Who and What I Liked in 2005: Viggo, Violence, Reese, 2046

While I was trying to decide how I would introduce my customary list of the past year’s achievements and non-achievements,

While I was trying to decide how I would introduce my customary list of the past year’s achievements and non-achievements, I consulted what I wrote last year—and I was struck by how applicable it was to this year. So simply by changing a few numerals, I can repeat last year’s introduction, secure in the knowledge that 2005’s releases were neither appreciably better nor appreciably worse than 2004’s. I only wish I could say the same thing for the politics, which seem to get bleaker with each passing year.

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Anyway, here is my encapsulated wisdom on the year in movies, 2004, transposed to 2005:

As far as I can determine, 2005 seems to have been neither the best nor the worst year for movies, at least as far as the proportion of good (low as always) to bad (high as always) is concerned. Of course, the technology keeps changing—often to the consternation of the Luddites among us—and there’s also that mindless nostalgia for an idyllic past, in which all the bad movies have been mercifully expunged from memory. After all, I’ve been in the year-end 10-best business since 1958, when Jonas Mekas graciously allowed me to share his “Movie Journal” column in The Village Voice with my own 10-best list, which I’m now ashamed to remember failed to include both Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil—but that was 48 years ago, and I very much doubt that I will be around 47 years from now to second-guess my top-10 lists for 2005. So, with little fear of afterthought, and without further ado, here are my considered preferences for the past year, which, by my count at least, accounted for 480 releases in New York theaters:

English-Language Pictures

1. A History of Violence

2. The Squid and the Whale

3. Match Point

4. Sin City

5. Proof

6. Breakfast on Pluto

7. Walk the Line

8. Pride and Prejudice

9. Shopgirl

10. Junebug

Foreign-Language Pictures

1. 2046

2. Saraband

3. Look at Me

4. My Mother’s Smile

5. Brothers

6. My Summer of Love

7. The Memory of a Killer

8. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

9. Ushpizin

10. Paradise Now

Nonfiction Films

1. March of the Penguins

2. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

3. David Hockney: The Colors of Music

4. Gunner Palace

5. Stalin’s Wife

6. Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic

7. Cinévardaphoto

8. The Venetian Dilemma

9. With God on Our Side: George W. Bush and the Rise of the Religious Right in America

10. WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception

Films Other People Liked and I Didn’t

1. Brokeback Mountain

2. Munich

3. Syriana

4. Crash

5. The 40-Year-Old Virgin

6. Caché

7. The Family Stone

8. Mrs. Henderson Presents

9. The Weeping Meadow

10. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Special award to Gromit in Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit for maintaining and extending the comic spirit, gravitas and technological adaptability of Buster Keaton.

Runner-Up English-Language Films I Liked

The Ice Harvest, The Jacket, Separate Lies, Red Eye, The White Countess, Jarhead, The Upside of Anger, Winter Solstice, Wedding Crashers, Happy Endings, Hustle & Flow, Keane, In Her Shoes, Nine Lives, Fever Pitch, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, Transamerica, The Interpreter, Broken Flowers, Just Like Heaven, North Country, The Matador, Cinderella Man, Good Night, and Good Luck, Capote.

Runner-Up Foreign-Language Films I Liked

Head-On, À Toute de Suite, The Holy Girl, 3-Iron, Happily Ever After, The Ninth Day, Kings and Queen, Or (My Treasure), The Beat That My Heart Skipped, The Edukators, Tony Takitani, The President’s Last Bang, The Syrian Bride, Gilles’ Wife, Nina’s Tragedies, Downfall, Good Morning, Night,

Best Male Performances

1. Viggo Mortensen, A History of Violence

2. Cillian Murphy, Breakfast on Pluto

3. Tom Wilkinson, Separate Lies

Best Female Performances

1. Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

2. Gwyneth Paltrow, Proof

3. Maria Bello, A History of Violence

Other Noteworthy Male Performances

William Hurt, Ed Harris, Ashton Holmes, A History of Violence. Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Match Point. Matthew Macfadyen, Pride and Prejudice. Steve Martin, Shopgirl. Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Randy Quaid, Brokeback Mountain. Will Smith, Hitch. Birol Ünel, Head-On. Sergio Castellitto, My Mother’s Smile. Adrien Brody, Kris Kristofferson, The Jacket. Kevin Costner, The Upside of Anger. Will Ferrell, Wallace Shawn, Larry Pine, Melinda and Melinda. Alessandro Nivola, Frank Hoyt Taylor, Ben McKenzie, Scott Wilson, Junebug. Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Sin City. Yvan Attal, Alain Chabat, Alain Cohen, Johnny Depp, Happily Ever After. Sean Penn, The Interpreter. Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Terrence Howard, Chris Bridges, Brendan Fraser, Crash. Ulrich Thomsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Brothers. Mathieu Amalric, Kings and Queen, Munich. Russell Crowe, Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man. Erland Josephson, Börje Ahlstedt, Saraband. Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Christopher Walken, Wedding Crashers. Tom Arnold, Jesse Bradford, Bobby Cannavale, Steve Coogan, Jason Ritter, Happy Endings. John Cusack, Dermot Mulroney, Christopher Plummer, Must Love Dogs. Cillian Murphy, Brian Cox, Red Eye. Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Takuya Kimura, 2046. Bill Murray, Jeffrey Wright, Broken Flowers. Damian Lewis, Keane. Rupert Everett, David Harewood, John Neville, Separate Lies. Mark Ruffalo, Just Like Heaven. Anthony Hopkins, Jake Gyllenhaal, Proof. Peter Sarsgaard, Jarhead and Flightplan. Ralph Fiennes, Hiroyuki Sanada, Allan Corduner, The White Countess. Daniel Auteuil, Caché, Good Morning, Night. Bruno Ganz, Downfall. Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Dennis Haysbert, Jarhead. Rupert Friend, Robert Lang, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont.

Jeff Daniels, Jesse Eisenberg, Owen Kline, Billy Baldwin, The Squid and the Whale. Liam Neeson, Stephen Rea, Breakfast on Pluto. Tom Hollander, Donald Sutherland, Pride and Prejudice. Stephen Dillane, Jason Isaacs, Joe Mantegna, Ian McShane, Aidan Quinn, Miguel Sandoval, Nine Lives. John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Randy Quaid, Oliver Platt, Mike Starr, The Ice Harvest. Sean Bean, Flightplan. Mark Feuerstein, In Her Shoes. David Strathairn, George Clooney, Frank Langella, Good Night, and Good Luck. Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Philip Baker Hall, The Matador, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote.

Other Noteworthy Female Performances

Connie Nielsen, The Ice Harvest, Brothers. Emily Watson, Linda Bassett, Hermione Norris, Separate Lies. Keira Knightley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Jacket. Joan Allen, The Upside of Anger. Laura Linney, Anna Paquin, Halley Feiffer, The Squid and the Whale. Abbie Cornish, Somersault. Sibel Kekilli, Head-On. Pernilla August, Daybreak. Eva Mendes, Hitch. Charlotte Gainsbourg, Emmanuelle Seigner, Happily Ever After. Drew Barrymore, Fever Pitch. Nicole Kidman, Catherine Keener, The Interpreter. Mercedes Morán, The Holy Girl. Emmanuelle Devos, Catherine Deneuve, Kings and Queen. Ronit Elkabetz, Dana Ivgy, Or (My Treasure). Nathalie Press, Emily Blunt, My Summer of Love. Renée Zellweger, Cinderella Man. Liv Ullmann, Julia Dufvenius, Gunnel Fred, Saraband. Rachel McAdams, Isla Fisher, Jane Seymour, Wedding Crashers. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Lisa Kudrow, Sarah Clarke, Happy Endings. Diane Lane, Elizabeth Perkins, Must Love Dogs. Scarlett Johansson, Emily Mortimer, Match Point. Rachel McAdams, Jayma Mays, Red Eye. Amy Adams, Embeth Davidtz, Celia Weston, Junebug. Ziyi Zhang, Gong Li, Faye Wong, 2046. Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange, Tilda Swinton, Julie Delpy, Broken Flowers. Reese Witherspoon, Dina Spybey, Just Like Heaven. Hope Davis, Proof, The Matador. Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette, Shirley MacLaine, In Her Shoes. Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman, Elpidia Carrillo, Glenn Close, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Holly Hunter, Molly Parker, Mary Kay Place, Amanda Seyfried, Sissy Spacek, Robin Wright Penn, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Dakota Fanning, Nine Lives. Keira Knightley, Rosamund Pike, Pride and Prejudice. Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Michelle Monaghan, Sissy Spacek, North Country. Juliette Binoche, Annie Girardot, Caché. Claire Danes, Shopgirl, The Family Stone. Natasha Richardson, Vanessa Redgrave, Lynn Redgrave, The White Countess. Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Esposito, Thandie Newton, Crash. Maya Sansa, Good Morning, Night. Joan Plowright, Anna Massey, Zoe Tapper, Clare Higgins, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont. Ruth Negga, Breakfast on Pluto, Catheri

Who and What I Liked in 2005:  Viggo, Violence, Reese, 2046