Intelligent audiences

were rewarded this year with films like

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

(which opened in Portland in March),


(November) and




, which actually catered to emotional maturity instead of the standard teen demographic.

Thanks to Hotel Rwanda (opening in Portland in January), Don Cheadle and victims of genocide finally got the recognition they deserve. Of course, it took an independently produced film and an Irish director to show that Cheadle can carry a film--and that a lot of people died needlessly in Rwanda.

Fans of great filmmaking that happens outside the 50 states got something to be excited about when, after four decades of obscurity in the United States, Japanese director Kinji Fukasaku's classic films--such as Street Mobster, Battles Without Honor and Humanity and Graveyard of Honor--began turning up on DVD.

Horror fans, gore hounds and splatter fetishists all got their fill in February with The Passion of the Christ, the most bloody, violent and sadistic film since 1976's Bloodsucking Freaks.

People who believe film can make a difference were shut out when George W. Bush was re-elected in November. That's despite the unprecedented mainstream popularity of progressive films released during the election season, including Control Room, Outfoxed, Unprecedented and Fahrenheit 9/11.

Filmgoers who don't like to read--or is that think?--missed some of the best films of the year, including The Motorcycle Diaries (which opened in October), A Very Long Engagement and House of Flying Daggers (both December), because they were too lazy to read the little words at the bottom of the screen.

An entire generation of American males had to face up to their inner pedophile when they saw Natalie Portman in 1996's Beautiful Girls, which was released when the pretty young thing, whose character refers to herself as an "old soul," was just 14 years old. Portman is no longer jailbait, yet unfortunately her much publicized nude scenes were still cut from 2004's Closer.

Which brings us to the now-legal Olsen twins, the Mary-Kate-and-Ashley brand. Despite a host of personal problems and the financial failure of their film New York Minute, the billionaire 18-year-old sisters have not yet had to resort to posing nude--much to the disappointment of tabloid readers everywhere.

We all know the Jews control the media, so it came as a big surprise when Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ slipped through the cracks, asserting that God's chosen people were in fact Christ-killers.

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