Editors’ Note
As readers may seek and search entries, rather than read from beginning to end, full titles, director credits and years of release have been included with each reference.

Several authors have added details about countries of origin. As these are hard to verify, given the complexities of international financing, no attempt has been made to standardise the information.

Finally, authors did not always supply the original film title, so they have been added by the Editors. Despite diligent efforts, inadvertent errors may have occurred.

Grateful thanks to all those who sent in entries.

John Gianvito

Antony I. Ginnane

Stephen Goddard

Chiranjit Goswami

Engin Gulez

Wayne Hasselman

Bernard Hemingway

Lee Hill

Brian Hu

Christoph Huber

Darren Hughes

Kent Jones

Robert Keser

Germán P. Kijel

Rainer Knepperges

Jim Knox

Kevyn Knox

Josh Krauter

Marc Lauria

Max Le Cain

Kevin B. Lee

Babette Mangolte

Miguel Marías

Jim May

Maya McKechneay

Olaf Möller

Ioannis Mookas

John Gianvito

Filmmaker, curator and teacher living in Boston, Massachusetts.

The following, in no preferential order, come to mind as films the existence of and the experience of which meant something to me this past year. For many of the choices, one wishes the social realities were such that these works need never have been made. Beyond this, there was much good work I know I didn’t see:

Occupation: Dreamland

Occupation: Dreamland (Ian Olds and Garrett Scott, 2005)
Darwin’s Nightmare (Hubert Sauper, 2004)
Los Hijos del Ultimo Jardin (Jorge Sanjines, 2005)
L’Intrus (The Intruder, Claire Denis, 2004)
Saraband (Ingmar Bergman, 2003)
Une Visite au Louvre (A Trip to the Louvre, Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, 2004)
Massaker (Nina Menkes, Monika Borgmann, Hermann Theissen and Lakman Slim, 2005)
William Eggleston in the Real World (Michael Almereyda, 2005)
Between Walls in Favelas (Susanne Dzeik, Marcio Jeronimo and Kirsten Wagenschein, 2005)

Most welcome US theatrical re-releases:

Edvard Munch (Peter Watkins, 1974)
Professione: reporter (The Passenger, Michelangelo Antonioni, 1975).

Most welcome English-language re-printing:

Film as a Subversive Art by Amos Vogel.

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Antony I. Ginnane

Producer, distributor and commentator based in Los Angeles, USA, and Melbourne, Australia. He is also president of IFM World Releasing Inc.

Eligibility: theatrical or premiere DVD releases or festival screenings in the US, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. Calendar year 2005. Alphabetical by title.

A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
Fordian Western worldview re-imagined in classic style through post-modern eyes.

Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)
The biggest emotional charge since Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes, 2002). Another reinvention of the Western, channelling Anthony Mann’s landscapes.

De Battre mon coeur s’est arrêté (The Beat That My Heart Skipped, Jacques Audiard, 2005)
Back to the New Wave days with a Parisian noir landscape for emotional and physical pain.

Domino (Tony Scott, 2005)
This year’s delirious crazed blend of Sam Peckinpah, Samuel Fuller and Oliver Stone. Hyperkinetic visuals and reverse Gun Crazy (Joseph H. Lewis, 1949) worldview.

Land of the Dead (George A. Romero, 2005)
Zombie political parable updated to the contemporary Bush landscape.

Match Point (Woody Allen, 2005)
English Hitchcock class-based thriller always works.

OldBoy (Park Chan-wook, 2005)
Stunning blend of early Roman Polanski and Jean-Pierre Melville with a child-like wonder.

Frank Miller’s Sin City (Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, 2005)
Beautiful blend of the graphic novel and cinema. Probably what Alain Resnais would have made if he’d been born half a century later. Chock full of relevant and fun references.

Syriana (Stephen Gaghan, 2005)
Streamlined, oblique reflection on politics and business reminiscent of early Francis Coppola and Alan J. Pakula, but stripped down for an MTV-CNN 24-hour information world.

2046 (Wong Kar-wai, 2004)
Another emotionally traumatic love story set like Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard, 1966) in a sci fi city like Paul Éluard’s Capital of Pain .

I certainly could have included Palindromes (Todd Solondz, 2005), Crash (Paul Haggis, 2005), Mysterious Skin (Gregg Araki, 2005), Mary (Abel Ferrara, 2005), Red Eye (Wes Craven, 2005), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Shane Black, 2005), Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch, 2005), Kung Fu (Kung Fu Hustle, Stephen Chow, 2005), 4 Brothers (John Singleton, 2005) and My Summer of Love (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2005).

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Stephen Goddard

Lecturer at Deakin University, School of Communication and Creative Arts, Melbourne.

These were my cinematic reasons to be cheerful in 2005:

23 January 2005
Ydessa, les ours et Etc. (Ydessa, The Bears and Etc., Agnès Varda, 2004)
Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI). Woman with a movie camera.

10 March 2005
Dreams for Life (Anna Kanava, 2004)
Sun Cinema, Yarraville. Local production, local cinema, universal themes.

Unknown White Male

16 April 2005
“Every Woman’s Nightmare – the Female Gothic and Beyond” (2005)
ACMI. Lecture/presentation by Adrian Martin.

29 July 2005
Unknown White Male (Rupert Murray and Doug Bruce, 2005)
Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF).
Raises questions surrounding the enigma of amnesia and the mysteries of personal documentary. Is personal auto/biographical videomaking a way of re-discovering the world? Are memories made (or re-made) of this? Is this a hoax or an insight into the history of the world?

1 August 2005
“Billy Wilder, wie haben Sie’s gemacht?” (“Billy, How Did You Do It?”, Volker Schlöndorff and Gisela Grishow, 1992)
MIFF
Billy Wilder sits under a plaque asking a simple question: How would Lubitsch have done it? After 180 minutes, we are presented with some of the evidence of how Billy did it. Great memory; great memories.

3 August 2005
Le Fantôme d’Henri Langlois (Henri Langlois: The Phantom of the Cinémathèque, Jacques Richard, 2004)
MIFF
A 212-minute film reflecting on the curatorial character of the Cinématèque, the Museum of Cinema and the man himself: big, rambling and uncompromising. As ever, Jean-Luc Godard provides the resonating quote: “He was a producer, who produced a way of seeing films.” Thanks forever to heroic Henri, for once again assembling and inspiring such a cast.

6 August 2005
Rois et Reine (Kings and Queen, Arnaud Desplechin, 2004)
MIFF
A chess game of 150 minutes. An editing (and directorial) style in which we are presented with multiple takes of shots, where usually only one take is selected. This director presents some of the better examples of conversations on film: from the instructive acting lessons in Esther Kahn (2000) to the equally poignant museum conversation between the self-conscious Ismaël (Mathieu Amalric) and the innocent Elias (Valentin Lelong), these are characters who look and sound like people (rather than actors).

8 October 2005
“All art is one: The Visionary Cinema of Powell and Pressburger” (2005)
RMIT University. All day homage and celebration of the 100th anniversary of Michael Powell’s birth, with his son Kevin, the reflective John Flaus, multiple perspectives and screenings.

18 October 2005
Come inguaiammo il cinema italiano: la vera storia di Franco e Ciccio
(How We Ruined the Italian Movie Business: The True Story of Franco and Ciccio, Daniele Ciprì and Franco Maresco, 2004)
Portrait of the hardworking Sicilian comedians Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia (38 films in 4 years amidst a total of 100 films).

28 October 2005
Le Vent de la nuit (Night Wind, Philippe Garrel, 1999)
ACMI
Widescreen road movie in which an autobiographical artist steers a forward course whilst looking in the rear-vision mirror. A camera with its own point-of-view, intrigued with the look of a thinking face.

19 November 2005
Hapax Legomena (Hollis Frampton, 1972)
Soul Food café.
First experience of the complete seven films amongst friends, a kitchen and the whirring sound of a projector. Thanks Marcus Bergner.

27 December 2005
Helicopter (Ari Gold, 2000)
Best of Resfest DVD, Vol. 2, 2003.
A son finally gets to talk to his Mother.

Across the year, I was appreciative when:
hearing Paul Harris and Peter Kemp on Filmbuff’s Forecast, radio 3RRR- FM;
reading Adrian Martin in The Age and in Rouge;
discovering (and re-discovering) the cinema at the Melbourne Cinémathèque; ACMI; and at www.sensesofcinema.com.

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Chiranjit Goswami

A contributing editor for Not Coming to a Theatre Near You who lives in Winnipeg, Canada.

Until I attended the Toronto International Film Festival in September, I considered the assortment of films I had watched in 2005 to be somewhat lack-lustre in comparison to previous years. Afterwards, my fervour was revived and I returned home confident that the potential of the autumn film schedule would be realized.

Strangely, as winter marks the conclusion of the year, my disappointment regarding the demonstration of filmmaking in 2005 has regrettably been restored, yet I find myself struggling once again to wrestle my annual “Best of” list to its conventional limit. Based upon the evidence, I assume this incongruence to be a result of my own cynical perceptions that have been amplified as I grow older rather than any noticeable decline in the overall quality of cinema.

While North America dealt with the dwindling support of a President and the lack of confidence in a Prime Minister, where both leaders stumbled due to different forms of arrogance, corruption, and idiocy, it wasn’t at all unexpected that the most persistently prominent theme within cinema was the problematic patriarch. Throughout 2005 viewers were presented with masculine incompetence or indifference, often when dealing with family dynamics. Particularly fascinating, and somewhat concerning, was the difficulty fathers encountered while attempting to protect their offspring, occasionally being most responsible for the harmful circumstances that surrounded their children.

The 40 Year Old Virgin

Whereas, the innocent ignorance regarding women of Andy Stitzer (Steve Carell) was hilarious in Judd Apatow’s The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005), a father figure wasn’t even worthy of mention in Kore-eda’s Dare mo shiranai (Nobody Knows, Japan, 2004). Often, dads were swept aside and discarded as disappointments, such as in Stephen Gaghan’s Syriana (2005), but quite often their immaturity and awkwardness were centre-stage, such as in Steven Spielberg’s occupation-allegory War of the Worlds (2005). Patriarchal deceit, deception and delusion were the primary focus of both Michael Haneke’s Caché (Hidden, 2005) and Cronenberg’s A History of Violence (2005), as Cronenberg even included an unsettling expression bestowed from father to son. Meanwhile, Noah Baumbach chose to be honest in depicting his pitifully insecure élitist father while allowing Jeff Daniels to be both sophisticated and silly while portraying a washed-up literary intellectual. Daniels’ performance was matched by another charmingly catatonic turn by Bill Murray in Jim Jarmusch’s Broken Flowers (2005), where Jeffrey Wright’s Winston provided a delightful foil to all these dysfunctional dads. Unfortunately, Murray’s Don Juan realized his newly discovered role as a dad wasn’t enough to surmount a lifetime of disinterest, and he was justly abandoned and isolated.

Fathers were also capable of making some rather shocking decisions. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne provided the year’s biggest gasp and may have caused viewers to emulate Sonia (Déborah François) fainting once confronted with the childish morality of Bruno (Jérémie Renier) in L’Enfant (The Child, 2005). An equally astounding action in its foolish splendour was Richard Swersey (John Hawkes) lighting his hand on fire as a ceremonial conclusion to his dissolved marriage in the opening moments of Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005). The earnest attempts of Swersey were perhaps the most pathetic display of male helplessness, since they were disregarded by the very people with whom he sought connection, but his endearing sincerity was appreciated even if his efforts were ridiculous. Sometimes it’s just the thought that counts, especially within a cinematic landscape littered with father figures who are seemingly adrift.

Finally there was Gus Van Sant’s Last Days (2005), where a record executive (Kim Gordon) pops in to make a final plea to Blake/Kurt (Michael Pitt), and you have to wonder why the heck Thurston Moore never shows up to offer his rock-star offspring some advice.

Interestingly, some contemporary Asian auteurs decided to explore the futility of male potency. Wong Kar-wai appeared to be in the mood to delve into licentious links that were lost on the way to 2046 (2004), while Tsai Ming-Liang tracked Tian bian yi duo yun (The Wayward Cloud, 2005), while wandering through the corridors connecting physical thirst with sexual desires using watermelons and musicals numbers.

Unfortunately, I have yet to experience Terrence Malick’s The New World (2005) or Steven Spielberg’s version of the events after Munich in Munich (2005).

Top 10 Films of 2005 (all Films 2005):

1. Caché (Michael Haneke)
2. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg)
3. Tian bian yi duo yun (The Wayward Cloud, Tsai Ming-liang)
4. The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach)
5. Good Night, and Good Luck (George Clooney)
6. Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch)
7. Dave Chappelle’s Block Party (Michel Gondry)
8. Me and You and Everyone We Know (Miranda July)
9. L’Enfant (The Child, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
10. Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog)

Honourable Mentions:

Dare mo shiranai (Nobody Knows, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan, 2004), 2046 (Wong Kar-wai, 2004), War of the Worlds (Steven Spielberg, 2005), Last Days (Gus Van Sant, 2005), Syriana (Stephen Gaghan, 2005), Wedding Crashers (David Dobkin, 2005), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (Doug Liman, 2005), The 40 Year Old Virgin (Judd Apatow, 2005).

The year’s most courageous piece of film-related writing had to be Stanley Cavell’s letter to Chris Chang in defence of Mr. & Mrs. Smith in Film Comment, entitled “Falling in Love Again”.

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Engin Gulez

A 24-year-old would-be poet and filmmaker living in Ankara, Turkey. He studies English Language and Literature at Ankara University.

I haven’t been able to see many films in 2005. That’s why there is hardly any 2005 features in my list (actually there is none!).

1. Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Il filo pericoloso delle cose” in Eros (2004)
For many people, Antonioni’s film is an “embarrassment” and they can’t really figure out what to make of it. Even some think that Antonioni “should consider resting on his laurels” before another humiliation. What they rely on is mostly the brushwork of Wong Kar-wai that we’re now familiar with (which conforms to the model of Fay yeung nin wa (In the Mood for Love, 2000)) in order to pass their judgment about Eros easily, knowing that they can find a common ground as a basis to cover up their superficial evaluation of eroticism. It’s no wonder that the striking shots of the subtle yet striving existentialism of Antonioni’s film have been misread. To me, it’s a miracle of filmmaking and it’s the film that has helped me to rediscover the wonderful world of short films.

2. Vozvrashcheniye (The Return, Andrei Zvyagintsev, 2003)
3. Te doy mis ojos (Take My Eyes, Icíar Bollaín, 2003)
4. Bin-jip (3-Iron, Kim Ki-duk, 2004)
5. My Summer of Love (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2004)
6. Tony Takitani (Jun Ichikawa, 2004)
7. Nochnoy dozor (Night Watch, Timur Bekmambetov, 2004)
8. Before Night Falls (Julian Schnabel, 2000)
9. Le Chignon d’Olga (Jérôme Bonnell, 2002)
10. Young Adam (David Mackenzie, 2003)

My criteria for good cinema may be summed up with what Emily Dickinson has said for poetry: “If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?”

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Wayne Hasselman

Melbourne-based filmmaker and student of film.

It was a big year for catching up on silent films, discovering Jean Cocteau, having my own personal Woody Allen retrospective and going on Austudy (student financial assistance), so I couldn’t afford to go to the movies anymore. These are the films that, well, were more of a revelation.

1. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson, 2004)
2. Le Sang d’un Poète (The Blood of a Poet, Jean Cocteau, 1930)
3. Spring Rhapsody (Bill Mousoulis, 2004)
4. Untitled (short work, Iain Bonner, 2005)
5. The Cheat (Cecil B. De Mille, 1915)
6. All That Heaven Allows (Douglas Sirk, 1955)
7. La Chute de la maison Usher (The Fall of the House of Usher, Jean Epstein, 1928)
8. Fay yeung nin wa (In the Mood for Love, Wong Kai-wai, 2000)
9. The Purple Rose of Cairo (Woody Allen, 1985)
10. Un Femme est un Femme (A Woman is a Woman, Jean-Luc Godard, 1961)

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Bernard Hemingway

www.cinephilia.net.au

Best Film: OldBoy (Park Chan-wook, 2003)
The second in a trilogy of films based on the theme of revenge, OldBoy sets a benchmark in dramatic intensity and kinetic brilliance.

Worst Film: Last Days (Gus Van Sant, 2005)
After making a strong showing for worst film of 2004 with Gerry, Van Sant left nothing to doubt in 2005 with a no-narrative, no-characters, no-fun time-waster.

Most Over-rated Film: The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005)
Impressively well-made with outstanding cinematography by Benoit Delhomme, but a dramatically piecemeal and tiresomely self-indulgent exercise in penitential angst.

Most Under-rated Film: Kung Fu (Kung Fu Hustle, Stephen Chow, 2005)
Wonderfully inventive, excessive, irreverent cinematic entertainment.

Best Documentary: Darwin’s Nightmare (Hubert Sauper, 2004)
A jaw-dropping, Boschean depiction of a human hell-hole on the banks of Lake Victoria.

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Lee Hill

A writer-at-large type currently living in London.

Transcendent:

Professione: reporter (The Passenger, Michelangelo Antonioni, 1975) – the restored print as viewed at the London Film Festival with Peter Wollen and Jenny Runacre in attendance

The rest of my best (in order of viewing):

Broken Flowers

Collateral (Michael Mann, 2004)
Closer (Mike Nichols, 2004)
The Door In The Floor (Todd Williams, 2004)
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson, 2004)
Dogville (Lars Von Trier, 2004)
Oceans 12 (Steven Soderbergh, 2004)
Melinda and Melinda (Woody Allen, 2004)
Birth (Jonathan Glazer, 2004)
Last Days (Gus Van Sant, 2005)
No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (Martin Scorsese, 2005)
“Les Dennis” episode of Extras (Ricky Gervais and Steve Merchant, 2005)
Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch, 2005)
A Cock and Bull Story (Michael Winterbottom, 2005)
Caché (Hidden, Michael Haneke, 2005)
The King (James Marsh, 2005)
De Battre mon coeur s’est arrêté (The Beat that My Heart Skipped, Jacques Audiard, France, 2005)
Der Untergang (Downfall, Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2004)

Honourable Mention 3:

Brøde (Brothers, Susanne Bier, 2004), Le Conseguenze dell’amore (The Consequences of Love, Paolo Sorrentino, 2004), The Constant Gardener (Fernado Mirelles, 2005), The Assassination of Richard Nixon (Niels Muller, 2004), The Interpreter (Sydney Pollack, 2005), My Summer of Love (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2004)

Overrated or Disappointing:

Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood, 2004), Crash (Paul Haggis, 2005), A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005), Rois et Reine (Kings and Queen, Arnaud Desplechin, 2004), War of the Worlds (Steven Spielberg, 2005), The Aristocrats (Paul Provenza, 2005) and Me and You and Everyone We Know (Miranda July, 2005)

Since I avoided anything that I felt would not interest me at all, I didn’t see anything truly awful over the past twelve months or so. UK television’s freefall seems to have been arrested slightly by a resurgence of dramatic television (see Bleak House, Peep Show, The Thrill of It and Ghost Squad, but not much else). UK filmmakers haven’t quite come to grips with the vapidity of the national consumer culture under New Labour or the moral bankruptcy of its foreign policy. Americans had a lot to be ashamed of in 2005, but their film culture was in pretty good shape. My biggest complaint: could the studios and mini-majors stop releasing all their quality pix in the November-December-January Oscar “killing fields” period. Syriana (Stephen Gaghan), Match Point (Woody Allen), Capote (Bennett Miller) and The New World (Terrence Malick) would have probably been on this list as a result. Coming soon to a Best List next year.

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Brian Hu

A critical studies student at the UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television. His interests include Chinese cinemas and popular music in film. He is the review editor of Mediascape and a contributor to Asia Pacific Arts.

A year of movie going in Los Angeles and Taipei yielded these favourites:

1. Shijie (The World, Jia Zhang-ke, 2004)
2. Caché (Hidden, Michael Haneke, 2005)
3. Dare mo shiranai (Nobody Knows, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2004)
4. 2046 (Wong Kar-wai, 2004) and Yes (Sally Potter, 2004): two tales of passion are also the year’s most perfect syntheses of image and sound
5. Kôhî jikô (Café Lumière, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2003)
6. Tian bian yi duo yun (The Wayward Cloud, Tsai Ming-liang, 2005)
7. Jump! Boys (Lin Yu-hsien, 2005)
8. Yôkai daisensô (The Great Yokai War, Takashi Miike, 2005)
9. Vremya zhatvy (Harvest Time, Marina Razbezhkina, 2004)
10. Homecoming (Joe Dante, 2005)

Other favourites:

Lakposhtha hâm parvaz mikonand (Turtles Can Fly, Bahman Ghobadi, 2004), Dumplings (Fruit Chan, 2004), Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Steve Box and Nick Park, 2005), Tony Takitani (Jun Ichikawa, 2004), Swades (Ashutosh Gowariker, 2004), Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (George Lucas, 2005)

Solid films by directors capable of much better:

Zui hao de shi guang (Three Times, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2005), Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005), The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005), Kung Fu (Kung Fu Hustle, Stephen Chow, 2004), Gung ju fuk sau gei (Beyond Our Ken, Edmond Pang, 2004)

My thoughts on top 10 lists can be found here.

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Christoph Huber

Main film critic for Die Presse (Vienna). He has published on cinema and pop music for various film magazines, newspapers and websites and writes the program notes for Vienna’s Cinémathèque.

Was it the year of Austrian-German documentary?
Gerhard Benedikt Friedl, Michael Glawogger, Romuald Karmakar, Stefan Hayn and Anja-Christin Remmert; and what to make of the fact that there was even a minor comeback for Werner Herzog?)

The year of the genre auteur?
Hollywood 2005, in essence: David Cronenberg and George A. Romero; additional points for the ’70s horror rebound: the outstanding one-hour television films by John Carpenter, also Joe Dante.

The year of the resistance?
Wakamatsu Kôji, Travis Wilkerson and – this year’s towering achievement – Lav Diaz; also mention must be made of Sibudo 1: Simu-seoreul chajaseo (Ten Ox-Herding Pictures #1: Going Out in Search of the Ox, 2004) by Lee Ji-sang, which not only clearly had this year’s best title, but was, along with Kim Dong-won’s Songhwan (Repatriation, 2003) the only sign of life I’ve noticed in Korean Cinema.

The year of the-second-film-as-epic-vision?
Cristi Puiu, Aleksei German Jr,

The year of the Scope avant-garde short by a reliable director whose last name starts with T?
Mika Taanila, Peter Tscherkassky.

The year of meta-inquiry by Japanese masters?
Shunichi Nagasaki, Kitano, Suzuki.

In any case, it was an outstanding year, even with one of its crowning achievements – Frederick Wiseman’s The Garden (2005) – locked up over legal issues. (I only saw it on video, so it only qualifies for the additional list.)

The following lists of revelations new and old also mirror my itineraries: from Rotterdam in January to the remarkable Zagreb Human Rights Film Festival in December, where I finally got to see Chris Marker’s Cuba, Si! (1961) and recent work by Lech Kowalski, whose new East of Paradise (2005) somehow did – like some other films mentioned – not end up on the list for reasons too complicated to explain. Although I guess a more poetic bracket would be finally seeing the films of Tomu Uchida in Rotterdam, including the amazing ’Scope black-and-white thriller Kiga kaikyo (A Fugitive from the Past, 1965) – mirrored at the other end of the year by a screening at Vienna’s cinémathèque of Akira Kurosawa’s Tengoku to jigoku (High and Low, 1963), which I had never seen because I waited patiently for a big-screen-chance.

A Werewolf in Amazonia

Very special mention must be made of the Torino Film Festival, which near the end of an exhausting year always restores the spirit and the belief that true passion for cinema is still alive, a moment probably epitomized by the charming encounter with Ivan Cardoso and his tremendous terrir, Um Lobisomem na Amazônia (A Werewolf in Amazonia, 2005), which left me unconscionably happy, very much in the way the annual release of a new Looney Tunes DVD boxset does. Of course, from here I could easily branch into an even longer ramble, starting with the magical accident of catching up via import discs with Raoul Walsh’s Objective, Burma! (1945) and Robert Aldrich’s Too Late the Hero (1970) the same day, a perfect double feature if there ever were one, or the consistent joy of Paul Verhoeven’s audio commentaries, but I’ll just note that another great year seems on the horizon, with the new Terrence Malick set to appear here near its beginning and the new Verhoeven near its end. Not to mention a new Jeff Lau film somewhere in-between.

(All lists in alphabetical order)

15 x 2005

Between the Devil and the Wide Blue Sea (Romuald Karmakar, 2005)
17-sai no fûkei – shôned wa anani o mita no ka (Cycling Chronicles, Wakamatsu Kôji, 2004)
Moartea Domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Cristi Puiu, 2005)
Hak seh wui (Election, Johnnie To, 2005)
Ebolusyon ng isang pamilyang Pilipino (Evolution of a Filipino Family, Lav Diaz, 2004)
Garpastum (Aleksei German Jr, 2005)
Yôkai daisensô (The Great Yokai War, Takashi Miike, 2005)
Hat Wolff von Amerongen Konkursdelikte begangen? (Gerhard Friedl, 2004)*
A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine (Peter Tscherkassky, 2005)
Land of the Dead (George A. Romero, 2005)
Optinen Ääni (Optical Sound, Mika Taanila, 2005)
Le Petit lieutenant (Xavier Beauvois, 2005)
Who Killed Cock Robin? (Travis Wilkerson, 2005)
Workingman’s Death (Michael Glawogger, 205)

* And not, imperative to note, Wolff von Amerongen – Did He Commit Bankruptcy Offenses?, which is really quite a different film, although the dub of this English version is faithful (and it definitely makes sense to dub this film), but it does not quite capture the hair-raising comedy of the original voice-over, subtracting some of its richness. It still gives an idea of its greatness, however.

Addendum: 7 films only seen on Video or DVD which otherwise might have made it:

3 Minuten Heroes (Klaus Lemke, 2005)
27 Years Later (James Benning, 2005)
Bore Lee: u kandzama velegrada (Mario Kovac, Kresimir Pauk and Ivan Ramljak, 2003)
The Garden (Frederick Wiseman, 2005)
Hei ma lai ah sing (Himalaya Singh, Wai Ka-fai, 2005)
Kung Fu (Kung Fu Hustle, Stephen Chow, 2004)
Malerei heute (Painting Today, Stefan Hayn and Anja-Christin Remmert, 2005)

15 Discoveries:

Austrija vstretschajet poslanza mira (Roman Karmen, 1960)
Goluboy ekspress (The Blue Express, Ilya Trauberg, 1929)
Dai satsujin (The Great Killing, Eiichi Kudo, 1964)
Enoken no ganbari senjutsu (Nobuo Nakagawa, 1939)
Essene (Frederick Wiseman, 1972)
Le Fin absolue de monde (Hans Backovic, 1973)
Ganga bruta (Humberto Mauro, 1933)
Johannes Koller (Wilhelm Gaube, 1988)
London Calling (Shunichi Nagasaki, 1985)
Koi ya koi (The Mad Fox, Tomu Uchida, 1962)
La Maison du mystère (Alexandre Volkoff, 1923)
Ohara shosuke-san (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1949)
Gyeongmajang ganeum kil (The Road to the Racetrack, Jang Sun-woo, 1991)
Smart Money (Alfred E. Green, 1931)
Tinimbang ka ngunit kulang (You Were Weighed and Found Wanting, Lino Brocka, 1974)

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Darren Hughes

A doctoral candidate in English at the University of Tennessee and author of the website Long Pauses.

The Ten Best New Films I Saw in 2005 (by title):

Batalla en el cielo (Battle in Heaven, Carlos Reygadas, 2005)
Caché (Hidden, Michael Haneke, 2005)
Un Couple parfait (Nobuhiro Suwa, 2005)
Moartea domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Cristi Puiu, 2005)
Me and You and Everyone We Know (Miranda July, 2005)
Parapalos (Pin Boy, Ana Poliak, 2004)
Saraband (Ingmar Bergman, 2003)
Zui hao de shi guang (Three Times, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2005)
A Cock and Bull Story (Michael Winterbottom, 2005)
Tian bian yi duo yun (The Wayward Cloud, Tsai Ming-liang, 2005)

The Ten Best Older Films I Saw for the First Time in 2005 (by title):

La Battaglia di Algeri (Battle of Algiers, Gillo Pontecorvo, 1965)
The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946)
Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch, 1995)
J’ai pas sommeil (I Can’t Sleep, Claire Denis, 1994)
It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books (Richard Linklater, 1988)
Nun va Goldoon (A Moment of Innocence, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1996)
Opening Night (John Cassavetes, 1977)
“7 Up” series (Michael Apted, 1964-)
Sunset Blvd. (Billy Wilder, 1950)
Wavelength (Michael Snow, 1967)

Some Honourable Mentions:

Short: Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine (Peter Tscherkassky, 2005)
Live Music: Street Angel (Frank Borzage, 1928) with a new score by American Music Club
TV/DVD: The West Wing seasons 1-4 (1999-2003), created by Aaron Sorkin

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Kent Jones

Editor-at-Large, Film Comment.

L’Intrus (The Intruder, Claire Denis, 2004)
Panorama Ephemera (Rick Prelinger, 2004)
L’Enfant (The Child, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2005)
A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
Zui hao de shi guang (Three Times, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2005)
No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (Martin Scorsese, 2005)
Nekam Achat Mishtey Eynay (Avenge but One of My Two Eyes, Avi Mograbi, 2005)
Les Amants réguliers (Everyday Lovers, Philippe Garrel, 2005)
Une Visite au Louvre (A Visit to the Louvre, Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, 2004)
The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)

These ten films, listed in the order in which I saw them, were the strongest I saw this year, but several others stayed with me: Solntse (The Sun, Aleksandr Sokurov, 2005), Geuk jang jeon (A Tale of Cinema, Hong Sang-soo, 2005), Al-Jenna-An (Paradise Now, Hany Abu-Assad, 2005), Match Point (Woody Allen, 2005), Sometimes in April … (Raoul Peck), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Tim Burton, 2005) and Separate Lies (Julian Fellowes, 2005). Despite their flaws, I was also very fond of The Ballad of Jack and Rose (Rebecca Miller, 2005) and Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch, 2005). And I want to say a word for Omagh (Pete Travis, 2004), a modest yet admirably unflinching look at the 1998 bombing and its aftermath.

If there’s a film on my list that gives me pause, it’s the Malick. Acting in The New World is non-existent, and its director is far too indulgent of Q’Orianka Kilcher’s virginal grace and Colin Farrell’s dreadful “soulfulness”. As beautiful as the film’s elliptical structure often is, there is something approaching the systematic in its constant jumps and lurches and surges in time, and Malick’s effort to create a genuinely symphonic form is often aggressively wilful. But the conception is so majestic that it finally overshadows the problematic execution, at least in my eyes.

The Malick makes an interesting contrast with the Denis – two near-wordless epic poems, one of transcendental arrival, the other of eternally fraught departure. It also takes on an added richness when remembered in concert with the other three American films on the list, each possessed of its own unique form of grandeur. Taken together, they offer a stunning vision: historically rich, mindful of hope and tragedy, horrific comedy and surging beauty. It’s a vision that is proudly and even valiantly opposed to the grey expanse of what is, for the moment at least, official American culture.

As for retrospective viewing, James Quandt’s Mikio Naruse show is the indisputable high point of the year. It was also wonderful to see so much of Michael Powell’s work again, on the occasion of his centenary. (I organized the New York show, but I’m writing this in admiration of Powell, not to promote myself.) There were two revelations: the extraordinary Herzog Blaubarts Burg (Bluebeard’s Castle, 1964) and the uncut version of Age of Consent (1969) with its original score.

I suppose the DVD revelation of the year was the Criterion edition of The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976), a film that once seemed very good and now seems great.

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Robert Keser

Teaches Film at National-Louis University (Chicago) and is Associate Editor of Bright Lights Film Journal.

Once again film rushed in to fill the vacuum created by media refusal to deal with real world issues, but now narrative films – like The Assassination of Richard Nixon (Niels Mueller, 2004), Syriana (Steven Gaghan, 2005), Good Night, and Good Luck (George Clooney, 2005), Omagh (Pete Travis, 2004), The War Within (Joseph Castelo, 2005), Al-Jenna-An (Paradise Now, Hany Abu-Assad, 2005), and George Romero’s genre allegory, Land of the Dead (2005) – have joined documentaries like The Take (Avi Lewis, 2004), Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (Alex Gibney, 2005), the indefatigable Robert Greenwald’s Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price (2005), and half a dozen examples of Iraq War reportage, as well as the re-release of 1972’s Winter Soldier (Vietnam Veterans Against the War–Winter Soldier Collective) .

An allied development is the resurgence of Peter Watkins, his films scarcely seen let alone honoured in the past decades. 2005 saw the rescue, restoration and theatrical release of one masterpiece, Edvard Munch (1974), and the DVD appearance of his chillingly prophetic Punishment Park (1971), to be followed in early 2006 by a proper DVD collection of his entire corpus, leaving only Privilege (1967) wasting away in Universal’s vaults.

Princess Raccoon

The best of the year are:

1. Operetta tanuki gotten (Princess Raccoon, Seijun Suzuki, 2005)
2. L’Esquive (Games of Love and Chance, Abdel Kechiche, 2003)
3. Jigureul jikyeora! (Save the Green Planet!, Jeong Jun-hwan, 2003)
4. Darwin’s Nightmare (Hubert Sauper, 2004)
5. Moartea Domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Cristi Puiu, 2005)
6. O Espelho Mágico (Magic Mirror, Manoel de Oliveira, 2005)
7. Caché (Hidden, Michael Haneke, 2005)
8. “Homecoming” episode of Masters of Horror (Joe Dante, 2005)
9. 2046 (Wong Kar-wai, 2004)
10. Pas sur la bouche (Alain Resnais, 2003)

Runners-up:

Le Pont des Arts (Eugene Green, 2004), Shijie (The World, Jia Zhang-ke, 2004), Mysterious Skin (Gregg Araki, 2004), Crimen Ferpecto (Alex de la Iglesia, 2004), Gabrielle (Patrice Chéreau, 2005), A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005), Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005), Fever Pitch (Bobby and Peter Farrelly, 2005), Nuit noire, 17 octobre 1961 (October 17, 1961, Olivier Smolder and Alain Tasma, 2005), De Battre mon coeur s’est arrêté (The Beat that My Heart Skipped, Jacques Audiard, 2005), I Am a Sex Addict (Caveh Zahedi, 2005), The Ice Harvest (Harold Ramis, 2005), The Upside of Anger (Mike Binder)

Worst:

Cinderella Man (Ron Howard, 2005): dubious moral lessons and historical distortions mired in earnest kitsch that audiences would have laughed off the screen in 1933.

Personal epiphanies:

Nagaya shinshiroku (A Hen in the Wind, Yasujiro Ozu, 1948) and Guizi lai le (Devils in the Doorstep, Jiang Wen, 2000).

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Germán P. Kijel

Journalist from Argentina who writes for El Acomodador de Cine, a film criticism website.

Tian bian yi duo yun (The Wayward Cloud, Tsai Ming-liang, 2005)
Sud Pralad (Tropical Malady, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004)
Whisky (Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll, 2004)
Sideways (Alexander Payne, 2004)
El aura (Fabián Bielinsky, 2005)
En la ciudad (Cesc Gay, 2003)
Finding Neverland (Marc Forster, 2004)

Tsai Ming-liang is one of the best cinema directors in the world. His style, his sense of humour and intelligence reflect the
loneliness in a society full of people, who only take care of themselves and uses to contact each other only in the sex act.

Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll, two Uruguayan filmmakers, make again (25 Watts, 2001 is their previous film) a great movie. This time they film boredom between brothers, and the sex tension between two people who only think in live day to day.

Cesc Gay filmed in 2000 Krámpack, one of the best movies of the decade, and now he has made a movie (En la ciudad) of middle-age people, and again he knows how to show people without stereotyping them.

Those three are the filmmakers of the year, with a personal look and a sensibility that makes you rock.

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Rainer Knepperges

Born in 1965 in Korschenbroich, Germany, he writes for Sigi Götz Entertainment and has made Die Quereinsteigerinnen (2005).

Top Ten 2005:

Following Sean (Ralph Arlyck, 2005)
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (Adam McCay, 2004)
House of Sand and Fog (Vadim Perelman, 2003)
The 40 Year Old Virgin (Judd Apatow, 2005)
Wohnhaft (Bernhard Marsch, 2004)
Kreische (Vroni Dimke, 2005)
Meet the Fockers (Jay Roach, 2004)
Be Here to Love Me (Margaret Brown, 2004)
Match Point (Woody Allen, 2005)
Die Vogelpredigt (Clemens Klopfenstein, 2005)

Discoveries 2005:

The Red Dance (Raoul Walsh, 1928)
Das Tagebuch einer Verlorenen (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1929)*
Der Kongress tanzt (Eric Charell, 1931)*
Ich und die Kaiserin (Friedrich Holländer, 1933)*
Gjest Baardsen (Tancred Ibsen, 1939)
Saboteur (Alfred Hitchcock, 1942)*
Cabin in the Sky (Vincente Minnelli, 1943)*
Le Journal d’une femme de chambre (The Diary of a Chambermaid, Jean Renoir, 1946)*
Le Genou de Claire (Claire’s Knee, Eric Rohmer, 1970)*
Die Bettwurst (Rosa von Praunheim, 1971)*

* Shown at Filmclub 813 in Cologne

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Jim Knox

Currently completing an MA at RMIT University (Melbourne). 2005 was his last year as Screen Curator for the What Is Music? Festival and, in 2006, he is Co-Director of the Mudgee Experimental Music Festival.

Wolf Creek

I seem to be alone in this opinion, but to my mind Wolf Creek (Greg McLean, 2005) is the finest Australian film since Wake in Fright (Ted Kotcheff, 1971). (Dirk De Bruyn has made a further illuminating comparison to Picnic At Hanging Rock (Peter Weir, 1975): the disappearance of the young English women, who are doubly alien within this minatory frontier landscape). Within the slasher genre, it’s distinguished by its close attention to character, and the fact that the sadistic atavisms of the second half pivot so effectively on language rather than violent gesture per se. And, as recent legal cases and my own experience of rural Australia attest, it’s horribly plausible. Technically faultless, but commendation is due to Francois Tetaz for his stunningly doomstruck score.

Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man (2005) provides a sympathetic but enquiring portrait of the kind of earnestly impassioned outsider most of us prefer to keep at screen’s length. A tremendous work and one that suggests Herzog has achieved a new metier in documentary form.

Expectations are funny things, and apt to be confounded, but Facet’s long-awaited DVD release of Vera Chytilova’s Ovoce stromu rajskych jime (We Eat the Fruit of the Tree of Paradise, 1969, but suppressed at the time and long unavailable) should amply confirm her singular status within international cinema pantheons. A ravishing work and uniformly misrepresented in critical studies of Czech New Wave cinema (I now suspect that none of those writers had actually seen the damn thing!). A highly stylised work of halcyon-era European art cinema, notable for the choreographed gestures of the cast, and striking achievements by Jaroslav Kucera (camera duties), Esther Krumbachova (art direction and costume design, co-script) and Zdenek Liska (score); sufficient to be among the best work by these three.

Having long enjoyed some treasured vinyls of their soundtracks, in 2005 I made a dedicated effort to seek out Bollywood titles for home viewing. Gumnaam (Raja Nawathe, 1965), which figured as prominently a dialectical montage for the titles of Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff, 2001), will abundantly reward viewers trained in Anglo-American cinema traditions. Many other works suffer from long stretches of inertial melodrama, but Apna Desh (Jambu, 1972) and Jewel Thief (Vijay Anand, 1967) are both remarkable for much of their running time (significantly, both works were scored by Rahul Dev Burman – his composer credit has proven to be a functional compass for locating colourfully outlandish musical sequences). English language criticism still fails to accommodate the delirious charms of popular Hindi cinema, but some informed and useful websites are beginning to appear.

I missed the Zbigniew Rybczinski retrospective when it screened at the Melbourne International Film Festival, but a friendly stranger (thanks, Tom!) was kind enough to despatch a DVD. Oj! Nie moge sie zatrzymac! (Oh! I Can’t Stop, 1976) is my catastrophic highlight.

The Brisbane International Film Festival mandated the trip northwards by the presence of Youssef Chahine’s new feature, Alexandrie … New York (Alexandria … New York, 2004), and the Owen Land retrospective. Chahine’s new work elaborates his semi-autobiographical Alexandria trilogy in typically bittersweet style, a heartfelt meditation on the disaffected director’s extremes of ambivalence towards US society and culture. Curator Mark Weber did a remarkable job with the Land retrospective, but the personal highlight was On the Marriage Broker Joke as Cited by Sigmund Freud in Wit and its Relation to the Unconscious or Can the Avant-Garde Artist Be Wholed? (1977-9) – a delightfully loopy absurdism that didn’t compromise on some extravagant structural smarts.

Among a strong and imaginative Cinémathèque program, highlights included the Dirk De Bruyn retrospective, and the short film, La Vis (Didier Flamand, 1993), which maintains its high-concept conceit – the telescoping absurdisms, immersion in deco design values and polyglot gibberish that signal ’Central Europe’ to auditors everyplace – across its mournfully short duration.

2005 also provided a welcome opportunity for repeat viewing of Ken Wallace’s Thanksgiving (1974). Wallace is now a celebrated and successful painter, but his solitary (?) animation is wildly funny proto-punk and, in company of Jan Švankmajer’s Meat Love (1989), the best stop-motion misapplication of meat products ever lensed.

Ultimately, I go with the dictum that its better to light a tiny flame than curse the otherwise darkness: quit with bellyaching (about the state of contemporary cinema), get off your (or my) dead arse, and supply your own corrective. This year I had the pleasure of working with Australian Film Institute-nominated animators Callum Cooper and Pia Borg; Callum’s filmclips for Obese Records have gone to air already, and Pia’s AFC-funded When Objects Dream will be completed a couple months in advance of her relocation to overseas, courtesy of the Samstag foundation. At this point, Dirk De Bruyn’s Amygdala, for the 2005 Meredith Music Festival, will remain an expanded cinema work, though we expect to revive and adapt it for other contexts.

What characterises each of these directors is their rigorous cinematic intelligence, a dedication to uncompromised æsthetics at the service of creative intent, and the fund of invention they bring to filmmaking at every stage: cheers, ears!

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Kevyn Knox

A film historian and critic: www.thecinematheque.com

Going with just those films receiving a US release during the calendar year of 2005, which may very well (and does indeed) include a few films released in their respective native countries prior to 2005, I present, without hesitation and/or trepidation, my best of the year list:

1. 2046 (Wong Kar-wai, 2004)
2. Saraband (Ingmar Bergman, 2003)
3. Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)
4. Last Days (Gus Van Sant, 2005)
5. Mon Trésor (Or (My Treasure), Keren Yedeya, 2004)
6. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
7. The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)
8. OldBoy (Park Chan-wook, 2003)
9. Ma Mère (Christophe Honoré, 2004)
10. Sud Pralad (Tropical Malady, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004)

2046

The best films of the year included Wong Kar-wai’s masterful companion-piece to his Fa yeung nin wa (In the Mood for Love, 2000); Ingmar Bergman’s triumphant return to world cinema, the right-wing-hated tragic love story of the year; Gus Van Sant’s final death trilogy piece à la Béla Tarr; an Israeli cinema sociological mother-daughter study; David Cronenberg’s brutally existential study on violence and its inevitable effect (or non-effect) on American society; Terrence Malick’s beautifully played wind-in-the-willows look at the dawning of America; the middle part of a comically tragic Korean revenge drama; a love it/hate it incestuously charged mother-son love story; and the surreal love story from the nearly unpronounceable master of Thai avant-garde cinema.

What do all of these films have in common? What is their one main connective tissue? What made me think of these when I went to choose what was the best of the year? Passion is what ties them together: deep, sensual, sometimes to the brink of disaster, sometimes past that brink passion. The passions of sex, love, friendship, hate, fear, violence and religion.

There were other films though that sought me out and sucked me in – films that need to be talked about here, even if they do not make my Top Ten list. Honourable Mentions, if you will. These films include (in no particular order) the coming-of-age religiosity of La Niña santa (The Holy Girl, Lucrecia Martel, 2004); the nearly surreal loneliness of Kontroll (Nimród Antal, 2003); the comic suffering of a family falling apart in The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach, 2005); the reverse-cycled divorce-to-marriage hate-to-love tale of 5×2 (François Ozon, 2004); the all-too-true tragedies of Dare mo shiranai (Nobody Knows, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan, 2004); the quirky, sometimes foreboding, sometimes hilarious family story of Junebug (Phil Morrison, 2005); the sweeping, snaking visualness of Pride & Prejudice (Joel Wright, 2005); the anime epic story that goes far beyond common context in Hauru no ugoku shiro (Howl’s Moving Castle, Hayao Miyazaki, 2004); the desperate black-and-white Nouvelle Vague-ness of À toute de suite (Benoit Jacquot, 2004); and the punk party attitude and sexual ravenous of Gegen die Wand (Head On, Fatih Akin, Germany, 2004).

One final note: due to the rather early (December 18) deadline for inclusion in this year’s World Poll, there are a couple of films as-yet-to-be-seen that may (or may not) be included in my Best of 2005 column on my site (www.thecinematheque.com) come 9 January 2006.

Editor’s note: The above list changed to:
1. 2046 (Wong Kar-wai, 2004)
2. Caché (Hidden, Michael Haneke, 2005)
3. Saraband (Ingmar Bergman, 2003)
4. Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)
5. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
6. Last Days (Gus Van Sant, 2005)
7. Rois et Reine (Kings and Queen, Arnaud Desplechin, 2004)
8. Mon Trésor (Or (Mon Tresor), Keren Yedeya, 2004)
9. The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)
10. OldBoy (Park Chan-wook, 2003)

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Josh Krauter

A handsome failure who lives in Austin, Texas.

While looking over my final selection of favourite films of the year, I can’t help but notice that, for the third year in a row, the majority of the films on my list are from the United States. Of the three that originate elsewhere, one is a Canadian film with much to say about life in the US.

Barring film society screenings and revivals, I saw very few foreign films in a theatre in 2005. On the other hand, when I visit the video store, I am just as likely to walk out with a handful of foreign films as I am films from the US. This discrepancy probably has much to do with the increasingly isolationist theatrical distribution systems in the US, in which it is much easier to find the latest work by Arnaud Desplechin or Abbas Kiarostami on the DVD shelf than in the neighbourhood arthouse. But does it also reveal a lack of curiosity or nerve on my part? I hope not.

At any rate, while I seemed to miss out on a lot of work outside my geographical comfort zone, the American films I saw this year filled me with a lot of hope, excitement, frustration and perturbation. Every year, many critics make pronouncements about whether the year has been a good or bad one for cinema, usually deciding in the negative. I find these statements ridiculous, mostly because not even the busiest critic can see more than a small sampling of all the films made in a particular year. However, for a man with my particular taste, the American films available in my city this year comprised one of the strongest line-ups in my relatively brief decade as a cinéphile.

Among the many wonderful surprises this year, I am especially grateful to see a masterpiece by David Cronenberg almost forty years into his career; George A. Romero’s return to the big screen; and début features from Andrew Bujalski and Phil Morrison that made me glad at least two young American filmmakers have decided to forge an experiential, humanist path inspired by such worthy forebears (Jean Renoir, John Cassavetes, Chantal Akerman, Charles Burnett, Mike Leigh, Vincente Minnelli).

A quick note: I have included a handful of films on my list from 2004 and one from 2003. I wasn’t able to see these films in a theatre until 2005 and, though they ended up on a lot of year-end lists last year, they made enough of an impact on me that I had to include them. I have also stretched my rules this year to include a film made for public television.

Favourite films of 2005
(the first four are tied for first place; the rest are in no particular order):

Junebug (Phil Morrison, 2005)
Funny Ha Ha (Andrew Bujalski, 2003)
A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
2046 (Wong Kar-wai, 2004)
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson, 2004)
Vera Drake (Mike Leigh, 2004)
No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (Martin Scorsese, 2005)
Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood, 2004)
Palindromes (Todd Solondz, 2004)
Land of the Dead (George A. Romero, 2005)
Me and You and Everyone We Know (Miranda July, 2005)
Last Days (Gus Van Sant, 2005)
Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch, 2005)
Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005)
The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach, 2005)
Keane (Lodge H. Kerrigan, 2004)

Favourite film society and revival screenings:

Hyènes (Hyenas, Djibril Diop Mambéty, 1992)
The Big Red One: The Reconstruction (Samuel Fuller, 1980 and 2004)
The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942)
East of Eden (Elia Kazan, 1955)
The Palm Beach Story (Preston Sturges, 1942)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Howard Hawks, 1953)
Hollywood or Bust (Frank Tashlin, 1956)
Ratcatcher (Lynne Ramsay, 1999)
Au Hasard Balthazar (Robert Bresson, 1966)
Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959)
Angst essen Seele auf (Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974)
The Man from Planet X (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1951)
The Singing Blacksmith (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1938)

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Marc Lauria

A freelance cinéphile whose other obsession is writing.

Tropical Malady

1. Sud Pralad (Tropical Malady, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004)
“The break in the middle of the film is a mirror in the centre that reflects both ways”, says director Apichatpong Weerasethakul about a film that reverts to animal states and away from the material world in the latter half of this mystical reverie.

2. Rois et Reine (Kings and Queen, Arnaud Desplechin, 2004)
Continually obstructing the progression of his narrative, Desplechin’s remarkable family drama jumps from one hectic scene to another – the ultimate mood-shifter.

3. La Niña santa (The Holy Girl, Lucrecia Martel, 2004)
A 14-year-old girl’s religious obsession with a middle-aged doctor becomes, for director Lucrecia Martel, a study of transience and fate – two essentials of cinema.

4. Last Days (2005)
Gus Van Sant completes his trilogy of Dying Youth, with the last 48 hours of Kurt Cobain. The most opaque of all biopics, the audience is denied plot, character and closure.

5. L’Enfant (The Child, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Belgium, 2005)
The Dardenne brothers revisit Robert Bresson in their single-minded Marxist parable.

6. I Heart Huckabees (David O. Russell, 2004)
David O Russell’s blithe, hilariously philosophical stream-of-consciousness has real bite. Genuinely uneven, but, second by second, it pulsates with life.

7. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson, 2005)
Wes Anderson’s characters are a combination of Mark Twain and Preston Sturges. Bill Murray is triumphant as the self-mythologiser obsessed with his midlife crisis.

8. Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005)
More obsessive than Steve Zissou, Werner Herzog’s posthumous doc on Timothy Treadwell can be seen as his first authentic found-footage movie.

9. Tian bian yi duo yun (The Wayward Cloud, Tsai Ming-liang, 2005)
Like his 1998 Dong (The Hole), Tsai Ming-liang’s latest study in Asian alienation is body- and water-obsessed, with kitschy musical numbers to boot.

10. Good Night, and Good Luck (George Clooney, 2005)
Relevant to present-day America, George Clooney restages Edward R. Murrow’s battles with Joe McCarthy – the latter playing himself in this scrupulous reconstruction.

Ten runners-up, alphabetically:

The Assassination of Richard Nixon (Niels Mueller, 2004)
Der Untergang (Downfall, Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2004)
Kung Fu (Kung Fu Hustle, Stephen Chow, 2004)
Zivot je cudo (Life Is a Miracle, Emir Kusturica, 2004)
Dare mo shiranai (Nobody Knows, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan, 2004)
Promised Land (Amos Gitai, 2004)
Cha no aji (The Taste of Tea, Ishii Katsuhito, 2004)
Lakposhtha hâm parvaz mikonand (Turtles Can Fly, Bahman Ghobadi, 2004)
2046 (Wong Kar-wai, 2004)
Shijie (The World, Jia Zhang-ke, 2004)

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Max Le Cain

A filmmaker and cinéphile living in Cork City, Ireland.

Here are ten new and nearly-new films seen over the past year that strongly impressed me:

1. Les Amants réguliers (Everyday Lovers, Philippe Garrel, 2005)
2. 2046 (Wong Kar-wai, 2004)
3. La Vie nouvelle (Philippe Grandrieux, 2002)
4. The Brown Bunny (Vincent Gallo, 2003)
5. Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine (Peter Tscherkassky, 2005)
6. Histoire de Marie et Julien (The Story of Marie and Julien, Jacques Rivette, 2003)
7. The Jacket (John Maybury, 2005)
8. Batalla en el cielo (Battle in Heaven, Carlos Reygadas, 2005)
9. Notre musique (Jean-Luc Godard, 2004)
10. A Weaker Greatness: Monument to Stephen MacKenna (Fergus Daly)

Also two artists’ presentations: Ian Helliwell’s show of his own extraordinary 8mm films at the Cork Film Festival; and Jeremiah Day’s slide show, Maquis.

Most readers won’t have heard of A Weaker Greatness; as far as I know, it has yet to have its first public screening. It’s a 25-minute Irish film about the early 20th Century philosopher and translator of Plotinus, Stephen MacKenna, that radicalises the most stuffy of genres (the literary biography documentary) and comes up with an impassioned, richly self-reflexive experimental work that is both imposingly monumental and deeply personal. Magnificent and, in the intellectually impoverished context of Irish filmmaking, near miraculous.

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Kevin B. Lee

A filmmaker and writer based in New York. His website is www.alsolikelife.com

3 x Life Lessons through Dying:

Grizzly Man

Lo Sguardo di Michelangelo (Michelangelo’s Gaze, Michelangelo Antonioni, 2004)
No other film this year taught me more about the art of looking (through looking at art).

Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005)
Still can’t decide if this is great because of or despite Herzog, but an accidental masterpiece is still a masterpiece.

Moartea domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Cristi Puiu, 2005)
Best hospital movie ever!

3 x Fever Dreams:

L’Intrus (The Intruder, Claire Denis, 2004)
Denis’ boldest foray to date into pure lyricism. By this point she’s surpassed Terrence Malick in rearticulating silent-film æsthetics in contemporary cinema.

À travers la forêt (Through the Forest, Jean-Paul Civeyrac, 2005)
Has all the heedless emotional intensity – and impeccable craft – of the best teen pop ballads.

Stand van de maan (Shape of the Moon, Leonard Retel Helmrich, 2004)
My favourite film from Asia, directed by a Dutchman. I still can’t believe this is a documentary.

3 x A Time for Youth:

Les Amants réguliers (Everyday Lovers, Philippe Garrel, 2005)
The first hour was the best cinema I saw all year.

C.R.A.Z.Y. (Jean-Marc Vallée, 2005)
How rare that a film can be charismatic yet transgressive, intensely personal yet sweeping in scope.

Mysterious Skin (Gregg Araki, 2004)
A bad boy of American indie cinema comes through with a remarkable exploration of childhood trauma and sexual identity.

1 x In a Class of Its Own:

Caché (Hidden, Michael Haneke, 2005)
Haneke’s camera stylo is a poison-pen puzzle that describes more of the world’s ills with more cinematic clarity than any other film this year.

Best Hollywood film:
A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005).

Runner up:
War of the Worlds (Steven Spielberg, 2005)
Both succeeded brilliantly (or shamefully) at having their cake and eating it, in the grandest Hollywood tradition.

Best Asian film (directed by an Asian):
Hauru no ugoku shiro
(Howl’s Moving Castle, Hayao Miyazaki, 2004)

Best Asian film (directed by an Asian, with real Asian actors):
Yi ge mo sheng nu ren de lai xin (Letter from an Unknown Woman, Xu Jinglei, 2004)

Best date movie:
Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005) – and that includes straight couples, TRUST ME.

Rediscovered auteur of the year:
Mikio Naruse, thanks to major retrospectives held all over the world. Happy 100th birthday to him, to Anna May Wong and to Chinese Cinema!

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Babette Mangolte

French filmmaker and writer, currently based in the USA.

Best films seen in 2005

Seen in New York or the USA:
Darwin’s Nightmare (Hubert Sauper, France-Switzerland, 2004)
Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, USA, 2005)
Quand la mer monte … (Yolande Moreau and Gilles Porte, France-Belgium, 2004)
Good Night, and Good Luck (George Clooney, USA, 2005)
Last Days (Gus Van Sant, USA, 2005)
De Battre mon coeur s’est arrêté (The Beat that My Heart Skipped, Jacques Audiard, France, 2005)

Seen in Paris, France:
Les Amants réguliers (Everyday Lovers, Philippe Garrel, France, 2005)
Zui hao de shi guang (Three Times, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan, 2005)
Werkmeister harmóniák (Werckmeister Harmonies, Béla Tarr, Hungary, 2000)
L’Enfant (The Child, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, France-Belgium, 2005)
Samaria (Kim Ki-Duk, South Korea, 2004)

Repertory seen for the first time in 2005:
Unamrete wa mita keredo (Tokyo’s Boys, Yasujiro Ozu, Japan, 1932)
Hotaru no haka (Tombstone for Fireflies, Isao Takahata, Japan, 1988)

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Miguel Marías

Aged 55, has been a film critic since 1966, a former director of the Spanish Film Archive and the author of books on Manuel Mur Oti and Leo McCarey.

Since I don’t think many might be interested by which could be, in my opinion, the best films released this year in Madrid, Spain, which include things so old as Satyajit Ray’s “Apu Trilogy” (Pather Panchali, 1955; Aparajito, 1956; Apur Sansar (The World of Apu), 1961), together with several of the films I mentioned already last year (Ingmar Bergman’s Saraband, 2003; Mercedes Álvarez’ El Cielo gira, 2004; Pablo Llorca’s La Cicatriz (The Scar), 2005; among others), I will try to mention the films which have impressed and satisfied me most in the course of 2005, regardless of where and how I’ve seen them. I must warn that one of the best new movies I have seen in 2005 does not “officially” exist, according to its director, José Luis Guerín.

A. Seen this year for the first time, relatively recent:

L’Intrus

Claire Denis’ L’Intrus (The Intruder, 2004), which is perhaps the best thing I have seen in years; Wang Bing’s Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks, 2003); Cherd Songsri’s Khang lang phap (2001); David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence (2005); Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby (2004); Kawase Naomi’s Shara (2003); Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Kôhî jikô (Café Lumière, 2003); Arnaud Desplechin’s Rois et Reine (Kings and Queen, 2004); Philippe Garrel’s Les Amants réguliers (Everyday Lovers, 2004); Arnaud Des Pallières’ Adieu (2003); Tsai Ming-liang’s Bu san (Goodbye Dragon Inn, 2003), Tianqiao bujianle (2002) and Tian bian yi duo yun (The Wayward Cloud, 2005); Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Sud Pralag (Tropical Malady, 2004); José Luis Guerín’s Unas fotos … En la ciudad de Sylvia … y otras ciudades (2005); Jia Zhangke’s Ren Xiao Yao (2002) and Shijie (The World, 2004); Geuk jang jeon (A Tale of Cinema, Hong Sang-soo, 2005), Yeojaneun namjaui niraeda (Woman Is the Future of Man, 2004) and Saenghwalui balgyeon (Turning Gate, 2002); Vincent Gallo’s The Brown Bunny (2003); Abbas Kiarostami’s Five Dedicated to Ozu (2004); Ingmar Bergman’s Bildmakarna (2000); Jean-Claude Brisseau’s Choses Secrètes (2002); Chris Marker’s Chats perchés (2004); Robert Duvall’s Assassination Tango (2002); Pascal Bonitzer’s Petites Coupures (2002); Olivier Assayas’ Clean (2004); Béla Tarr’s Werkmeister harmóniák (Werckmeister Harmonies, 2000); Nicolas Klotz’s La Blessure (2004); Ousmane Sembène’s Moolaadé (2004); (+) Jean-Daniel Pollet’s Ceux d’en face (2000); Yousry Nasrallah’s Chab El Chams (2004); Jean-Louis Comolli’s Nos deux Marseillaises (2001) and Rêves de France à Marseille (2001); Gus Van Sant’s Last Days (2005); Im Kwon-taek’s Chihwaeson (2002); Ann Hui’s Yu guanyin (Jade Goddess of Mercy, 2004); Alain Resnais’ Pas sur la bouche (2003); and Kobayashi Masahirô’s Kanzen naru shiikui: onna rihatsushi no koi (Perfect Education 5: Amazing Story, 2003).

B. Great, older films discovered this year:

Yamanaka Sadao’s Ninjo kami fusen (Paper Dolls and Balloons, 1937); Ievgenií Bauer’s Zhízn za zhízn (1916), Revoliutsioner (1917), Za schástiem (1917), Umiraushchi lebed (1916), Posle smerti (1915), Grezí (1915), Némiíe svideteli (1914) and Ditia bólshogo doroga (1914); Humphrey Jennings’ Words for Battle (1941), Fires Were Started (1943), A Diary for Timothy (1945) and Family Portrait (1951); Ida Lupino’s Hard, Fast and Beautiful (1951); Abel Gance’s La Roue (1922) and Vénus aveugle (Blind Venus, 1941); Benjamin Christensen’s Det hemmelighesfulde X (1914) and Haeversnat (1916); Bill Douglas’ My Childhood (1972), My Ain Folk (1973) and My Way Home (1978); Ishmael Bernal’s Relasyon (Affair, 1982) and Pahiram ng Isang Umaga (On Borrowed Time, 1989); Lino Brocka’s Makiusap sa Diyos (A Plea to God, 1991); Hou’s Tong nien wang shi (A Time to Live and a Time to Die, 1985); (+) Jean-Claude Guiguet’s Faubourg St Germain (1986), Le Mirage (1992) and Les Passagers (1998); Hervé LeRoux’s Reprise (1996); Wong Kar-wai’s Dongxie Xidu (Ashes of Time, 1994); Shinoda Masahirô’s Yori no Gonza (1985) and Shinjû:Ten no Amijima (1969); Roberto Rossellini’s Cartesius (Descartes, 1973); Tarr’s Kárhozat (1988); Dimitri Kirsanoff’s Ménilmontant (1926); Guy Debord’s In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni (1978) and Sur le passage de quelques personnes à travers une assez courte unité de temps (1959); Louis Feuillade’s Judex (1916); Maurice Tourneur’s Victory (1919); Masumura Yasuzo’s Seisaku no tsuma (Seisaku’s Wife, 1965); Edward Yang’s Guling jie shaonian sha ren shilian (A Brighter Summer Day, 1991); Jacques Willemont’s La Reprise du travail aux usines Wonder (1968); Grigori Kozintsev and Ilia Trauberg’s Odna (1930); Jean-Daniel Pollet’s L’Ordre (1973); Jean-Luc Godard’s Petites Notes à propos du film “Je vous salue, Marie” (1984) ; Chantal Akerman’s Histoires d’Amérique (1988), Portrait d’une jeune fille de la fin des années 60 à Bruxelles (1994) and Chantal Akerman par Chantal Akerman (1996); Ken Burns’ The Civil War (1990); Jean-Louis Comolli’s Marseille de père en fils (1989), La Campagne de Provence (1992), La Question des alliances (1992) and Marseille contre Marseille (1996); Peque Gallaga’s Scorpio Nights (1985); Stanley Kwan’s Yin ji kaun (Rouge, 1987); Ed Sedgwick (and Buster Keaton)’s Free and Easy (1930); Chang Yi’s Wo Che-yang Kuo-le Yi-sheng (Kuei-mei, a Woman, 1985); Ann Hui’s Qian Yan Wan Yu (Ordinary Heroes, 1999); Philippe Garrel’s Le Révélateur (1968); Maurice Elvey’s Hindle Wakes (1927); Peter Watkins’ Forgotten Faces (1960); Kinoshita Keinosuke’s Nijushi no hitomi (1954); Han Hyung-mo’s Eunmyeongui son (The Hand of Fate, 1954); and Miyazaki Hayao’s Kaze no tani no Naushika (1984).

C. Very good recent films seen for the first time:

Simone Bitton’s Mur (2004); Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Zui hou de shi guang (Three Times, 2005); Horikazu Kore-eda’s Dare mo shiranai (Nobody Knows, 2004); Olivier Assayas’ Demonlover (2002); Samira Makhmalbaf’s Takhté siah (2000); Raymond Depardon’s Profils paysans: le quotidien (2004); Peter von Bagh’s Sininen laulu: Suomen taiteiden tarina (2004); Abdellatif Kechiche’s L’Esquive (2004); Lester James Peries’ Wekande Walauwa (2003); Joaõ Pedro Rodrigues’ O Fantasma (2000); (+) Jean-Claude Biette’s Saltimbank (2003); Noémie Lvovsky’s Les Sentiments (2003); Jem Cohen’s Chain (2004); Chantal Akerman’s Demain on déménage (2003); Yamada Yoji’s Tasogare Seibei (The Twilight Samurai, 2002); Patricia Mazuy and Simon Reggiani’s Basse Normandie (2004); Vincenzo Marra’s Vento di Terra (2003); Guy Maddin’s The Saddest Music in the World (2003); and Cristi Puiu’s Moartea Domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, 2005).

D. Very good older films discovered this year:

Abel Gance’s Mater Dolorosa (1917); Mauritz Stiller’s Vingarna (19l6); Yevgeni Bauer’s Sumerki jenskoi dushi (1913) and Tísiacha vtoraia khitróst (1915); Vasili Goncharov’s Kréstianskaia dolia (1912); Edward Sedgwick (and Buster Keaton)’s Spite Marriage (1929), Parlor, Bedroom and Bath (1931) and Speak Easily (1932); Sun Yu’s Tian ming (1933); Gustav Molander’s Eva (1948); Luchino Visconti’s Appunto su un fatto di cronaca (1950); M. Sadiq (and Guru Dutt)’s Chaudhvin ka Chand (1960); Ritwik K. Ghatak’s Titas Ekti Nadir Naam (1973); Maurice Tourneur’s The Blue Bird (1918); Masahiro Shinoda’s Fukuro no Shiro (1999), Utsukushiba to kanashimi to (With Beauty and Sorrow, 1965), Ibun Sarutobi Sasuke (Samurai Spy, 1965) and Kawaita Hana (1964); Masumura’s Kyojin to Gangu (Giants and Toys, 1958), Karakkaze yaro (Afraid to Die, 1960) and Manji (1969); Wakamatsu Kôji’s Tenshi no kokotsu (1972) and Yuke yuke nidome no shojo (1969); Morris Engel, Ray Ashley and Ruth Orkin’s Little Fugitive (1953); Akira Kurosawa’s Ikimono no kiroku (1955); Ida Lupino’s Outrage (1950); Samira Makhmalbaf’s Sib (1998); Stanley Kwan’s Yuen Ling-Yuk (1991); Paul Vecchiali’s C’est la Vie! (1980); Chantal Akerman’s Hotel Monterey (1972) and Nuit et jour (1991); Ermanno Olmi’s Camminacammina (1982); Charles Burnett’s Selma, Lord, Selma (1998); Franco Piavoli’s Nostos (Il ritorno) (1989); Guy Debord’s Critique de la separation (1961); and Karen McLaughlin(associate dir.)’s The Goldberg Variations (1981).

E. Rediscovered or confirmed on new further visions:

George Cukor’s Bhowani Junction (1955); Otto Preminger’s Daisy Kenyon (1947) and Hurry Sundown (1966); Robert Bresson’s Une femme douce (1969); Ozu Yasujiro’s Hitori musuko (1936); Michelangelo Antonioni’s Professione: reporter (The Passenger, 1975); Vincente Minnelli’s Goodbye Charlie (1964); Richard O. Fleischer’s Child of Divorce (1946); Cjantal Akerman’s d’Est (1993); Cecil B. DeMille’s Road to Yesterday (1925); Tanaka Kinuyo’s Onna bakari no yoru (Girls of Dark, 1961); Maurice Tourneur’s Lorna Doone (1922); Tod Browning’s The Wicked Darling (1919); Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub’s Der Bräutigam, die Komödiantin und der Zuhälter (1968); Jean-Luc Godard (and Anne-Marie Miéville)’s Comment ça va? (1978), (and Jean-Pierre Gorin, Groupe Dziga Vertov and Anne-Marie Miéville)’s Ici Et Ailleurs (1976) and Numéro Deux (1975); Mitchell Leisen’s Arise, My Love (1941); William Wyler’s Carrie and Detective Story (both 1951); Alberto Cavalcanti’s Rien que les heures (1926); and Ida Lupino’s The Bigamist (1954).

I’m sorry to say that, contrary to expectations, one of the films I hated most was Woody Allen’s Match Point (2005). It’s more startling than when such things come from Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardener, 2005) or several of my most successful and praised compatriots.

2005 brought further confirmation of my suspicion: there are a lot of very great movies being done … almost anywhere, but less and less of them can be normally seen by audiences. They are shown, if ever, belatedly and isolated, in small theatres, or must be searched on DVD through the internet. They are not publicized or talked about and, if they are, they probably will be dismissed as difficult, “intended” for restricted audiences and the such – which is not anything new. The novelty is that it happens increasingly, to more films, while most standard movies are poorer and poorer, artistically, each year.

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Jim May

Does his movie watching in New York City.

1. Sud Pralad (Tropical Malady, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004)
Wherein Crazy Joe returns with gay soldiers, Clash cassettes and a talking monkey, and then winds up with a masterpiece. Boasting a visual language unmatched by anything else this year, Malady ’s oft-noted split-in-half structure justifies itself easily: each half would mean virtually nothing without the other.

Rois et Reine

2. Rois et Reine (Kings and Queen, Arnaud Desplechin, 2004)
The early favourite. Sweet and sour, graceful and messy, Desplechin’s unwieldy film never lets up for a minute. Are “unwieldy” and “Desplechin” a bit redundant at this point? Perhaps, but name me another under-50 filmmaker with a more significant body of work. Oh, and if Ismaël Vuillard (Mathieu Amalric) breakdancing at the mental hospital wasn’t the movie moment of the year, then I’m a talking monkey.

3. Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005)
Herzog tackles his old bête noire, Mother Nature, and comes to many of the same conclusions: it’s brutal, unforgiving and ultimately indifferent. But through gonzo bear nut Timothy Treadwell he also endows it with powers of redemption. These two make an odd yet strangely attuned pair, but the real star is Treadwell’s miles of wilderness footage that play out as one-half testament and one-half reality-television-show-gone-tragically-awry.

4. Los Angeles Plays Itself (Thom Andersen, 2003)
5. Last Days (Gus Van Sant, 2005)
6. The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach, 2005)

7. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
Bubbling underneath Cronenberg’s small-town melodrama is a genuine fascination with the implications and cathartic power of movie violence. Neither a clinical dissection nor manipulative exploitation, History lives thrillingly in the blurry spaces between.

8. Zui hao de shi guang (Three Times, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2005)
A guided tour through Hou’s most cherished eras, the only reason this film does not rank higher is that the third act of Three Times falls so woefully short of the whimsical first and the transcendent second.

9. Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch, 2005)

10. À tout de suite (Right Now, Benoît Jacquot, 2004)

Performances: Owen Kline, Mathieu Amalric, Bill Murray, Timothy Treadwell, Damian Lewis (Keane, Lodge H. Kerrigan, 2004), Zhang Ziyi (2046, Wong Kar-wai, 2004), Viggo Mortensen, Iseld Le Besco, Michael Pitt, Steven Drozd (The Fearless Freaks, Bradley Beesley, 2005)

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Maya McKechneay

Filmjournalist (Falter) in Vienna, Austria.

1. Caché (Hidden, Michael Haneke, Austria-France, 2005)
2. Gespenster (Phantoms, Christian Petzold, Denmark, 2005)
3. Sangre (Amat Escalante, Mexico, 2005)
4. Welt Spiegel Kino (World Mirror Cinema, Gustav Deutsch, Austria, 2005)
5. Innocence (Lucile Hadzihalilovic, France, 2004)
6. Hat Wolff von Amerongen Konkursdelikte begangen? (Gerhard Benedikt Friedl, Germany-Austria, 2004)
7. La Niña santa (The Holy Girl, Lucrecia Martel, Argentina, 2004)
8. Forty Shades of Blue (Ira Sachs, USA, 2005)
9. Me and You and Everyone We Know (Miranda July, USA, 2005)
10. L’Intrus (The Intruder, Claire Denis, France, 2004)

If there is anything like a red thread in my list, it’s all about a mystery, a secret, that the films kept – in style or content, or both. Something to sense and think about for a long time.

Most appreciated trend of the year:
The discovery of the aging hero (50+): in melancholic comedies like Sideways (Alexander Payne, 2004) or Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch, 2005), or rather tragic tales of standstill, such as Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll’s Whisky (2004) or Amat Escalante’s Sangre .

(My list refers to films I saw in 2005, even if they premiered in 2004. Some, but not all, of them had a release in Austria.)

2005 discovery of a classic:
Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, USA 1977) at Filmmuseum Vienna.

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Olaf Möller

A Cologne-born and -based film critic who programs and writes about films, including the “Olaf’s World” column for Film Comment.

All things considered, 2005 was one honest-to-God kick-ass year for cinema: concrete Ferronian enthusiasm alone could deal with such plenty, such seemingly contradictory yet cinéphilically interdependent shades of beauty.

Therefore, one team, for I usually come up with a dozen great films per year. But a football team plus its manager just wasn’t enough; a whole match needed to be organised, meaning two sides plus referees.

And here they are:

OLAF MÖLLER’S WORLD ELEVEN 2005

Team Manager (Film of the Year)
Ebolusyon ng isang pamilyang Pilipino (Evolution of a Filipino Family, Lav Diaz, 2004)

Eleven Friends (Top Ten Plus One)
Gespenster (Phantoms, Christian Petzold, Denmark, 2005)
Die Grosse Stille (Philip Gröning, 2005)
Hat Wolff von Amerongen Konkursdelikte begangen? (Gerhard Friedl, 2004)
A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
17-sai no fûkei – shôned wa anani o mita no ka (Cycling Chronicles, Wakamatsu Kôji, 2004)
Mary (Abel Ferrara, 2005)
Le Petit lieutenant (Xavier Beauvois, 2005)
Sibudo 1: Simu-seoreul chajaseo (Ten Ox-Herding Pictures #1: Going Out in Search of the Ox, Lee Ji-sang, 2004)
Who Killed Cock Robin? (Travis Wilkerson, 2005)
Workingman’s Death (Michael Glawogger, 2005)
Yolda – Rüzgar geri getirise (Erden Kiral, 2005)

OLAF MÖLLER’S OTHER WORLD ELEVEN 2005

Team Manager (Film of the Year)
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Romuald Karmakar, 2005)

Eleven Friends (Top Ten Plus One)
Drawing Restraint 9 (Matthew Barney, 2005)
East of Paradise (Lech Kowalski, 2005)
Edmond (Stuart Gordon, 2005)
The Great Art of Knowing (David Gatten, 2004)
Land of the Dead (George A. Romero, 2005)
Malerei heute (Painting Today, Stefan Hayn and Anja-Christin Remmert, 2005)
A Marca do Terror (Ivan Cardozo, 2005)
Operetta tanuki gotten (Princess Raccoon, Seijun Suzuki, 2005)
Optinen Ääni (Optical Sound, Mika Taanila, 2005)
Vers Mathilde (Claire Denis, 2005)
Yamanaka Tokiwa (Into the Picture Scroll: The Tale of Yamanaka Tokiwa, Haneda Sumiko, 2004)

REFEREES
Is It Really So Strange? (William E. Jones, 2004)
Mitten im Malestream (In the Midst of the Malestream, Helke Sander, 2005)
The White Diamond (Werner Herzog, 2004)
Garpastum (Aleksei German Jr, 2005)

So, what’s the difference between the teams, and why are the referees, well, referees?

Garpastum

Let’s start with the latter: two of the three on-field referees (the Sander and the Herzog) are films I only saw at home on video – that’s why they weren’t eligible for the teams; Is It Really So Strange? I saw so often on video before finally seeing it in a theatre that nothing ’additional’ happened in my head during the screening; and Garpastum … shit!, even with two teams plus their managers there’s always a 25th film, so to speak, which, well, in this case is Garpastum, and Garpastum is a football film, meaning it’s the perfect choice for the fourth referee … Don’t even think about trying to discuss (- the logic of -) this with me; just accept it and WATCH THE FILMS!!!!!!!!! ALL OF THEM!!!!!

Now, the two teams. There’s no difference in quality between the two sides: they’re absolutely equal, they’d always draw, wins would be accidental (a condor would have to shit on the ball in flight causing a change of direction leading to a freak goal … something like that). That said, I could name an invincible super-team – Gatten and Taanila, e.g., delivered works of pure genius; and Karmakar: he who doubts Germany’s greatest contemporary filmmaker doubts cinema as such – but that would be a very cerebral entity, an exercise in a kind of judiciousness I’m not interested in; plus, experience shows that teams consisting solely of über-players tend to fuck up: a good side needs a very particular harmony that has only so much to do with every player being a genius.

In the end, it’s all … a matter of the heart. The Main squad is closer to me than the Other. Just a few examples: with Karmakar, it’s the subject that’s simply not me: electronic music – although nobody ever got me as close to or as interested in it as he did with this film. Nevertheless, it’s not me, not yet at least, although I’m willing to transform myself for something that includes Cobra Killer. With Kiral and Wilkerson, it’s about the political stance they take, their individual kinds of decisiveness, their visions of history and how it relates to us now. Looking at the desinvoltura exemplified by the latest Michael Haneke, or at Philippe Garrel’s defeatist petrification of ’68, I know why Yolda and Who Killed Cock Robin? move me so deeply (which doesn’t mean that Haneke and Garrel are politically questionable: I can live with them, they’re the kind of conservative bourgeois liberals one can rely on, most of the time that is) … therefore/nevertheless?

And while we’re at it: Mitten im Maestream, now that’s serious political filmmaking: its essence defiantly confronts all the complacencies Haneke and Garrel bask in); with Gröning, Ferrara, and Lee, well, I think I never made a secret of being a ’spiritually inclined’ person – plus, Lee is also the just embodiment of my disgust with the Korean-cinema-now-phenomenon, with the industry that makes it and the film culture that shapes it, with something that proudly creates moral vacui like Park Chan-wook (and when I start to think about the kind of problems/insults masters like Im Kwon-taek and Jang Sun-woo had to face in the past few months, disgust doesn’t even come close to properly express my feelings).

And a note on two films not featured: Amir Muhammad’s mighty The Year of Living Vicariously (2005) is not featured in any list because I’m waiting for the longer version which hopefully will show up in Rotterdam next January, accompanying Riri Riza’s Gie (2005), during whose making it was shot – and maybe, maybe, Gie is so good that I can feature both next year in my World Eleven, playing together!

For the same reason I haven’t yet looked at my DVD of Nagasaki Shunichi’s latest film …

As always, there’s also a World Eleven with ’old’ films seen for the first time this year – ’discoveries’, as common film cultural parlance has it.

In contrast to last year, 2005 had less to offer, which doesn’t mean that this line-up is half-assed, only that last year I could’ve organised a whole match.

And here they are:

OLAF MÖLLER’S SENIOR CITIZEN’S WORLD ELEVEN 2005

Team Manager (’Discovery’ of the Year)
Histórias Selvagens (Wild Stories, Anónio Campos, 1978)

Eleven Friends (Top Ten Plus One)
Les Aventures de Robert Macaire (The Adventures of Robert Macaire, Jean Epstein, 1925)
Braza Dormida (Humberto Mauro, 1928)
Dai satsujin (The Great Duel, Kudo Eiichi, 1964)
Dokufu Takahashi oden (Poisonous Woman Takahashi O-Den, Nakagawa Nobuo, 1958)
Fait-divers (Claude Autant-Lara, 1923)
L’Invitation au voyage (Invitation to a Journey, Germaine Dulac, 1927)
Das Lied vom Leben (Song of Life, Alexis Granowsky, 1931)
Nora-neko rokku: Sekkusu hanta (Stray Cat at Rock: Sex Hunter, Hasebe Yasuharu, 1970)
Sie tötten en Ekstase (She Killed in Ecstasy, Jesus Franco, 1971)
Smart Money (Alfred E. Green, 1931)
Tokkyu sambyaku-ri (Saegusa Genjiro, 1928)

Okay, now, there’s a 13th film that I should mention here: Art School Sluts, the début work of Alt-Porn-auteur Eon McKai, a fuckfest-à-clef about CalArts which shows that an askew homage to Morgan Fisher can go well with vigorous, Goth’ish butt-fucking … It’s porno therefore, by nowadays’ industrial habits, not made for cinema. So, what do you do with it, lists-wise?

Of course, there are stories behind several of these choices.

Histórias Selvagens I saw at a private screening of the films by António Campos, which the Portuguese Film Archive – its vice-director José Manuel Costa, to be precise – organised for me while I was in Lisbon (as a juror) at the IndieLisboa. I had wanted to see the films of Campos for quite some time, and had mentioned this to one of the IndieLisboa guys who, on his part, was dumbfounded that some foreigner – even one with more than a fleeting interest in Portuguese cinema – would be hot on Campos. Now, this guy talked to José Manuel Costa, a great admirer of Campos, who, I was told, was also dumbfounded, but only for a second, then he basically said, “Bring the guy over. If he wants Campos, we’ll give him Campos.” That day in the Archive with the works of Campos was, film-wise, the best day of this year, and I’m very, very grateful to all the people who made it possible – and I’m deeply depressed that Costa, as fine a thinker-writer as he’s generous and passionate, a few weeks ago had enough of his job and quit.

Nora-neko rokku: Sekkusu hanta (which I’d wanted to see for quite some time as I’m interested in Hasebe Yasuharu) was shown at Kino Otok in Izola as a late-night screening, which I introduced (merrily quarter-drunk) and whose audience I got to shout, “Sex movies are good!”; also, the film was written by the great Yamatoya Atsushi (whose masterpiece, Kôya no Dacchi waifu (Dutch Wife in the Desert, 1967), I finally got to see on the big screen at the Viennale: thank you!!, thank you!!!, thank you!!!!), who, as a screenwriter, worked for, among others, Suzuki Seijun and Wakamatsu Kôji – talk about a guy with a cosmos obsession …

Tokkyu sambyaku-ri, finally, I saw at an open air-screening in Bonn, together with one of the most wonderful women on earth, who, in contrast to me, went into hiding when the rains came, while I stayed out in the open, mesmerised by this – a somewhat uneven while constantly surprising – film, soaking wet at the end and super happy … That’s one thing. The other thing is that there’s so little I could find out about the film’s director, Saegusa Genjiro – basically zilch in my western books, and only a little bit more in the Japanese ones – a mystery.

All this was written while counting the hours till the screening of Kawasaki Minoru’s Koala Kacho (Executive Koala, 2005), another exercise in Men-in-Furry-Animal-Costumes-auteurdom.

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Ioannis Mookas

A writer and programmer based in New York. He has contributed to Afterimage, Cineaste and The Independent Film & Video Monthly, among other US journals.

2005 yielded so many treasures that the usual ten won’t do. So here’s the Dozen Best, plus the Top Ten documentaries listed separately. My only criterion was a single theatrical performance in New York in 2005; the exception to this is Stanley Kwan’s Changhen ge (Everlasting Regret, 2005), which simply couldn’t keep until the next round.

The revelation of the year was Poznavaya belyy svet (Getting to Know the Big Wide World, Kira Muratova, 1979), screened in the Muratova retrospective presented last winter at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and organized by Alla Verlotsky of the estimable Seagull Films. As fresh to my eyes as any of the rest, Muratova’s tough-and-tender romantic triangle glows with the “ornamentalism” of her Ukranian forebear, Sergei Paradjanov, and the bleakness routinely associated with its period of Soviet history only heightens its constant visual astonishments.

Best Dozen films of 2005:

Chetyre (4, Ilya Khrzhanovsky, 2005)
Caché (Hidden, Michael Haneke, 2005)
Moartea Domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Cristi Puiu, 2005)
Changhen ge (Everlasting Regret, Stanley Kwan, 2005)
Poznavaya belyi svet (Getting to Know the Big Wide World, Kira Muratova, 1978)
La Niña santa (The Holy Girl, Lucrecia Martel, 2004)
Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine (Peter Tscherkassky, 2005)
L’Intrus (The Intruder, Claire Denis, 2004)
My Summer of Love (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2004)
Puños Rosas (Pink Punch, Beto Gómez, 2004)
Sud Pralad (Tropical Malady, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004)
Shijie (The World, Jia Zhang-ke, 2004)

Top Ten documentaries of 2005:

The Birdpeople (Michael Gitlin, 2005)
Detail (Avi Mograbi, 2004)
Bocas de ceniza (Mouths of Ash, Juan Manuel Echavarría, 2004)
Oh, Uomo (Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi, 2004)
States of UnBelonging (Lynne Sachs, 2005)
Al otro lado (To the Other Side, Natalia Almada, 2005)
Troop 1500 (Ellen Spiro and Karen Bernstein, 2005)
Wetback: The Undocumented Documentary (Arturo Perez Torres, 2005)
Why We Fight (Eugene Jarecki, 2005)
William Eggleston in the Real World (Michael Almereyda, 2005)

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