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Best or bust: the year in review


Maybe it's just me, but 2005 seemed like a really mediocre year for movies. As a matter of fact, when charged with making a Top Ten list, my mind went completely blank trying to think of films that I especially dug (except for Number 1). So compiling a Best of the Year was more difficult than expected, though coming up with the Bottom Five was like shooting fish in a barrel.

For your consideration, and in no particular order (except, again, for Number 1):

1. Brokeback Mountain: I'm a hardcore sucker for movies about people who want to be together but outside forces prevent them from doing so, and shapeshifterAng Lee's gorgeous heartbreaker about the forbidden love between two cowboys, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, is never far from my thoughts (and it left eyeliner everywhere but my eyes). Let the inevitable backlash begin...

2. The 40-Year-Old Virgin: Screamingly funny and surprisingly big-hearted, and I apologize to the guy I bitched out for complaining about missing the closing credits. Apparently they were a hoot.

3. The Squid and the Whale: Jeff Daniels rocks in Noah Baumbach's dark comedy that finally does divorce right.

4. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: A crackerjack film noir in which grizzled vets Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer come back and show the whippersnappers how it's done, but its release was frustratingly mishandled by its distributor.

5. Millions: I've gushed about this lovely film so much that you'd think I had a stake in the take. It's just a movie about a kid with an unflagging belief in the good of mankind despite all evidence to the contrary. And I dare you not to cry when St. Maureen shows up.

6. 2046: Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai is the master of unrequited love, and this futuristic and retro romance proves once and for all that no one illustrates the prison of yearning more beautifully than he does.

7. Tell Them Who You Are: Celebrated cinematographer Haskell Wexler finds himself in front of the camera in this warts-and-all documentary by his son that exorcises demons on both sides.

8. Nobody Knows: Depressing Japanese tale of four kids left to fend for themselves by their mother. An astounding performance by 14-year-old YuyaYagira, who literally grows up in front of the camera.

9. The Constant Gardener: Another bummer of a film but exceedingly well-done by Ralph Fiennes (please don't leave us again) and filmmaker Fernando Meirelles, who shows us that the gobsmackingCity of God was no fluke.

10-ish.The New World: Okay, I haven't actually seen it yet, but I love filmmaker Terrence Malick and just know that his drama about Captain John Smith and the settlement of the Jamestown colony will not only meet but exceed my already high expectations. Goes wide January 13.

Honorable Mention: Good Night and Good Luck, Incident at LochNess, Pride & Prejudice, Shopgirl, Wallace& Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, The Wedding Crashers

The Bottom Five, in which I don't waste your time:

1. Domino: Brainless.

2. The Brothers Grimm: Disappointing.

3. Bewitched: Awful.

4. Les Choristes: Insulting.

5. The Pacifier: Dumb.