The film buff’s cut

EMMA LEE Emma Lee asks if it’s been a blockbuster year at cinemas – or should we have just waited for the DVD to come out.

EMMA LEE

Recycling is all the rage in Hollywood. But it's got nothing to do with being green. Could it be that tinseltown has run out of new ideas? In 2005, the multiplexes were chock-a-block with remakes and TV show spin-offs - with varying degrees of box office success.

Peter Jackson's special-effects spectacular King Kong lived up to the hype, Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a tasty treat and War of the Worlds showed that Tom Cruise has playing the action hero down to a fine art.

But some fared less well - Bewitched, which paired up the usually excellent Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell, disappeared in a puff of smoke, while the Dukes of Hazzard was essentially a showcase for Jessica Simpson's hot-pants wearing skills.


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Some old favourites returned - the trilogy of Star Wars prequels was completed by Revenge of the Sith (left), bespectacled boy wizard Harry Potter enchanted more movie-goers (although Disney hopes that its Chronicles of Narnia series could knock him off his broomstick) and there were more cringe-making moments for hapless suitor Ben Stiller in Meet the Fockers.

Several directors hit the road - Sideways, Broken Flowers and the Orlando Bloom schmaltzfest Elizabethtown all featured the central character on a voyage of self-discovery.

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Poor Canterbury-born Orlando felt the sharp end of the critics' pens this year. Elizabethtown's critical mauling came hot on the heels of a mixed response to his lead performance in Ridley Scott's Crusades epic Kingdom of Heaven.

At the Oscars Clint Eastwood's boxing drama Million Dollar Baby knocked Martin Scorsese's epic The Aviator for six.

Scorsese's biopic of Howard Hughes, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett, led the nominations and was strongly tipped to win the coveted best picture and best director awards. But it wasn't to be Marty's year as Million Dollar Baby won both.The film's star Hilary Swank picked up her second best actress award, and Jamie Foxx was named best actor for his portrayal of the soul legend Ray Charles in the movie Ray.

BEST AND WORST

Emma Lee picks her top five films of the year, the worst and the ones to watch out for in 2006.

Best films of 2005:

t Dig!: This candid documentary charts seven years in the lives of two American rock bands - the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. One group ends up making videos with hip directors and selling out stadiums. The other sabotages every shot at the big time they're given and end up brawling among themselves. By turns hilarious and tragic, it's a cautionary tale for any wannabe rock star.

t Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer team up as an actor and a gay private detective in this slick, funny and smart Chandler-esque thriller. The plot twists and turns keep you in suspense until the final credits roll.

t Pride and Prejudice: Some said that the BBC's adaptation of Jane Austen's much-loved novel couldn't be bettered. But Keira Knightley showed she was a mature enough actress to handle the role of Elizabeth Bennet, while Matthew McFadyen silenced those for whom Colin Firth was the definitive Mr Darcy. And Chatsworth House, which doubled up as Pemberley, looked glorious on the big screen.

t Sideways: Director Alexander Payne followed up the critically acclaimed About Schmidt with another offbeat road movie. Paul Giamatti plays Miles, a depressed aspiring author and wine buff, while Thomas Haden Church is Jack, an actor with a wandering eye. The friends team up for a wine-tasting tour of California to celebrate Jack's impending nuptials - but the groom's determination to enjoy a last taste of freedom leads to trouble.

t Broken Flowers: The critical reaction to indie director Jim Jarmusch's latest film - which follows jaded serial lothario Bill Murray as he visits his former lovers to try and track down his son - was mixed. While some complained that Murray's character was too similar to those he played in Lost in Translation and the Life Aquatic, it still had some hilarious moments - and boasts one of the coolest soundtracks of the year.

Worst film of 2005:

t Sin City: Filmed in black and white with vivid splashes of colour this adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel was one of the year's most stylish looking movies - and its star-studded cast included Bruce Willis, Clive Owen and Jessica Alba. But it was unnecessarily brutal, boring and over-long.

Trailers for 2006:

t Walk the Line: Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon star as the late country music superstar Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter in this Golden Globe-nominated biopic. Out February 3.

t Brokeback Mountain: Ang Lee directs this adaptation of an Annie Proulx story about a secret relationship between two cowboys. Stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. Out January 13.

t Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest: Looking forward to the summer, Johnny Depp is back in Keith Richards mode as Captain Jack Sparrow in the second film in the swashbuckling Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Dead Man's Chest. Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley also return. Out July 6.

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