Here’s my list of the best films of 2005. Sorry for posting this list now, because, as we all know, 2005 is so last year. The reason for this delay is that I tend to watch movies in DVDs rather than in theaters. Despite the lateness of this list, the finality of it is still uncertain. I’ll probably see other future films that might rightly belong here. For that, a big sorry. Finally, the biggest sorry for simply indulging myself. Let’s face it. This is a list that would ultimately only matter to me. I doubt it if you’d love it more than me.

For a complete list of 2005 movie releases I’ve reviewed, click here. Without further ado, my favorite films of 2005:

[1] Millions (2005)
Two young brothers come into possession of a mysterious loot. One wants to give the money to the poor. The other wants to spend and invest. With a wondrous screenplay by Frank Cottrell Boyce and directed with vigor and spunk by Danny Boyle, “Millions” is rich in imagination, in wonder, in ideas, in whimsy, and in heart. But its ultimate treasure is a genuine performance from Alex Etel, who effortlessly carries the film with charisma and beguiling innocence.

[2] The Best of Youth (2005)
“The Best of Youth” is a sprawling Italian epic about two close brothers of differing personalities. The movie’s scope in time and place is remarkable, but its scale in human drama is its crowning achievement. The film looks daunting at six hours long. Or, you can view it as three great movies put together, but with greater cumulative impact.

[3] Match Point (2005)
By recalling smart thrillers and topping it with his own brand of tricks, Woody Allen makes “Match Point” one of his best films. It knows how to utilize tension, stir a passionate concoction, and string together a series of shocking scenes. And it’s so freaking smart and agile – it makes other screenplays look lazy. The movie stars Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, who is uncommonly good in drawing us to the story, despite his character’s actions. [my review]

[4] Crash (2005)
“Crash” interweaves stories of varying ethnic characters in Los Angeles. All are affected by racism, whether they like it or not. Filmmaker Paul Haggis is just plain good storyteller. “Crash” arrives at familiar moments but refuses to follow movie stereotypes. It has tons of unpredictable moments and dares you to judge a character to be good or bad. One story after another, “Crash” hits you on the gut, on the mind, and on the heart. It takes awhile to recover from this beautiful disaster.

[5] Munich (2005)
“Munich” delves into the aftermath of the infamous Olympic hostage. This is a movie that has things up its sleeves and its muscular arms are long. It flexes muscles of smarts, thriller, suspense, drama, and relevancy. Except for a prolonged last act, it stays riveting for more than two hours. When “Munich” aims and shoots, I’m killed with excitement.

[6] Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005)
“Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” is the one of the year’s funniest movies, thanks to its hilarious narration and narrative. The cast of Downey, Monaghan, and Kilmer deliver top-notch chemistry. I love how they play mystery geeks in a mystery movie. Writer and director Shane Black keeps the thrills, the humor, and the mystery fresh. His screenplay is cleverly clumsy and the witty dialogue is a comedy goldmine. It’s kick-ass entertainment all the way. [my review]

[7] Fever Pitch (2005)
It’s the best sports-romance movie. Jimmy Fallon plays Ben (a hardcore Red Sox fan) and Drew Barrymore plays his girlfriend who feels like she’ll always be second to baseball. Unlike common and manipulative romantic comedies, “Fever Pitch” features a believable couple, in convincing and compromising situations. It really got me. And when reality overwrites the planned screenplay, the movie rides on surreal. “Fever Pitch” is so magically fortuitous – it’s like watching an impossible dream.

[8] Lord of War (2005)
After writing intelligent sci-fi films such as “The Truman Show” and “Gattaca,” Andrew Niccol returns in fine form with “Lord of War” – a slick and disturbing movie about gun-running. The brilliant Nicholas Cage, who has perfected nuances, plays the naturally talented arms dealer Yuri Orlov. The film is thoroughly entertaining and surprisingly says much of gun-crazy world.

[9] Proof (2005)
“Proof” is the most telling drama I’ve seen about the tricky relationship of genius and insanity. Not only does it delve deep on mathematics, but also psychology. And in the middle of this puzzling drama is Gwyneth Paltrow giving an aching portrayal as Catherine, who may have written a breakthrough proof.

[10] Hustle & Flow (2005)
“Hustle & Flow” boasts a strong ensemble, led by a strong-gut and all-heart performance from Terrence Howard. Filmmaker Craig Brewer writes a compelling tale of a pimp all pumped up to rap. It has the sense to keep it real, without being hyper or mawkish. It’s powerful, inspirational, and admirably focused. It has muscle. It has glow. This is “Hustle & Flow.”

Runner-Up

Junebug (2005)
Watching “Junebug” seems like an entry to a foreign world, because movies rarely get this intimate with a small Southern town. Characters are more inspired from real life, rather than assembled out of simple folk stereotypes. The most notable performer is Amy Adams as the most glowing pregnant woman ever put on screen. This has got to be my favorite performance of the year.

Little Manhattan (2005)
“Little Manhattan” is a boy’s account on his first gamble in the game of love. Played by Josh Hutcherson, the kid attempts to be real as possible. No sugarcoating here. It’s just an honest and telling story about a boy’s confusion about love. This hardly-seen treasure made me smile throughout the movie and that’s the highest compliment I can give.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
In Harry’s fourth year, students from foreign schools of magic arrive in Hogwarts for the Triwizard Tournament. Not only does our teen wizard become an unexpected competitor, he deals with friendship fallouts, romantic aspirations, and traumatic outcomes. “Goblet” engages us on so many things; it’s miraculous how everything seems to have been incorporated in a matter of hours. It’s among the most generous films of the year.

Bride and Prejudice (2005)
The Bollywood version of “Pride and Prejudice.” Knowing the novel makes the plot predictable but there’s still much to discover: colorful song and dance numbers and a gamely international cast led by the most beautiful Aishwarya Rai. As for flaws, the movie has a flair for committing them. Plot holes, inert acting, and the works. But it is such a guilty pleasure that the whole effect is a fantastic indifference to flaws and an inclination to let loose and get lost in the fun.

The Edukators (2005)
The German film about young socially-minded revolutionists is surprisingly an adept thriller. The film juggles between intellectual worldly discussions and its Hitchcockian suspense. With a taut and thrilling plot, passionate and smart characters, and unaffected direction by Hans Weingartner, “The Edukators” is a great film to think about and experience.

Honorable Mention: (in alphabetical order)

The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
Capote (2005)
Jarhead (2005)
March of the Penguins (2005)
Palindromes (2005)
Saint Ralph (2005)
Sin City (2005)
The Upside of Anger (2005)
War of the Worlds (2005)
The Weather Man (2005)

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