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AP Film Critics' Top 10 Lists

Category: Dear Frankie News
Article Date: December 14, 2005 | Publication: Associated Press | Author: David Germain

Posted by: admin

As film critics, we had a problem this year. There were too many great movies to choose from and only 10 spots on our best-of lists. After much soul-searching and paring, here's what we came up with - the absolute best of the best.

The top 10 films of 2005, according to AP Movie Writer David Germain:

1. "Dear Frankie" - Director Shona Auerbach spins a heart-on-its-sleeve drama of pure decency and inspiration. Emily Mortimer imbues her porcelain facade with steely inner strength as a Scottish mom who concocts a distant fantasy father to protect her deaf son (Jack McElhone) from the nasty truth about dad. Gerard Butler is a stoic stranger who finds his inner saint after signing on as the boy's sire for hire.

2. "King Kong" - This is why Peter Jackson is lord of the primates, at least in Hollywood. Jackson has made an action flick monstrous in scope yet with an intimate sense of pathos and tragedy. His remake about the giant ape doomed by love for a blonde (Naomi Watts, the new Fay Wray) dotes on the details of the 1933 original while indulging Jackson's aim of big-footing all the special-effects extravaganzas that came before.

3. "A History of Violence" - David Cronenberg has gone mainstream as only he can, presenting an action-packed crowd-pleaser that's still as weird as many of his esoteric films. Cronenberg offers a harrowing but often perversely comic study of what really lies beneath those we think we know so well, with ferocious performances from Viggo Mortensen, as a family man fending off mobsters, and Maria Bello, Ed Harris and William Hurt.

4. "Transamerica" - Felicity Huffman joins Dustin Hoffman, Julie Andrews and Hilary Swank in the Academy of Great Gender-Bending Performances, playing a man preparing for surgery to become a woman in Duncan Tucker's road-trip comic drama. Huffman undergoes a remarkable physical transformation, but it's her bearing - wry, shy glances, the tics of someone adjusting to a changing body - that makes her so lovably, painfully authentic.

5. "Capote" - Philip Seymour Hoffman is this year's Jamie Foxx, following that actor's uncanny portrayal of Ray Charles with a brilliant personification of Truman Capote as he researches his true-crime book "In Cold Blood." In Hoffman's hands, the vain, off-putting Capote is riveting, while he and director Bennett Miller present the man as both genius and fiend, torn between human affection and the unforgiving call of his art.

6. "Syriana" - Aren't actors supposed to be dumb? Nobody told George Clooney, who directed and co-starred in the Edward R. Murrow saga "Good Night, and Good Luck" and followed with a fiercely intelligent turn in Stephen Gaghan's thriller about oil-industry corruption. Clooney leads a rich ensemble of actors, and writer-director Gaghan crafts a dense, intricate world of greed and intrigue that rings frighteningly true.

7. "Grizzly Man" - Knowing the death Timothy Treadwell would meet in the grips of one of the bears he swore to protect, it's truly agonizing to watch this buoyant soul prattle on in self-recorded monologues that are the backbone of Werner Herzog's documentary. Some called it hubris to live with bears in the Alaska wild, yet Herzog captures a spirit lost among his own brethren who found himself only through kinship with these beasts.

8. "Broken Flowers" - Bill Murray has this droll, sad-sack thing down to an art. He's perfectly cast in Jim Jarmusch's story of an apathetic, aging Don Juan, whose road trip to revisit past lovers leads him to spiritual and physical crossroads. Murray's stillness is an ideal complement to Jarmusch's cryptic storytelling, the actor's stone face the place where viewers are asked to write their own interpretation of what they're seeing.

9. "The Producers" - The Mel Brooks movie that became a stage musical becomes a movie again, with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick reprising their roles as Broadway con men aiming to concoct a sure flop. Broadway director Susan Stroman brings great energy and inventiveness to her film debut. It's silly, goofy, stagy, hokey, with scene-stealing performances by Uma Thurman as a bouncy Swedish bimbo and Will Ferrell as a crackpot Nazi playwright.

10. "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" - Steve Carell finally gets some, climbing to leading-man status with this hysterically funny, raunchy yet sweet-hearted tale of a middle-aged guy who's never done the deed. Carell's boyish earnestness carries the film, while he and co-writer and director Judd Apatow pile on broad, outrageous comedy and plenty of gross-out gags and crudity while still managing to keep it a class act.


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