Sunday, January 22, 2006

2005, one of the best ever?

In a departure from our standard reviews, I would like to posit the following proposition: 2005 should be, or will be, considered one of the best years in film history. There are a few years that boast numerous cinematic achievement and are widely recognized as exceptional years for film: 1939 (Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Wuthering Heights, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Rules of the Game), 1959 (North by Northwest, The World of Apu, Pickpocket, Ben Hur, lost of other notable foreign films), 1976 (Rocky, Network, Taxi Driver, All the President's Men), to name a few. You can even make strong cases for 46, 63, 77, and 99.

Indeed, it is hard to recognize a contemporaneous historical moment, but as I was watching the Golden Globes, I was struck by the movies and performances that were NOT nominated. More so, I was shocked by the number of films and performances, that in any other year, would be clear favorites. So many of last year's films are not just artistic achievements, but engaging important political and social issues. For Your Consideration: Brokeback Mountain, Good Night and Good Luck, Crash, A History of Violence, Transamerica, Syriana, the Constant Gardner and Munich (and Omri, I think you really sell short this film) are all stirring stories that entertain lofty ambitions. Cinderella Man, Capote, and King Kong (yes King Kong) are all great character sketches. 2005 also witnessed, in my humble opinion two of the best comic book movies: Sin City and Batman Begins. And let us not forget we saw the Star Wars saga conclude this past summer.

Maybe it is too early to tell (I am waiting for Marcus' retort grounded on the assumption that the celluloid must decay a bit before such proclamations...but this fish wants to acknowledge the waters he is swimming in).

My encomium to 2005.


Blogger paroske noted on 1/22/2006 10:36:00 AM that...

Yep, you are jumping the gun. You are right about letting things survive the test of time. But I also think you are wrong factually, anyway.

Is 2005, on its face, a better year than 2004? It would have to be blowing that year out of the water to get the immediate (albeit speculative) elevation to 1939 territory, right?


Million Dollar Baby; Aviator; Finding Neverland; Ray; Sideways; Hotel Rwanda
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Collateral; Kinsey; Incredibles; Passion of the Christ; Polar Express; Spider Man 2; Shrek 2; The Sea Inside

or, better on its face than 2002?

2002: The Pianist; Chicago; Gangs of New York; LOTR: The Two Towers; The Hours; About Schmidt; Adapation; Frida; Road to Predition; Talk to Her; Y tu mama tambien; Minority Report; 8 Mile; Catch Me If You Can; Bowling for Columbine; Hero

I am not making the case that any of these years is better than the other. But your claim needs 2005 to be way better than these two years that i have chosen at random.


Blogger ronvon2 noted on 1/22/2006 12:22:00 PM that...

Indeed this is just initial speculation and the "time" argument is one that I can not answer. But I do believe last year's crop of film are, on face, more important that any of those two years. Or at least there are greater numbers of more important films from 2005. Yes, many of the films in 2002 and 2004 are exceptional (Million Dollar Baby is in constant rotation with HBO and I always seem to leave it on...I love that film). But, this is a gut instinct. Twenty years from now will provide the only "real" evidence. We'll talk at NCA 2026 and figure out what movies we talk about more often, Munich or Shrek 2.  

Blogger Paul Johnson noted on 1/22/2006 01:44:00 PM that...

up until December, I would have declared this the crappiest movie year in my memory. I can't recall the last time I went to the theater so many times in a month as I did this December. Just weird that up until then there was literally NOTHING except A History of Violence- is it always this way?  

Blogger Omri noted on 1/23/2006 08:47:00 PM that...

I have no problem with Munich as a film. It accomplishes its cheap propaganda spectacularly well. I won't make the error of invoking Triumph of the Will as a comparison, but I do want to put it in your mind so as to point out that a well-made film is not necessarily a good film.  

Blogger ronvon2 noted on 1/23/2006 10:05:00 PM that...

Over a few beers in Amsterdam, I will defend Munich as both an artistic and intellectual achievement (as a preview: I don't buy the equivocation/moral ambivalence argument).  

Blogger Omri noted on 1/24/2006 09:51:00 AM that...

It's going to take something a lot stronger than a few beers to even get close to seeming reasonable when arguing that "just because he altered history all the way down to the number of terrorists to create symmetries between terrorism and counterterrorism doesn't mean that he was trying to create symmetries between terrorism and counterterrorism". Lucky for you, we'll be in Amsterdam. And you have a large daily stipend.  

Blogger Paul Johnson noted on 1/24/2006 10:48:00 AM that...

Amsterdam? Is there a conference there or something?  

Blogger Cinthia noted on 1/24/2006 04:23:00 PM that...

I agree that the excitement in movies didn't pick up until December in 2005. But then, isn't it always like this every year? By the end of January, I feel so overwhelmed by all these great movies being thrown at my feet that I often end up thinking it's been the best year ever.

It's probably not, but I do think we've indeed been spoiled this year. :)  

Blogger Omri noted on 1/28/2006 02:28:00 PM that...

PJ - There's an argumentation conference in Amsterdam. It's the ISSA conference - switches between Alta and Amsterdam every year.