Zombie Vs. the Auteurs: To be honest, my 2005 Top Ten makes me feel like a real asshole. So many of these films are relatively obscure, things that have only played on the festival circuit, by and large. Even though the majority of my (scant scant) readership wanders through said circuit themselves, I do recognize that there are others who, like me, live in the Middle of Nowhere, but unlike me mainly see movies in commercial release or home video. I always wonder, what possible use could a site like mine be to folks who are, geographically at least, in the same boat as me, trapped in (Your Town Here) with Capote still holding down one of the only "art" screens for miles? This year my Top Ten pushes this "problem" (is it really? still don't know) to a point past credulity. I even had Wong Kar-wai's 2046 as my #1 for half the year, and then dropped it after a disheartening second viewing. Sort of makes me look like one of those pretentious small-town boys with big, ill-fated city-fied dreams. Shut the fuck up, me.

But then again, not much I saw this year compared with Land of the Dead, a monster movie that opened in multiplexes the world over. I recall seeing it at the Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, NY (a middle-class Syracuse suburb), getting out in the snow to catch one of the last showings, and just sitting there thinking, "Here I am, in DeWitt, NY (a middle-class Syracuse suburb) seeing the work of a master filmmaker, watching him hit nary a wrong note aesthetically, not to mention hitting it out of the park politically. This makes no sense. This shouldn't be happening." But it did, and that perhaps means that the "termite" system that Manny Farber wrote about might still be in effect, even if and especially when it's driven even deeper underground.

And by the way, since the U.S. is no longer part of the reality-based community (and this is a major part of what Romero's trying to get across), I've decided to counterfactually revise history. In 2005, Land of the Dead played in Competition at Cannes, and Sin City did not. Oh, and look out for those WMDs!

Anyway, there were a lot of other films in 2005 that I liked pretty well, ones that actually played in American movie houses, that paying customers were able to see in their hometown metropoli. They just didn't win me over as completely as these relative-obscurities did. (More on that later.) But hey, there's still hope in 2006 that some enterprising company might give the Sokurov or the Hong Sang-soo a proper release. (I wouldn't hold your breath for the Kitano, though. Import DVD's your best bet there.)

Prediction for 2006: Marie-Antoinette, 8/10. Populism ahoy!