Our Favorite Pictures of 2005

Media Matters Reviewers Pick Pre-Oscar Favorites

When I asked each of our Media Matters reviewers to submit their “Top Ten Films” for 2005, collectively they first came up with a list of 26 “must-be-on-the-list” movies! They included some family-oriented or popular pictures, some of which probably won’t rate a mention on Oscar night.

But in trying to whittle down their picks, to 10 for you to vote on in our new web site poll (see home page for Media Matters,) I could only conclude, it must have not been a bad year for movies.

Here are three of our Media Matters reviewers’ top five picks and their reasons why, each in alphabetical order:

Steve Carpenter’s personal favorites.

Crash – Systemic racism is a huge, but largely ignored, problem in America (ignored at least by the white majority). Crash tackles this complex issue head on. As the title suggests, the film was intended to wallop an emotional impact. It deliveres.

March of the Penguins – it’s hard to imagine the physical danger and adversity the French film crew endured to bring us this remarkable, heartwarming tale of emperor penguins. If you haven’t already, see it.

Narnia – Many of us enjoyed the book series as children, and then reveled in reading them to our own kids. This movie version is true to the written tale. The child actors are exceptional while its visual effects delight.

Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith – in itself this was not an exceptional film. Nonetheless, it completes George Lucas’ epic tale, begun in 1977, about a “galaxy far, far away.” It is important because it finishes the saga and reveals the mystery of one of the greatest screen villains of all time – Darth Vader. Viewers will still be watching the Star Wars series long after most of the other films of 2005 are long forgotten.

Walk the Line – Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix deliver the best performances of their acting careers, vividly portraying Johnny and June Carter Cash. This film will make you a fan of “the man in black.”

My best films of 2005
By Gordon Houser

Brokeback Mountain is called a love story, but it’s even more powerful as an exploration of a man, played magnificently by Heath Ledger, who is crippled emotionally and struggles to receive love. It will make you weep.

Capote is perhaps the best film made about a writer, in this case Truman Capote and his creation of his seminal nonfiction novel In Cold Blood. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance is one of the best of this or any year.

Crash follows a mélange of characters from various ethnic-cultural groups over a 24-hour period in Los Angeles. It sets up racial stereotypes, then turns them on their heads. The fine writing and acting take us to a level of reflection rare in movies.

Good Night and Good Luck captures the fear-mongering of the early 1950s, when CBS’s Edward R. Murrow stood up to Senator Joseph McCarthy and his accusations of people being Communists. It speaks strongly to our current climate of fear and shows how little our mainstream media stand up to similar attacks.

Junebug observes the meeting of cultures as a man brings his British-born wife, who runs an art gallery, to his family’s home in North Carolina. The only “message” of this marvelous, low-budget film is that families are complex, and people change when they encounter others.

Tom Price – Favorite movies of 2005

A History of Violence – A thoughtful thriller that demonstrates how violence begets violence and draws others into its purveyance as co-conspirators.

Crash – Using a car crash as a metaphor for how lives of people from different racial, cultural and social views intersect, this realistic and inspiring film shows the way God’s grace can intervene even when we are at our worst.

Good Night, and Good Luck – The conflict between journalist Edward R. Murrow and Sen. Joseph McCarthy emphasizes personal responsibility in an era of fear and accusation.

Millions – The year’s best family film is a rich and refreshing portrayal of the discovery of thousands of dollars by two boys, and how our deepest dreams aren’t fulfilled through materialism but through love for others.

Munich – A fictionalized depiction of Israel’s response to the 1972 Olympic massacre warns of the danger of losing one’s soul in responding to terrorist actions.