This past year has been one of unprecedented change in cinema. Quite simply, we finally saw the beginnings of a seismic shift in consumers viewing habits. It seems like everything was down. Movie theater attendance, DVD sales, music sales, etc. . However, I don’t think that things are nearly as glum as they appear. Far from it.

Taken individually, I think that compared to other years, the amounts of money that those forms of entertainment brought in are obviously not as high as they were. However, if one were to add up all the box office receipts, DVD sales, e-commerce, brick and mortar outlets and everything else, I am almost certain that this would probably be a record year for the Entertainment Industry.

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Consumers only have so much money and time. With the way technology is advancing (did anybody really think that Apple was going to announce and ship a Video iPod this year?), and new forms of entertainment are being made available to us, through the internet, cable, cellphones..., it is a wonder that consumers can keep up at all. Then when you add what a chore it’s become to actually go to the movies, it’s amazing that the entertainment business is thriving at all.

Here is a list of what I think are the 10 Best Movies that come out this year. Despite rising ticket sales, uncomfortable seats, awful movie patrons and astronomically priced food, I braved the theatergoing experience as much as I could because in spite of all the changes, good or bad, I am first and foremost a moviegoer.

Movie Picture#1 - King Kong

American’s are thought to only be interested in big budget spectacle. You make a good movie and people will come see it. Both of these thoughts appear to be very wrong in regards to King Kong’s surprisingly slow start at the box office. It is still early yet and this movie might very well be everything the bean counters thought it would be, but for right now, it will simply have to be the best film to come out in 2005.

#2 - Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

Loved by many, hated by some, George Lucas wrapped up his epic tale of destiny and fate in the grand form he is known for. While this movie will forever be debated by the hardcore fans, I think what cannot be debated is the sadness we all felt when this film ended. While certainly not the best of all 6 films, it just might very well be the most important.

#3 - Cinderella Man

Yet another example of a great movie that failed to catch on with moviegoers. While I would say that $106 million worldwide (against a budget of $88), certainly doesn’t qualify Cinderella Man as bomb, it does seem surprising. When was the last time we had such a well made boxing movie? A film that really took a look at the theater of the unexpected, and gave us a story that you could never script because nobody would ever believe that it happened? Then again, who would believe that such a great film would be made and so few people would embrace it?

#4 - Munich

Steven Spielberg’s solidly told tale of the aftermath of the 1972 Munich Olympic Massacre, works in large part because of all his gifts as a storyteller. Classically told with few parlor tricks, this movie addresses some of the deeper issues that the world faces today. Yet, at all times, it seems to honestly try and deal with the often ill fated methods of both sides in this noble equation.

Movie Picture#5 - Syriana

Too many stories. Too hard too follow. Too ambitious. Syriana as a film is guilty of being too fractured for it’s own good. It leaves the audience out in the cold because there are too many characters and situations to care about. However, that is precisely why this movie works. Today we are baffled and overwhelmed by all the ill-fated stories that make headlines. We don’t have time to really care, we have to keep moving because a society has been created in which we are forced to keep up. If Syriana is too hard to follow, imagine what the inside of our brains must look like? Syriana may be confusing, but it’s not confused about the cause of this confusion.

#6 - Sin City

Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller have created as interesting a movie as possible from Miller’s darkly layered books. Unapologetically violent, set in a world where the thieves and hookers are the bastions of righteousness, this film flies in the face of everything our society claims to be about. Which also probably explains why it was such a hit and why Rodriguez, with his “greenscreen” shooting style that isn’t at the mercy of a crew, has managed to bring back the importance of something Hollywood has seemed to have somewhat forgotten: the actor’s performance.

#7 - Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

Wildly absorbing, Shane Black moves out from behind his typewriter to direct one of the more interesting films to come out this year. Robert Downey, Jr. and Val Kilmer are excellent as a team of mismatched “partners” who are thrown together in their efforts to solve a crime. I can’t say that I followed the story 100%, but how often can you sit in a movie theater nowadays, gleefully trying to figure things out and just happy to be there?

Movie Picture#8 - Walk The Line

This film works because it never gets lost within itself. Seeing Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon grow to truly love, need and befriend one another over the course of this film, will make you want to root for couples with problems everywhere. The heart of this film is their love story, and despite everything they go through, one always gets the innocent feeling of true love whenever they look at one another.

#9 - A History of Violence

A modern day western that stays with you because the characters are so strong. This film isn’t action packed, nor is it filled with dialogue. In fact, it isn’t even one of those movies that relies on imagery. It is simply about a man trying to take care his family in their small town, and what goes on in the moments in between.

#10 - Robots

In a society that is becoming more technologically advanced by the second, it was nice to see a film that didn’t throw people out just because they were older and couldn’t be productive. It’s a time worn tale, but this movie really highlights the idea that you can teach an old dog new tricks, and oftentimes, learn from them as well.