Jumping the gun on this a little bit, since there are still a few movies out there that are technically 2006 releases. But I thought I’d do the hard work of ordering more than 130 movies now. But first, a few comments on the year that was (a month and a half ago):
–If things continue on their current course, I’ll remember 2006 as the year that the bottom fell out of the Dallas independent film market. So many movies that didn’t play here, that I thought would have in previous years. Of the film’s on indieWIRE’s Critics Poll, four of the top ten and six of the top 20 have yet to play here. I realize that this sounds like a silly complaint to those who don’t even have stuff like Pan’s Labyrinth playing near them, but it really bothers me all the same.
–2006 was the Year of the Decent. As you’ll see from my year-end list, I found a lot of movies that I was at least OK with, and I saw very few that I strongly disliked. Of course, this is mostly because I try to avoid things that I think I’ll hate – there’s no Little Man or Hostel to be found on my list. But in general, I didn’t feel like a lot of films really let me down.
–On the other hand, nothing really knocked me out, either, except for the top two films, and one of those was made over 30 years ago (but not released in the US until 2006, so it’s eligible for the list as far as I’m concerned). Last year, there were 5 that I thought were truly exceptional (see that list here).
And thus, without further ado, the best films of the year (subject to change, but unlikely to do so):
1) Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro)
2) Army of Shadows (Jean-Pierre Melville)
3) The Prestige (Christopher Nolan)
4) The Queen (Stephen Frears)
5) Neil Young: Heart of Gold (Jonathan Demme)
6) Brick (Rian Johnson)
7) Inside Man (Spike Lee)
8) Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón)
9) Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (Michael Winterbottom)
10) United 93 (Paul Greengrass)
11) Akeelah and the Bee (Doug Atchison)
12) An Inconvenient Truth (Davis Guggenheim)
13) World Trade Center (Oliver Stone)
14) The Fountain (Darren Aronofsky)
15) Sweet Land (Ali Selim)
Clink “Link” for the rest of the year, meticulously ordered by preference. SPOILER: Running with Scissors was my least favorite. END SPOILER.
VERY GOOD (20): Clean; Volver; Block Party; The Proposition; The Notorious Bettie Page; Little Miss Sunshine; The Departed; Marie Antoinette; Tsotsi; L’Enfant (The Child); Sophie Scholl: The Final Days; Monster House; Fateless; Cars; A Prairie Home Companion; Cavite; The Heart of the Game; Idiocracy; Flannel Pajamas; Letters from Iwo Jima
ALSO GOOD, IF NOTHING SPECIAL (39): Casino Royale; Lemming; Half Nelson; Glory Road; Shortbus; Babel; Little Children; Rocky Balboa; Perfume: The Story of a Murderer; The Good Shepherd; Bubble; The Pursuit of Happyness; Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan; Find Me Guilty; Down in the Valley; Duck Season; 13 Tzameti; The Good German; A Scanner Darkly; Factotum; Stranger Than Fiction; The Last King of Scotland; Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World; Why We Fight; Running Scared; Eight Below; Thank You for Smoking; Wah-Wah; Strangers with Candy; Favela Rising; My Country My Country; Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles; The Bridesmaid; A Good Year; Come Early Morning; Fast Food Nation; Game 6; Wordplay; Darwin’s Nightmare
DOESN’T SUCK (31): Don’t Come Knocking; 16 Blocks; The Devil Wears Prada; The Painted Veil; Notes on a Scandal; Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos; Jesus Camp; Apocalypto; V for Vendetta; Ask the Dust; The History Boys; Venus; Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas); Lonesome Jim; Friends with Money; Art School Confidential; Sketches of Frank Gehry; Peaceful Warrior; Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man; The Illusionist; All the King’s Men; Renaissance; Curse of the Golden Flower; The Science of Sleep; Infamous; Deja Vu; The Nativity Story; Winter Passing; Breaking and Entering; Mission: Impossible III; Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest; The Da Vinci Code
SUCKS (22): Lady Vengeance; Miami Vice; Drawing Restraint 9; Hollywoodland; Copying Beethoven; Catch a Fire; Factory Girl; Flags of Our Fathers; The Descent; X-Men: The Last Stand; Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus; Trust the Man; Hard Candy; Superman Returns; Dreamgirls; The Break-Up; The Lake House; Firewall; Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor); Blood Diamond; The Architect
REALLY BADLY SUCKS (10): Unknown White Male; Lady in the Water; Bobby; Miss Potter; Man of the Year; Poseidon; The King; La Moustache; For Your Consideration; Running with Scissors