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Bob Mondello's Top Films for 2005

In 2005, penguins, lions and gorillas battled for Hollywood supremacy, Star Wars ended, Batman began, and weddings were crashed. And despite all of that, the year will go into the record books as a box office disappointment. In fact, movie attendance dropped to its lowest level since 1997.

But NPR film critic Bob Mondello says that a look at quality rather than numbers paints a brighter picture.

Mondello's top 10 picks for 2005, followed by an additional 11, in no particular order:

Top 11 Films for 2005

Brokeback Mountain: Director Ang Lee, who stumbled last year bringing a comic book hero to life, found a kind of majesty this year with a tragic gay love story atop a Wyoming peak known as Brokeback Mountain. The movies combines spare dialogue, terrific performances and breathtaking vistas in exploring a 20-year relationship between two ranch hands that proves stronger than either of their marriages.

* Mondello's Review

Match Point: Director Woody Allen turns abruptly serious in this film, a Hitchcock-like exploration of how life can be a balance of moral choice and fate.

* Mondello's Review

Munich: Steven Spielberg also tackles serious issues with enormous force in his film Munich. Spielberg starts with the killing of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics and explores the ethical challenges that liberal democracies face when they confront terrorism.

* Kenneth Turan's Review

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit: Two soldiers in a far more light-hearted war -- against rampaging bunny rabbits -- were the animated odd-couple Wallace and Gromit. Their feature-film debut is a spoof of mad-inventor movies.

* Mondello's Review

The Squid and the Whale: Broken families inspired the smartest work by independent writer/directors. Noel Baumbach enlarged on his own childhood in this movie, a brilliantly dark comedy about divorce.

* Kenneth Turan's Review

Mysterious Skin: A haunting story of two differently damaged teenagers who discover that they shared a trauma early in life, by Greg Araki.

* Iris Mann's Report

The Best of Youth: Italy produced what is definitely the year's most epic look at the loss of innocence. The Best of Youth spends six glorious hours following two Italian brothers through some 40 years of European history. The six-hour movie proved way too hard a sell at the box office. But trust me on this: Rent The Best of Youth, and as the ending approaches, I promise it'll be the one film this year you'll be sorry to let go.

* Mondello's Review

Murderball: Far shorter, but an equally tough sell at the box office, was the year's most raucous, rousing documentary -- about the U.S. paralympic rugby team. You know those bumper stickers that say "Rugby players eat their dead?" Well, that's apparently no less true when the players are in wheelchairs.

* Mondello's Review

Junebug, a terrific independent comedy that gets at the human aspects of the red-state/blue-state divide.

* David Edelstein's Review

Capote, a terrific script illuminated by a perfect performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman.

* Mondello's Review

Gilles' Wife, a haunting French domestic drama.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.