Friday, January 27, 2006

Batman Begins is SO good... and other 2005 movie notes

I just re-watched "Batman Begins" and I remembered that in 2005 there were two really extraordinary films and this was one of them.

Yes, Brokeback Mountain was amazing and deserves all its acclaim. And it certainly deserves to win best picture and best director, as it probably will.

But how is Batman Begins not nominated for anything except maybe effects? How in the world is Gary Oldman not the front runner for best supporting actor? He gives what I think is far and away the best supporting performance of the year. He creates a Jim Gordon that was never there in other movies or the comics before, yet is so essentially and obviously the Jim Gordon that was always waiting to be there that I'm amazed.

The movie is so well cast (except, OK, maybe Katie Holmes) that if the SAG award for best ensemble was really for best ensemble, instead of a proxy for best picture, I think it would be a no brainer that Batman Begins should win. Everyone is great and, more importantly, perfectly cast in their roles. Especially the supporting characters. Oldman and Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson all bring a real 3-dimensionality to characters who simply never had it before in any medium (save for a few really good comics stories), but they don't change who their characters are.

And ultimately the screenplay and production design are amazing for their realism. This is how Bruce Wayne would become Batman if he were real. This is what the Batcave and Batmobile would look like if they were real. And on and on.

What's particularly awesome about that approach is it doesn't take anything away from previous incarnations. Tim Burton's fantastic film that portrays Batman as the psychopath a man dressed up as a bat might very well be still stands as a distinct and really entertaining interpretation.

My only complain about Batman Begins is that the villainous plot doesn't hold to the reality of the rest of the film. An international conspiracy to bring down cities is, well, kind of ridiculous. But when you want to connect Batman's origin in the Himalayas to a villian in Gotham City, there's just no way to do it smoothly. Batman Begins handles it as best it can and it's easy to forgive nad forget amidst so much greatness.

I suppose I could make a top 10 list of movies, but really, this is what i have to say.

-Awesome movies of 2005: Brokeback Mountain, Batman Begins

-Really good movies of 2005: Pride and Prejudice (the most down to Earth and relatable costume drama ever), In Her Shoes (sweet, involving, and so very much better than anyone would expect thanks to genius director Curtis Hanson), Match Point (a small but incredibly compelling morality tale), Sin City (the purest geek experience ever put on film), The Squid and the Whale (a small story that gets every detail right and perfectly straddles the comedy/tragedy line of real life), The Constant Gardener (a great and tragic thriller even if the politics are a bit simple), and, probably only because it was such a weak year for comedy, The 40 Year-Old Virgin (not a very well made film, but kinda funny and surprisingly compelling and heartwarming, with a shockingly great performance by Steve Carell)

-Most disappointing movies of 2005: The preposterous A History of Violence, the painfully unfunny and inert The Ice Harvest, the meandering The New World, and the wretchedly pretentious and fatuous Crash

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