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Most Enjoyable & Most Disappointing of 2005

by Tony Medley

Here’s my list of the most enjoyable and least enjoyable/most disappointing/most overrated films I saw during 2005. The negative category includes some films that, while not the worst, were disappointing or, while enjoyable, had huge flaws. There were more most enjoyables than most disappointings, and that’s a good sign that if you pick carefully, you can still see a good movie.

Most Enjoyable:

  1. (tie) Match Point: Woody Allen’s best movie, even if it is two hours long.

(tie) Proof: A sensitive, intuitive film about caretakers with a metaphorical plot and a scintillating performance by Gwenyth Paltrow.

  1. March of the Penguins: The best love story of the year has to be seen to be believed.
  2. The Great Raid: Has there ever been a better war movie or a better story? Has a good movie ever been more poorly promoted?
  3. Heights: A brilliant script expertly acted by an ensemble cast.
  4. Crash: Venturing into new territory, the most ground-breaking film of the year.
  5. The Matador: If the purpose of moviemaking is entertainment, this is a high achiever.
  6. Downfall: The real Hitler bunker couldn’t have been much more realistic.
  7. Dreamer: The best wholesome family film of the year with wonderful performances by Dakota Fanning and Kurt Russell.
  8. Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: Julianne Moore portrays a loyal wife of a flawed man, as strong a woman as you’ll ever see in cinema. This one caused the feminist critic in the LA Times to become almost apoplectic in her rage at a Hollywood film that glorifies a loyal, stay-at-home mom, so it must be exceptionally good.
  9. In Good Company: Dennis Quaid finally finds himself in a good film. Somebody pick Dennis up off the floor.
  10. Ballets Russes: Fascinating story of the two ballet companies, circa 1932-62, told by the people who made and danced it.
  11. Cinderella Man: A terrific biopic of a good man
  12. Goodnight and Good Luck: Despite its political bias, an entertaining recreation of a bygone era with a magnificent performance by David Strathairm.
  13. Saint Ralph: A touching, funny look at Catholic high school.
  14. In Her Shoes: This is not, I repeat NOT, a chick flick.
  15. La Petite Lily: Ludivine Sagnier; gasp, pant; need I say more?

Most Disappointing

  1. Grizzly Man: The most disgraceful, dishonest film of this or any year. Director Werner Herzog sacrificed his integrity to get the cooperation needed to make the film, but he did suck in all the other critics who accepted his manipulation without a whimper.
  2. The New World. A doctor told a patient he had only 2 ½ hours to live. The man said, “What can I do?” The doctor told him to go see director Terrence Malick’s The New World. “How will that help me?” the man asked. The doctor responded, “They’ll be the longest 2 ½ hours of your life.”
  3. Susan Silverman: Ms. Silverman is wildly successful in proving that she has poor taste and is not funny.
  4. 9 Songs: The hard core porn is so tedious one longs for the horrible music.
  5. Yours, Mine, and Ours: Dennis Quaid finds himself back in more familiar territory.
  6. Broken Flowers: Still somnolent Bill Murray undoubtedly realizes that if he ever emerges from his Lost in Translation-inspired trance he won’t get any more Oscar nominations from his Hollywood peers.
  7. The Ice Harvest: Billy Bob Thornton won’t give up thumbing his nose at Christmas.
  8. Prime: Meryl Streep gives a performance that should live in infamy along with December 7.
  9. Elizabethtown: This original film makes one think that maybe Paramount knows what it’s doing when it makes so many inferior remakes of mediocre films in lieu of originals.
  10. The Honeymooners: On second thought, maybe Paramount ought to investigate another line of work. How about Paramount City?
  11. North Country: For 2004 Charlize Thereon made a movie about Aileen Wuornos, a serial killer and became an advocate for her defense (that the first murder was self defense), which Wuornos later admitted was hogwash. This admission was before Ms. Thereon’s movie, but she still didn’t change it so that it didn’t make the baldly false case that this monster was a sympathetic victim. Now, for 2005, she makes a “Hollywood” movie that makes a simplistic mockery of a real case. But, hey, it sounds good and it’s easy to understand and it’s inflammatory, so who cares about facts, even if it is enormously silly?
  12. Mr. & Mrs. Smith: That this piffle could be ninth for the year in grosses at $186,000,000 conclusively proves that, for a movie to make money, notoriety and banality are more important than an intelligent script, and that beautiful movie stars need not be actors.
  13. Walk the Line: Joaquin Phoenix sings Johnny Cash. Yeah, there’s a CD that should sell like cauliflower hot cakes.