best film: I’m probably less comfortable here than I have been with any other year. I have a strong pull towards Cache, but frankly my top 4 from 2005 are all very close so this could be different when I update this next upon revisit of these top 4. Haneke’s best work is a chilling work that is equal parts Hitchcock and Bunuel. The rich subtext is all Bunuel (though subtler) and the paranoia and thriller genre detail borrowed from the great master of suspense. Yet, the iciness and intellectual achievement here is all Haneke.

 most underrated:  I’m blown away that Jim Jarmusch’s perfectly constructed work, broken flowers, cannot be located on the TSPDT 21st century list until #36 of 2005. That’s patently absurd. It’s a top 5 work of the year at worst and I currently have it second. Jarmusch’s theme and variation has rarely, if ever, been better. He’s one of cinema’s great formalists. Reoccurring shots and patterns amidst a simple yet intoxicating narrative. Sign me up.

 most overrated: I’m an admirer of the Romanian New Wave that emerged here in the 2000’s. Cristian Mungiu is a favorite of mine but one of the pillars of the movement, Cristi Puiu’s The Death of Mr. Lazarescu is relatively lost on me. It’s ranked #452 of all-time currently on TSPDT and that’s #3 of 2005. Unlike Broken Flowers, i did not find myself impressed with the repetition. Where I found Jarmusch’s procedural to be a well-woven masterpiece, I found this moving and politically potent, but not extremely compelling in the repetitive nature of Mr. Lazarescu’s plight.

gem I want to spotlight: Joe Wright’s feature debut, Pride and Prejudice, smacked me (and anyone else semi-expecting a dry Jane Austen adaptation) across the face with its unhinged camera and brazen style. There’s formal repetition in the shot of Darcy’s hand and strong performances all over the place.

 trends and notables:  It’s a very strong year when brokeback mountain, a great film, is at #9 and the squid and the whale is #7. That’s impressive. It’s also a really strong year for new filmmakers giving us their debut into the archives. As I mentioned above, there’s none stronger than Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice. Behind him we have Rian Johnson with Brick, Bennett Miller with Capote and Kelly Reichardt with Old Joy. With Kubrick gone if there’s an “event” filmmaker in 2005 it’s the reclusive Terrence Malick so it’s worth noting any year that he has a release. I was disappointed in 2005 with The New World but my appreciation for the profound beauty and artistry of his work here has grown on me in the past decade plus. I think 2005 is, to date, peak Haneke and peak Baumbach (two filmmakers that have been dancing around my top 10-20 currently working for a few years. 2005 is exciting because it marks the first of 3 pairings between Viggo and David Cronenberg—all of them would be excellent. Lastly, though it doesn’t crack my top 10 it’s a big year for two internet gods collaborating to make Batman Begins. They wouldn’t fully realize their potential together until the dark knight in 2008 but stemming from 2000’s memento and American Psycho, both Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale had, deservedly, gathered quite a cult following so it was great to see them collaborate here (first of 4 times so far).

best performance male:  2005 is absolutely loaded with good male performances. I tried to cut it to 5 but have to give out 7 mentions here. Chief amongst them and leading the pack is Health Ledger’s work in Brokeback Mountain. I’d have no problem if someone went with Phillip Seymour for Capote instead but to me Ledger’s work reminds me of a 1950’s Brando. It, along with his work in 2008’s dark knight, marks one of the truly great performances of the decade. How tragically coincidental that both PSH and Ledger would pass at such a young age. Bill Murray gives us deadpan brilliance in broken flowers and Viggo Mortensen’s internalized lead helps carries Cronenberg’s strongest effort of the decade. There’s more. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is pitch perfect in Match Point and Jeff Daniels does the best work of his career in The Squid and the Whale. Lastly, I have to mention Jérémie Renier’s gut-wrenching neo, neo-realism performance in the Dardenne’s l’enfant.

best performance female: I’d be lying if I said I thought she was an overly talented actress but I’ll be damned if Keira Knightley isn’t impressive as hell in Pride and Prejudice. I think she holds off Amy Adam’s shockingly-good star-making turn in Junebug just by a hair because Wright’s work is just so much more impressive. Behind those two Q’orianka Kilcher’s Pocahontas is easily one of the standout performances of the year. It’s shot almost entirely in montage but Malick captures a stirring performance from her. Lastly, though she’s not in much of the film as far as screen time, I have to single out Michelle Williams in Brokeback. Her scenes with Ledger are so powerful.


top 10

  1. Cache
  2. Broken Flowers
  3. The New World
  4. A History of Violence
  5. L’enfant
  6. Match Point
  7. The Squid and the Whale
  8. Pride and Prejudice
  9. Brokeback Mountain
  10. I Am the Angel of Death: Pusher III


Archives, Directors, and Grades

A History of Violence- Cronenberg MP
Batman Begins-Nolan R
Brick- R. Johnson R
Brokeback Mountain- A. Lee HR
Broken Flowers- Jarmusch MP
C.R.A.Z.Y.- Vallée R
Cache- Haneke MP
Capote- B. Miller HR
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory- Burton R
Cinderella Man- R. Howard R
Corpse Bride- Burton R
Duma- Ballard R
Fateless R
Good Night and Good Luck R
Hustle & Flow R
I Am the Angel of Death: Pusher III- Refn HR
Jarhead- Mendes R
Junebug R/HR
King Kong- P. Jackson R
Kingdom of Heaven- R. Scott R
Lady Vengeance- Chan-wook Park R
Last Days- Van Sant R
L’enfant- Dardenne MS
Match Point- W. Allen MS
Me and You and Everyone We Know R
Munich- Spielberg R
Nine Lives R
Old Joy- Reichardt R
Paradise Now
Pride and Prejudice- Jo. Wright HR
Red Eye- Craven R
Serenity R
Sin City HR
Sophie Scholl: The Final Days R
Syriana R
The Beat That My Heart Skipped- Audiard R
The Constant Gardener- Meirelles HR
The New World- Malick MS/MP
The Proposition R
The Squid and the Whale- Baumbach MS
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada HR
Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story- Winterbottom HR
Walk the Line- Mangold R
Wallace and Gromit In the Case of the Were-Rabbit R
Wedding Crashers R


*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film

MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film

HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film

R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives