Friday, January 13, 2006

2005 FILMS: The Best...

Post your "best of"s from 2005 films (in Oscar-type categories), proving that you're right and they're wrong.


Blogger Jason Work said...

All right, right off the bat I am going to eschew the standard "best of" categories and create a few of my own. To begin with, this year's winner of "Best Western" (not the hotel) and "Best Ensemble" goes to "Serenity," the feature film debut of writer-director Joss Whedon. Whedon is the creator of the cult TV shows "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel" and "Firefly." He is also currently in the middle of a pretty kick-ass run on the comic book "Astonishing X-Men."

Anywho, "Serenity" is a sequel of sorts to the above-mentioned series "Firefly," which ran for a mere 10 episodes on Fox back in 2002. The complete series was released to pretty strong sales on DVD however, which led to the opportunity of creating a feature film which capped off most of the dangling plot threads and long-running stories of the series.

The story is set in space, 500 years in the future, set in a galaxy governed by the Alliance of Planets (the descendant of the American and Chinese governments.) "But Jason," you're saying, "how the hell is this a western?" Well, that's the key twist. While the adventures take place in space, almost every one of the genre tropes comes from the classic western. It's "Cowboys in Space" basically. There's the Captain of the ship, a former General on the losing side of a civil war. There's the mercenary, the hooker, the sidekick, etc. They live out on the frontier of the Alliance, where government interference isn't as pronounced. The entire cast is fantastic, even though you've never heard of any of them: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin.

The plot of the movie involves two fugitives whom the crew of the ship "Serenity" have been hiding from the government. The whole show is fantastic and it was one of the few times where I was truly on the "edge of my seat" watching a movie. It has all that was good about the original "Star Wars" trilogy with none of the crap. I will devote a future post to a more direct comparison, but for right now, I recommend renting the series and then watching the movie. You won't be disappointed.

1/13/2006 3:20 PM  
Blogger SHAEmless said...

Ai ya, hwai leh! [Wash sounds like Ai ya, hoo ah lay!]
"S*** on my head!"
Wash, as Alliance cruiser does scan of them

1/16/2006 6:01 PM  
Blogger Jason Work said...

Dude, where did you find the translations from the Chinese? Or do you speak Chinese?

1/18/2006 4:27 PM  
Blogger SHAEmless said...

Wish I could say it was more than "googling" (remember when it was revolutionary to say that?) "firefly mandarin" . . . but it wasn't . . .

1/19/2006 2:40 PM  
Blogger SHAEmless said...

Great advocation on Jason's part regarding Serenity . . . I mean, can't pure escapsim that's not neccessarily reflecting concerns in society be rewarded once in a while, even if it's a space western?. . . hey, wait a minute, maybe Serenity is a little political . . . Josh Whedon, you eccentric sage, you!

Anyway, along other lines, Ch-ch-check it out:

What's this about Crash being the only true indie in the race this year? Okay, I'm becoming more and more impressed with this movie and Paul Haggis. I have to got to find out how this thing got made. Look past the big actor names, recycled mulitiple thread story line idea (he makes it fresh) and tendency to be a bit didactic and you will find a film that works on several levels and not only appeases but channels change from the mainstream film-goer as well as the art house critic . . . more projects like this have to happen more often! It's not as much about racism as it is about the place where racism springs from . . . If I try to explain that place I'll sound cliché.

Some good points in the article about the marketing of Brokeback Mountain as well.

I won't elaborate too much due to my windbag antics in former email series . . .but I'll try to list my top films of 2005, in order of preference . . . (I have not yet seen Kong, however, or Good Night and Good Luck, and Sudance is in town so I might be distracted for the next couple weeks) . . . So thus far . . .

1. Crash
2. Serenity
3. Cinderella Man
4. Capote
5. Brokeback Mountain
6. Munich
7. Millions
8. Walk the Line
9. Hustle and Flow
10. You and Me and Everyone you Know

My Honorable Mention: Rize (Documentary)

I'll work on my picks from the nominees later. And yes, Jason, Grizzly Man was very cool--just saw it.

1/19/2006 5:10 PM  
Blogger SHAEmless said...

Me and Him and All the Folks we are Associated With . . . whatever that film is called. It's cool, dammitt!

1/20/2006 3:59 PM  
Blogger Izdatyel said...

Uhh...huh huh...huh.

I'm not really qualified to participate in this discussion as I haven't seen any of those movies except "Cinderella Man."

I loved Cinderella Man. Unless I'm forgetting something, I think it's the best 2005 movie that I've seen. I was not expecting to like it much given that I'm not a big fan of Ron Howard movies or Russell Crowe. I fully expected it to be a sufficiently good, but formulaic, sports motivation movie. You know, like part VIII of the Hoosiers, Rocky IV, Rudy, Cool Runnings, Remember the Titans, The Rookie, & Miracle series. I've got to admit - I think it rises above that (except Rocky IV, of course), and I even like a couple of those movies. I definitely think its the best movie Ron Howard has made (it's better than "A Beautiful Mind" - and "Splash").

For no particular reason, most of my viewing time this year went into catching up on the explosion of quality TV series and cool documentaries.

I suppose we should start both a TV series and documentary thread.

1/25/2006 12:57 PM  
Blogger Jason Work said...

I also enjoyed "Cinderella Man." I think Ron Howard is a uniformly strong director. I just don't think he has ever had a movie that rises to the level of true greatness. I think a few of his stronger works will still be watched years from now, like "Cinderalla Man," "Beautiful Mind," "Ransom," and "Splash." Probably "Apollo 13" too, although I've never seen it and therefore can't comment with any certainty. He's a good genre hopper too--Westerns, thrillers, comedies. I have to express my disappointment in the fact that he's directing "Da Vinci Code." It's too bad they didn't get somebody who could elevate an essentially pulpy page-turner of a novel into a great cinematic achievement, a la Coppola and "The Godfather." Who knows, maybe he'll pull it off, but based on his track record, it will probably just be "well done."

Gotta give some props to Howard though. Any guy who helps produce shows like "Arrested Development" and "24" has a permanent place in my heart.

1/26/2006 9:52 AM  
Blogger SHAEmless said...

A "Halleluja" and "Amen" to you, Pastor Jason Work. Howard is to be admired of his producer support of such innovative sitcoms/series. Thank the Lord that I own AD Season 1 and 2--and it's almost time to watch them again. Never watched more than a couple episodes of 24--but am absolutely impressed with what I seen. Guess I'm saving it for a rainy day. From what I can tell I'll start watching it and will be holed up every night watching episodes like a crack friend (without the crack and the pipe, of course).

And key point on Howard's directorial involvements. I think Cinderella Man is my favorite yet of his (and for Crowe, his best performance since LA Confidential and The Insider--sorry, Beautiful Mind was great, Gladiator just okay, but his characters in the others just really WORK) although Howard made some stellar films of different genres, it still feels like he needs to really just pull out all the stops . . . so I second that, baby! Is it because he hasn't really made anything political or really controversial? Why is that? Strange. Remember the omission of the homosexual exploits of John Nash in a Beautiful Mind except for one brief glance in one scene that was barely noticable? If the movie were made now, I wonder if Howard would be as sparing. Anyway, Cinderella Man is truly a story of the human struggle with boxing as a mere backdrop. Wish it would've been marketed differently so more people would have seen it, or something. Maybe Focus Features should have distributed . . .they sure know how to exploit all the angles, or hire the ad agencies and consultants that know how to mobilize and polarize folks (which is what they do). Seriously, I'm surprised at the mileage. It's crazy. It's groundbreaking. It's . . .about money at the end of the damn day. I mean, the title Cinderella Man could be contraversial in itself, right? Ha.

Jason Work . . . what directors have achieved the level of greatness, in your perception--just so I know what you are utilizing as a touchstone?

1/26/2006 11:40 AM  
Blogger SHAEmless said...

Don't you hate when you post something and then realize you should have proofread twice? yes, i was admiring my thoughts and my grammatical errors, among others, like "crack FRIEND." Geeeeeeez. Sorry guys, I promise I'm not that stupid. Just admire the spirit of my post.

1/26/2006 12:29 PM  
Blogger Jason Work said...

Of course I consider lots of directors to be "great:" Spielberg, Hawks, Tarantino, etc. But, to give you an idea of where I stand in relation to Ron Howard, I think the director who provides the best basis for comparison is Rob Reiner. Like Howard, he is firmly in the mainstream. Like Howard, he hops from genre to genre. Like Howard, he's made his share of crap. Unlike Howard, however, Reiner has found much of his success by working with excellent, intelligent screenwriters. Christopher Guest on "Spinal Tap," William Goldman on "Princess Bride" and "Misery," Nora Ephron on "When Harry Met Sally" and Aaron Sorkin on "A Few Good Men." He's taken these screenplays and, with his craftsman's skill, has turned out some truly classic films. Howard, on the other hand, regularly works with Akiva Goldsman, the screenwriter of "Batman and Robin" and "Lost in Space," ensuring his films never rise to the upper tier of greatness.

1/28/2006 8:45 PM  
Blogger SHAEmless said...

Great points on Reiner, JW . . . have a friend in L.A. that is supposed to meet with his people on a script (this makes me cool, right?), hope Rob can give him some help/direction.

Hope it might not be considered a heresy by the initiator of this blog, (t-wray) . . . that i change course and bring up the subject of the film "bubble," the new project directed by steven soderberg and financed/produced/distributed by millionaire/dallas maverick's ownder mark cuban and his partners. i'd like to know everyone's thoughts on multiple format simultaneous or nearly-simultaneous releases, from both a consumer and marketing point-of-view. it's an interesting experiment-- and the film is actually garnering decent reviews. i'm divided on the subject, since i've been working in distribution for a bit and know how integral a theater release can be, but it seems like people are actually being more selective what they see for 10 bux a pop at the theater and when they see it/in what format . . . but figures also show that all the money isn't really being made up in DVD/Video sales either . . .comments, anyone? Here's a decent article as well:,0,6668804.story?coll=ny-features-print

1/30/2006 4:19 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

As unthinkable as it is to me, I've only seen one movie in the last 6 months!! And, it was a J-Lo movie at that ("An Unfinished Life")! (Though, truth be told I actually enjoyed it... YIKES... in all fairness my wife took me ;)...) However, here are the top 5 movies I want to see:

1) Munich (though I've been told it is not what you'd expect)
2) Walk the Line
3) A History of Violence
4) Cinderella Man
5) Why We Fight (yes... even w/ its anti-American undertones :)...)

2/01/2006 10:54 PM  

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