Click here to view photo gallery


THE 40 YEAR-OLD VIRGIN will make you laugh — and there is no greater gift in the world today. This entertaining film probes the universal fears of sex, intimacy and chest hair, and follows in the tradition of classic American comedies; it is character-driven, sincere and insightful and will have audiences reexamining their own hang-ups — with a smile. The film also introduces the world to a new leading man of laughter — Steve Carell. Read the AFI Catalog entry

A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE is a powerful insight into America's obsession with violence and how it relates to the roles we play, the disguises we choose and the truth in those choices. With surprises at every turn, the film turns classic movie elements on their head and asks us to look at genre from a new perspective. Sexy and bloody, alluring and revolting, the film's delicate balancing act is artfully captured in each suspense-filled shot by David Cronenberg and his gifted creative ensemble. Read the AFI Catalog entry

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN is one of the great love stories in American film. The revolutionary subject matter paints a portrait of passion, longing and loss against the sweeping backdrop of the changing American West. The film is a triumph of acting — Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal bring power and poignancy to two people caught in an emotional maelstrom, without the means to understand their feelings, or the words to express them. The film is a tragic meditation on loneliness, and yet a powerful celebration of friendship and love beyond our control. Read the AFI Catalog entry

CAPOTE is a vividly detailed portrait of an elusive American literary icon at a turning point in his life. Philip Seymour Hoffman inhabits Truman Capote in a performance that captures every nuance of one of the 20th Century's most flamboyant and intriguing characters — layering wit, pain, love and ambition in a crucible of creative and ethical choice. The filmmakers tell this revealing story with economy and power showing how the writer achieved everything he ever wanted and lost his soul. Read the AFI Catalog entry

CRASH is a cinematic fantasia on the duality of man — exploring with astonishing candor how we are divided and tormented by race. There is a sublime poetry to the film that emerges from the union of words and images, using the automobile as a metaphor for how we both distance and touch each other, sometimes violently. The film is distinguished by its extraordinary writing and an acting ensemble that fires on all pistons. Read the AFI Catalog entry

GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK is a refreshingly spare reflection on a controversial and difficult time in the 1950s and, at the same time, an explosive examination of the current American news landscape. Brilliantly choreographed and co-written by director George Clooney, the film illuminates the burden of courage in a free press at odds with both its government and its corporate parent. Clooney's ingenious use of archival footage adds to the great sense of fear and incredulity that these events took place in America. The film's greatest contribution may be to remind audiences that "Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it." Read the AFI Catalog entry

KING KONG is why we go to the movies. It's a love story. It's funny. And it's also a chest-thumping, larger-than-life, thrill-a-minute adventure tale that knows no equal in its use of digital effects to tell a story. And though Peter Jackson continues to awe audiences with his imaginative use of new technologies, it is his great love and respect for the original film that both preserves and expands upon the themes that have made it a classic. In that sense, KING KONG is not only a valentine to American film history — it is American film history. Read the AFI Catalog entry

MUNICH reminds us how lucky we are to live in the time when Steven Spielberg is making movies. This is another landmark contribution to American film from one of its master storytellers. The movie asks difficult questions about the moral complexities of vengeance — and who, ultimately, stands proud in the name of family and home. Great movies stir great debate, and that Spielberg would embrace such a controversial subject and present it as a prayer for peace is as brave and bold a move as we would expect from one of this country's great artists. Read the AFI Catalog entry

THE SQUID AND THE WHALE is a funny film about pain — the deep, aching pain of a family dissolved. It is rare for a film to be comedic and heartbreaking beyond cliches, but the film's standout performances capture the characters with such truth that one cannot help but feel that we've lived with them — and lost them. Made for relatively little money, the movie also reflects the great spectrum of budgets in American film and reminds us that a personal vision, great heart and the commitment of a talented creative ensemble are priceless. Read the AFI Catalog entry

SYRIANA is a complex and intelligent political thriller that demands its audience become an active participant, compelling us to think — and to think globally. In a year when the United States' reliance on oil bubbled up and over the headlines, Stephen Gaghan and his creative ensemble have masterfully woven together a number of plotlines that could each have been a film in itself. The result is a masterwork of storytelling, where each scene leaves your heart racing and your mind engaged. Read the AFI Catalog entry


24 has changed the face of television — one hour, one minute, one second at a time. This is a masterpiece of episodic storytelling and continues to deal with the bright color issues in America's war on terror with a degree of difficulty that is off today's television charts. Powerful and involving, with characters who are more fully realized with each season, the show still has viewers on the edge of their seats, both riveted to the action and begging, pleading for a modicum of relief.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA soars light years beyond the expectations of science fiction on television. Au courant and hard-hitting, it's one of the best series today about United States entanglements in the war on terror, addressing the moral quandary — when at war, when does a society become that which it opposes? It is this kind of deep thinking in space that makes the show both a cautionary tale and a rip-roaring, out-of-this-world adventure.

DEADWOOD is a Shakespearean epic in spurs and continues to blaze new trails in television as it enters its second season. David Milch's use of language continues to astound, and when the superb ensemble acting, production design and costumes are added to the artistry of the page, the viewer enters a fully realized world of exceptional heft — which is just one of the four-letter words that best describe DEADWOOD.

GREY'S ANATOMY is one hour of pure pleasure each week — a medical mixer on our need to connect and a McDreamy reminder that one of television's primary goals is to entertain. The program hit its stride in 2005, intertwining life and death and love in a scintillating package — one that is enriched by the show's color-blind casting and bedpan humor.

HOUSE has redefined the medical television show. No longer a world where an idealized doctor has all the answers or a hospital where gurneys race down the hallways, HOUSE's focus is on the pharmacological — and the intellectual demands of being a doctor. The trial-and-error of new medicine skillfully expands the show beyond the format of a classic procedural, and at the show's heart, a brilliant but flawed physician is doling out the prescriptions — a fitting symbol for modern medicine.

LOST is a tribute to the intellect of its viewing audience — with a dozen major characters and a vast number of story lines leading us through the wilds of a remote island and the bizarre and thrilling mysteries that are found there. This year, the show dared to go too far — and succeeded — mostly by carrying the story forward through flashback. The creative ensemble utilized the device with such effectiveness that it has created a new form of storytelling — characters are more finely developed, mysteries are intensified, and yet audiences are never lost...and always wanting more.

RESCUE ME takes an American hero sacrosanct after 9/11 — the firefighter — and with great respect, honors its legacy by celebrating the struggle under the symbol. Denis Leary is the engine of the show and has created one of the most self-destructive characters in recent memory; one who rescues, but desperately needs to be saved. That the show has life after 9/11 is not only a tribute to the creative ensemble, but also to the healing power of the nation, who loves a hero most when it finds him human.

SLEEPER CELL is a frighteningly real look at the clash of civilizations in a post-9/11 world. The program peels away at the mundanity of American suburbia and exposes the terror that lives just below the surface. Complex, and well-plotted; nuanced, and bold — the show's most significant achievement is that it is, simply, dramatically plausible...which makes it all the more terrifying.

SOMETIMES IN APRIL is a shining example of what television is capable of — illuminating, educating, and in the process, transcending the pain of a subject that would otherwise be impossible to embrace emotionally. After all, how does one tell the story of Rwandan genocide? Here the creative ensemble's courage and artistry has earned them the right not only to present the historically complex saga, but also to offer the question of reconciliation. Spanning this chasm is the function of art in our world.

VERONICA MARS is a celebration of what it is to be a young woman — and a welcome alternative to the feminine model that is threatening to consume American culture. The show is smart and cool and clever — all virtues that are lauded in its geeky heroine. The show's writing and casting also transcend the teen detective log line by not imagining Veronica as a super girl, but a teenager with a strong father figure and loyal friends who live in a community with complicated images of race, class and family — like all of us.