Alexandre Caron’s Best of 2005

Best Films

1) Caché (Michael Haneke)
What a great film, it’s just too good. It will come out on the screens in January, go see it.

2) C.R.A.Z.Y (Jean Marc Vallée)
One of the best films made in Quebec. The casting, the music, the story are perfect.

3) Me and You and Everyone We Know (Miranda July)
Independent American film at its best. Great dialogue.

4) The Constant Gardener (Fernando Meirelles)
Great casting and the cinematography is beautiful.

5) Good Night, and Good Luck. (George Clooney)
What can I say, I like “The George”. But it’s actually very good and David Strathairn is fantastic.

6) Gabrielle (Patrice Chéreau)
Not his best film, but it’s so well done and Isabelle Huppert is so cold and good.

7) De battre mon coeur s’est arrêté (Jacques Audiard)
Not the best film I saw this year, but for the performance of Romain Duris, it’s on my top 10 of the year.

8) 2046 (Wong Kar-Wai)
Not his best, but it’s still a great film done by a great director.

9) Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan)
The best blockbuster movie that I saw in years!!!

10) Melinda and Melinda (Woody Allen)
Will Ferrell in a Woody Allen picture, I love it!!!

Best CDs

1) Rolling stones A Bigger Bang
What can I say, it’s their best record in years, it’s just rockin’. It’s a very big surprise.

2) Martha Wainwright
Love Rufus, Love Martha. They are so different, but her music is beautiful. I’m not tired of listening to her first CD.

3) Bruce Springsteen Devils and Dust
Love Bruce, this is a beautiful record, very simple, but with great lyrics, great music.

4) Sufjan Stevens Illinoise
One of the best surprises of the year, this is so fun to listen, and after seeing him in concert with K, I just love him more. Can’t wait to see him again.

5) Ry Cooder Chavez Ravine
Great project, great songs, and the guitar of Cooder is just amazing.

Special Mention

Neil Diamond 12 songs
What a come back, this is not cheesy, not Vegas style, this is just simple. That album proves that Neil Diamond is one of the best songwriters.

And the most beautiful BoxSet of the year:

Bruce Springsteen Born to Run 30th anniversary
Born to run finally remastered
A DVD of a 1975 show in London
A making of DVD

The best & worst movies of 2005 By Jean-François Tremblay

Top 10

1. A Lot like Love: out of basically nowhere came this romantic gem taken to a superior level by the charming and engaging performances of Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet. A Lot like Love beautifully balances the expectations of a romantic comedy with the mature sensibilities of a sincere drama.

2. Walk the Line: a fabulous film about the life and times of Johnny Cash. Walk the Line is not just an irresistible love story but also a spirited musical showcase. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon are absolutely brilliant and Oscar-worthy in this powerful biopic about the Man in Black.

3. Shopgirl: the quiet grace of Claire Danes’ performance is the driving force of this perceptive film where Jason Schwartzman and Steve Martin are also in fine form in a masterful adaptation of Martin’s novella.

4. The Exorcism of Emily Rose: this is both a very frightening horror movie and a demanding but enthralling courtroom drama, with stellar performances from Tom Wilkinson, Laura Linney and Jennifer Carpenter. A thought-provoking genre effort.

5. Corpse Bride: energetic, funny and touching. Artfully imbued with muted sadness, this film is a real treat for the eyes, ears and heart. Death comes alive in Tim Burton’s latest creation.

6. Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire: this great addition to the franchise juggles exciting magical adventures and nicely observed adolescent concerns with style and a clear understanding of the book’s material. Highlights include the stunning Beauxbatons arrival and the emotional handling of death at Hogwarts.

7. Serenity: for pure entertainment value it ranks as one of the very best films of the year. Jewel Staite (Kaylee) has possibly the funniest line of the year when she says “To hell with this… I’m going to live!!!” with a delightfully over-the-top resolve.

8. Saw II: Jigsaw is back for more deadly moralizing in this gory, inspired horror movie whose shocking ending qualifies as one of the best in the genre’s history, nothing less.

9. Batman Begins: Christian Bale is simply terrific as Batman in this origin story that looks at how the themes of anger, guilt, fear and justice shaped the personality and motives of the Dark Knight. Superior writing, excellent direction and exciting action sequences also make this film a new reference of the superhero genre.

10. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Andrew Adamson’s ambitious film can be appreciated on many levels: as a Christian parable, an enchanting fantasy epic or an old-fashioned love letter to sibling solidarity. Rich themes, magnificent use of computer-generated animation and heartwarming family dynamics: I loved it.

Very honourable mentions go to The Family Stone and Sin City, which came closest to inclusion on the above list. I also want to bring up these especially good films, which one way or another gave me a great time at the movies in 2005: Racing Stripes, Dreamer; Crash (Matt Dillon would be my pick for Best Supporting Actor), The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Coach Carter and King Kong.

Worst 5

1. The Amityville Horror: this assault on our senses is much more annoying than frightening with Ryan Reynolds in full psycho mode, weird behaviour from every character and cheap scare tactics. A wholly unpleasant experience.

2. Stealth: She’s a gorgeous young woman, but even Jessica Biel can’t make up for the outrageous plot and cringe-inducing dialogue of this jingoistic turkey. I felt like using some stealth of my own to disappear from the theater.

3. The Skeleton Key: I was fighting boredom from all the plodding hocus-pocus long before I was shaking my head at the nonsensical, out-of-nowhere final twist.

4. Cry Wolf: Severely lacking in star power (unknown actors can sometimes be a good thing, as in The Blair Witch Project or Open Water, but certainly not here), with stupid stock characters and a very weak twist ending.

5. Unleashed: this bungled attempt at contrasting bizarrely conditioned violence with the humanizing effects of a few gentle souls is mawkish, corny and supremely ridiculous.

2005: A History of Violence

THE TOP TEN FILMS OF THE YEAR according to Kevin L.

01. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg)

02. Melinda and Melinda (Woody Allen)

03. Manderlay (Lars von Trier)

04. Frank Miller’s Sin City (Robert Rodriguez)

05. Me and You and Everyone We Know (Miranda July)

06. Oldboy (Park Chan-wook)

07. Capote (Bennett Miller)

08. Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog)

09. Elizabethtown (Cameron Crowe)

10. Munich (Steven Spielberg)

Terrence Howard in Hustle & Flow

Rachel Weisz in The Constant Gardener

Petit Pow! Pow! Noël and C.R.A.Z.Y.

Batman Begins and War of the Worlds

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and In Her Shoes


1. Coldplay’s X&Y
2. Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Machine
3. Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois
4. Martha Wainwright’s self-titled
5. Monsieur Mono’s Pleurer la mer morte

NEXT PAGE: Every 2005 film I’ve seen, ranked and graded
THEN: Jean-François Tremblay’s Best & Worst lists
ALSO: Alexandre Caron’s Best Films and CDs
AND: Jean Carlo Lavoie’s Favorite Movies of 2005

THE TOP TEN FILMS OF 2004 according to Alexandre Caron

01. La meglio Gioventù (the best of our youth part 1 and 2)
Finally a good italian film without all the stereotypes. The story is simple, we follow two brothers and their family during a 40 year period. The film is 6 hours long, but at the end, we wanted more.

02. Kill Bill Vol. 2
For David Carradine and the magic touch of Quentin Tarantino.

03. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The story, the dialogue and the cast are very good. It’s just a very good film to watch.

04. Non ti muovere (Don’t move)
The best film a saw at the Montreal film festival this year. Penelope Cruz and Sergio Castellito make a great couple on screen. Let’s mention the performance by Cruz and her physical transformation.

05. Before Sunset
Again, great couple on the screen. Great dialogue, great acting and short and sweet.

06. Shaun of the dead
Good thing we have the British to make us laugh so much!

07. Vera Drake
Vera Drake is such a great character, we love her so much. And again, it’s simple, the cast is amazing, It’s a very nice film.

08. Collateral
I like Michael Mann a lot, but i did’nt like his film before “Collateral”, “Ali”. But “Collateral” puts Mann back on the map. This action film is very good, and Jamie Foxx and Cruise are doing a great job.

09. Sideways
Again, great dialogue, great story and a good cast.

10. The Aviator
Not the best film of Scorsese, but he’s still a great storyteller and a great director.

SPECIAL MENTION: I Heart Huckabees

Best Ensemble: La meglio Gioventu

Best supporting Actor: David Carradine

Best Actor: Paul Giamatti

Best actress: Imelda Staunton

Best supporting actress: Kate Winslet

Best CDs

Marianne Faithfull, Before the Poison
Nick Cave and the bad seeds, Abattoir Blues/Lyre of orpheus
Rufus Wainwright, Want two
Tom Waits, Real Gone
Wilco, A ghost is born
Arcade Fire, Funeral

2004’s Best & Worst by Jean-François Tremblay

1. Spider-Man 2 (Sam Raimi): as thrilling for its love story as for its chronicle of a superhero’s inner and outer struggles, this is a shining example of vintage Sam Raimi filmmaking. Working from a great script, Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire do a fantastic job of navigating their characters’ emotions.
2. Hellboy (Guillermo del Toro): I’m a sucker for quotes like this one: “Hey you on the other side (Hell)…let her go, because for her… for her I’ll cross over… and then you’ll be sorry.” A wildly entertaining adaptation of a most interesting comic book.
3. The Blue Butterfly (Léa Pool): a truly engaging story about the pursuit of dreams that’s also a beautifully shot presentation of the colorful insects and butterflies of the rainforest.
4. Open Water (Chris Kentis): an unblinking tale about helplessness and the deep-seated fears that arise when events spiral way beyond our control.
5. Finding Neverland (Marc Forster): what a beautifully thoughtful film. The perfectly restrained performances of Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet anchor a finely detailed portrait of life and death framed by one man’s creative endeavor.
6. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (Kerry Conran): a visual masterpiece that’s full of surprises, this retro sci-fi adventure makes you feel like you’re on an exciting trip to undiscovered locales.
7. The Chronicles of Riddick (David Twohy): it’s great to look at, it has an interesting and well-developed mythology and it features a great role for Vin Diesel. I was honestly surprised it didn’t do better.
8. Secret Window (David Koepp): this excellent psychological thriller makes the most of its strong supporting performances and wraps up with a masterful finale.
9. Anchorman (Adam McKay): What happens to Baxter the dog, and his side-splitting triumphant return, was some of the funniest stuff I’ve ever seen. Add Will Ferrell at his best and some hilarious sight gags and you have the funniest movie of the year.
10. The Punisher (Jonathan Hensleigh): a terrific journey to the potential darkness of the human heart, this slice of vigilante justice features a strong performance by Thomas Jane and a really cool voice-over closing statement by the title character.

Honorable mentions

Everything about the charming Les Aimants, plus the powerful finish of Friday Night Lights, the originality of Napoleon Dynamite, the sharp writing of Mean Girls, the romance and cinematography of The Notebook, the energy of The Incredibles, the banter and sweetness of Wimbledon, the frenzied pace of Cellular, the many great laughs of Team America and Dodgeball as well as the costumes of Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale in Van Helsing..

Worst 5

1. Catwoman: a dismal failure on virtually every level, notably the mystical “island of the cats” scene where Patience becomes Catwoman and the utter lack of believable interaction between Halle Berry and Benjamin Bratt.
2. The Village: M. Night Shyamalan’s latest was a huge disappointment, a poor metaphor for insular fears of the big, bad outside world that belabors its point with irritating gravity.
3. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events: a vaguely surrealistic, thoroughly boring and emotionally remote dud with a rarely more annoying Jim Carrey.
4. After the Sunset: this is a movie with no real beginning, not much development beyond yet another one of those ridiculously hi-tech diamond heist and no ending to speak of. It just plays itself out in all-embracing irrelevance.
5. Christmas with the Kranks: Jamie Lee Curtis’ shrieking and overacting takes the cake from a wide selection of truly bad elements, starting with the awful characterizations and moronic plot twists.

By Jean-François Tremblay

2004: The Year of the Lohan


01. Vol. 2 (Quentin Tarantino)
This “kung-fu samurai Spaghetti Western love story” is filled with everything that makes cinema so intoxicating, and I consider Uma Thurman and David Carradine to be one of the all-time great screen couples.

02. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry)
Would you rather forget it all than remember love but also the pain that comes with it? Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are another great screen couple, and the way their most touching romance goes all sci-fi and surreal is undeniably memorable.

03. House of Flying Daggers (Zhang Yimou)
Zhang Zhiyi and Takeshi Kaneshiro are another screen couple for the ages (whoa, developing a pattern there…), even if their love story is hidden under much eye candy and breathtaking martial arts mayhem.

04. Team America: World Police (Trey Parker)
The best Bruckheimer flick he’s never made, with hilarious songs, hot puppet sex and celebrity cameos thrown into the mix. And then there’s that “South Park” brand of satire, as incisive as it can be juvenile.

05. Les Aimants (Yves Pelletier)
Juggling Vermeer paintings, Theremin music, Harlequin novels and ideas about synchronicity and magnetism, this romantic comedy is the most inspired and inspiring French Canadian film since “Léolo”.

06. Before Sunset (Richard Linklater)
Who knew watching two people talk while walking around could be so fascinating? It is when they have as much chemistry as Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke and when the screenplay subtly but effectively builds up to an amazingly satisfying payoff.

07. Tarnation (Jonathan Caouette)
Not fiction but not quite a documentary, this experimental autobiography overflows with sights and sounds but somehow remains emotionally focused. It’s hard to describe, but it definitely has to be experienced.

08. Mar adentro (Alejandro Amenábar)
Much has been made of how Javier Bardem extraordinarily commands the screen even if his character is paralysed in bed, and with good reason, but the whole ensemble cast is engaging and the film as a whole is thought-provoking and moving.

9. Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright)
There were other great romantic comedies this year, but how many had zombies in them? And while gore can be its own reward, it’s much cooler when it’s part of a well written, well directed flick that’s as witty as it is thrilling.

10. Sideways (Alexander Payne)
The little movie that could. Liked it the first time, loved it when I watched it again, then it won just about every critics award, which is a bit much but still, it has stuck with me, like the warmth of a bellyful of wine.

BEST ACTOR – Will Ferrell in Anchorman

BEST ACTRESS – Bryce Dallas Howard in The Village

BEST DOCUMENTARY – Touching the Void

The Passion of the Christ and Fahrenheit 9/11

BEST DVD – The Office Special

The Girl Next Door
Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
Mean Girls, and the Lohan‘s off-screen achievements as a whole

BEST TV SHOW – The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

1. Brian Wilson’s “Smile”
2. Rufus Wainwright’s “Want Two”
3. Jorane’s “Évapore” & “The You and the Now”
4. Les Cowboys Fringants’s “La grand-messe”
5. Rachael Yamagata’s “Happenstance”

Avril Lavigne’s “Under my Skin” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway”

Updated (April ’05)
How the hell did I miss out on The Arcade Fire’s “Funeral” and Green Day’s “American Idiot”? No retrospective of 2004 music is complete without those two brilliant LPs.

NEXT PAGE: Every 2004 film I’ve seen, ranked and graded
ALSO: Alexandre Caron’s Top 10
AND: Jean-François Tremblay’s list!

Retrospective — 2001

The Website
Norm @ the Movies (defunct)
Yet another redesign, otherwise more of the same, better.

The Movies

Audiences got their adrenaline pumped up by The Fast and the Furious and The Gift, they got their bones tickled by Legally Blonde, Shrek, Shallow Hal and Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, and they got their minds fucked with by David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr..

I had some problems with the latter, but it’s well worth seeing anyway, as are the flawed but still pretty Crom-damned great The Royal Tenembaums, Sexy Beast, The Man Who Wasn’t There, O and Made. In a more mainstream vein, Amelie and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone were also not as good as they could have been but still worth checking out.

The Oscars rewarded the okay-but-certainly-not-award-worthy A Beautiful Mind but they also had the good sense to finally give African-American actors their time in the spotlight, with deserved wins by Denzel Washington for Training Day and Halle Berry for Monster’s Ball. Unfortunately, the masterpiece de la trash Citizen Toxie went home empty-handed.

My Top Ten:

05. OCEAN’S 11 92
09. MEMENTO 90

The rest of my life

I spent a week in Miami (furthest away from home I’ve ever gone), went to Tdot to see Tori again, and was stunned like the rest of the world by the September 11 attacks. Life went on, thankfully.

NEXT: 2002

( previously: 1998 / 1999 / 2000 )

Retrospective — 2002

1- SIGNS 94
It doesn’t get more riveting and emotionally affecting than this superbly crafted thriller.

If there’s ever been a more action-packed and exhilarating epic that still managed to stay close to its characters, I’ve yet to see it.

Bursting with light, sound and color, utterly unpredictable, heartfelt and beautiful.

4- Oui, mais… 93
Émilie Dequenne is absolutely wonderful as a young woman coming into her own in this consistently witty and insightful comedy.

5- Minority Report 93
6- Catch Me If You Can 91
Between the brilliant sci-fi and relentless invention of “Minority Report” and the irresistible wit and charisma of Leonardo Dicaprio in “Catch Me If You Can”, Steven Spielberg movies haven’t been this fun since the early ‘80s.

7- Y Tu Mama Tambien 91
The joy of life, friendship and sex, all in a movie both irreverent and inspiring.

8- Moonlight Mile 90
Characters we care about, a difficult but truthful message and assured direction. Not a false note.

9- Standing in the Shadows of Motown 90
A wildly fun, surprisingly affecting documentary about the biggest hit-making band in pop music history.

10- Irréversible 90
Nearly unwatchable at first, it eventually reveals light and beauty beyond hell.

Unofficial 11th pick (added 01/14/03): The Hours 92
This is what happens when studios release movies at the furthest of the year-end’s rear end. Stephen Daldry’s devastatingly moving film would have placed above if I’d been able to actually see it in 2002. In any case, it’s a great picture not to be missed.

Would have made the Top 5 had I seen it during the calendar year (added 04/07/03): Roger Dodger 93

And Then…

The final shot of Heaven, the nail-biting third act of The Sum of all Fears, the poetic beauty of Le Peuple Migrateur, how Antwone Fisher made me cry almost for an hour straight, Ludivine Sagnier’s song-and-dance number in 8 Femmes, Peter Parker getting used to his powers as Spider-Man, the chemistry between Nicolas Cage and Nicolas Cage in Adaptation, Eminem’s final rap-off in 8 Mile, the delightfully old fashioned art direction and score of Far From Heaven, the exotic giddiness of Monsoon Wedding, Robin Williams’ chilling work in One Hour Photo and Insomnia, Michael Moore’s culture-of-fear exposé in Bowling for Columbine, Steve and Dean shotgunning beers in FUBAR, the use of animated sequences in The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, and Mike Myers making us forget he’s playing half the characters in Austin Powers in Goldmember.

The rest of my life
I changed jobs (twice), saw Tori in concert (again) and I went to New York to see Baz Luhrmann’s “La Bohème” with the Cinemarati Roundtable bunch.

( previously: 1998 / 1999 / 2000 / 2001)

Retrospective — 1999


The Website
Norm @ the Movies (Norm is what most of my friends call me; it’s a long story) (defunct)
Website still half-assed, but reviews getting better-
at least the Online Film Critics Society seems to think so, as they accept me into their ranks.

The Movies

We laughed with horny teenagers in The Wood and American Pie and all-out spoofs like and The Spy Who Shagged Me and Bowfinger. A lot of people resented overblown popcorn flicks like Star Wars- Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, Wild Wild West and The Mummy, but I found them harmless and entertaining enough even though they obviously pale in comparison to something as visionary as The Matrix. M. Night Shyamalan became a household name (sort of) with the very influential The Sixth Sense (a more potent horror film than the overhyped Blair Witch Project) while Tom Tykwer blew the roof off arthouses with Run Lola Run and David O. Russell deconstructed war flicks and action comedies in Three Kings (which feels even more actual now that we went through another war with Iraq).

There were also thought-provoking pictures about sex (Eyes Wide Shut), religion (Dogma) and life on the edge (Bringing Out the Dead). In a more traditional, “Oscary” vein, audiences enjoyed The Insider, The Green Mile and The Cider House Rules. Last but not least, there were some great guilty pleasures, notably Cruel Intentions and Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo.

Considering that none of the movies mentioned above made my Top Ten, it’s clear that 1999 was the best film year in recent memory.

Here’s what did make
My Top Ten:

01. MAGNOLIA 100
10. SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT 94 yeah, in retrospect this should have placed higher– it’s grown into one of my favorites.

The rest of my life
I read most of Réjean Ducharme’s books, moved out of my folks’ house, graduated from film school, worked a few months at the Paramount multiplex then quit after the anti-establishment one/two punch of American Beauty and Fight Club.

NEXT: 2000

( previously: 1998 )