Top Ten 2006
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for updated lists of all years go music and movies.
End of year awards

first, some thoughts:

  • there are four films on the list which could potentially be classified as documentaries. i don't know what a documentary is anymore, but i guess that has been a question since the beginning of film. one of the first films (pre-1900 short titled "blacksmithing scene") depicts a few men performing some blacksmithing tasks. it appears to be the first documentary, but they're actually hired actors. this question arises again in 1948 with flaherty's louisiana story, or, some might say, even earlier with this documentary nanook of the north wherein he asked nanook to modify some of his habits for the sake of the film. at any rate, "documentaries" continue to be a consistent force in film.
  • in this year's movie viewing (not necessarily those films which were released this year, i'm just talking about the films i saw this year) the following people moved up in my book: eva mendes, kate winslet, curtis hanson, steve carell, greg kinnear, katharine hepburn, frank capra, spencer tracy, george cukor, hugh jackman, sam peckinpah, and the marx brothers.
  • this year was all about watching movies in the theater. not only did i see a lot of new releases in the theater, but i also old greats like robocop and the wild bunch in the theater. add to that the many films i saw at the south by southwest film festival, the two films screened at the egyptian in los angeles, the oddball films i saw at the alamo in austin, and the documentary i saw at the gene siskel center in chicago and you have quite a diverse collection of theater-screened films for the year.
  • it was also a year of 007 films (at least 10 on the year). speaking of series...i also saw two from the mad max trilogy and two from the star wars trilogy (yes, trilogy. episodes 1-3, so far as i'm concerned, don't exist).



    Honorable Mention:
    click on title for original review
    wasn't technically released this year, but it didn't hit wide release in the states until this year. great great film about guilt and all sorts of things. would have placed in the top five.
    Heart Of The Game
    heart warming documentary about a girl's basketball team. technically released last year because it was screened at the toronto film festival late in 2005. excellent. would have placed around #7.
    also released last year, but was in wide release into may so you figure it out. great film in the noir style. done quite well and has the twist that its setting is a suburban high school. i'm as much of a noir snob as you're likely to meet and i liked it so check it out. would have placed around #6.

    click on title for original review
    10. Break-Up
    every top ten list has to have a film like this on it - a film that won't be on the list in retrospect, but was surprisingly good and satisfying at the time. it doesn't take the easy way out in the end and vaughn was a comic force. let your girlfriend think she's twisting your arm to watch this one.
    9. Stranger Than Fiction
    surprisingly funny and poignant film with a somewhat disappointing (yet somewhat satisfying) ending.
    8. Jackass: Number Two
    one of potentially four documentaries on the list (#4, 5, and 6 could also be considered documentaries). hilarious regardless of its designation. like #5 this one says a lot about where our culture is these days.
    7. Little Children
    good ensemble cast, nicely balanced and uniquely pitched film. definitely worth a look.
    6. S&Man
    this and #4 are probably the two films in the top ten that are likely surprises for most readers of this list. both were screened at the south by southwest film festival. this one is part documentary on horror films and part commentary on the nature of documentary film. thought-provoking, intelligent, and entertaining picture.
    5. Borat
    may have been in the top two or three in 2005, but was only able to come in fifth this year. i had a couple problems with the production and what was portrayed as documentary vs. staged footage, but i can't be certain about it and that's not enough to lower the ranking all that much anyway. very funny and provides good insight into our culture.
    4. Summer Camp
    best documentary of the year. screened at the south by southwest film festival. a very human film. highly recommendable.
    3. United 93
    possibly the best-directed film of the year because of the delicate subject matter. very impactful, but never cliche, trite, or contrived. performances were all where they needed to be. harrowing.
    2. Little Miss Sunshine (2) (3)
    gives #1 a run for its money, especially since i've seen this one three times and it has only grown with subsequent viewings. it's a great film and a labor of love, i wish more films like this were made.
    1. Departed
    phenomenal film with a great balance of brutality, drama, comedy and raw emotion. the ensemble cast is great, as is the storytelling.

    click on title for original review
    5. Akeelah And The Bee
    like the film below, akeelah and the bee is about as bad as a good idea can get. the film has a measure of talent involved and an inspiring story, but it fails in its execution at almost every single turn.
    4. Waist Deep
    pretty much the definition of bad. it doesn't stray into the "truly awful" territory because it's not a reprehensible film (like material girls) or a failure in spite of its potential (like world trade center).
    3. World Trade Center
    this film has a couple things in common with two films in the top ten of the year: maggie gyllenhaal and its subject matter. gyllenhaal was in stranger than fiction, and great in it. and united 93 took the events of the same day and made a great film. meanwhile, oliver stone makes a $100 million flop. how is it possible to take gyllenhaal, $100 million, oliver stone and 9/11 and come up with something this bad?
    2. Date Movie
    with this film i got to see what old people see when they see films of this sort, well done or not. see, i like the scary movie series and other farce films, but i know that 70 year-olds see those films and wince at the childish, gaudy, outrageous style of humor. date movie has all that, but none of the humor; and i consider myself still young enough to judge such things.
    1. Material Girls
    in my review for "john tucker must die" i wrote: "sometimes a film grows in stature as you look back on it, this film shrinks with time. while i was watching it, it was a mildly obnoxious little teen flick. now, a couple days later, it's a pathetic shell of a film that may very well set back humanity 10/20 years. actually, it's not that bad, but it sounds good." when i wrote it i knew it didn't quite fit for that film. sure, john tucker must die was an awful film, but it wasn't that bad. as it turns out, the line ("it's a pathetic shell of a film that may very well set back humanity 10/20 years") was meant for this film, material girls. material girls is absolute dreck and if i were ever to become a nazi it would be my goal to eradicate the earth of this kind of filth.

    Best Actor
    DiCaprio - Departed
    Sacha Baron Cohen - Borat

    Best Actress
    Meryl Streep - Devil Wears Prada
    Ellen Page - Hard Candy

    Best Supporting Actor
    Mark Wahlberg - Departed

    Best Supporting Actress
    Vera Farmiga - Departed
    Maggie Gyllenhaal - Stranger Than Fiction

    Best Screenplay (Original/Adapted)
    Original: Little Miss Sunshine
    Adapted: Departed

    Best Director
    Paul Greengrass - United 93
    Martin Scorsese - Departed

    Best Cinematography

    Best Ensemble Cast
    Little Miss Sunshine

    of the following:

    Night At The Museum
    Good Shepherd
    Rocky Balboa
    Last Holiday
    Blood Diamond
    Just My Luck
    Little Man
    Déjà Vu
    Fast Food Nation
    American Dreamz
    Stranger Than Fiction
    Casino Royale
    Broken Flowers
    Employee Of The Month
    Man Of The Year
    Saw III
    Little Children
    Lucky Number Slevin
    School For Scoundrels
    Jet Li's Fearless
    Marie Antoinette
    Jackass: Number Two
    Material Girls
    Little Miss Sunshine
    Lady In The Water
    World Trade Center
    John Tucker Must Die
    Talladega Nights
    Miami Vice
    My Super Ex-Girlfriend
    Stick It
    You, Me & Dupree
    Pirates Of The Carribbean: Dead Man's Chest
    Waist Deep
    Devil Wears Prada
    Superman Returns
    Nacho Libre
    Lake House
    X-Men: Final Stand
    Inconvenient Truth
    Mission Impossible III
    Da Vinci Code
    Failure To Launch
    Akeelah And The Bee
    Hard Candy
    United 93
    Thank You For Smoking
    Scary Movie 4
    Inside Man
    Punk Like Me
    Al Franken: God Spoke
    Maxed Out
    Population 436
    Summer Camp
    Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That!
    Before The Music Dies
    Shadow Company
    Even Money
    Friends With Money
    Wide Awake
    Small Town Gay Bar
    16 Blocks
    Date Movie
    Final Destination 3
    When A Stranger Calls
    Looking For Comedy In The Muslim World
    Glory Road

    Best studio albums by one artist/group (no compilations or live albums)

    5. AFX (Aphex Twin) - Chosen Lords
    a return for aphex twin. not great, but good to know he's still making decent stuff.

    4. Black Keys - Magic Potion & Chulahoma (EP)
    this one is more stripped of effects than some of their better work, but still worthwhile.

    3. Ali Farka Toure - Savane
    the guy dies and he can't even get #1? jeesh. very good album, but not as good as some of his other stuff.

    2. Jim Gaffigan - Beyond The Pale
    not music, i know. two reasons this isn't number one: it's a comedy album and it has some recycled material from his last album.

    1. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere
    just about every track is interesting in some way and it has the biggest hit of the year, so far as i'm concerned.

    of the following:
    AFX (Aphex Twin) - Chosen Lords
    Ali Farka Toure - Savane
    Bill Maher - New Rules
    Black Keys - Chulahoma (EP)
    Black Keys - Magic Potion
    Border Crossing - Ominous
    Cheikh Lo - Lamp Fall
    Cut Chemist - Audience's Listening
    DJ Shadow - Outsider
    Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
    Ghostface Killah - Fishscale
    Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere
    Hard-Fi - Stars Of CCTV
    Johnny Cash - American V: A Hundred Highways
    Mr. Lif - Mo Mega
    Muse - Black Holes & Revelations
    Neil Young - Living With War
    Paul Simon - Surprise
    Prefuse 73 - Security Screenings
    Red Hot Chili Peppers - Stadium Arcadium
    Scritti Politti - White Bread Black Beer
    Tom Petty  - Highway Companion
    Tool - 10,000 Days
    Toumani Diabate's Symmetric Orchestra - Boulevard de l'Independence