Wednesday 31 January 2007 @ 4:40 pm
I did this last year, too, so being as it’s almost February already, I might as well do it again.
What follows is the ten films I enjoyed the most in 2006. This is not an authoritative list. This is not me saying “These films rocked, all others sucked.” I’m not qualified to tell you what cinema is better than most. As I’ve not seen every movie that was theatrically released in 2006, I can’t even make like these ten were the best of the lot. These are MY faves – the flicks which did something for me, personally. So before you get all internet-chat-room-y and start tearing me a new one (“This hack can’t direct his own stupid ass movies, so why the fuck’s he making like he’s film savvy?!”), remember: blasting someone because they prefer films you don’t is as futile and stupid as blasting someone who doesn’t like Devil Dogs. Not everyone is down with Drakes Cakes; some cats like that Hostess shit. At the end of the day, neither will prolong your life one second longer (unless you’re starving to death and somone tosses you a Yankee Doodle).
To start with, here’s a fairly comprehensive list of all the major theatrical releases of last year…
Of those, here are the 85 I saw…
Of the 85 I saw, here are my Top Ten for 2006, starting with number one (motherfuck burying the lead)…
The One Everybody Else Liked Too
This is the one film I watched repeatedly in 2006 (other than “Clerks II”, which I had to watch even more during our edit, promotion, etc.) – and I did so because it’s so fucking genius. I’ve seen it eight times now, and it’s been an excellent, compelling watch every time. I will never tire of it. Lots of folks were saying “Scorcese’s back!”, but I never thought he left; can’t a brother take a leave of absence from the genre he defined to try other shit every once in awhile?
But return to the genre he’s most identified with he did, and Jesus, did Mr. Scorcese do so with a vengeance! “The Departed” is so good, it’s actually a strong contender for sex substitute: I’d almost rather watch the flick again than get laid (almost). All the performances, across the board, are superb, but the star turn, for me, was by Matty Damon: he was outstanding as the nearly amoral, uber-charming climber who acts as Jack Nicholson’s eyes and ears within the Boston PD. The elevator scene in which Leonardo DiCaprio has Matt’s corupt cop cuffed is my favorite movie moment of the year – particularly when Matt swings from defiant to broken, begging to be shot. If you haven’t seen this flick yet, what is your problem?
The One That Would’ve Won Best Picture If Harvey Weinstein Had Released It Four Years Ago, Circa Miramax
Todd Field’s study in upper-middle-class suburban unrest and desire is a clinic in subtle performance, largely thanks to the ever-brilliant Kate Winslet. The omniscient narrator, however, owns this flick and elevated it for me: it’s one of the few times omniscient narration was ever used so effectively (and at all: normally, a story narrator in film is a character in the flick). The film felt like a novel splayed across the screen, and I don’t mean it was simply a strong adaptation; it felt like someone was reading you a novel. And I mean that in the best possible way.
The One That Made Me Ashamed I Was Ever Identified as an Independent Filmmaker, Because This is Real Independent Film
The crime of Matt Damon not getting an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in “The Departed” is almost made up for by Ryan Gosling being recognized for his career-defining turn in this small, powerful Sundance graduate. Gosling proves he’s easily the best actor of his generation with his work here, as a laid-back, engaging inner-city teacher/girls basketball coach who’s nursing a serious drug addiction. Newcomer Shakeera Epps as the student who “gets” him and Anthony Mackie as the neighborhood dealer also shine in this flick that reaffirmed my faith in (and love for) Indie Cinema.
The One I’ll Take Shit For, Pt. 1
Yeah, gauche to include your own flick on your own top ten list, but fuck you: I loved this film. How could I not? It came from me, for Christ’s sake. The fucking thing was tailor-made for my tastes. It’s just fucking sad that, considering how customized this flick came for me as a film-lover, I still enjoyed three other films more than my own.
“Clerks II” is my favorite flick I ever made. Hence, it makes the list. If that bugs you, then you’re retarded and need to get out more.
The One Nobody Else Seems to Remember
I’m a Spike Lee fan. I’m a Denzel Washington fan. I’m a Spike/Denzel team-up fan (“Malcolm X”, “Mo’ Better Blues”, “He Got Game”). So this flick was right up my alley. An entertaining and energetic heist movie, “Inside Man” represented a new chapter in Spike’s career: Spike as the director of commercial fare he didn’t write. And if anyone was uncertain before (and after “Do the Right Thing”, how could they be?), it’s abundantly clear with “Inside Man” that Mr. Lee is one of the ten best American directors working today.
The One I’ll Take Shit For, Pt. 2
Despite the presence of the Wachowski Brothers as producers, comparisons to “The Matrix” were unfair, I felt: this political action thriller based on the graphic novel stands on its own. Even though it took liberties with its classic source material, “V” still held up as cinema – in much the same way that Kubrick’s “The Shining” is equally (but differently) as strong a piece as the book it was based on. Kudos for casting the always interesting Hugo Weaving in the lead, instead of an overpaid A-lister who we’d eventually see remove the mask.
The One That Made Me Never Want to Travel Abroad
Yes, Forest Whitaker is as good as the awards groups are saying in this historical drama that examines the brutal rise to power of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, as seen through the eyes of his personal physician. A relevant but unfortunate title seems to be keeping the mainstream from boosting the box office take of a film that should be required viewing in any acting class, so riveting is Whitaker’s passive/bloodily aggressive performance as the paranoid despot.
The One That Made Me Never Want to Fly Again
Shot as though Paul Greengrass were a documentarian aboard the doomed September 11th flight, “United 93″ is a gut-wrenching, nearly real-time study in the horror of a hostage situation in which negotiation to a peaceful conclusion was never an option. Wisely cast with veritable unknowns, “United 93″ isn’t just a loving memorial to some of the first victims of the “War on Terror”, it’s awesome filmmaking.
The One That Made Me Say “What the fuck is going on?!?”
I never read the best-selling book, so I had no idea where this picture was going. And Lord, did it go to weird, imaginative places. Grubby, puzzling and surprisingly touching, this look into the life of a man with an extraordinary sense of smell (and the crimson lengths he’ll go to for it) plays as a sad valentine to first love and the frustrating inability to recreate it.
The One That Actually Lived Up to Its Hype
We’ve seen actors starve themselves and put on massive amounts of weight to play roles, but Sacha Baron Cohen’s ability to stay in character not just throughout the shoot, but also throughout the months-long promotion and release of this extremely funny film version of his “Da Ali G Show” character deserved at least an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. What easily could’ve grown tired and dismissed as merely an overly-extended sketch was kept fresh and funny, thanks wholly to Cohen’s Sellers-like commitment to inhabiting his creation. Yes, the wrestling scene is hysterical, but for me, the funniest moment in a film crammed wall to wall with funny moments was when Borat is looking down at a large turtle (tortoise?) and asks “What kind of dog is this?”
Honorable Mentions go to…
Children of Men
Alright, have at it: what were your faves of last year?
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