As 2005 wound down, everyone and their mother issued a top ten list (here's mine) and indieWIRE, once again, issued a tweak to that deluge with its best foreign language film poll ("Kings and Queen" and "2046" were the big winners) and best undistributed list.
The box office was officially down about 5%, blogs took over the mediascape (further allowing for the exploitation of freelance writers), and Hollywood finally got political (though we're going to see the sordid offspring of this trend in 2006 with a series of 9-11-spoitation pics, not to mention Bruce Willis's return in "Die Hard 4: Die Hardest"). We're a little bit closer to digital distribution, collapsing the windows between theatrical and home video releases, Paramount destroyed any claims of art-house cred, as they strive to build a new division that can climb the specialized heights of $50 million in ticket sales, and three new companies, 2929 Entertainment, Picturehouse and the Weinstein Co, began to make a name for themselves in Indiewood.
"Brokeback Mountain," many of us are happy to report, is a cultural event. But unfortunately, so was "The Wedding Crashers," "Crash," "March of the Penguins" and "The Chronicles of Narnia."
If 2006 has any of the subversive political critiques of 2005 (such as "A HIstory of Violence"), it will be another great year for mainstream movies. But I fear that trend has run its course. Will "The Da Vinci Code" have any fangs? Will "X Men 3" -- produced by a conservative Christian -- and Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" take our mass entertainment further to the right?
If anything, I'm looking forward to a big comeback year for Richard Linklater, with "A Scanner Darkly" and "Fast Food Nation" and Steven Soderbergh, with "Bubble" and "The Good German" as well as Alfonso Cuaron ("The Children of Men"), Pedro Almodovar ("Volver"), David Lynch ("Inland Empire"), Todd Haynes ("I'm Not There"), and Darren Aronofsky, who will see if he can survive in Hollywood with his much beleaguered, but anticipated "The Fountain."
And if the buzz from Sundance is to be believed, I'm excited to catch the work of fledgling filmmakers Ryan Fleck ("Half Nelson"), Julian Goldberger ("The Hawk is Dying") and Brian Jun ("Steel City").