Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
The thrilling conclusion to the Star Wars saga has visual invention, thrilling spectacle, political allegory, cornball charm, and the invaluable Ewan McGregor. So basically, in this year of exhibition-is-dead squawks, it reminded a bunch of people of the fun and folly of going out to the movies.
The Squid and the Whale
Noah Baumbach’s divorce comedy delights and stings in equal measure as it mixes his trademark wit and observance with a handheld intensity.
It seems every year a new movie is declared the “best comics adaptation ever,” but Christopher Nolan’s smart, serious treatment of the Dark Knight is at least the best comics-movie comeback ever.
2005 saw many family-oriented fantasies bigger in scale than this one, but none so sweetly moving.
Me and You and Everyone We Know
A lovely, startling funny feature debut from video artist Miranda July. It’s one of those movies, like Short Cuts or Magnolia, where multiple characters are intricately connected; July’s version is less epic, but its dozens of tiny, perfect moments add up.
Ang Lee excels at a difficult task: translating a short story (about two cowboys in love, no less) into fleshed-out cinema. The result is spare, quiet, and deeply moving, and caps a banner year for Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, both great here.
Maybe it’s all old hat (or fanboy wet dream) if you’ve read all of Frank Miller’s comics, but I haven’t, so Sin City remains an eerily beautiful semi-cartoon noir on shimmering steroids.
A History of Violence
In a year filled with cartoon bloodletting (see previous entry), David Cronenberg showed shocking economy through an elegant parable about our stormy relationship with the stuff. I didn’t know Viggo Mortensen had it in him.
The Weather Man
This underseen, undervalued dramedy features another fearless Nicolas Cage performance.
War of the Worlds
I haven’t seen Munich yet, and I hope it’s even better than this. But occasional logic breaks and shruggy ending aside, Spielberg is at the absolute top of his technical game for a harrowing alieninvasion spectacular that puts the likes of Independence Day to shame.