The Best Films Of 2005
10. CapoteDirector Bennett Miller and screenwriter Dan Futterman focus on Truman Capote's determination to write a "nonfiction novel" as a genre-revolutionizing device to elevate himself as a public figure of literary excellence alongside Proust and Tennessee Williams.
9. Hustle & FlowHustle & Flow is a perfect example of an American independent film that boldly embraces its intangible subject and squeezes out sparks from every line of subtext-rich dialogue.
8. Kiss Kiss, Bang BangScreenwriter Shane Black (Lethal Weapon) returns to movies after a long hiatus to make a splashy neo-noir buddy thriller with plenty of laughs and jaw-dropping plot twists. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is a royal cinematic treat.
7. Walk The LineDirector James Mangold does a phenomenal job of celebrating the life and hardships of one of country music's greatest singers with a sincere and powerful movie graced with flawless performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon.
6. Match PointWoody Allen creates an elegant romantic suspense movie that soars by way of Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Scarlett Johansson. Between the London location and his new muse (Scarlett Johansson), Woody Allen has reinvented himself.
5. DownfallDownfall is director Oliver Hirschbiegel's stunning cinematic achievement that illuminates minutiae about the last 10 days of the nefarious German leader who won the hearts of many and destroyed the lives of many more. Most unmistakable in the film's subtext is Hitler's deeply held contempt for his own people. Sound familiar?
4. MunichSteven Spielberg's uncompromising allegory about the way that violence begets violence is a visually arresting and emotionally brutal wake-up call.
3. SyrianaWriter/director Stephen Gaghan's political thriller about the corruption and greed underlying the geopolitical system's myopic focus on oil, is a knockout.
2. North CountryNorth Country subtly links the social injustices against women in the story to the ways in which women are still diminished by corporate domination in American society today. Charlize Theron is magnificent.
1. Good Night And Good LuckWriter/director/actor George Clooney's rigorous movie, about newscaster Edward R. Murrow's public confrontation with Senator Joseph McCarthy when the diabolical senator was ruining lives and careers under a banner of an anti-Communist ideology, presents the audience with a consummate depiction of the media speaking truth to power.
The Worst Films Of 2005
10. Harry Potter And The Goblet Of FireThe movie ticks along like a watch with a dying battery. If "darker" means that it makes you close your eyes for extended periods, then this Harry Potter episode does seem dim.
9. DominoKeira Knightly slums her talents as pretty girl bounty hunter Domino Harvey in director Tony Scott's cartoonish fictionalization of Harvey's unconventional lifestyle. Domino is a steaming pile of green-tinted celluloid.
8. Must Love DogsYou'd think being single was the worst thing in the world based on the way John's (John Cusack) and Sarah's (Diane Lane) friends and family treat them while pushing the disconsolate people into posting and responding to Internet single's ads.
7. The Wedding DateDirector Clare Kilner ended up with the tagline, "Love doesn't come cheap" to describe The Wedding Date even though the movie attempts to disprove the publicity claim by showing that any American bimbo can buy a male prostitute and live happily ever after.
6. Dark WaterThis miserable remake of a 2002 Japanese thriller, about a little devil ghost girl haunting for attention, should put the last nail in the coffin of Hollywood remakes of this played-out horror sub-genre. Esteemed Brazilian director Walter Salles falls flat on his face on his first Hollywood outing.
5. Me And You And Everyone We KnowThis wobbly low-fidelity romantic comedy is filled with distinctly unlikable characters and an unusual amount of child sexuality that further clouds writer/director/actress Miranda July's morally rudderless course.
4. The Talent Given UsThis movie is a sickening hour-and-a-half of one annoying family's navel-gazing dirty laundry.
3. The Devil's RejectsControversial for its gratuitous use of exploitative violence and gore The Devil's Rejects is ultimately unredeemable for its wrongheaded attempt at glamorizing a band of vicious serial killers. It is a fascist piece of neo-conservative filmmaking that should be ignored with a vengeance.
2. Last DaysBoring, self-indulgent and punctuated by Gus Van Sant's trademark homosexual kissing scene.
1. PalindromesTodd Solandz pursues his reprehensible oeuvre as a white representative of Spike Lee's look-at-me cinema of inarticulate exploitation. Palindromes is a sloppy movie that uses the shock value of seeing adult men humping numerous underage girls as a recurring visual device that's inscrutably linked to some vague slant on abortion.
Cole Smithey has been an independent voice of film criticism since 1997.