- Brokeback Mountain
- Why We Fight
- Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room
- Grizzly Man
- The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
- Match Point
- Paradise Now
- The Squid And The Whale
It’s as much about what you don’t show as what you obviously emote, and the two men whose relationship makes up the core of Ang Lee’s heartbreaking Brokeback Mountain are perfect opposites. Heath Ledger plays emotionally stunted with fierce intensity in the best role of his sadly short career, as the family man who can’t help but escape into the mountains a few days a year to spend some alone time with his loving buddy Jake Gyllenhaal. His reserve threatens to break as the years pass and the tragedy mounts towards the conclusion, but Lee’s intelligent guidance and Ledger’s own sharp instincts keep it all in line, making the emotional piercing that much harder to take.
The most impressive performance of the year, one that makes you want to be a better person and not just a better actor, was the stunning work by Felicity Huffman in what was already a strong and enjoyable road movie, Transamerica. Huffman said she had to learn “femininity as a foreign language” to play a man achieving the final stages of transition into the female sex, and despite clever makeup, hair and teeth effects, the character is achieved all in the brilliant insecurity she puts into her sassy delivery and unsure posture. Her comedic lines are spot-on (“My parents’ house comes with my parents”) but when it comes time for her to feel the pain, she does it with enormous depth.
Everywhere that Ledger’s stoicism provides the film’s emotional difficulty, Jake Gyllenhaal gives Brokeback Mountain its passion and warmth. An actor who is generally colourless in other films gets the full makeover treatment by Ang Lee, inspired to portray enormous levels of depth and tenderness as the member of the two-man crew who can never get enough love. Gyllenhaal’s desperation to make something legitimate out of his relationship with Ledger is all in the pain emanating from his giant eyes, and makes the film’s conclusion that much harder to take.
“Actually, I was born in Japan,” Embeth Davidtz says to her new in-laws in the strange but delightful Junebug. Wide-eyed and fascinated, Amy Adams responds, “You were not!” A charming supporting player in forgettable roles up until that point became something of a sensation who has since gone to rack up multiple Oscar nominations in a surprisingly short period of time. The best of them is this irresistible characterization of a heavily pregnant, painfully optimistic chatterbox who sees the best in everyone…which in this family is quite the accomplishment. Adams has the ability to present a relentless chipperness which never grows tiresome and makes a sunny disposition somehow compelling.
Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain