Top Ten Films of 2005

Contribution to the 2005 World Poll

Although I confess that for a part of 2005 I gave up on going to the cinema and shut myself in with Alfred Hitchcock DVDs, this year did see the release of some great films and was probably the best year for Australian cinema since 1994.

My top ten films that received a first-run theatrical release in Melbourne, Australia, in 2005 (in preferred order) are:

1. The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005)
2. Mysterious Skin (Gregg Araki, 2004)
3. Birth (Jonathan Glazer, 2004)
4. Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch, 2005)
5. OldBoy (Park Chan-wook, 2003)
6. Downfall (Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2004)
7. Ong-bak (Prachya Pinkaew, 2003)
8. Sideways (Alexander Payne, 2004)
9. Closer (Mike Nichols, 2004)
10. Look Both Ways (Sarah Watt, 2005)

There were many high quality films not too far behind but I have restricted myself to the following ten honourable mentions:

2046 (Wong Kar-wai, 2004)
Bad Education (Pedro Almodóvar, 2004)
The Five Obstructions (Jørgen Leth and Lars von Trier, 2003)
Good Night, and Good Luck (George Clooney, 2005)
Head-On (Fatih Akin, 2004)
King Kong (Peter Jackson, 2005)
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Shane Black, 2005)
Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood, 2004)
Paradise Now (Hany Abu-Assad, 2005)
Tarnation (Jonathan Caouette, 2003)

As well as the Australian films I have already listed, I would also like to mention Little Fish (Rowan Woods, 2005), The Magician (Scott Ryan, 2005), Three Dollars (Robert Connolly, 2005) and Wolf Creek (Greg McLean, 2005) for further demonstrating the diversity and quality of Australian cinema this year.

Other highlights during the year were screenings of 3-Iron (Kim Ki-duk, 2004), Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005) and Saraband (Ingmar Bergman, 2003) at the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (Mamoru Oshii, 2004).

Extra special mention to Forgiveness (Ian Gabriel, 2004) and Café Lumière (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2003), both of which screened at MIFF and both are two of the best films I saw this year.

Although 2005 also saw the release of several films that I found to be mediocre or disappointing, I am not going to give in to the (admittedly highly enjoyable) indulgence of further running them into the ground. However, I do feel compelled to list three extraordinarily well-received films that I found to be very average. 

So, the overrated films for 2005 are:

Sin City (Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez, 2005)
Crash (Paul Haggis, 2004)
Me and You and Everyone We Know (Miranda July, 2005)

On a more positive note, thanks to the many outstanding programs by ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image), the typically excellent annual program by the Melbourne Cinémathèque and the dedication to screen culture demonstrated by independent cinemas such as The Astor Theatre, I was able to indulge in many fantastic retrospective screenings throughout 2005.

My top retrospective films to be screening for 2 weeks or more are:

2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968) at The Astor Theatre
Modern Times (Charles Chaplin, 1936) and The Great Dictator (Charles Chaplin, 1940) double at The Astor Theatre
The Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929) at Cinema Nova
A Fistful of Dynamite (Sergio Leone, 1971) at The Astor Theatre
The Big Red One (Samuel Fuller, 1980) at The Astor Theatre

Instead of listing all the high-quality films that received one-off screenings in Melbourne during 2005, I am simply listing the films that I had never seen before that made a major impression on me:

Blowup (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966), screened by the Melbourne Cinémathèque
Code Unknown (Michael Haneke, 2000), screened at the Melbourne Cinémathèque’s Michael Haneke retrospective
The Fantastic Planet (René Laloux, 1973), screened by the Melbourne Cinémathèque and the Melbourne International Animation Festival
Shadows (John Cassavetes, 1959), screened at ACMI’s Jim Jarmusch retrospective
There’s Always Tomorrow (Douglas Sirk, 1956), screened at the Melbourne Cinémathèque’s Barbara Stanwyck retrospective

Finally, extra special mention to Twilight Saloon (Tomu Uchida, 1955), which was screened as part of MIFF’s Tomu Uchida retrospective. Seeing this film was the cinematic highlight of my year and affirmed everything I love about films.

Originally appeared here on Senses of Cinema Issue No. 38, January – March 2006

© Thomas Caldwell, 2005