Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My Favorite Movies of 2006

Last month the Oscars were held. I didn't watch them. There were several reasons for that this year, but the biggest one was that I hadn't seen any of the Best Picture nominees. Everything I've written or said about BABEL, THE DEPARTED, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, THE QUEEN, and SANDS OF IOWA JIMA was totally based off of reviews and interviews I've read and clips I've seen and general word of mouth from film critics and film reviewers I trust. I wanted to make that clear before I give my list of favorite films for last year. Another film that I didn't get to see and I wish I really had the opportunity to was PAN'S LABYRINTH. I became fascinated with the film flipping through a magazine last summer that had some pictures and a general synopsis of the story, but since I didn't see it, it won't be on the list either. So, without further ado, here are my favorite movies of 2006.

9.Talladega Nights--The film wasn't going to win any awards. I'm not even a huge fan of Will Ferrell (I like him, but Phil Hartman was more my comedian). However, I found it to be the funniest film I saw in movie theatres all year. I was quoting lines after having seen the movie once (usually it takes me a couple of viewings before I am able to quote lines like that) and in the early weeks of this current leg of substitute teaching some of those lines helped me break the ice with some students.

8.Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest--This movie was the top grossing film of the year. At one point it even looked like it might be able to dethrone Titanic from the mantle that it sits upon so undeservedly (but it didn't happen). In all honesty, the film probably isn't as good as Pirates of the Caribben: The Curse of the Black Pearl. There are moments that are clearly derivative and cliched. I was also disappointed that the film wasn't a stand alone piece. However, the movie did a great job of just being a good old fashioned high epic movie. Movies shouldn't always be made to deliver important messages or cause people to think; they're also meant to entertain (though the best films will do both).

7.Stranger Than Fiction--Fans of Will Ferrell might not actually like this movie because Will Ferrell doesn't play a usual Will Ferrell character. I really like the movie, though. It made me think about what makes life meaningful and redine my definition of a hero.

6.The Prestige--The best mystery/suspense film I saw all year (including films I watched for the first time on DVD or cable). The movie doesn't have just one twist, but two. I figured one out early on, but the other one kept me guessing. Christopher Nolan is an amazing director and he had not only a top-notch, A-list cast, but all the major actors can actully act and do a great job of it in this film. I especially enjoyed David Bowie's performance (yes, the David Bowie of music fame) as famed scientist, inventor, and rival to Edison; Nikola Tesla. Usually the simplest solution is the correct one.

Lady in the Water--There were a lot of people, including many people who I often agree with in movie tastes, who did not like this movie at all. For many people, they just didn't get it. Lady in the Water is a modern day fairy tale. Plain and simple. Granted it's a bit over-the-top at times and there are certain elements that don't seem to jive upon first viewing. But, think back to when you were a kid and someone told you a bedtime story for the first time. If you had been capable of thinking about the story, there would have been lots of things that wouldn't have made sense. Sometimes that happens in fairy tales. Fairy tales aren't necessary reality. However, they are a way of understanding living, life, and how everything fits together. Also, if your a film-tech-junkie this film has some pretty impressive cinematic techniques. Shyamalan might be a control freak, but he pulls off some pretty impressive stuff that's so well done most viewers don't even realize what they've just seen.

4.Cars--upon initial release Cars was panned by critics acrossed the country and was claimed by many to be Pixar's worst movie. Some of these critics changed their tune later as the movie ended up showing in theatres until early fall, became the top-grossing animated film of the year, and was the top film of the year next to Pirates. It's easy to see why critics on the coasts hated it early on because it celebrates many of the things that we in the rest of the country love: racing, Route 66, and small towns. The movie lost the Best Animated Oscar to Happy Feet and even though I love penguins, Cars is a much better film.

3.Apocalypto--There are a lot of people who haven't seen this movie because of the sub-titles. You shouldn't let sub-titles scare you away. There are others who stayed away because the violence. Apocalypto is a violent picture, but what any basic horror picture nowadays and you'll see more blood and gore than you will here, not to mention that the violence in those pictures is completely unncessary whereas in this film its almost crucial. There are others who didn't see this film because Mel Gibson directed it. You shouldn't let that keep you away because Gibson has shown in each of the four major features that he has directed that he is an incredibly talented director. The film is in many ways a parable for our time. Parables don't just make good stories, they can also change your life.

2.Children of Men--out of all the movies I knew were being released last year, this was the one that I was anticiapting most. On a technical level, it's a masterpiece. The story is gut-wrenching. I found myself in tears at the end. There are many who would classify the movie as a tragedy of Shakespearean levels. It's not really a tragedy, because it ends in hope and in a true tragedy there can be no hope; in a true tragedy evil wins in the end. No, Children of Men is a comedy of the truest kind: one full of darkness, bleakness, violence, anguish, pain, and suffering, but in the end it fills one's heart full of faith, love, and hope.

1.United 93--the biggest surprise of the year. It's a movie about the day that changed the world forever. The performances are lifelike and real. It's the closest regular feature I've ever seen that appears to be like a documentary. The film doesn't preach a message, but illustrates how under the most distressing and horrific of circumstances ordinary people can rise up and achieve something heroic.

Honorable Mention:
As a final note, there's one movie that everyone should go see, but it's really rare to find right now. It's called Tremors 9. The movie is a horror-parody and doesn't pretend to be anything, but. I don't know if anyone will enjoy watching it, but the people making it sure seemed like they had a ball during filming.

No comments: