A Decade In Films – Why ‘The Constant Gardener’ Was The Best Film Of 2005

After the joyous movie orgy of 2004, 2005 was always going to be a bit of a letdown. Yeah it contained some worthy films but most were just that, worthy. Well made, well acted, well put together but nothing to really get your blood pumping, nothing that really deserves being put on your name badge if you work for a well-known multiplex.


But there were still some great blockbusters, thoughtful indies and two, yes two, films starring Natalie Portman. So it wasn’t all that bad.

After ‘The Matrix’ eclipsed ‘Phantom Menace’, and ‘Spider-Man’ took a big silky poo on ‘Attack Of The Clones’ this year it was Batman who spoilt Lucas’s party. While ‘Revenge Of The Sith’ finally delivered on the promise of Anakin’s journey to the dark side (i.e. what all 3 films should have been about) the geeks had a new man in a suit to look up to. While the climax of ‘Batman Begins’ had a fairly rushed feel to it, as the audience eargerly awaited a real Villain, it had more than enough to reboot a franchise once thought as dead as Chris O’Donnell’s career.


Awards season was a big letdown as always, as the quite excellent ‘Brokeback Mountain’ (stop sniggering at the back) was triumphed by the ludicrous ‘Crash’, a film as pointless as Nick Griffin’s larynx. It’s sole statement of intent seemed to be Paul Haggis shouting “Everyone’s a big fat rascist except me, because I made a movie about racism”. I will say that the bit with the bullet and the little girl kind of shat me up though.

Paul Haggis did have a hand in one good film in 2005, ‘Million Dollar Baby’. It sickens me to praise him because I hate Paul Haggis. Thankfully I love Clint Eastwood. The only filmmaker who seems to care about the Second Act in a movie (okay and Fincher) Eastwood’s desire to get the audience to really connect with his characters is, dare I say it, his knockout move.

While a million pricks crying MAAATTTT DAAAAMMOOON may have put a few years on its longevity, ‘Team America’ still stands up as one of the funniest films of the decade and ‘Sideways’ was so wonderful it’s the kind of film that actually makes you feel drunk, and that’s not shit wordplay like the piss poor ‘knockout’ gag earlier, it actually does make you feel drunk, such is its brilliance.

As for keeping the British end up, ‘The Descent’ was cracking horror, ‘Pride And Prejudice’ was far more cracking than it should have been and ‘Wallace and Gromit’ was cracking enough to justify me using the word ‘cracking’ three times in one sentence.

My Film Of The Year

As stated in the opening paragraph (what is this, a fucking essay?), 2005 failed to deliver enough notable films that you could truly hold to your heart. The filmmaking talent on display was laudable (‘Million Dollar Baby’ and ‘Sideways’ are excellent films) but not many films had that ‘Owen thing’ (i.e. about love and usually obsessed with death). Luckily one pulled through.


On paper it doesn’t have a lot going for it. Based on a novel by some old duffer, featuring that bloke who can’t smile and that posh one from ‘The Mummy’ and spouting more left-wing propoganda than a thousand Guardian subscribers, ‘The Constant Gardener’ still managed to excel.


And it excelled for two reasons. One, the love story between Justin and Tessa was brilliantly observed. Throughout the film the mystery of why these two people are together and whether or not she loves him is as well played as the mystery of what happened to Tess.

Secondly, for a suspense thriller the suspense is given high priority. It contains action sequences that would shame a Bourne film giving a life or death edge to everything Justin does. That the films director is none other than ‘City Of God’ supremo Fernando Meirelles should give some indication that this isn’t your average love concurs all tale. Instead it’s a testament to what one man in love can do.

It’s a fairly shameful way to judge a movie, but if I’m left with gloopy snot and salty tears running down my cheeks then a film has usually done it’s job. Congratulations then to ‘The Constant Gardener’ for turning me into a big girl.

A Decade In Films – 2004
A Decade In Films – 2003
A Decade In Films – 2002
A Decade In Films – 2001
A Decade In Films – 2000

Thoughts, etc. Comment below.