Top Movies 2006

United States
December 30, 2006 10:56pm CST
Well, with 2006 coming to a close, I would like to review the year in movies. Thanks to the activities of the Bush administration, 2005's trend of politically minded fare continued into this year. 2006 saw the release of not one, but two 9/11 features ("United 93" and "World Trade Center"). With the war escalating in Iraq and habeas corpus being overturned, global violence seems to have an influenced filmmakers in their work. The year opened with "Hostel" and ended with the remake of "Black Christmas." Just like the late 60s and early 70s horror movies that reflected a certain sensibility in the minds of Americans (movies like "Night of the Living Dead", "The Hills Have Eyes" and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" certainly captured the feeling of society coming undone), contemporary horror movies can be characterized by their extreme ultraviolence. Even mainstream Hollywood had its own fair share, with movies like "Miami Vice", "The Departed", and even James Bond exhibiting its own sense of nihilism. However, as for the endless parade of gory horror movie sequels and remakes that came out, their effectiveness, quality of work, or ability to create a lasting impression remains to be seen. As usual, even beyond the horror genre, Hollywood continues to churn out sequels and remakes at alarming speed, with the trend looking like it won't come to an end anytime soon. The death of Robert Altman, one of medium's true auteurs, makes this year a little difficult to bear. However, there were a few suprises and even amazements this year, and those are the ones I would like to celebrate. Here's my personal list of the best films of 2006: "Children of Men" A political futuristic dystopia that's also one of the lushest and most beautifully realized movies of the year, Alfonso Cuaron's work is alive with passion and ideas. The bravura camerawork and technical accomplishments alone would be enough to recommend it, but it has a core of humanism that's impossible to ignore. A true masterpiece of speculative fiction. "Dave Chappelle's Block Party" and "The Science of Sleep" Michel Gondry had an exemplary year, directing two wonderful features. The first, one of the best concert films ever, and the second, a playful mediation on the power of imagination, both feature a unique sense of humor and joyous sensation throughout. "Babel" A visionary epic that tells multiple stories on globalization and communication, this is not an easy film to watch, yet remains engaging the whole time. It spans four continents and different dialects and runs the gamut from intimate dilemmas to full on global distress. It's the film that the completely overrated "Crash" wanted so badly to be. "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts" I don't care that it premiered on TV. It is a haunting epic of compassion, anger, and sadness. A true eulogy to the victims of Hurricane katrina and a scathing indictment of the ineffectualness on the part of the government, Spike Lee's documentary is a work that needs to be seen. "A Scanner Darkly" Like "Children of Men", it's a futuristic thriller that really speaks more to our current troubled times. Richard Linklater employs the animation techniques he used in "Waking Life" to dazzling effect and produce an entirely original work. As Andrew O'Heir of salon.com said in his review, "There's no other filmmaker, living or dead, who could produce a futuristic sci-fi nightmare, a hipster comedy, a haunting film noir and a cartoon, all in the same movie". "The Road to Guantanamo" Michael Winterbottom (the British Steven Soderbergh) lacerating film mixes documentary with brilliantly filmed recreations. It tells the story of the Tipton Three, a trio of young British Muslim men who made the extraordinarily bad decision to air travel a few days after September 11, 2001, and chronicles their journey to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. It is an emotionally draining affair as the film depicts the torture and unjust imprisonment of three innocent people. While the harrowing experience does have an optimistic ending, there are many other captives who aren't as fortunate. The film reveals some of the human cost on the "War on Terror". "Little Miss Sunshine" The antithesis to this administration's emphasis on conservative family values, the film is a glorious triumph showing a family of beautiful losers trying to get by. Despite the level of dysfunction present, the love and compassion they share for each other is readily evident and allows them to survive a world of indifferent conformity. The film is a savage send-up of children's pageant culture and reveals the hypocrisy that lies dormant within. The film is sentimental without being maudlin, and heartwarming while barely trying. "An Inconvienant Truth" Al Gore with a powerpoint presentation doesn't exactly sound cinematic, but trust me when I say it's one of the most important movies this year. Al Gore comes off really well in this: he's articulate, self-deprecating, and possesses a subtle sense of humor (it's tantalizing to imagine him as president). His passion to end global warming is infectious and the audience is galvanized by the end. His earnest plea to not make global warming a political issue continues to fall on deaf ears. This issue to too prescient to continue to ignore. "Solo Dios Sabe" (Only God Knows) I caught this at the NYLatino Film Festival this past summer and its imagery has stuck with me since. A heady mix of spirituality, family, and romance, this passionate film just leaves you breathless. I hope it gets a wider distribution in this country. We need more movies like this. "The Fountain" Darren Aronofsky's passion project finally came out after many years of setbacks and hassles. What we get is a surreal science fiction piece that poses philosophical quandaries into the complex nature of love and mortality. A small film that dares to ask big questions, Aronofsky's trippy meditation of eternal romance sometimes risks ridiculousness in order to achieve sublimity. The fact that he comes so close to achieving it is a miracle. Honorable Mentions: "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," "The Departed," "Inside Man," "Mary," "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," "Thank You for Smoking," "V for Vendetta," and "Volver."
1 person likes this
4 responses
@meeshee1 (188)
• United States
11 Jan 07
You're an absolutely wonderful writer! Seriously, your reviews have a great and professional tone to them. Keep up the good word. I adored Children of Men. I am renting Little miss Sunshine tonight, and Science of Sleep is next. Thanks so much for the insights!
@meeshee1 (188)
• United States
11 Jan 07
Keep up the good word AND the good work :)
• United States
12 Jan 07
Thank you very much for the kind words. I always appreciate some feedback. Hope you like Little Miss Sunshine and Science of Sleep. There were some films from last year I missed that I hope to catch up on: Short Bus, Marie Antoinette, A Prairie Home Companion, Bubble, Man Push Cart, The Motel, Fast Food Nation, Iraq in Fragments, and some I still gotta catch in theaters, like Pan's Labyrinth and Inland Empire. Any thoughts on any of those?
@yorb24 (2181)
• United States
31 Dec 06
I want to see Blood Diamond. I've heard very good things about it.
• India
17 Jan 07
Well i really want to see balood diamonds
• India
1 Jan 07
This year Hollywood gave very mind blowing movies. Some of my favourites are Lord of the ring, snakes on plane, fantasy 4 times. It is your first discussion, and I am the second person to reply you. ha ha ha ha ha!! Ok, Good luck for new year.