Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Codename V Makes a List
In which V caves into that age-old tradition of making best and/or worst-of lists at the end of the year.

I'm going to start with films. I may or may not do music and television as well, depending on how lazy I am this week. M is probably going to do a list as well, and there will likely be a bit of overlap. So, let us begin.

Codename V's Top 5 Films of '05

1. Sin City
Hands-down, my favorite film this year. This film had it all - a great plot, great acting, and some of the most innovative and brilliant visuals I've seen in a long time. Based on Frank Miller's graphic novels, this really was like watching the pages of a comic book come to life on screen. Given that I ink comics, maybe I was a little more impressed than the average person - but I have seen very few film adaptations of comic books that were true in tone and style to the original source material. Sin City did not disappoint. Visuals aside, this was a good noir story. I've seen this a few times this year, and I just don't get tired of it.

2. The Machinist
This Christian Bale film technically was released on the festival circuit in early 2004, but it was this year's DVD release that made it accessible to the masses. Bale plays a man haunted by insomnia - as well as by a horrible secret. His physical body wastes away (Bale dropped down to around 120 pounds to play the role), mirroring his mental and emotional trauma. Creepy and atmospheric, this film is full of twists and turns and hidden clues that keep you guessing until the very end. Tragic and fascinating, this one is highly recommended. Beware: sharp attention span required.

3. Batman Begins
It is Batman, what more can be said? Director Christopher Nolan finally does this superhero some big-screen justice. The Batman franchise of the 80s-90s was cartoonish and camp, desperate to remind the audience at all times that Batman was straight from the pages of a comic book. It was gaudy and garish and dominated by hammy overacting. But we true fans know that there's a deeper story to be told here, and Nolan tells it for us. For the first time we see the human side to the character. We see the tragedy behind the hero, how an angry boy becomes a heroic man. Critics have praised this for showing Batman in a more realistic light, and while there are still a lot of points which call for some suspension of disbelief, I have to side with the critics. Batman is unique in that he doesn't have "powers". No radioactive spider-bites for Bruce Wayne. He's just a man with some really swanky gadgets, and the drive to make a difference.

I could go on all day about Batman, and unless I cut this short right now, I probably WILL go on all day...

4. Haute Tension
Known in America as High Tension, this film is also from last year sometime but didn't get a US release until this summer. The French version is the one you should watch, as it's my understanding that the US version was edited down and dubbed over (ugh!). Haute Tension is notable for its sheer brutality. It's been a long time since I've seen a film this violent, and I certainly didn't expect it from the French film industry (as I associate French films with whimsical romances and comedies - see also Amelie, Les Visiteurs). As is the case with most horror films, this is full of gaping plot holes. But it's a fun ride, if you can overlook the occasional lapse in logic - and if you can stomach a lot of blood. I mean, a LOT of blood.

5. Narnia
Yes, I know that's not actually the correct title. But who really wants to type the whole thing out? This was just awesome. The kids all did a good job, particularly the younger two. The effects were great - the CGI wasn't cheesy or cheap-looking. In short, they totally didn't screw up my favorite book from childhood. They totally rocked it. It was EPIC. Epic and AWESOME. Everyone should see Narnia. Twice.