O.K…here’s the much awaited list of my favorite films of 2006. I think I saw some films that were “better” (BABEL comes to mind) but these are the ones I enjoyed the most. I’m going to count backwards so it looks right this time…
10. HALF NELSON
I saw this at Sundance last year and just loved it so much. Considering I only saw 3 movies I genuinely loved (out of 30 plus…ugh) my cynicism level was super high. But Ryan Gosline is a badass in “Half Nelson” as a crackheaded teacher in the inner-city won me over. This movie never goes where you think it will and it’s still edgy, funny, grimy and great. I’m betting Gosling gets a much deserved Oscar nod.
9. INSIDE MAN
Spike Lee is one of my favorite directors, period. But even as a Spike fan, I’ve been rather confused with the purpose of his most recent, half-baked films “Bamboozled” and “She Hate Me.” While “Bamboozled” showed Spike at his angry best, it was still lacking a certain cohesiveness. But “Inside Man” is a frigging awesome movie! It’s not just a heist/caper film. There’s also some incredible visual imagery that gives the whole flick a certain political tinge. I’m not going to get into it now because I need to see the film again, but it’s on DVD so go rent it and enjoy a fun flick with a lot of intricacy. And, a lot of straight forward movie fun.
8. LADY IN THE WATER
I’m not a “huge” M. Night fan, but I’m also mature enough to stay off the M. Night bashing bandwagon. I still dig the guys flicks. I mean, people get on Spielberg because every movie he does ends up in some familial group hug but…helllooo…that’s what he does. M. Night does twists. Deal with it. I also felt like “Lady in the Water” is a throwback to a time when we were all young and enjoyed going to the movies to enjoy going to the movies. There was no internet gossip and message boards to ruin the fun. We went, we saw, we liked. Or hated. I genuinely enjoyed “Lady in the Water” and I think there’s some great allegory going on in regards to creative people and being creative in general. I need to buy this one too so I can be more nerdy in blogs.
7. SCIENCE OF SLEEP
Ah, Michel Gondry…you joyous madman! I missed “Science of Sleep” at Sundance and had to wait and wait to see it. When I finally did, I’m glad I did because it was in theaters for about a week. What I saw was a funny, sad and incredibly creative film about a guy who’s cripplingly creative and also fairly socially retarded. I mean, it’s not that simple, but it kind of is. There’s also some amazing special effects here….but they are special because they aren’t done with a green screen. Nothing goes “boom.” Instead Gondry indulges the eye with paper cut outs and string sculpture and…like…gels. This movie was so good and so soon forgotten you won’t believe it when you see it on DVD.
6. CHILDREN OF MEN
I just saw this today…like, 2 hours ago. It totally blew me away. But, there’s so many killer camera moves and shots and such incredible long takes in the film, I kind of found myself gawking at the landscape and losing track of the story. In short, I need to see it again and really take it all in. But what I managed to take in was simply, amazing. Director Alfonso Cuaron creates a future that looks a whole heck of a lot like the present, only much more grim. The story is confusing, but in a good way. This is also my second Clive Owen film on the list (“Inside Man” has Clive as well) which is weird because I think he’s so-so. But here, he’s a perfect anti-hero and “Children of Men” needs to be seen by as many people as possible so more movies like this can get made.
5. WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE: A REQUIEM IN FOUR ACTS
And…we have another Spike Lee movie in my top ten. And that’s a good thing! I shall step further up on my soapbox to say...what has happened in New Orleans is the most disgusting thing to ever happen to Americans…ever. Worse than 9-11. There, I said it. While 9-11 was God awful, our Government not only set New Orleans up to fail, they let them fail, did nothing to help and have STILL not done anything to help. It’s totally and utterly disgusting and unforgivable.
Spike Lee gets that and of all people, he lays it out in the most fair way possible. He blames everyone a little bit for what happened but also discredits some theories about why this happened. In fact, he never really says what he thinks was the main cause and I think that’s the point. It was a number of things. I loved this movie because it’s motivational and educational. It’s incredibly sad yet still hopeful. It’s the best documentary I’ve ever seen. Go rent it now. I mean it…like go out your door and rent it now. Go.
4. THE DEPARTED
This one was probably the most fun I had at the movies all year. It was just a balls out funny, violent, interesting fun movie. I’ve grown to really dislike Jack Nicholson and his phoning in of every role. But here, he actually acts and he’s great! Everyone is great in this film (Matt Damon, Leo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg..everyone!) and that’s what makes it so enjoyable. Plus…blood. And guts. I’m not a big gore guy, but Scorsese does it right. I hope Scorsese doesn’t win best director for this one because he’s directed better films. But “The Departed” is a blast. I was smiling from start to finish.
3. CLERKS 2
This was my favorite film of the year until I saw my top two…but “Clerks 2” is still pretty damned awesome! Those of you who know me know I love Kevin Smith. However, I felt like he was pussing out by going back to the “Clerks” well. I love “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” because I get all the inside jokes and they supplement the real jokes perfectly. But that was all I wanted to see of “that world.” Still, like a good Kevin Smith fan, I went to “Clerks 2” expecting the same ole same ole (which isn’t necessarily bad) but what I got was much funnier and much more poignant that I ever expected. I don’t want to give too much away because I can honestly recommend this to anyone who wants to laugh and isn’t too easily offended. But I will say, the humor is wicked and the story is very heartfelt and true.
2. PAN’S LABYRINTH
This movie kicks so much ass, I can’t even really write about it. In short, it’s a horror-fantasy film that takes place in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. Yet the horror takes place in the “real” world while the fantasy tries to provide an escape for the young girl who plays Ofelia, a dreamer who might be the true Queen of the underworld. I hope anyone reading this who hasn’t seen this film goes because it deserves to be seen. It’s brilliant and creative…and in Spanish with subtitles. There’s no celebrities in it. It needs people to see it and trust me, you won’t be disappointed. I’m picking it to win best foreign film at the Oscars and wish every day that the brilliant Guillermo del Toro would get a much deserved best director nomination. Please please please please…
1. LITTLE CHILDREN
This movie blew me away. Totally and completely. It’s quietly in your face. It’s the darkest of dark comedies. It’s just about the most perfect movie I’ve seen. Yes, there is a fairly involved storyline involving a pedophile. But I assure you, that’s not just what “Little Children” is about. It’s about people who see a last chance to hold onto some childish dream. It’s about the cost of selfishness. It’s about the doldrums of parenthood…and the joys. I laughed, I cried…I cringed. I can’ t wait to see it again either. Read my review here, it might make more sense. Oh, and I’m also totally in love with Kate Winslet. I mean, I was before and I still am not seeing that Rom-Com she did with Cameron Diaz and Jack Black…but gosh I heart her.