. It’s brilliantly photographed using the new digital backlot technique which puts all the actors against a green screen and adds setting detail and special-effects in post-production.
4. Murderball (Henry Alex Rubin/Dana Adam Shapiro, USA)
Rubin and Shapiro’s documentary film focuses on the quite brutal sport of wheelchair rugby – dubbed Murderball. It follows an assortment of men – most suffering from spinal injuries and some just coming to terms with life in a wheelchair – in the lead up to the 2004 Paralympics in Athens. It’s a hard hitting film – literally and metaphorically – which sheds light on a culture most people will be lucky enough to avoid in their lifetime. But what it does so well is to investigate how these courageous people find wisdom and friendship in each other, and a common goal that gives them renewed motivation in their lives. It’s a fascinating film.
3. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Shane Black, USA)
“Lethal Weapon”-writer Shane Black writes and directs this smart, quick-witted detective story that melds Los Angeles pompousness into the trappings of a gritty film noir. It’s Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer who make it work though with fabulous comic performances.
2. Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan, USA)
Thank goodness for Christopher Nolan – along with Alexander Payne – he’s the best director working in Hollywood at the moment. “Batman Begins” does what all the waste-of-space Superhero movies of the decade have failed to do – entertain, be original, breathe new life into the genre, bring the comic-book stories into the modern era, feature strong scripting and credible, authentic storytelling. Head and shoulders above “X-Men”, “Spiderman”, “The Hulk” and all the rest.
1. The World’s Fastest Indian
(Roger Donaldson, New Zealand/USA)
Meet Burt Munro – a mild-mannered New Zealander who loves his 1920s Massachusetts-made Indian motorcycle – who has a single dream: to set the world speed record. The only way he can do it is to travel from his New Zealand home half way around the world to compete on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA. He meets lots of people along the way, comes up against the prejudice of those that think an ‘old’ man like him (Munro was 68) couldn’t possibly ride a motorcycle at world record speeds, let alone an old machine like the Indian, and learns plenty of lessons to take back to his hometown.
It is a film brimming with joy and optimism, wonderfully uplifting comic moments and an ending to make your heart melt. Anthony Hopkins as Burt Munro provides one of the best performances of his life. This unassuming film will take you on a journey of self discovery and make you smile for days. See it, watch it again, repeat!
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