So 2005 was a very interesting year for me. It started in snowy Baltimore, Maryland, but ended in sunny Los Angeles, California (well, it rained on New Years, but you get the idea). In February, I quit my job and drove cross country to begin the endeavor of a lifetime.

Watching movies has been my career for the past five years. From February to June of the past year, I wasn’t able to catch too many films due to the fact that I didn’t have the money to spend $15 on movies I knew I could rent for $4. So, with this being my review of the best films of 2005, you’ll notice there’s a few titles missing that probably should be there. However, I saw enough good and bad films to make a nice little list of what made 2005 one year I’ll never forget!

Last January was one of the worst months of film releases in the history of filmmaking. There were, however, some movies that I enjoyed.

Let’s go with a few titles that I saw that just didn’t make the grade: We’ll start with Ice Cube in Are We There Yet? Common, this movie was just plain bad, boring, and shouldn’t have been made. This was one of the worst films of the year, I called that in January and it held up throughout 2005. I spoke with Ice Cube about this film; boy, I can remember how much he didn’t want to even talk about the film and talk about the new hip hop album he was producing.

Another movie that was a paycheck waiting to happen was Racing Stripes. A zebra who thought he was a race horse – voicing talents included Frankie Muniz and Mandy Moore, and live actors were Bruce Greenwood and Hayden Panettiere. Just a complete disaster of a film: dumb, dumb, dumb.

I won’t even mention Elektra; I’ll just say that the only time I heard any kind of audience reaction during the movie was with a girl on girl kiss. Ok, that was the best part of the film, that’s just sad.

January did have three decent films I saw which still make it into my list. Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson, and Dennis Quaid starred in In Good Company, which, to me, was a great film! I really liked the chemistry between Topher and Scarlett, and it really had a good message to it at the end. What was nice to see was a breakout from the comedy styles of That 70’s Show for Topher into a serious role; I was very impressed.

Assault on Precinct 13 also made a nice impression on me for a good action flick! The movie wasn’t fantastic, outstanding, or award-winning, but it was good enough to make it into my list of films that shouldn’t have been released in January. Great action, awesome death scenes, and comic relief from John Leguizamo were reasons for you to go out and rent this film!

But one film stood out as one of the most inspirational pieces of cinema I’ve ever seen, Coach Carter starring Samuel L. Jackson. Based on a true story, Sam is a high school basketball coach who cared more about his player’s grades than how many wins they put on the board. I’ll admit I cry at movies, but this was a film that made such an impression on me that I cried. It’s an amazing movie, with a fantastic message; it’s what I wish more high school coaches should be doing.

That was January; February is a blur, but I did recently see Hitch on DVD; good enough to rent, but a waste to pay to see in the theater – I’m glad I waited. From what I’ve heard from other people, Son of the Mask made it into the ‘never should have been made’ category.

Animated films took a short dive down this year with Robots. There was too much of Robin Williams being Robin Williams, and not enough story or plot or a story or plot; a lot of nothing thrown in the middle of ok animation. As I’m writing this, I’m thinking back to the fact that I chose to see this film – boy, what a mistake that was.

March also included "Miss Congeniality 2", which I actually enjoyed. I know, I know; it was pretty cheesy, but I liked it. I thought it had a nice blend of comedy and story, plus I’m a huge Sandra Bullock fan (I’m probably one of the only people not to fault her for doing Speed 2: Cruise Control – a paycheck is a paycheck).

In April, only one movie made an impact on what movies should be like. Sin City should be a film class by itself. Robert Rodriguez should be given an award for what he put on the big screen! It was fantastic, and a brilliant piece of filmmaking!

I’ll skip ahead to June and Batman Begins; I’m probably one of very few people who really didn’t like this film. I thought Christian Bale did an excellent job, but I just didn’t like it. Yes, I realize I’ve praised "Miss Congeniality 2" and put down Batman Begins, but such is life.

Disney happened to make a mistake with the re-issue of the Herbie series; Lindsay Lohan took on NASCAR with the special car. What a waste of a film – yep, that’ll go in that category.

Normally, most summer seasons don’t have as many movies to make a profit as this past year. Johnny Depp continued his success with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; his performance as Willy Wonka helped Warner Brothers to one of their most successful seasons they’ve had. I thought this film was fantastic!

The laughing didn’t stop during the summer thanks to two films which are some of the funniest films ever! Wedding Crashers and The 40 Year Old Virgin had non-stop laughs. If you haven’t seen these two films, you HAVE TO rent them. You will have tears in your eyes from laughing so much!

Wes Craven didn’t have that good of a year; nope, 2005 was not kind to him. Early in the year, he tanked with Cursed, and then later in the year, he had a disaster of a thriller with Red Eye. This film could have been good, but Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy should have never left the plane. A bad movie, with a bad ending.

With the year coming to a close, 2005 saw some of the best films of the year released, and I do mean Oscar contenders. New Line Cinema started the season with A History of Violence; amazing film, really made you think about your life and some people you know or used to know. The film was gripping, intense, and cast extremely well!

I was lucky enough to attend the Toronto Film Festival this year. Getting to see Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote was worth the trip to Toronto itself. He was incredible in the role of Truman Capote; the movie wasn’t one of my favorites, but his performance should be recognized at Oscar time.

Also up in Toronto, I met Shirley MacLaine for In Her Shoes; I thought that movie was pretty good. I mention Shirley because of the confrontation we had in a discussion about the books she writes.

A film very close to my heart is Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown; a story about life, and the journey one person took to find out who he was. After meeting Cameron, and hearing him talk about it made me like the film even more. If you’ve ever wondered who you really are as a person, check out this film; unfortunately, you’ll have to rent it on DVD when it comes out since it didn’t make that much of an impact in the theaters.

One of the worst films I’ve ever seen ever was released towards the end of 2005. Doom was doomed before it was even released; think about it, it took almost 10 years to get the script and went through five different hands before someone thought it was worth making. This movie was just awful; there was nothing redeemable about anything to do with this piece of trash.

Ok, the end of the year wasn’t that bad; there were some of my Oscar picks for best films that came out in the last few months. Jaoquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon starred in Walk the Line, the story of the life of Johnny Cash. I’ll just say this was a fantastic film and if you can still catch it in the theater, check it out! If you have to wait for the DVD release, rent it or buy it!

Woody Allen made his return to the big screen with Match Point starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Scarlett Johansson. This was no doubt one of the best films of the year! Great intensity and luck – go see the film, and you’ll know what that means.

Forget James Bond, Pierce Brosnan played a hit man in The Matador. Recruiting Greg Kinnear for a ‘final job,’ Pierce puts on a great performance in the Weinstein Company comedy!

To close out 2005, I happen to see a screening of The Weinstein Company’s first animated film, Hoodwinked. This is one of the best computer animation I’ve seen in a long time! And the story isn’t bad either. It’s a twisted look at the tale of Little Red Riding Hood with the voices of Anne Hathaway, Glenn Close, Patrick Warburton, Andy Dick, and Jim Belushi. There are some really funny scenes, and once again fantastic animation! Look for this film in theaters soon.

All in all, 2005 was one of the best years of my life; maybe not the best years for the film industry or the theater industry.

So, here we go, in no particular order of my favorite, but my list of best films of 2005:

I know there are a few films in each list missing, and some of you might disagree with me. And, of course, I didn’t see a lot of the best and worst of this year, so think what you will. In a couple weeks, we’ll find out if some of my selections make it into the Oscars.

Let’s see if 2006 can make up for some mistakes from the past year, and equal some great movies in 2005. Happy New Year everyone!

Brian B.