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Top 10 Movies of 2005

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2005 was a lousy year for movies. Despite that fact, I managed to pull together the requisite Top 10 list (along with a couple of extras that almost made the cut). Whether a movie was a big budget studio effort or an independent film made for less than some Hollywood players spend throwing parties didn't play a part in my decision process. I'm not a snob - I love the blockbusters and smaller films equally.

Honorable Mentions: "Thumbsucker," "Junebug," "Sin City," and "Heights."

1. "Brokeback Mountain"

It's not like "Brokeback Mountain" needs me to throw my support its way. This film is doing fine without me putting in my two cents. However this movie did more to move me, to make me appreciate the art of filmmaking, than the other hundreds of films I had to sit through in 2005. One of the most beautiful love stories to hit the screen in years, "Brokeback Mountain" is as close to being a perfect film as you can get.

2. "King Kong"

So it's three hours long and there's a good 1/2 hour in it that could have been removed. Who cares? I felt like I'd run up the Empire State Building alongside Kong by the time the credits rolled. My palms were sweaty, I knew the ending going in, and yet Peter Jackson's wondrous remake had me pulling for the big ape despite the fact I knew he wouldn't come through alive. This is one of the few heavily hyped movies of 2005 that didn't wind up being a big disappointment. Thank you Peter Jackson.

3. "Good Night, and Good Luck"

It's important to note that your knowledge of the material on which this film is based doesn't matter. The battle between newsman Edward R Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy springs to life in this impressive, intelligent, passionate film from actor/producer/director George Clooney. Clooney manages not to sermonize while getting his point across. "Good Night, and Good Luck" is a powerful film that ought to be shown in high schools across America.

4. "Capote"

Screenwriter Dan Futterman's script is perfect. This movie only focuses on one specific element of writer Truman Capote's life and by narrowing its focus, "Capote" brilliantly captures one of America's more interesting celebrities. The acting is superb, as is the production design, the cinematography, and the direction. Every budding filmmaker should watch "Capote" for a lesson in how to tell a compelling story sans unnecessary and distracting bells and whistles.

5. "The Constant Gardener"

Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz deliver two of the finest performances of their careers in "The Constant Gardener." This gripping, gritty tale of corruption and corporate greed is hard to ignore and will stay with audiences for months - something you can't say about 99% of today's films.

6. "The Upside of Anger"

Too bad New Line decided to release this movie back in March. Had it been held back from release until October, chances are good it would have wound up on a lot of Top 10 lists and Joan Allen would also be picking up more Best Actress honors. This terrific ensemble piece focuses on a mother and her four daughters tackling life's hardships and growing up while never forgetting how important it is to be a part of a family. Not just for women, "The Upside of Anger" is impossible to resist.

7. "Batman Begins"

I never understood the point of a man dressing himself up like a bat until "Batman Begins." Christopher Nolan took the series back to its origin and in doing so reinvigorated a movie franchise that had been left for dead. And as Batman, Christian Bale made a believer out of this non-comic book fan.

8. "The 40 Year Old Virgin"

I've never laughed as hard at any movie as I did at "The 40 Year Old Virgin." I had to see it twice just to hear the jokes I didn't catch the first time around. Yes, a lot of the humor comes from what I refer to as 'teenage-boy jokes,' but this film also has more heart than the rest of the movies that hit theaters in 2005. Steve Carell proves he can lead a film, and every single person in the supporting cast hits their marks.

9. "Crash"

"Crash" really pushes the envelope, confronting racial stereotypes head-on and never backing away from an opportunity to make a statement against racism. Writer/director Haggis assembled an outstanding cast, including Ryan Phillippe, Matt Dillon, Sandra Bullock, Thandie Newton, Terrence Howard, and Don Cheadle, and put all of his actors through what had to have been some of the most difficult scenes to film in each of their careers.

10. "Rent"

A lot of people really hated this film but frankly I just don't care. "Rent's" cast of colorful characters, bouncy musical numbers, soulful ballads, and flashy dance numbers had me at hello. Maybe I'm just a sucker for movie musicals. I don't know and I don't want to analyze the reason I fell so hard for this particular film.

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