A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Saturday, December 30, 2006



I saw most of the films I wanted to see this year, with a few exceptions (Babel, The Fountain, and When the Levees Broke immediately spring to mind), so for once I feel pretty secure in making my choices. The movies that make up my top 25 would be hard to kick out of their slots. A lot of good stuff came out in 2006.

Since I reviewed most of these for DVD Talk, I'm going to go ahead and link to those reviews for the bulk of the list. If there is no review, or if further explanation is needed, you will find a short blurb here.

1. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, dir. Larry Charles
2. Marie Antoinette, dir. Sofia Coppola
3. Pan's Labyrinth, dir. Guillermo del Torro

4. Dave Chappelle's Block Party/Science of Sleep - Michel Gondry is the first of five directors on the list to score big by putting out two movies in one year. In this case, they are very different. Block Party is a documentary of a musical event, and Science of Sleep is a surreal journey into the mind of a manchild. Both convey a real joy in art, however, even when the fictional film gets a little dark in tone.

5. Manderlay, dir. Lars von Trier
6. Flags of Our Fathers/Letters from Iwo Jima, dir. Clint Eastwood
7. The Departed, dir. Martin Scorsese
8. The Prestige, dir. Christopher Nolan

9. Brick - Writer/director Rian Johnson created a movie mash-up. The script is classic film noir, the setting is 21st century high school. It's amazing how well the melding works. A labyrinthine plot pushed along by tough-guy dialogue and the hottest femme fatale to come alone since Rita Hayworth went down in Lady from Shanghai.

10. Curse of the Golden Flower/Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles - Zhang Yimou showed his range with an elaborate historical drama and a far more down-to-earth contemporary story about family.

11. Three Times, dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien

12. Stranger than Fiction - A real surprise, this one. At the urging of a couple of lit nerds I know, I went to see this. I was convinced the writer element would turn me off and that the film would have no idea how to deliver on the concept. The trailer was also really not funny. Well, that's because they tried to dress it up as a silly Will Ferrell vehicle, when really it was so much more. For fans of metaficton or smart, reality-bending comedies a la Charlie Kaufman's scripts (though, not in that league, it should be said), then do yourself a favor and give this one a go.

13. Volver, dir. Pedro Almodovar

14. The Good German/Bubble - Like Zhang Yimou, Steven Soderbergh did two movies that were vastly different in tone and timeframe. German is a period film with style in excess, while the modern-day murder mystery, Bubble, was an experiment in the Neorealism theories of post-WWII Italian directors using current technology. Bubble isn't entirely successful, but you've got to admire Soderbergh for trying.

15. Dreamgirls, dir. Bill Condon

16. Inside Man - Spike Lee goes all commercial and creates a smart, energetic heist picture starring Clive Owen and Denzel Washington. You're going to be wondering how Owen is going to pull it off right up until the end, and Washington is great as an easygoing detective who is putting more sweat into it than he's willing to show outright.

17. V For Vendetta - An example of how to do a proper adaptation, changing just enough of the Alan Moore and David Lloyd graphic novel to make it feel contemporary and work as a movie. The action is exciting, the story intriguing, and Hugo Weaving proves you can give a nuanced performance without ever showing your face.

18. Jackass 2.0 - What can I say? I laughed from when the lights went down to when they came back up. My face hurt when it was all over.

19. Water, dir. Deepa Mehta

20. The Devil Wears Prada - Anne Hathaway stars as the idealistic reporter sucked into Meryl Streep's fast-paced, image-conscious world of high fashion. While its moralistic streak is a little off track, the movie looks great and is incredibly fun. Stanley Tucci steals the show as the top art director at Streep's magazine. Though, why don't they ever say he's gay? For a movie about fashion, Devil Wears Prada is ridiculously straight.

21. Match Point/Scoop - Woody Allen does two films that center around a murder: one the frothiest of comedies, the other darker and more emotional. Many counted him out, but the old guy is back on form.

22. Russian Dolls, dir. Cédric Klapisch

23. The Proposition - Nick Cave penned this dirt smeared Australian western about family ties and revenge. Not for the feint of heart, because it's violent and bloody, but the gutsy among you will appreciate how The Proposition pulls no punches. Plus, a fantastic score by Cave and violinist Warren Ellis.

24. The Good Shepherd, dir. Robert De Niro
25. The Black Dahlia, dir. Brian De Palma

Current Soundtrack: PJ Harvey, The Peel Sessions 1991-2004

Current Mood: judgmental


Emma said...

Great to see the love for Pan's Labyrinth! Such a beautiful movie.

I shall link you btw. :)

Jamie S. Rich said...

Emma, I don't have a sidebar, but there is a list of sites in my signature for each post, so I've added you, too!