8. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Shane Black’s noir satire was a complete and utter surprise when I watched it. The film has a real dark and nasty streak in its barbs and one liners as it really takes on the whole Hollywood mentality as a petty criminal gets involved in murder mystery. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang takes the buddy-crime genre and twists it upside down as Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer trade acerbic one-liners while coming across dead bodies. This was a bomb when released but I'm hoping people will discover at home.
7. Hustle & Flow. This gritty tale set in run down Memphis about a low-rent pimp who dreams of becoming a rap star is just one film with the charismatic Terrence Howard in the cast (Crash is the other). Kind of “Rockyesque” as this small time rap wannabe dreams big. Profane and captivating slice of life story in a world of pimps, rappers, prostitutes and others who dream of making it out of the ghetto.
6. Crash. This is a complicated and challenging film about race in America set among multiple individuals in Los Angeles. Crash is a brave film that has a terrific ensemble cast and a great story that weaves in and out of various characters lives that exposes the prejudices a lot of people still hold onto in this day and age. This is much in the same terrain as other multifaceted and "epic" Los Angeles tales such as Robert Altman's Short Cuts.
5. Brokeback Mountain. While this has a lot of controversy around it in some circles—anyone who’s seen it can’t deny its artistry. Director Ang Lee has crafted a pitch perfect film with near obsessive attention to detail and some of the most beautiful western imagery since the days of John Ford. I love westerns and this film takes the entire genre someplace it has never been before with a heartbreaking story of forbidden love and heartache from multiple characters. One of the most socially important films in years and it took a man from Taiwan to make it.
4. The 40 Year-Old Virgin. Hands down the funniest film released this year is this ribald tale chronicling one man’s attempts to lose his virginity goaded on by less than qualified co-workers. Yes, this film is often pretty filthy, but it’s not only funny it has a very sweet and romantic love story that is actually pro-celibacy when you get right down to it. Dirty, romantic and funny—a wonderful combination in a comedy. All hail the R-rated comedy!