AFI AWARDS 2005 – American Film Institute

AFI Awards

Honoring a year of excellence.




…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


…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


…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


…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


…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


…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


…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


…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


…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


…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



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


2005 MARKED BY CONTINUING CONSOLIDATION And then there were six.

The film community continues to consolidate as both Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, a force in American entertainment since 1924 and, in many regards, a symbol for the golden age of Hollywood, and DreamWorks, the youngest film and television studio, were bought by larger corporations.

Both MGM and DreamWorks were founded by movie mavericks — from Louis B. Mayer to Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, & David Geffen — and AFI hopes that this trend for consolidation will respect the rich history that marks our cultural legacy and encourage the creative spirit that drives the art form.

MOVIES AND TELEVISION PICTURE A POST 9/11 WORLD 2005 marked a fully found artistic reaction to 9/11 and the new realities created in its wake. Art not only has the ability to expose the complexities of the changed world we live in, but also to provide a unifying voice for a country trying to heal while still in conflict.

On television, shows like 24, SLEEPER CELL, RESCUE 9/11 and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA all dramatize terrorism, heroism and the struggle to find a common ground.

In theatres, the movies explored these themes in ways that effected audiences physically, intellectually and emotionally: Steven Spielberg’s WAR OF THE WORLDS viscerally moved and terrified audiences with invaders from another world. George Clooney’s GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK celebrated the challenge and bravery of independent journalists. THE MARCH OF THE PENGUINS, a French documentary that chronicled the journey of emperor penguins in Antarctica, proved the surprise hit of the year for its universal message — the need to be part of a community that cares for each other.


At the dawn of American film, there was magic in the moviegoing experience. Strangers came together in the dark and were awed by images of light and a story well told.

Over the first century of American film, great strides were made in this collective experience — ongoing technological leaps in sound, color and projection. But in 2005, it became apparent that a steady downward trend in the experience was a harsh reality, and, in fact, that moviegoing might be at risk.

The reasons for this are vast and varied, including:

· the dramatically increased competition for leisure time from other entertainments that can be delivered on-demand;

· the improvement of home entertainment technologies;

· the rise in video games, where an immersive experience is also interactive;

· the increased availability of motion pictures via illegal downloads or bootleg DVDs.

The coming years will bring new technologies to movie theatres, and AFI hopes that all parties will come together — distributors, exhibitors and patrons — to appreciate the value of the communal experience…at a theatre near you.


The exodus became official in 2005 as television content migrated to multiple screen platforms. Most notably:

· Apple Computer introduced a new video iPod in concert with a content distribution deal with ABC that made LOST and DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES available for download. Later, NBC Universal announced a deal to deliver more than 300 episodes from prime time, cable, late-night and classic TV shows via iPod.

· Twentieth Century Fox premiered a serial drama created specifically for cellular phones based on its television drama 24. The 24 one-minute long “mobisodes” — short for “mobile episode” — are based on the series.

· Time Warner and AOL announced the creation of a new broadband network — named In2TV — that allows on-demand access to thousands of episodes of classic television shows via the Internet.

In the wake of the popularity of digital video recorders, these technological breakthroughs meet the consumers’ needs for content on demand, but also move the receipt of visual storytelling more dramatically toward an isolated experience, to the point where watercooler phenomena may soon be a term of the past.


Hurricane Katrina decimated America’s Gulf Coast, and television brought images of American suffering to the world — images that revealed the existence of an underclass not often seen on television and exposed the world’s most powerful country in a deeply sad and unfavorable light.

In the days that followed, television was not a complacent reporter, but an active participant in the rescue and clean up. When it appeared that local, state and national governments could not respond in a timely manner to the needs of those in trouble, television put a spotlight on the contradictions between what officials were reporting and the images viewers’ were seeing in their living rooms. Reminiscent of television’s coverage of the 1968 Democratic Convention, this forged a new relationship between television and its audience.

The coverage of the hurricane also brought to light the limitations of the medium, where misinformation is embraced as truth and the rush to judgment is fueled by images and words out of context.

Ultimately, the coverage was a testimony to the power of television, to bring us together as a nation, ask difficult questions and offer solutions.


America Online’s exclusive on-line coverage of the multi-city Live 8 concert proved a seismic moment in global access to live events, a role that has evolved from radio to television and, now, to the Internet.

Over five million viewers logged on to the AOL Live 8 site, drawing a larger audience than MTV and ABC’s primetime highlights special, which averaged 2.9 millions viewers. Additionally, in the following week, there were over 25 million on-demand plays of different performances from the concert.

The event has demonstrated how the Internet allows a breadth and depth of coverage not possible through traditional television broadcasting. On the day of the concert, fans could switch between events, see live updates, access full artist information, and share views with fellow fans. After the event, audiences could relive it on demand–watching what they want, when they want it.

Technically, it’s of note that AOL provided the largest number of simultaneous video streams in the history of the Internet without a single break, instilling a level of trust in the consumer that is essential in the migration from one technology to another