One of the joys of writing for moviesonline is that I get to see lot of movies. And when the end of the year rolls around, I get to join in the prestigious (read: pretentious) group of folk who post their "best of" lists. I am proud to impose my opinions upon you.
I want to point out that I try to be fair, but I try to be honest to myself. And really, in the end, it's my opinion that matters. Because I rule. And in all honesty, the most badass film I saw this year was hands down 300. That movie kicked me all sorts of ways in the privates and forced me to say vulgar things proclaiming the films excellence. But in the interest of being fair, I shall keep it simple and stick to theatrical releases for 2006. I'll save 300 for next year.
Without further ado, I present a recap of the year's offerings, complete with some nifty pictures that I deem appropriate.
THE GOOD MOVIES OF 2006
1. The Proposition
Pure badass cinema. I loved every minute of this film. Everything worked for me in this movie, the cinematography, the music, the editing, the sounds of fly buzzing. Hell, Danny Huston worked for me in this movie... and I don't like him at all. Ever. But now, I'm all about it. This movie is gritty, and violent, and oddly poetic. I loved it.
2. Children of Men
Very much like The Proposition. Clive Owen gives an awesome performance in this bleak, yet soothingly hopeful dystopian vision. Everyone is at the top of their game. There are some shots in this movie that must be seen to be believed.
3. Hard Candy
I regret not catching this in theaters. I would have liked to see this with an audience. I freaked out at certain scenes. If there is any justice, come awards time, Ellen Page will win countless recognition for her performance. She's that good.
4. The Science of Sleep
I found this movie heartbreaking and depressing, and yet I loved every minute of it. But I'm a Michel Gondry nut. The film has a very heartfelt and homemade feel to it. I found it irresistable.
5. Little Children
Mmmmm... Kate Winslet. In addition to being mighty yummy in this movie, the rest of the flick is pretty damn solid as well. Weird, dark, morosely funny at parts, outright disturbing at others. And it captures the look and feel of a New Jersey suburb to a T. The others in the cast are outstanding as well.
6. Pan's Labyrinth
My only complaint about this movie is that I would have liked a little more of the weird dark fantasy land. Aside from that, this film is gorgeous and creepy and strange and beautiful. I just love how this movie looks. And it stays with you for days.
7. Casino Royale
I saw this movie twice in the theater. Twice. The only other movie I saw twice in a theater this year was Beerfest. Oh yeah. Now you know where I'm coming from. Best blockbuster of the year, delivering on all levels. Bonus points for having the District B13 guy doing that one fight scene in the beginning.
8. The Fountain
Sweeping epic romance? Spacey psychadelic head trip? Pretentious sappy new-age dribble? All of the above. Darren Aronofsky's third film is a calmer affair than his previous work, but it's his most emotional work to date. It's not as difficult to understand as many people claim it to be, and it contains Hugh Jackman's best performance to date.
9. Stranger Than Fiction
This one grew on me, the more I stopped to think about it and enjoy it. It's got great performances and a solid script that doesn't get carried away with it's own whimsy. At least not too much. Still, it uses a high concept idea as a launching pad for bigger ideas. And it's worth seeing for Maggie Gyllenhaal alone.
I did not have more fun in a movie theater this year then when I saw Slither. I had the time of my life. Repeated viewings have proven that the film is one of my favorites. There were far too many worse movies than Slither released this year, and their success versus this movie's failure baffles me. Slither is Bossome!
11. Clerks 2
It's my favorite Kevin Smith movie by far. The ending is pitch perfect. Randall is proven, once again, to be one of the funniest cinematic characters ever conceived. And it has Rosario Dawson. One day she will be mine. One day....
12. Little Miss Sunshine
This will probably be nominated for Best Picture. And I think it really deserves to win. But it won't. But it's still a fantastic movie.
13. Dave Chappelle's Block Party
Laughed my balls off. The performances were amazing, and it was nice to see this event come together. Once again, Gondry films...
14. The Prestige
Christopher Nolan is 5 for 5 in my opinion. The man doesn't make a bad film. The Prestige is no exception. And the ending is effed in the head.
15. The Departed
This movie is getting praised to high heaven. It almost deserves it, too. Damon and Wahlberg are at their best here. Leo proves to be really good. And Jack... he's Jack. And Scorsese is himself as well.
It's far from a perfect movie, but it's damn funny and has a lot of great ideas. And it's damn funny. And it's got electrolytes. And that's what plants crave.
17. Curious George
Just a happy, no frills monkey going around having fun, and whenever you hear a Jack Johnson song, it's time to get curious.
I like Pixar movies. This is another good one. They just know how to make their movies right.
19. An Inconvenient Truth
Everyone should see this movie. I'm dead serious.
20. V For Vendetta
This is another pretty badass movie. Even better, it holds up on repeat viewings. Great looking, to boot. And a bald Natalie Portman!
OTHER MOVIES OF PARTICULAR NOTE:
Looking for Comedy In The Muslim World, Final Destination 3 (especially that scene with the roller coaster), Night Watch (in my top ten from last year), Winter Passing, Running Scared, Unknown White Male, 16 Blocks, The Hills Have Eyes, Find Me Guilty, Thank You For Smoking (Aaron Eckhart for Best Actor should, but won't happen), Inside Man, Lonesome Jim, Brick, The Devil and Daniel Johnston, Benchwarmers, Lucky Number Slevin, Friends With Money, The Notorious Bettie Page, American Dreamz, Silent Hill (I don't know what happened in this flick, but damn did it look cool), Mission Impossible 3 (Shaun is in it, and helps save the day), The Break Up, District B13, Gamers, 3 Fast 3 Furious, The Lake House (Eff you, I like it), Strangers With Candy, A Scanner Darkly (also on my top ten from last year), Miami Vice, Beerfest, Crank, Feast, The Illusionist (except for the last ten minutes I hated), Jackass Number 2, Running With Scissors (the last scene is beautiful), Babel, Borat, Deja Vu, Curse of the Golden Flower.
THE BAD MOVIES OF 2006
I hate the Underworld movies. Hate them with a passion reserved for few. I hate them so much because I want them to be good. And they are far from good. They have many chances to be good, but rarely does it follow through. For shame. I wanted to walk out of this movie. I wanted to so much, I think I convinced myself I actually did so that I wouldn't remember watching the rest of the movie. It's nice to have these things. This movie angers me.
Here's a fun little story for you. I couldn't wait to see this movie. It was the follow up to Equilibrium, which kicks unholy amounts of ass. The previews were awesome, hinting at a crazy future world full of ninjas and fighting and all sorts of badass things. Then I see the movie and it's bad. Real bad. But I fall asleep and can't judge properly, but the one person who didn't fall asleep said it made no sense either. So months later, in a move so incomprehensible NASA couldn't explain it, I decided to rent it again. And I'll be damned, I fell asleep in the same exact spot. Not a good movie. Just a complete mess. But the music is pretty good, providing a saving grace, along with a pretty cool sword fight.
3. Date Movie
I saw Scary Movie 4, and I was amazed at the lengths to which they tried to tie in all the various movie spoofs. It was a stretch, but it for the most part worked. Date Movie, however, doesn't fare as well. This movie is pretty terrible. It's just movie parody after parody, with no unifying link, or anything remotely funny about them. Just a bad movie.
This movie baffles me. On a technical level, it's an impressive film. Especially the last 20-25 minutes. But the rest of the movie makes me want to declare shenanigans. It's ludicrous. Absolutely ludicrous. It's like Randall's description of the Lord of the Rings in Clerks 2. Just walking. And more walking. And nonsense. And then, just in case there wasn't enough violence in the film, there's a monkey fight. Seriously. A monkey fight. And that's far from the dumbest thing in this movie.
This, in no way, shape, or form, has anything to do with the fact that I co-wrote a college comedy that I think is light years beyond funnier than anything in this movie. However, there isn't a lot about this movie that IS funny. And there isn't anything that is good in it either. Except my buddy Ryan, who was an extra in it. But I don't think his scene is even in the movie. Another reason to not like this movie.
6. Saw III
Mainly on here for disappointment level. There are a few really creepy things going on, and a scene that almost made me vomit. Literally. In the theater. It was unbelievable. But it just felt like a dare to up the ante of grotesque torture porn movies that will be topped by Hostel 2 next year. This one just wasn't worthy of the Saw series thus far, and it contains the worst performance of the year in Angus Macfayden.
7. Phat Girlz
Another disappointing movie, made more painful because I had low expectations to begin with. There are moments of wit and flair in this movie that I kind of enjoyed, if you can believe it. But then it's saddled with a horribly cliched script. Really bad. And anything that was fresh and original gets lost in a sea of formula. On top of which, it was not a well shot film at all, and it looked horrible.
8. The Wild
There were a lot of talking animal movies this year. I didn't see a lot of them. this one I wound up seeing, and it was so damn boring. It was an unfunny Madagascar. I didn't pay to see it, and I still kinda wish I got my money back.
9. Basic Instinct 2
Both my roommate and I watched this movie and fell asleep. I tried to finish it the next day, and I fell asleep again. When I finally made it through the whole movie, I was so angry at myself for having dedicated all that time to actually watching it that I busted out a sock full of change and began wildly swinging it about. Sure, the security deposit was heavily poached to cover the damage, but it was worth it.
10. Lady In The Water
I know it's trendy to hate this movie. And I don't actually hate this movie. It's just tragically misguided. And having read that book about Shyamalan's making of the flick, I understand what he was trying to do. But he still makes a lot of bad choices, and he needed more people to say no to him and challenge him into making a coherent movie. On a technical level, it's quite good, but from a story and ego induced perspective, this beats a Uwe Boll movie and DaVinci Code off the ten worst I saw this year.
Although The DaVinci Code is pretty bad. There are some really dumb things in that movie. Like expressing the idea of Tom Hanks' claustrophobia. However, I will commend the fact that the movie looked EXACTLY like it did in my head as I read the book. In fact, it's the most slavishly dedicated book to movie adaptation I've seen. However, since I hated the book, that doesn't bode well for the movie.
OTHER BAD MOVIES I ACTUALLY BOTHERED REMEMBERING:
Bloodrayne, Dirty, Annapolis, Stay Alive, The House At The End Of The Drive (Even though the story of HOW I saw it was supremely entertaining), 13 Tzamati (only because the premise, is so cool, and it takes SO LONG to get to the premise and have 15 minutes of cool stuff), The DaVinci Code.
MOVIES SO BAD THE TRAILERS ANGERED ME TO NOT EVEN BOTHER SEEING THE MOVIE:
Deck The Halls, Little Man
THE TRULY MEH MOVIES OF 2006:
Hostel, Art School Confidential, X-Men The Last Stand, Beowulf and Grendel, Superman Returns, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (except when Bill Nighy is on screen, then the movie kicks ass), Talladega Nights, The Last Kiss (BRAFF!!!!!!)
IN A CATEGORY ALL THEIR OWN:
Snakes on a Plane, What Is It?
Both these films are required to see with an audience. Snakes because it's so bad that it can only be viewed with alcohol and large groups of people. What Is It because that's the only way you'll ever get to see it. Both are mind blowingly bizarre, but I don't regret seeing them.
FLICKS I DIDN'T GET TO SEE YET THAT I WANT TO, BUT ARE THEREFORE NOT INCLUDED IN MY LISTS:
United 93, World Trade Center (Both because I'm just not ready to see these flicks yet, even though I hear United 93 is an excellent film), The Puffy Chair, Poseidon, A Prairie Home Companion, Nacho Libre, Click, Monster House, The Descent (I need to see it, but I know folks who don't scare easily who say this movie freaked them the hell out), Half Nelson, Tideland, the Queen, The Marine, Marie Antoinette, The Groomsmen, Volver, Perfume, Notes On A Scandal, Rocky Balboa, Cocaine Cowboys, We Are Marshall, Flags of Our Fathers, Letters From Iwo Jima, Flushed Away, Harsh Times (My friend Nate speaks highly of this film, but he also liked Apocalypto), Come Early Morning, Let's Go To Prison (I refuse to believe this movie is unfunny. There's no way it can't), After Dark Horror Fest, Fast Food Nation, Bobby, For Your Consideration, The Aura, Blood Diamond, Inland Empire, The Pursuit of Happyness, The Good German, The Good Shepherd, The Good German Shepherd, Dreamgirls (I'll get to it eventually), The Holiday.
Here's hoping 2007 produces some great flicks. I have high hopes for many. I'll probably post them all up soon. I did it last year, and I had fun doing it. Especially to see how many movies I was excited for that turned out bad.