Ed Murrow (David Strathairn) and Fred Friendly (George Clooney) wait to find out what their stand will do to their careers.

My Top 20:

  1. Good Night and Good Luck
  2. Munich
  3. Brokeback Mountain
  4. King Kong
  5. A History of Violence
  6. Batman Begins
  7. The Constant Gardener
  8. Pride and Prejudice
  9. Downfall
  10. Kingdom of Heaven
  11. Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit
  12. Saraband
  13. Syriana
  14. Twin Sisters
  15. Corpse Bride
  16. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  17. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  18. Caché
  19. Kung Fu Hustle
  20. Proof

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Brokeback Mountain
  • Best Director:  Ang Lee  (Brokeback Mountain)
  • Best Actor:  Philip Seymour Hoffman  (Capote)
  • Best Actress:  Reese Witherspoon  (Walk the Line)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  George Clooney  (Syriana)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Catherine Keener  (Capote)  /  Rachel Weisz  (The Constant Gardener)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Brokeback Mountain
  • Best Original Screenplay:  The Squid and the Whale
  • Best Cinematography:  Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Best Animated Film:  Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
  • Best Foreign Film:  Kung Fu Hustle

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Crash
  • Best Director:  Ang Lee  (Brokeback Mountain)
  • Best Actor:  Philip Seymour Hoffman  (Capote)
  • Best Actress:  Reese Witherspoon  (Walk the Line)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  George Clooney  (Syriana)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Rachel Weisz  (The Constant Gardener)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Brokeback Mountain
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Crash
  • Best Cinematography:  Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Best Animated Film:  Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
  • Best Foreign Film:  Tsotsi

Michel Haneke’s brilliant film tops the list and is my top foreign film of the year.

note:  For the first time since 1994, all four Oscar acting winners are the consensus winners.

Top 10 Films  (Top 1000):

  1. Caché  –  #793  (#25)
  2. A History of Violence  –  #818  (#9)
  3. The New World  –  #860  (#79)
  4. Brokeback Mountain  –  (#26)
  5. Grizzly Man  –  (#35)
  6. 2046  –  (#45)
  7. The Squid and the Whale  –  (#59)
  8. Munich  –  (#121)
  9. Good Night and Good Luck  –  (#133)
  10. Capote  –  (#159)

note:  Because so much of the focus for the Top 1000 is on classic films, because they have had a longer time to sink into the critical consciousness, they have a separate list called the Top 250 of the 2000′s.  The first number is for those films that actually make their Top 1000, the second number in parenthesis is for their rank in the Top 250 for the 21st Century.  I don’t know their precise methodology, so I can’t explain why some films rank higher on one list than on the other.  But, since the Top 1000 is the more definitive list, a higher rank there is the trump.

Top 10 Films  (2005 Best Picture Awards):

  1. Brokeback Mountain
  2. Crash
  3. Good Night and Good Luck
  4. Capote
  5. Walk the Line
  6. The Constant Gardener
  7. Munich
  8. Cinderella Man
  9. King Kong
  10. Memoirs of a Geisha

Top 10 Films  (Awards Points):

  1. Brokeback Mountain  –  2736
  2. Capote  –  1619
  3. Crash  –  1487
  4. Good Night and Good Luck  –  1180
  5. Walk the Line  –  1153
  6. The Constant Gardener  –  880
  7. Memoirs of a Geisha  –  824
  8. A History of Violence  –  688
  9. King Kong  –  573
  10. The Squid and the Whale  –  500

note:  Even without winning Best Picture at the Oscars, Brokeback has the most points from every awards group – the first film since Schindler’s List, but adding the BFCA (which didn’t exist in 1993) and even the Independent Spirit (not included in the points total), which Schindler’s List wasn’t eligible for and the Satellites (also not around in 93 and also not included here).  Good Night and Good Luck joins Remains of the Day and Shine as films that were nominated for Picture, Director and Screenplay at the Oscars, Globes, BAFTA and the guilds and lose all three awards for all four.  It tops them by also losing all three awards at the BFCA.  It also loses Actor at all five and goes 0 for 29 at the awards groups.  Munich ends up in 13th place – the lowest rank for an Oscar nominee since 1999 and its 401 points are the lowest for an Oscar nominee since 1989.  Beating Capote by 1117 points, Brokeback‘s margin of victory is the highest since 1999 and the fourth highest ever.

Star Wars goes out on a high note – the top box office film of the year.

Top 10 Films  (Domestic Box Office Gross):

  1. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith  –  $380.27 mil
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe  –  $291.71 mil
  3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire  –  $290.01 mil
  4. War of the Worlds  –  $234.28 mil
  5. King Kong  –  $218.08 mil
  6. Wedding Crashers  –  $209.25 mil
  7. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory  –  $206.45 mil
  8. Batman Begins  –  $205.34 mil
  9. Madagascar  –  $193.59 mil
  10. Mr. and Mrs. Smith  –  $186.33 mil

note:  I saw these films a combined 14 times in the theaters – but 7 of those were Star Wars and 2 were Batman Begins.  I didn’t see Madagascar, Wedding Crashers or Mr. and Mrs. Smith in the theater and would prefer to pretend I never saw the last two at all.  This is the last year when I saw more than 4 of the top 10 in the theater.

Harry Potter rules the global box office again.

Top 10 Films  (Worldwide Box Office Gross):

  1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire  –  $896.9 mil
  2. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith  –  $848.8 mil
  3. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe  –  $745.0 mil
  4. War of the Worlds  –  $591.7 mil
  5. King Kong  –  $550.5 mil
  6. Madagascar  –  $532.7 mil
  7. Mr. and Mrs. Smith  –  $478.2 mil
  8. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory  –  $475.0 mil
  9. Batman Begins  –  $372.7 mil
  10. Hitch  –  $368.1 mil

note:  So Wedding Crashers is replaced by Hitch – a very small improvement.  Harry Potter is the highest internationally – a good 2/3 of its gross (though Howl’s Moving Castle, which was 15th on the worldwide list earned 98% of its gross in the international market – the highest all-time for a film grossing over $200 million worldwide until this year’s Intouchables).  Wedding Crashers does a dismal 26% outside the States, because, well, because it’s stupid.  Harry Potter begins a trend – it’s got the highest percentage of international gross for a worldwide #1 since 1995, but will be beaten 3 times in the following five years.

Ebert Great Movies:

  • Caché

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

Drama:

  • Best Picture:  Good Night and Good Luck
  • Best Director:  Steven Spielberg  (Munich)
  • Best Actor:  Heath Ledger  (Brokeback Mountain)
  • Best Actress:  Gwyneth Paltrow  (Proof)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Jake Gyllenhall  (Brokeback Mountain)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Michelle Williams  (Brokeback Mountain)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Brokeback Mountain
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Good Night and Good Luck

Keira as Lizzy. Just perfect.

Comedy:

  • Best Picture:  Pride and Prejudice
  • Best Director:  Joe Wright  (Pride and Prejudice)
  • Best Actor:  Joaquin Phoenix  (Walk the Line)
  • Best Actress:  Keira Knightley  (Pride and Prejudice)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Donald Sutherland  (Pride and Prejudice)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Susan Sarandon  (Elizabethtown)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Pride and Prejudice
  • Best Original Screenplay:  The Upside of Anger

Three of my acting awards in one shot: Brokeback Mountain (Jake Gyllenhall, Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams).

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Good Night and Good Luck
  • Best Director:  Steven Spielberg  (Munich)
  • Best Actor:  Heath Ledger  (Brokeback Mountain)
  • Best Actress:  Gwyneth Paltrow  (Proof)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Jake Gyllenhall  (Brokeback Mountain)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Michelle Williams  (Brokeback Mountain)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Brokeback Mountain
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Good Night and Good Luck
  • Best Editing:  Good Night and Good Luck
  • Best Cinematography:  King Kong
  • Best Original Score:  Brokeback Mountain
  • Best Sound:  King Kong
  • Best Art Direction:  Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Best Visual Effects:  King Kong
  • Best Sound Editing:  King Kong
  • Best Costume Design:  Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Best Makeup:  Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Best Original Song:  “Gabriel Sang” from As It Is in Heaven
  • Best Animated Film:  Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
  • Best Foreign Film:  Caché

Top 5 Foreign Films:

  1. Caché
  2. Sophie Scholl – The Final Days
  3. Joyeux Noel
  4. Tsotsi
  5. Lady Vengeance

These are Foreign Films eligible in 2005.  The only other film that makes my cut-off (***.5 or higher) is the Oscar nominee Paradise Now.  So, with Sophie Scholl, Joyeux Noel and Tsotsi (the winner), that means 4 of the 5 Oscar nominees made my top 6 of the year.  Of the other two, Caché was submitted for Austria, but was disqualified for being entirely in French.

The brilliant (and hot) Naomi Watts in King Kong (2005)

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  • Best Line (dramatic):  “God will understand, my lord. And if he doesn’t, then he is not God and we need not worry.”  (Orlando Bloom in Kingdom of Heaven)
  • Best Line (comedic):  “Define interesting.”  “Oh god, oh god, we’re all going to die?”  (Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion in Serenity)
  • Best Opening:  Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
  • Best Ending:  The Ice Harvest
  • Best Scene:  the axe gang dance scene in Kung Fu Hustle
  • Best Use of a Song:  “All These Things That I’ve Done”  (The Matador)
  • Best Ensemble:  Batman Begins
  • Funniest Film:  Kung Fu Hustle
  • Most Over-rated Film:  Last Days
  • Worst Film:  Shadowboxer
  • Worst Sequel:  The Legend of Zorro
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Keira Knightley in Pride and Prejudice
  • Sexiest Performance:  Naomi Watts in King Kong
  • Highest Attractiveness / Acting Ability Ratio:  Scarlett Johannson in The Island
  • Watch the Film, SKIP the Book:  Pride and Prejudice
  • Read the Comics, SKIP the Film:  Fantastic Four
  • Coolest Performance:  Christian Bale in Batman Begins
  • Best Teaser:  Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  • Best Trailer:  Good Night and Good Luck
  • Best Tag-Line:  “Love is a force of nature.”  (Brokeback Mountain)
  • Best Cameo:  Christopher Lee  (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
  • Sexiest Cameo:  Carla Gucino  (Sin City)
  • Best Animated Character Performance:  Tom McGrath in Madagascar  (The Skipper)
  • Best Non-Animated Voice Performance:  Alan Rickman in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy  (Marvin)

Film History:  The Star Wars Saga comes to its conclusion with the release of Revenge of the Sith (the last midnight showing I will probably ever see).  It becomes the first film to make over $50 million in one day, a record that will stand for only 14 months.  Two other franchises begin strongly, but then go in different directions: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a domestic and worldwide success, much more so than Batman Begins (though Dark Knight itself would outgross both the Narnia sequels).  L’enfant wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes, while Michel Haneke wins Best Director for CachéBrokeback Mountain wins the Golden Lion in Venice and later wins Best Picture and Director and the Independent Spirits.  Dirty Love wins 4 Razzies, including Worst Picture, Director and Actress.  Teresa Wright dies in March.  Two of David Lean’s circle of actors, Kay Walsh and John Mills, both die in April.  Anne Bancroft dies in June.

Academy Awards:  Brokeback Mountain becomes the first film to win the BAFTA, Globe, PGA and BFCA and not win the Oscar.  It becomes only the second to win the BAFTA, Globe and BFCA and not win the Oscar – the other being Sense and Sensibility (also directed by Ang Lee).  After not happening from 1952-99, for the third time in six years, a film wins Director and Screenplay, but loses Picture.  For the second year in a row the film with the most nominations (Brokeback) doesn’t win Best Picture – the first back-to-back of that since 1980-81.  For the second year in a row, the film with the most points (Brokeback) doesn’t win Best Picture – the first back-to-back of that since 1976-77.  After winning several critics awards and earning a DGA nom but no Oscar nom in 1995, and winning the DGA and Globe but not the Oscar in 2000, Ang Lee finally wins the Oscar, but his film doesn’t win Best Picture.  With Brokeback‘s loss, it keeps alive the streak of every Best Picture winner since 1981 earning a nomination for Best Editing.  With only 6 nominations, Crash has the fewest for a winner since 1980.  The 30 combined nominations for the Best Picture nominees is the fewest since 1989.  Walk the Line becomes the first film in 10 years to get nominated for Actor and Actress but not Picture.  For the first time since 1976 and only the third time ever, the Best Foreign Film winner is from Africa.  Italy has its first Foreign Film nominee in 7 years – its longest gap without one, while Paradise Now becomes the first nominee from Palestine.  With nominations for Munich and War of the Worlds, Steven Spielberg joins George Cukor, Michael Curtiz and William Wyler as the only directors to have 20 different films nominated for Oscars and joins Wyler as the only directors to have his films earned (combined) over 100 Oscar nominations.  Crash becomes the first Best Picture winner I fail to see in the theater since The Last Emperor.

Let’s face it.  They fucked up, giving the Oscar to Crash.  That’s all I really have to say.  I very slightly give the nod to Good Night and Good Luck and Munich, but they should have given it to Brokeback.  Everything pointed that direction and it just made them look stupid.

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Picture for Crash
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Original Song for Transamerica  (“Travellin Thru”)
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Cinematography for King Kong
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  Don’t Tell
  • Worst English Language Oscar-Nominated Film:  Transamerica
  • Best Eligible Film with No Oscar Nominations:  Kingdom of Heaven
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Original Song
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Animated Film
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Screenplay Adapted from Another Medium, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction, Visual Effects, Sound Effects Editing, Costume Design, Animated Film

Golden Globes:  Crash becomes the first film to win the Oscar without a Best Picture nomination at the Globes since 1982 – the first eligible film to do so since 1973.  After not happening since 1955 (when there were only winners announced), for the third time in 8 years, three films fail to be nominated for Best Picture at the Globes that will go on to be nominated at the Oscars (1998, 1999, 2005 – Crash, Capote, Munich).  Walk the Line becomes the first Globe – Comedy or Musical winner since 2000 not to get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.  Munich is the first film nominated for Director and Screenplay but not Picture since 1984 and the first one not nominated that was eligible for Picture since 1978.  Brokeback Mountain wins Picture and Director – the first to do so and not win Picture at the Oscars since 1998 – but like the previous two films to do this (Saving Private Ryan, Born on the Fourth of July), it wins Director at the Oscars.  It is the first film since 1999 to win Picture, Director and Screenplay and the first since 1989 to do so and not repeat Picture at the Oscars.  Match Point becomes the first Woody Allen film nominated for Picture – Drama and Director (Crimes and Misdemeanors was nominated for the former, Interiors for the latter).  Brokeback Mountain leads with 7 noms, 4 wins and 380 points.  The only other films nominated for Picture, Director and Screenplay are Good Night and Good Luck and Match Point, both of which go 0 for 4.  Walk the Line gets 3 noms and wins them all – sweeping the Comedy / Musical categories.

Awards:  Brokeback Mountain is the clear critical favorite.  It wins Picture, Director and Actor from the New York Film Critics, Picture and Director from the LA and Boston Critics and Director and Supporting Actor from the National Board of Review.  Capote is next, winning the other five Best Actor awards as well as Best Picture at the National Society of Film Critics and Screenplay in LA and Boston.  A History of Violence is next, but fails to win any Picture awards, instead taking home two Director (NSFC, CFC), three Supporting Actor and two Supporting Actress awards.  The final two Best Picture awards go to Good Night and Good Luck (NBR) and Crash (Chicago).

Brokeback Mountain becomes the 6th film to win the PGA, DGA and WGA and the only one not to go on to win the Oscar.  It joins The English Patient and The Hours as the only films to go 0 for 4 at SAG.  Ang Lee becomes the first Director to win the DGA and not to go on to win the Best Picture Oscar since he did it with Crouching Tiger in 2000.  For the first time since 1981, all five DGA nominees go on to be nominated for Best Picture and Best Director at the Oscars.  For the first time since 1998 all five Supporting Actress nominees at SAG go on to Oscar nominations.  Overall, Crash earns 10 guild noms (and wins 3 – SAG Ensemble, WGA, American Cinema Editors).  Good Night and Good Luck also earns 10, but fails to win any.  Walk the Line leads with 5 wins (ACE, Cinema Audio Society, Art Directors Guild, Motion Picture Sound Editors and Costume Designers Guild).  Brokeback, with 9 noms and 3 wins, earns the most points.

Memoirs of a Geisha leads the initial longlist with 15 nominations, followed by The Constant Gardener, Good Night and Good Luck and Brokeback Mountain at 13 each.  But Geisha falls short (only 6 noms, all technical except Actress).  Constant Gardener leads with 10, followed by 9 each for Brokeback and CrashCinderella Man is the biggest fall-off from the longlist, only getting 1 of its 12.  Brokeback would be the big winner – the first film since Schindler’s List to win Picture, Director and Screenplay.  The BAFTAs would match Picture and Director at the Oscars 4/5, replacing Munich in both categories with The Constant Gardener (the first time since 1996 that all the Picture nominees would be nominated for Director and Screenplay).  But Gardener, like Vera Drake the year before, in spite of being the only Best Picture nominee also nominated for Best British Film, would lose that category to another film that had no other nominations (in this case, Wallace and Gromit).  In fact, Gardener‘s only BAFTA win would be for its Editing.

Brokeback Mountain sets a new Broadcast Film Critics Association record with 8 nominations and comes in second behind Sideways for points with 390; neither would be exceeded until after the categories would be drastically expanded in 2009.  It would win Picture and Director, though it would lose Screenplay to Crash.  Joining it in all three races would be Crash and Good Night and Good Luck, with Cinderella Man, King Kong and Munich getting Picture and Director noms.

Best Director:  After winning four critics awards, Ang Lee does what no one does before or since: completely sweep the awards groups, winning the DGA, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA, Satellite and Indie.  Yes, he comes in an extremely close second for the Nighthawk, but doesn’t quite win it.  Instead, my winner is the #3 on the consensus list – Steven Spielberg for Munich, who earns DGA, Oscar, Globe and BFCA noms.  In between them is George Clooney for Good Night and Good Luck, nominated for the same seven awards that Lee wins (he’s my #3).  Then comes the winner of the other two critics (and my #5) – David Cronenberg for A History of Violence.  In fifth on the consensus list is Paul Haggis, earning DGA, Oscar, BAFTA and BFCA noms for Crash.  My #4 is Peter Jackson for King Kong, who earns Globe and BFCA noms.  My 6 through 10 are Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins), Ridley Scott (Kingdom of Heaven), Fernando Meirelles (BAFTA and Globe nominee for Constant Gardener), Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice) and Stephen Gaghan (Syriana).

Best Adapted Screenplay:  Brokeback easily takes this one as well – winning the Oscar, WGA, Globe and BAFTA and earning a BFCA nom.  It’s followed by Capote (LA and Boston wins, Oscar, WGA, BAFTA and BFCA noms), The Constant Gardener (Oscar, WGA, BAFTA noms), A History of Violence (Oscar, WGA, BAFTA noms) and Munich (Oscar and Globe noms).  In a field that is much stronger than the original scripts, Brokeback is my winner as well, over A History of Violence, Munich, Pride and Prejudice and The Constant Gardener.  My 6 through 10 are King Kong, Proof, Downfall, Batman Begins and Capote.

Best Original Screenplay:  In what is almost a tie, The Squid and the Whale eeks out a close consensus win over Crash.  The former wins four critics awards (NYFC, LAFC, NSFC, NBR) and earns Oscar, WGA and BFCA noms while the latter takes home the Oscar, WGA, BAFTA, BFCA and CFC and earns a Globe nom.  They’re followed by Good Night and Good Luck (Oscar, WGA, BAFTA, BFCA, Globe noms), Syriana (NBR winner, Oscar and WGA nominee – though the latter group considers it adapted) and Cinderella Man (WGA, BAFTA noms).  My own winner is Good Night and Good Luck, followed by Syriana, Saraband, Caché and The Upside of Anger.  My 6 through 10 are Match Point (Oscar, Globe noms), Wallace and Gromit, The Matador, The Squid and the Whale and Elizabethtown.

Best Actor:  Philip Seymour Hoffman wins everything for his performance as Truman Capote except the New York Film Critics and the Nighthawk.  I go with the #2 – Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain (who won in New York and earned Oscar, SAG, Globe, BAFTA and BFCA noms).  In fact, Hoffman is my #3, because I go with David Strathairn as Ed Murrow as my #2 (he came in fourth on the consensus list – earning the same five noms as Ledger).  In between on the consensus list was Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash (whose difference was that he won the Globe – Comedy / Musical), but he’s my #6.  The consensus #5 is Terrence Howard, who earned Oscar, Globe and BFCA noms for Hustle and Flow.  My #4 and 5 are Ralph Fiennes for The Constant Gardener (BAFTA nom) and Viggo Mortenson for A History of Violence.  The rest of my Top 10 are Bruno Ganz (another real character – as Hitler in Downfall), Eric Bana (Munich), Russell Crowe (SAG, Globe and BAFTA nominated for Cinderella Man) and Erland Josephson in Saraband.

Best Actress:  In a very weak year for lead actress performances, Reese Witherspoon runs away with the consensus – winning the NYFC, NSFC, BSFC, SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe – Comedy / Musical and BFCA for Walk the Line.  She’s followed by Felicity Huffman in Transamerica (NBR, Globe wins, SAG, Oscar, BFCA noms) Charlize Theron in North Country (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA noms), Judi Dench in Mrs. Henderson Presents (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe – Comedy, BFCA noms) and Zhang Ziyi for Memoirs of a Geisha (SAG, BAFTA, Globe noms).  My own list is very different.  First, my winner is Gwyneth Paltrow for Proof (who only earned a Globe nom), followed by Keira Knightley for Pride and Prejudice (Oscar, Globe – Comedy, BFCA noms), Naomi Watts for King Kong (whose amazing performance got nothing, perhaps lost in the incredible effects), Joan Allen for The Upside of Anger (CFC win, BFCA nom – but passed over by the Globes in Comedy for Sarah Jessica Parker of all people) and Witherspoon.  My 6 through 10 are Alexandra Maria Lara in Downfall, Laura Linney in The Squid and the Whale (Globe – Comedy nom), Liv Ullmann in Saraband, Dench and Juliette Binoche in Caché.

Best Supporting Actor:  With 3 wins and 2 other noms each, George Clooney in Syriana (Oscar, BAFTA, Globe wins, SAG, BFCA noms) barely wins over Paul Giamatti in Cinderella Man (BSFC, SAG, BFCA wins, Oscar, Globe noms).  They’re followed closely by William Hurt in A History of Violence (NYFC, LAFC, NSFC wins, Oscar nom) and Jake Gyllenhall in Brokeback Mountain (NBR, BAFTA wins, SAG, Oscar, BFCA noms).  Further back, in fifth, is Matt Dillon for Crash (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA noms).  I go with Gyllenhall, barely over Clooney, followed by Hurt and Dillon and then Clooney again (for Good Night and Good Luck).  My 6 through 10 are Giamatti, Chris Cooper (Capote), Donald Sutherland (Pride and Prejudice), Don Cheadle (SAG and BAFTA noms for Crash) and Michael Caine for The Weather Man.

Best Supporting Actress:  Rachel Weisz and Catherine Keener actually tie for the Consensus win.  Weisz wins the SAG, Oscar and Globe and earns BAFTA (as lead) and BFCA noms for The Constant Gardener.  Keener’s critics wins in LA and Boston are for Capote, The Ballad of Jack and Rose and The 40 Year Old Virgin, while earning SAG, Oscar and BAFTA noms for Capote.  They are followed by Amy Adams for Junebug (NSFC, BFCA wins, SAG and Oscar noms), Michelle Williams for Brokeback Mountain (BFCA tie with Adams, SAG, Oscar, Globe, BAFTA noms) and Maria Bello for A History of Violence (NYFC, CFC wins, Globe nom as lead, BFCA nom).  My winner is Williams, followed by Weisz, Bello, Anne Hathaway for Brokeback (who was somehow overlooked in all the great acting in the film) and Adams.  My 6 through 10 are Gong Li for Memoirs of a Geisha (NBR win), Julia Dufvenius for Saraband, Tilda Swinton for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Zhang Ziyi for 2046 and Keener for Capote.

Proof (2005): the film Gwyneth should have won the Oscar for.

Under-appreciated Film of 2005:

Proof  (dir. John Madden)

It’s an interesting year to talk about the longer-term effects of winning an Oscar and about how people over-react when something (or someone) wins that the common consensus says is the wrong choice.  There is much hyperbole over the win for Crash for Best Picture, to the extent that many people call it one of the worst (or the worst) winners of all-time (over films such as Braveheart, The Broadway Melody, Cimarron and The Greatest Show on Earth).  Some of the same things were said in 1998 when Gwyneth Paltrow won Best Actress.  That Paltrow gave a great performance wasn’t acknowledged – only that many felt she shouldn’t have won (I also felt she shouldn’t have won, but I did think she was great and she was my #2 for the year and she wasn’t a bad choice – just not the right one).  As a result, her subsequent performances have often been overlooked.  She was very good in The Royal Tenenbaums, hardly seen (but very good) in Sylvia and under-appreciated in Possession, as well as being the embodiment of a Lois Lane type in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.  But, looking at the various awards groups, you’d think she retired after Shakespeare in Love.  Only the Globes have honored her again, and that was a nomination for Proof.  So we have to give the Globes at least a little credit for the nomination, even though she lost to the lesser performance of Felicity Huffman in Transamerica.

This is the long way around of getting at her performance in Proof.  2005, as I noted above, was not a great year for lead actress performances.  Reese Witherspoon won the Oscar with ease in a weak field.  But hardly anyone had seen Proof (even among a field in which only one film made more than $40 million, Proof grossed less than any of the nominated films).  And it didn’t have the publicity around Huffman’s performance or the Academy fondness for Judi Dench (while Paltrow has been denigrated for winning the Oscar for Shakespeare in Love, Dench, whose Oscar, though deserved, was for an extremely small part, would be nominated here for the fifth time in less than a decade).  Paltrow was taking over the role from Mary-Louise Parker, who won the Tony for her performance in the play, but who was really too old by this point to play the role in the film.

Paltrow plays a young woman who lives in her father’s house.  Her father, a brilliant mathematician has recently died.  She must balance several things all at once.  First, there is the beloved father who is now gone (played very well by Anthony Hopkins, who we see in flashbacks and mental slips).  Then, there is the student, desperate to make a name for himself, and to honor the great man.  That she may be falling in love with the student (or him with her, or both) is an additional problem.  Then there is the sister who flies into town and wants to take Paltrow back with her from Chicago to New York.  Because there is the final problem – that Paltrow may have the same failings that her father had.  She might also be slipping away from reality.  But, she might also have his genius, and it is in that question that the crux of the film comes together.

In the middle of it all, holding all of the pieces together, is the remarkable performance from Paltrow.  And she works in every single aspect – as the bitter young sister, left behind to care for the fading father, as the potential lover who doesn’t seem to quite know how gorgeous she is, as the brilliant mathematician who could find this proof that can answer so many questions.  Here, working with John Madden, who had directed her to that Oscar, is the performance that she really should have won the Oscar for, and no one even seemed to have noticed.

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