Best-Reviewed Movies of 2005

Metacritic.com has released a list of the 20 best-reviewed movies of 2005. Although many of these titles won't be released on DVD until next year (especially those that have only recently arrived in theaters in that last mad dash for Oscar contention), a few of the lower-profile titles on the list are already here on DVD. Check out Downfall, Nobody Knows and Memories of Murder. Also on order are Murderball and Turtles Can Fly.

Lawyers in Movies

Ed Masry, the lawyer made famous by the oscar-award winning Erin Brockovich, recently died of complications from diabetes. Erin Brockovich, directed by Steven Soderbergh, is just one of many compelling movies centered around lawyers, courtrooms, and intense legal battles. Here are some others: Philadelphia, The Firm, Judgment at Nuremberg, 12 Angry Men, A Few Good Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, and of course, I can't forget to mention this legal thriller!

The Sound of Music's 40th Anniversary

The Sound of Music is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a TV special this week and a special edition DVD. This classic American musical, an enduring guilty pleasure, has something for everyone: the stunning backdrop of the Alps; the story of a nun who...doesn't remain a nun; Rodgers and Hammerstein's indelible score; escaping the Nazis. Here are just a few of my favorite things: the masterful editing of the Doe-a-Deer sequence; the nuns' harmonies at the end of "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria"; the sizzling chemistry between Maria and Captain Von Trapp at the party; and Eleanor Parker's catty attempts to hang on to "Georg". The 40th anniversary DVD puts the, er, streusel on the strudel, with an all-new retrospective documentary featuring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer; several featurettes, including "The Von Trapp Family: Harmony and Discord" as seen on A&E; a karaoke singalong (!); and Mia Farrow's (!!) screen test.

Best Movie Endings

As the year's end draws near, I can't help but think of the greatest movie endings of all time. As the saying goes, "All good things must come to an end," and that's certainly true for good movies as well. Here are some films that end humorously, shockingly, creatively, or just plain beautifully: Casablanca, 400 Blows, Se7en, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Sixth Sense, The Graduate, The Godfather, and this one for all you maniacs!

What are some of your favorite movie endings? Or better yet, what are some absolutely horrible endings?

Best Sports Movies on DVD

Just in time to help you find that perfect gift for the sports fan on your list (and to support Cinderella Man, #22, as a contender when Oscar time rolls around), Entertainment Weekly has published its list of the 30 best sports movies on DVD. Numbers 1-5 are: Raging Bull, Caddyshack, Hoosiers, Rocky, and Bull Durham. See the complete list.

Clooney: The Next Redford?

30 years ago, Robert Redford was the politically progressive Hollywood hunk making movies like The Candidate and All the President's Men. This year George Clooney is credited with reviving the political hot-button genre with Good Night, and Good Luck (which he directs and acts) and Syriana (in which he stars). Although he tones down his good looks for the camera, he hasn't bothered to tone down his political views in the press. Sure, he irritates conservatives, but outspoken actors like Sean Penn and Tim Robbins have taken far worse beatings than Clooney has...so far. So what is it? Good looks? A good sense of humor? How about The Redford factor?

The Man Behind the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

There's only one week left before the new version of the Chronicles of Naria makes its way to theaters. Those interested in learning a bit more about the man behind the stories might be interested in The Question of God: Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis. Based on a Harvard course taught by Dr. Armand Nicholi, this PBS production examines the respective beliefs of Freud and Lewis through dramatized scenes from their lives and a roundtable discussion with Nicholi and several other so-called experts. The roundtable discussion can be frustrating at times (too many voices, not enough time, not enough coherency), but the series is still informative and thought-provoking.

Other DVDs of interest include Shadowlands, the original BBC production about Lewis' spiritual crisis when his wife died from cancer, and the original BBC production of the Chronicles of Narnia.

The Play Ground

Tis the Season....for the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Bah humbug, it has never been one of The Play Ground's favorites. Well, the Performance Network is featuring Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol by Tom Mula. It is well done, inventive and an interesting new take on this old standard. Through December 24. Fans of the original Christmas Carol may wish to check out the 1951 classic starring Alastair Sim and Kathleen Harrison.

King Kong: A First Look

King Kong 2005

Although it's not scheduled for release until December 13 in New Zealand (December 14 in the United Sates), the first review of Peter Jackson's $207 million epic King Kong is in. In the upcoming December 5 issue, Newsweek's senior writer, Devin Gordon, who was flown to New Zealand for an exclusive screening, gushes over the "surprisingly tender, even heartbreaking, film" and claims Jackson has "proved once again that he might be the only guy whose films are worth getting on a plane and flying halfway around the planet to see." Click here for the full review and a trailer.

That Love Bug is Back

If you're looking for family entertainment, you could do a lot worse than Herbie Fully Loaded, the latest remake of the '60s movie The Love Bug. The new film is a lot like the old ones, as a fiesty VW comes alive and wins races against all odds. Ridiculous and fun.

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