Number 10: V For Vendetta
V for Vendetta is the first but not the last comic book movie on this list. However, it’s not your typical comic book movie such as the likes of the Spider-Man series which was circulating around the same time as it dealt with much darker themes, and at its centre is a protagonist who is very much an anti-hero. V for Vendetta was not a huge hit but the overall vision of the film has seemed to drum up quite a cult following. It is a highly political, gripping, intense, chilling and cinematically stunning adaptation of the graphic novel it is based on. It’s a more mature, complex and sophisticated addition to the genre with some superb acting from Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman and some outstanding visual effects. V for Vendetta kicks off this list at number 10.
Number 9: Batman Begins
Christopher Nolan brought back Batman in 2005 for the first time since Batman and Robin in 1997, and made Batman Begins the first of his incredibly successful Dark Knight trilogy. As was the case with V For Vendetta, this a darker look at the comic book genre after many more colourful adaptations started circulating. Batman Begins is an origin story that covers many of the true to comic book events that you could possibly need without dedicating too much of the film to them; we get all of the important information without it clogging up the plot. This is the first time we see Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne and Batman, and it is clear that this is a very different portrayal of the hero in comparison to what we have seen in the past. The film is excellent overall, but what is most important is that it sets up two even more brilliant films in the series to come. Christopher Nolan certainly puts his stamp on this film and what he created is beautiful.
Number 8: 40 Year Old Virgin
40 Year Old Virgin was the first big thing to come from Judd Apatow as a writer and director. In some ways, he created a whole new genre of comedy as from this film many others of a similar nature were spawned with Apatow connected to them in some way. With a very funny cast that is now synonymous with this type of comedy, and writing from both Apatow and Steve Carrell, it was a huge hit in 2005. It was a style of comedy that had either never been seen before or had been completely lost; it was something new and slightly weird but in a way that completely worked. Steve Carrell, and the likes of Paul Rudd and Seth Rogan, all proved that they were the new faces of comedy in this film and have since then gone on to star in some of the funniest films of the decade. It was a pioneer of modern comedy in some ways and for that reason it makes number 8 on this list.
Number 7: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The Goblet of Fire is the fourth installment in the Harry Potter series and it may be my favourite. First of all, I have to say that the book that this film is based on is around 700 pages long, and they managed to do a pretty good job of adapting this to film without it feeling rushed. It is at this point in the series that the story starts to get a lot darker and grittier. The characters are now starting to grow up and, appropriately, more grown up themes are introduced meaning that they have to deal with the situations they face in a much more adult way. It is also at this point where the overall story, running throughout the entire series, really gets going and we become more involved in what is going on. It is a transition point for the films, the characters, and the audience, as each one becomes more developed. Harry Potter is not only one of the biggest and best films of 2005, but was so for every year that a new installment was released, so for it not to have made this list would have been a travesty.
Number 6: Capote
Possibly one of the finest performances from the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman is in this critically acclaimed 2005 film. So much so that he went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in this very role. Based on the life of author Truman Capote as he develops a relationship with a killer he is researching for a crime novel, Capote received universal praise upon its release in 2005. However, it’s the performance of Hoffman that drives this film. Where the story and cinematography are is excellent, it is Hoffman’s performance that elevates this film to a higher level of success. In Capote, Hoffman cements himself as one of the acting greats as he captures every characteristic of this person perfectly. The film is moving and interesting, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman is truly captivating. It is not often that an actor transcends a film so much that they alone make it great, and that is why Capote is number 6 on this list.
Number 5: Sin City
Sin City was released at a time where comic book movies were really picking up steam and were at the forefront of the box office. Sin City broke comic book movie conventions in every way as it was gritty and disturbing, and was completely for adults. Already a highly popular graphic novel, this was the film that grown up comic book movie lovers were waiting for. Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller did not just make a film adaptation, they completely captured the essence of the graphic novel and they brought these characters to life in a way that any fan would be proud of. Sin City is smart, sexy, stylish and violent, with an all star cast, seamless directing, and stunning cinematography, making Sin City a must watch in 2005.
Number 4: Jarhead
Jarhead is one of my favourite war films, and one of my favourite films of 2005. But, my personal preference is not the reason for it being number 4 on this list. If you are expecting a war film with action packed scenes, a fast paced driving plot, and a ton of explosions, then Jarhead may not be the film for you. It is a very realistic depiction of modern warfare and is not a story of good vs bad; it is a representation of trying to live a life in that situation. This is what makes Jarhead so unique and worth a watch, as it defies all expectations and shows something true to life. Some criticisms of this film at the time of its release were that it had no message or political stance, but that is the point of Jarhead; it is purely a film about the characters and how they deal with being a Marine. The cinematography is spectacular and the characters are interesting and captivating and this is mainly down to the brilliant casting, making it one of the best films of 2005.
Number 3: Serenity
Serenity is any sci-fi lovers dream, especially to those who were fans of the TV show Firefly. Where this is a film completely for the many disgruntled fans of the TV show, it also brings in non-fans with its action packed story and incredibly likable characters. Nathan Fillion’s Captain Malcolm Reynolds leads his band of outcasts on a western adventure in space; what is there not to love about that? It is a far more human story than you may expect from a sci-fi film, where the characters are strong and intelligently thought out – even if you had not been familiar with the characters from Firefly, they are so well developed in Serenity that the film could stand very well on its own. Although it has a lot of action, Serenity never seems to lose sight of the plot; the script is amazing and the cast give some incredible performances. Joss Whedon did an excellent job of giving the Firefly fans the ending they so desperately wanted and created an incredibly well rounded sci-fi film that anyone could enjoy, making it a very deserving number 3 on this list.
Number 2: Walk The Line
This multi-award winning film depicts the early life of musical legend Johnny Cash, with outstanding performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon. The film was given the label ‘Oscar Worthy’ well before its release, and sometimes when this happens it is hard to believe the hype, but with Walk the Line the label was completely accurate. Joaquin Phoenix transforms into Johnny Cash, in a way that no one thought possible – the unique thing about Cash was his look and his voice there was no one else like him, yet Phoenix embodies him so comfortably. Even with this performance from him, Reese Witherspoon still manages to steal the show with her portrayal of June. The word to describe Walk the Line would be ‘satisfying’, as you will not walk away from this film feeling cheated or disappointed. It is a movie all about the characters, and when the characters are people in real life we are so familiar with, it is important that they shine on screen in the way that they do in Walk the Line; a movie that truly exceeded all expectations.
Number 1: Brokeback Mountain
An absolute masterpiece from Ang Lee, with unforgettable performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, and a beautiful story, Brokeback Mountain is my pick for the best film of 2005. In many cases films fail to transcend the controversy that surrounds them, but that was not the case with Brokeback Mountain, nor was it trying to be controversial to begin with. It is a poignant look at the notion of unexpected love that is all consuming and makes you question who you are; the fact that it is two men is irrelevant. The film is simply stunning. Every moment is there to make you feel and there is never a wasted frame. It is honest and raw, and poetic to its core. There are no tricks and no illusions in this film, it is just natural and beautiful. It is rare that we come across a film like this and it is one that will stand as a great film for a very long time. Number one: Brokeback Mountain.