- The Washington Times - Friday, December 30, 2005

10 Best

1. The Squid and the Whale — Noah Baumbach captured American divorce culture in all its dire detail in this tragicomic, note-perfectly performed movie.

2. The 40 Year-Old Virgin Raunchy? Yes. Hilarious? Unquestionably. Yet the best thing about comedian Steve Carell’s first starring vehicle was its romantic sweet spot.

—3. Crash Selfconsciously improbable at nearly every turn, Paul Haggis’ parable of urban race relations was intense, profound and, not least, highly entertaining.

—4. Millions As witt as it was cute, Danny Boyle’s childhood fable had a glibness-free message of Christian charity.

—5. No Direction Home: Bob Dylan While not a theatrical feature, Martin Scorsese’s documentary on America’s greatest songwriter was a surprisingly unfussy masterpiece.

—6. Capote—A chilling portrait of grotesque murder and literary celebrity, and with any luck the first of many starring roles for Philip Seymour Hoffman.

7. The Great Raid — A war picture that was blessedly free of the nettlesome navel-gazing and self-doubt of better publicized offerings like “Munich,” “Syriana” and “Jarhead.”

8. Junebug — The Gothic South in miniature from native North Carolinians Phil Morrison and Angus MacLachlan.

9. King Kong — Overlong and overblown, to be sure, but another illustration of the top-to-bottom scope and precision of director Peter Jackson.

10. The Wedding Crashers —The year’s other raunchy-yet-sweet comedy, with a trove of quotable dialogue from buddy-stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.

5 Worst

1. The Dukes of Hazzard — Cooter was right: This sexed-up reproduction of the television series was tacky, tedious and, most offensive of all, unfunny.

2. The War of the Worlds— Steven Spielberg crassly traded on post-September 11 anxiety in this technically fancy visualization of a Martian invasion. And, yes, the ending was unforgivably pat.

3. The Interpreter— What was all this whispering, intrigue and double-dealing supposed to add up to? That parchment-barrier liberal internationalism is the solution to all the world’s troubles. Right. Try again, Sydney Pollack and Sean Penn.

4. Be Cool— A disappointing sequel and possibly the worst-ever Elmore Leonard adaptation.

—5. Diary of a Mad Black Woman This mash-up of pious black evangelism and hear-them-roar female melodrama was the messiest, also the oddest, misfire of 2005.

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