May 13, 2006 | Comments ()

By Dustin Rowles | Miscellaneous | May 13, 2006 |






In general, I don’t really care for “best-of” lists; I find them self-aggrandizing and kind of lame, for the same reasons I don’t like rating systems for movies. I don’t think it’s particularly fair to ascribe a higher value to our opinions simply because we are self-described movie critics — why the hell should you care where we rank something when we probably don’t give a rat’s ass where you’d place Aeon Flux amongst your favorites of 2005?

Whether it’s accurate or not, I like to think of Pajiba not as a film recommendation blog but a place where the five of us can write about the things we love (or love to hate) in the hopes that y’all will get some entertainment value out of the reviews themselves, regardless of your movie-watching intentions; it’s a fortuitous windfall if you just happen to find one (or all) of us to be relatable. For instance, I think that Jeremy is probably one of the best critics on The Internets (or in print), yet I almost always disagree (vehemently) with his reviews; conversely, I tend to agree with Daniel, but he takes an approach markedly different (and usually more cerebral) than my own, and I’m always pleasantly surprised at the things he picks up on.

Still, I understand the fascination with lists; as much as I might detest them, I’ve never met a Top 10 List from which I could look away. If anything, they offer another outlet for my repressed aggression; there is nothing I love more than hurling invective at the self-important smugness of Lisa Schwarzbaum or Roger Ebert for suggesting that King Kong was one of the best movies of the year or that some shitty Italian TV miniseries no one has ever heard of or ever will was the year’s greatest achievement.

So, in furtherance of my own hypocrisy, and without further ado, I offer you my very own Top 10 Movies of 2005, followed by the Worst of the Year. By all means, please agree, disagree, kvetch, or simply find another way to waste the next five minutes of your life.

(Dan, Seth, and Jeremy will be posting their own best and worst-of lists this week as well.)

Top 10 Movies of 2005

1. Cinderella Man — I am no huge fan of boxing movies; Russell Crowe is a giant Hollywood prick; Renee Zellweger is about as appealing as a half-inflated blow-up doll; and Ron Howard is generally hit-or-miss as a movie director. Yet the populist Cinderella Man struck all the right chords for me; there were more important films in 2005 for sure, and certainly more artistic ones, but no movie made me feel as good walking out of the theater as did Cinderella Man, and for me, nothing else matters more.

2. Munich — “The Crumbling Difference between Wrong and Right,” Dan’s headline for Munich, borrowed from Adam Duritz, may be the most appropriate headline Pajiba has ever given a film; when I left Munich, it was that line that resonated loudly and rolled around in my mind for hours. The dichotomy between War of the Worlds and Munich also shows why Sci-Fi Spielberg is still a hack, but when he decides to take on important, weighty issues, Spielberg is one of the best storytellers around.

3. Wedding Crashers — Summer 2005’s latest entry into the resurgent R-rated comedy genre, Wedding Crashers is the best of the bunch and maybe the funniest movie in the last five years. Unfortunately, the success of Crashers can only mean that Vince Vaughn has reached the pinnacle of his movie career; it’s all woefully downhill from here, as he follows Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller into the stable of comedic one-trick ponies.

4. The Squid and the Whale — All the quirk and whimsy of a Wes Anderson film without the controlled, sometimes suffocating directing style, The Squid and the Whale was the best independent film of the year and should provide a much-deserved boost to Jeff Daniels’ career.

5. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang — Like an Elmore Leonard novel set in the 21st century, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is smart, subversive, hilarious, and even a little hard-boiled.

6. Mr. and Mrs. Smith — The best summer “blockbuster” of 2005, Smith proves why Doug Liman is the best action director in Hollywood, taking two attractive people, a mediocre script, and a few broken Pottery Barn dishes and turning it into two hours of full-on kick-assery.

7. Happy Endings — Never mind Brokeback Mountain, Don Roos has been making emotionally involved movies featuring gay characters for years; though not as funny as The Opposite of Sex, Happy Endings is still Roos’ most affecting work to date.

8. Batman Begins — Christopher Nolan revives the Batman franchise, reintroducing the comic book mythology, focusing on the darker side of the superhero, and yet still manages to make Batman Begins accessible to the masses.

9. Junebug — Weird, funny, and emotionally wrenching, Junebug also offers the best performance — male or female — of the year in Amy Adams. It’s also one of the few film reviews this year that fell through the cracks at Pajiba.

10. Syriana & Good Night and Good Luck — I’m not sure who made George Clooney Hollywood’s Seymour Hersh, but he’s one of the very best at making you forget you’re actually watching a movie about important social and political issues.

The Worst (Fucking) Movies 0f 2005

1. Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo — The Greatest Movie of all time, if you’re high on paint fumes.

2. Into the Blue — The ultimate movie vehicle for Jessica Alba’s ass; unbelievably, the traffic at Pajiba doubled the week Into the Blue was released.

3. Fever Pitch — The Farrelly Brothers manage to fuck up one of the greatest sports memoirs of all time. Congratulations.

4. Rebound — So predictably awful, I was actually able to review it without having seen it first.

5. Dukes of Hazzard — Preadolescent porn without all that plot to get in the way; also, the ultimate movie vehicle for Jessica Simpson’s ass.

Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba and managing partner of its parent company, which prefers to remain anonymous for reasons pertaining to public relations. He lives in Ithaca, New York.

The Year of Strange Ass


The Best and Worst Films of 2005 / Dustin Rowles

Miscellaneous | May 13, 2006 | Comments ()



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