2005: Ten Favorite Films
I saw all but one of these on the big screen, and half of them at the Toronto film festival. There were films that were released in the US this year that I didn't include here because they were on my list last year. So, here goes, in alphabetical order by filmmaker:
Funny Ha Ha (Andrew Bujalski, USA). A neo-realist slacker comedy that John Cassavetes might have loved.
The Child (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Belgium). I know some critics were a bit underwhelmed by the newest Dardenne but it held me vice-like in its consciously stripped-down form and its typically Bressonian concentration. Would make a great double bill with Pickpocket.
Caché (Michael Haneke, Austria/France). This art-thriller is a projection screen, a tabula rasa on which to write your own story of the story of this film.
Me And You And Everyone We Know (Miranda July, USA). A visionary and courageous movie, consecrated to the ordinary, humbly celebratory of art-making, and uncynically at home in our postmodern times.
2046 (Wong Kar-Wai, Hong Kong). Wong's coolest, most cerebral film. Which comes as a shock from a director known more for his sensuality than his chilliness. To me anyway, the only film on this list that demands to be seen at least twice before it begins to sink in.
The Wayward Cloud (Tsai Ming-Liang, Taiwan). Tsai loves Jacques Tati, and so the humor in this film isn't surprising. What is surprising is the film's transgressive ending — however, it never feels like a lazy stunt or an attention-seeking ploy, but revelatory (though exactly what it reveals is up for grabs.)
The Death Of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu, Romania). The title pre-emptively "spoils" the ending, making the movie all about the journey, both nightmarish and hilarious, of one long and metaphorical night. The director's two chief models were Eric Rohmer and ER. The most unexpected great film of the year.
Last Days (Gus Van Sant, USA). Rounding out the trilogy begun with Gerry and Elephant, and consummating the remarkable reinvention of Gus Van Sant. For me, along with Todd Haynes, the most interesting American filmmaker currently working.
Three films hard on their heels: The Sun, Regular Lovers, and Broken Flowers.
Three films I haven't seen yet but wished I had before I made up this list: Saraband, Grizzly Man, The Squid & The Whale.
Some of your faves? Do share, if you like.