No one will argue that films were generally better 17 years ago. They obviously were. Herewith a reminder, posted or or about 12.15.05:

Creme de la CremeBrokeback Mountain, Capote, The Constant Gardener, A History of Violence, Hustle & Flow, In Her Shoes, Match Point, The Family Stone, Cinderella Man, The Beautiful Country, Last Days, Grizzly Man, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (13).

70% Masterful…Merging of Lovers From Different Cultures in the Midst of a Splendorous Natural Symphony…But Goes off The Rails, Drop-Kicks the Mood and Leaves You Stranded at the 110-Minute MarkThe New World (1)

Overly Schematic But Clearly Delineated (hasn’t aged well): Crash.

Pretty Damn Good to Reasonably GoodGood Night and Good Luck, The Wedding Crashers, Syriana, Munich, The Aristocrats, Batman Begins, Broken Flowers, Bob Dylan: No Direction Home, Cache (Hidden), The Interpreter (for the bomb-on-the-bus scene alone), Nine Lives (for Robin Wright Penn alone), Cronicas, The Beat That My Heart Skipped, The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach has an assured place at the table), The Upside of Anger (for Kevin Costner’s performance), The Thing About My Folks (for Peter Falk’s performance), Mrs. Henderson Presents, Kung Fu Hustle, Kingdom of Heaven, Rent, Broken Flowers, Brothers (for Connie Nielsen’s performance and the austere and upfront tone of Suzanne Bier’s direction), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, War of the Worlds, Casanova, My Date With Drew (a good-humored rendering of a metaphor about youthful pluck and persistence and team spirit), My Summer of Love, Paradise Now. (27)

Not Half BadThe Producers, The Dying Gaul, The World’s Fastest Indian, Four Brothers, Layer Cake, The Great Raid, Reel Paradise, Green Street Hooligans, Everything is Illuminated, Proof, Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist (13)

Gets Worse The More I Look Back Upon it: King Kong (1).

Unquestionable Failure That Nonetheless Half-Saves Itself as It Comes to a CloseElizabethtown (1)

Biggest Bummer (and splattered milkshakes don’t matter)The Weather Man (1)

Solid First Stab by Talented Director: Scott Caan’s Dallas 362. (1)

Grudging Approval (i.e., respect for an obviously first-rate film that I didn’t particularly enjoy watching all that much): Wong Kar Wai’s 2046 (1)

BlaaahKiss Kiss Bang Bang, North Country, Shopgirl, Jarhead, The Libertine (5)

Tediously AcceptableThe 40 Year-Old Virgin (Catherine Keener’s fine performance helped); March of the Penguins. (2)

Crap Marginally Redeemed By…
Sin City (heavenly Nevada silver-mine black- and-white photography); House of Wax (Paris Hilton’s death and some fairly inventive pizazz shown by director Jaume Collet-Serra). (2)

Cavalcade of Crap…Moneyed, Honeyed, Sullied…an Affront to The Once Semi-Respectable Tradition of Mainstream Hollywood FilmmakingThe Dukes of Hazzard, The Island, Bewitched, Rumor Has it, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, Must Love Dogs, Memoirs of a Geisha, Domino, The Legend of Zorro, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Constantine, Aeon Flux, Fantastic Four, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous. (15).

Final Enduring Proof of George Lucas’s Mediocre SoulStar Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith (1)

Best Docs (after Grizzly Man and Bob Dylan: No Direction Home): Why We Fight, Gunner Palace, Mondovino, Favela Rising, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Mad Hot Ballroom, Tell Them Who You Are, One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern (for the tribute factor alone…McGovern is such a respectable man), Rize, The Last Mogul, Murderball, Occupation: Dreamland (12).