2005 (awards handed out in 2006) saw some fine films and some even better acting. The movies were no less at the center of controversy than any other previous year. With the subjects of racism and homosexuality graced the story lines of the year and would eventually face off on Oscar night.
2005 brought several actors to light that would become household names and whose names would become no strangers to the Academy and some who have been on their radar would get their due reward. Amy Adams excelled in her breakthrough role in Junebug while Heath Ledger would be at the center of controversy for his nominated role in Brokeback Mountain and Phillip Seymour Hoffman would stand alone as the years best actor for his portrayal of author and socialite Truman Capote.
Crash would take home the coveted top prize in a somewhat of a surprise win. The movie that was no doubt the years most controversial was Brokeback Mountain about two homosexual cowboys and their love for each other while trying to maintain and heterosexual lifestyle. Lost amid all the talk and gossip of Brokeback, was a topic that has been in the spotlight and at controversies center since before it was even acceptable to discuss homosexuality. Crash looked deep at the serious topic of racism and where the line is drawn between one who is accepting of other races and one who is a flat out racist.
The movies that joined those two on the nominee list were Steven Spielberg’s true story of revenge on one of the most memorable and devastating acts of terrorism during the Munich Olympics when several Israeli athletes were horrifically executed. George Clooney’s second directing effort would bring him a second nomination on the night for Good Night and Good Luck. He would walk home with a statue but it would be for best supporting actor in Syriana. Good Night tackled the the great debates between Edward R. Murrow and Sen. Joseph McCarthy on the topic of communism and the house unamericans activity committee in the 1950’s. Capote was the final of the nominees which told the story of Truman Capote and his research on what would be his greatest and final book, In Cold Blood. It explored the relationships he formed with the convicted murderers of a massacre in small town Kansas.
As for the movies left out of the discussion, the first glaring miss had to be Woody Allen’s twisting thriller Match Point. A deviation for Woody although not his first dramatic attempt. It was intense at jaw dropping all in one. At the same time he deviated from his comfort zone of New York City and set the film in London, England.
Charlize Theron again turned in a stellar performance in the women’s right movie, North Country about women workers fighting for safe working environments and equal treatment as men as part of the mining union. Frances McDormand and Jeremy Renner round out a great supporting cast that made for a very emotional and powerful picture.
For a second year the bio picture would be would bring a leading actor, or in this case actress, Oscars gold. Reese Witherspoon charmed and ruled as the long time wife and soul mate of the great Johnny Cash, June Carter-Cash. While doing her own singing (as did fellow nominee Joaquin Phoenix) stole America’s heart and made us all love country music even if it was just for the length of the music you couldn’t help be pulled in by her. As a movie it was a bit too romantic for the Academy’s liking but still deserves an honorable mention.
A few other well done movies that deserve their credit included Russell Crowe teaming up with Ron Howard again in the boxing movie set during the great depression, Cinderella Man. Trying to re-capture the magic they had on A Beautiful Mind they fell just short although it should be noted Paul Giamatti received a best supporting actor nomination. Also worthy of our notice should be Stephen Gaghan’s Syriana. While it was a little too much like Traffic except set in the mid east dealing with the oil crisis and dirty business that comes with it, it was still a great exciting movie with a fantastic ensemble cast. Finally worthy of note was Ralph Finnes and Rachel Weisz in The Constant Gardner for which Weisz was nominated.
So did the best picture win? In a year filled with controversy the one with topic of which some people like to think isn’t a problem anymore edged out the other. If we are judging on what keeps you raptured while watching and what will last as time goes on I believe that Good Night and Good Luck was the best of the nominee’s and was the best that was put out there. Not blind to the fact that Crash pulled out all the stops and came out of nowhere it didn’t and still doesn’t let anyone NOT look at themselves and how they view other races. Personally it wasn’t the best picture but I can’t say I am at all disappointed that it was awarded.
Begin the debates!!