2005 – movies

Before recent events overtook my life for a while I was thinking about going through some of my ‘best of the year’ type of thing for 2005, so belatedly here are a few selections.


The Edinburgh International Film Festival was, as usual, one of my standout movie events of the year. It was also the first week off I had taken in my new job (which I will need to stop referring to as ‘new’ since next week will mark my first full year at FPI) and I used my Cineworld pass to get plenty of special prices deals for the Film Fest.

Absolutely bowled over with the screening of MirrorMask, which just oozed charm, imagination and style on a budget, unbelievably of around £2 million, but then again it did come from one of my favourite collaborative teams of Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman. The Film Fest screening had Dave himself there to talk after the movie which was a huge bonus. Still think Sony are idiots for not giving it a proper release (eventually limited in the US and some form of limited UK release to come). The DVD comes out soon in the US and I was tempted to order it as an import, but a warning on Amazon states that some Sony DVDs have software on them to inhibit playing on a multi-region machine, so perhaps I’ll wait.

Looking back at my August entry the other movie which most impressed me at the Film Festival was a little British fantasy gem from half a century ago, part of the Powell retrospective, A Matter of Life and Death with an impossibly young David Niven as the Lancaster pilot. I’ve watched this most unusual movie of the war, love, life and the afterlife on TV before but never on the big screen. In a quite beautiful moment a surprise guest was brought forward before the screening, Mr Jack Cardiff, the man who had actually lensed the film half a century ago and had worked on more of the most gorgeous films, British or otherwise, of that period, including The Red Shoes -a quite magical moment before a magical film.

I still swear that Jack became younger as he talked about these films; perhaps the luminous beauty and spirit of them rejuvenated him or perhaps it was the fact that he was standing in front of a sell-out audience at the biggest arts festival in the world and these folks had all come to see a movie he had shot 50 years before. In a related story, Moira Shearer, the actress and ballerina who played the main role in the Red Shoes passed away only last week at the age of 80. She was utterly enchanting in that movie and if you ever get a chance to see it on the big screen, grab it.

It seems unlikely that a film of marionettes would be one of my favourite movie experiences of 2005, but Strings entangled me in a web of breathtaking artistry, beauty and enchantment. Years to make and taking an army of puppeteers, it was one of the most unusual and utterly ravishing films I’ve seen in a long time and one I really need to get myself on DVD at some point. My ramblings about it are back here in May’s archive.

Actually 2005 was a good year for more traditional forms of animation, from the puppetry of Strings to the wonder of Miyazaki with Howl’s Moving Castle and of course our own Aardman Animation with a feature length Wallace and Gromit movie, both of which go straight into my favourite films of 2005 (can Miyazaki do any wrong?).

The Rage In Placid Lake was a very quirky, cool, weird little Indy movie from Australia, a nice take on the old adage of kids usually growing up to be the opposite of their parents (the part where his hippy parents are shocked at their son taking on an ordinary office job is terrific). And I almost forgot about Pierre Jeunet’s A Very Long Engagement, which, along with Audrey Tautou’s magnificent smile, cheered me up last January when I was unemployed and feeling less than on top of the world.

I’m sure I’m missing something out there that I meant to put in, but that’s always the way with these sorts of things, isn’t it? Rather than go into them here I’ve tried to put some links into what I wrote at the time about them. I’ll need to think on some of my best book picks from last year for a future article. Feel free to add your own personal favourite films from last year (at which point I‘ll probably realise some of the movies I missed out).