With Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee manages a tricky feat: he genuinely shocks. I'm not talking about the homoeroticization of the Western; anyone who's seen The Iron Horse knows that in that sense, there's very little going on here that can be thought to be very new. But Lee has somehow managed to completely defy convention by making a film that takes love seriously, in a way that allows for some ecstasy and ample tragedy, and yet zero cynicism. His subtle, almost painterly telling of the story of a lifelong love between two men who can never really be together drops at the very end of a year obsessed with Movies That Mean Something, and it manages to raise the stakes. It's not particularly politically provocative, and it's flawed for sure, but in its subtle elevation of a single romance to the stuff of literal life and death, Brokeback Mountain makes every bleeding heart film (from the justly-commended Good, to the Constantly over-praised bad) in a year chock full of them look comparatively burlesque. It stands as a stunning reminder of how wonderful/awful a real coronary hemorrhage actually feels – and, of how at the end of the day, there really isn't anything more important to most of us than finding someone whose very presence gives us some kind of tangible proof that we're alive.