A year at the Movies – A Look Back at the Best and Worst of 2005

Ah… another topsy turvy year has come to an end. What a year it has been indeed! Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, diplomatic shenanigans not withstanding, it has been an equally exciting year at the world of movies.Hollywood may have been running out of ideas but far from croaking, they had turned their profit-minded attention to the literary world for inspiration. And its not just the literary world too, but Hollywood saw it fit to do modern society a favour by ‘modernising’ old movies needlessly. Not to forget too, that some Hollywood studio bigwigs think they are doing all us Asians a huge favour by tranlating and reworking our movies into their ‘bankable’ and ‘flashy’ versions. Ah yes, there’s also the matter of wanting to continue the adventures of our favourite silverscreen heroes – thus, we have sequels and prequels, some works but alas, some falls flat upon the director’s and the studio’s faces.

An interesting year, 2005, isn’t it?

Without delay, let’s get on with my pick of the 10 best movies released in Malaysia this year.

Philip’s Top 10 Movies of 2005

10. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

The final chapter of the painfully long space saga that is a long time coming. The fall of Anakin Skywalker is complete. His transformation into the dastardly evil Darth Vader was really heart-wrenching to see. Sometimes i feel like reaching into the screen and shake and slap that Skywalker chap silly for the pain she caused the beautiful Padme. The attack on the Jedi Temple too, was utterly gut-wrenching for me. Yea, so I’m a softy. So sue me. Crappy, soppy dialogues aside, George Lucas could not have made a much more fitting end to the Star Wars saga and should really be apllauded for the wonderful digital effects. HD is certainly the future of filmmaking!

9. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

Released in the USA in December 2004 but took three months to open here in Malaysia. Having not read the books, I can gladly say that I enjoyed this movie very much. The young leads handled their The main cast of Lemony Snicket. L to R - Jim Carrey, Liam Aiken, The Hoffman Twins & Emily Browningroles very well… but arguably, the stars of the movie has to be their adult co-stars that simply steals every scene. Jim Carrey is at his best with a slick, supremely evil performance as the pathetic, scheming, greedy and evil Count Olaf. He gave us a villain that we just simply love to hate and hate to love. Meryl Streep is certainly having a lot of fun as eccentric, scaredy-cat Aunt Josephine. Jude Law’s sombre and smooth voice set the tone of the movie perfectly, dark, morbid with an air of mystery. Wonderful sets. Wonderful acting al round. And did I mention that I simply got dreamily lost in Liam Aiken’s wonderfully expressive eyes? Gorgeous!

Definitely, by far, one of the most heart-warming Malaysian movies I have ever seen. And it is certainly my No.1 Malaysian film ever! Much better than that expensive, too-grand-for-its-own-good Puteri Gunung Ledang. Released in Singapore in September 2004 before it was shown in Malaysia in February 2005, this second film by the uncomparable Yasmin Ahmad – she who brought us those touching and inspiring Petronas festive TV ads – broke all boundaries by daring to explore the complex issue of interracial romance. Touching and inspiring in every aspect, it is a shame to note that Malaysia’s Film Censorship Board wanted to ban this film if Yasmin had not cut out several scenes from the film. I must thank her for not giving into the demands of those ancient foggies sitting on that board. With a sequel in the works, Sepet is a MUST see film for all ages and one that is worthy to be studied and taught in schools all over the country for its messages of tolerance, acceptance and understanding.

7. Constantine

Constantine (Keanu Reeves wrestling for freedom from hellI have to admit that this film adaptation of Garth Ennis’ comic book called Hellblazer is fun and riveting. Again, I was not preoccupied with making comparisons between the comic and the film as I have not seen any of Ennis’ works before. So, I was able to enjoy this heaven vs. earth vs. hell film very much. It’s hard, of course, for Keanu Reeves to shake off his Neo mantle and I half-expected him to defy gravity at some point along the film. Nevertheless, this film introduced me to Tilda Swinton, who was really good as the misguided angel Gabriel. Peter Stormare too, made an impact in his short confrontation scene with the dying Constantine. I like how the movie portrayed the selfish anti-hero, for all his faults, who finally redeemed himself in the eyes of Heaven by willing to sacrifice himself. A certainly good watch.

6. The Interpreter

Seann Penn & Nicole Kidman.Political drama thrillers are always risky business. The director must be skillful too convey a sense of excitement, edginess and anxiety that is gripping enough for audiences to keep their eyes on the screen while not being too chatty and putting people to sleep with all the political jargon and conspiracy theories. With The Interpreter, veteran director Sydney Pollack mixes just the right amount of edginess and excitement to keep the audiences glued to the screen as the conspiracy unfolds before them. With superb acting from two of Hollywood’s hottest leads in the vein of Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman, what you got in the end is one really cool, heart-stopping drama played out for the first time within the actual United Nations building.

5. Initial DImage hosted by Photobucket.com

Contrary to what some people thought about this film, I found it to be quite impressive to say the least. Especially with Taiwanese heartthrob Jay Chou making an impressive acting debut as the moody and brooding high speed racing junkie Takumi Fujiwara. Yes, this is a Hong Kong made film based on a popular Japanese anime of the same title. Although it certainly gave me the shivers hearing people with Japanese names speaking in Cantonese, the directors gave us enough adrenaline rush in the form of brilliantly choreographed car racing scenes worthy of the anime, not to mention that it also feature some of the best looking cars that I would certainly kill to have. This is certainly one cool flick.

4. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The Cast of Charlie & The Choc FactoryI absolutely loved Johnny Depp and Freddie Highmore! After seeing them in last year’s Finding Neverland, I could not wait to see them both in this film. And they certainly didn’t disappoint! Depp is just as wonderfully eccentric and weird as he can ever be as Willy Wonka, the manufacturer of seemingly the world’s MOST popular chocolate. Freddie is so sweet looking and just plain absolutely adorable! Roald Dahl must be happy to know that they have made quite a faithful adaptation of his book. The interior of the chocolate factory was just as how I imagined it! And Deep Roy as the Ooompa-Loompas is so… well… cute! Lavish, colourful sets that just seems to bring the book to life. Kudos to Tim Burton for a job well done on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!

3. Batman Begins

Thank you Christopher Nolan for giving us the best ever interpretation and adaptation of Bob Kane’s Batman! Christian Bale is absolutely perfect as the Caped Crusader of Gotham City. The role was made for him! Dark, gritty and edgy – just like in the comics. Katie Holmes not withstanding, the supporting cast was just as great and colourful. Cilian Murphy’s portrayal of The Scarecrow makes him my favourite Bat-villain of all the Batman movies. Michael Caine was just as funny too but the best of the lot has to be that ever dependable Liam Neeson, my favourite actor ever! Lots of memorable scenes in this film that will bring viewers back to the film again and again. Not to mention guys will get a kick out of that supercool Batmobile! Go Batman!!

The trio is maturing really fine onscreen, hThe gorgeous-looking Emma Watson (Hermione)aving followed through their growing up process since the first Harry Potter film. What a cute, shy little boy Daniel Radcliffe was back then! How time flies! Dan is back in his fourth year in Hogwarts and he is turning into a hunkalicious teenager who is set to break some hearts! Did I hear gasps of adoration and moans of longing when Daniel sheds his clothes for his first ever shirtless scene?? Heh, I did too. Delicious body! Got me salivating, hahaha! The bath scene alone makes this my No.2 film of the year. Of course, there’s Ralph Fiennes who showed everyone the reason why he is one superb character actor in portraying the murderous wizard, Voldemort. Then, there’s also David Tennant as Barty Crouch Jr, the escaped Death Eater who infiltrates Hogwarts to snare our none the wiser hero! However, though it may be the darkest Harry Potter film yet, Alfonso Cuaron’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban remains my No.1 Harry Potter film, mainly because the characters were far more developed and the film looked much more stylish. Still, GoF is what made 2005 a good year for me.

1. Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe

The Narnia Kids - The Pevensie Siblings from L to R - Lucy,Susan,Peter & Edmund (My fave)The ultimate holiday film if there ever was one! Narnia moved me even more than that soppy tale of a giant ape falling in love with a pathetic female homo sapien. Glorious special effects, wonderful acting, fantastic characters and a timeless tale of the battle between good and evil makes this film my No.1 film of the year. As I mentioned in a couple of posts back, the film is brimming with so many good points that I just don’t know where to start praising. What’s even better is that i didn’t even bothered to read the stories first, which gave me a much more objective outlook and appreciate Andrew Adamson’s work on this film even more. Everything was just how it should be – the centaurs, the mermaids, the phoenix, the fauns and the griffins were exactly how I had imagined such wondrous mythological creatures should be. What else can I gush about? Don’t blame me just because everything about this film simply works for me. And I simply must mention the fact that my favourite actor of all time provided the voice for the majestic lion God, Aslan! Glorious! Utterly glorious!
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Heh, and so… that sums up my Top 10 Movies of the year 2005. Check out the next post for the worst of the lot…

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