And in this corner…

A great movie is one that packs an emotional wallop and makes you want to see it again right away. By those criteria, 2005 was a banner year. Alas, it also had quite a few stinkers.

The best

1. Capote. Breathtaking performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman caps a flawless, chilling look at the cost of literary genius.

2. Crash. Hidden underbellies of racism crash into one another in Los Angeles. Riveting.

3. Lord of War. Nicolas Cage personifies evil in a haunting condemnation of international arms sales and their role in genocide in Africa.

4. Ladies in Lavender. Achingly gentle tale of love and longing in pre-World War II England. Judi Dench is luminous as the older woman who discovers passion for the first time.

5. Brokeback Mountain. Doomed love between two men in Marlboro Country. Robust, heartbreaking portrayals by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.

6. Off the Map. Quirky, unpretentious story of a family off the grid in New Mexico.  Performances of a lifetime for Joan Allen and Sam Elliott.

7. Constant Gardener. Love story/political thriller in the sad, grieving heart of Africa. Extraordinary nuanced performance by Ralph Fiennes.

8. Kung Fu Hustle. Manic, hilarious, wildly imaginative hybrid of Old West, Kung Fu, Bollywood and Keystone Kops. Fun!

9. Millions. An English child’s view of greed, grief and doing good when lots of money falls from the sky. Enchanting.

10. Aeon Flux. Charlize Theron shines in this spectacular, life-affirming female-power fantasy that was misunderstood and wrongly maligned by many.

The worst

1. Match Point. In Woody Allen’s so-called social commentary, a bored husband in London kills his boring mistress and two other innocent people – and his “good” luck lets him get away with it. Vile.

2. The Ice Harvest. Greed, murder and betrayal among low-lifes at Christmastime. Revolting.

3. Sin City. Repulsive nonstop violence and misogyny praised because it has so-called style. Nauseating.

4. The Libertine. Brilliant performance by Johnny Depp can’t redeem this depressing story of dissolute 17th century poet, the Earl of Rochester. Nightmarish.

5. Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie energetically try to kill each another. This is sexy? Ugh. 

6. Prime. Thanks to an unethical therapist, shallow lovers separate. Meryl Streep needs her head examined for starring in this dreck.

7. Monster-in-Law. Jane Fonda should be smacked for her shrewish performance of a hostile, anti-female stereotype. Inexcusable.

8. Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. Tommy Lee Jones takes the decaying body of his friend back to Mexico, and drags along a hapless Border Patrol agent. Remarkably unpleasant.

9. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. Biggest disappointment of the year. An intergalactic snoozer.

10. War of the Worlds. Too many disgusting alien monsters in the last third ruined an otherwise good sci-fi adventure. Exit early.

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