Okay, February is over and I haven’t written my top ten for 2006! That’s not good. So, here goes. These are in alphabetical order—although if I had to pick a top film, it would be either Babel or Pan’s Labrynth.
Babel—Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s 3rd film is another non-linear downer but I was mesmerized from the get go. No one is making more emotionally ambitious films than this talented Mexican filmmaker. This has multiple stories bouncing back and forth, most of them heartbreaking.
Borat—Anything that makes me laugh this much has to be among my favorites. I have been a fan for years and years and this didn’t disappoint. Cohen is absolutely fearless and carries the torch for Andy Kaufman style hi-jinks.
Children of Men—Dystopian future world where women can’t have babies and England is a police state? Count me in! Another Mexican filmmaker here—American directors better step up to the plate.
Pan’s Labrynth—3rd Mexican film. I saw this months ago and I’m still haunted by it. It’s got this dual story line set in fascist Spain and in a young girl’s fantasy world and both are as vivid creations as you’ll see all year. I wish Guillermo Del Toro would stick to this kind of stuff rather than the comic book adaptations like Hellboy.
Stranger Than Fiction—I really enjoyed this comedy/drama that has a guy who starts to hear a voice and it changes his life. It’s funny, quirky, romantic and smart. What more do you want from a film like this?
The Departed—Although this is a bit convoluted (not nearly as much as the Hong Kong original), this is the Martin Scorsese that I love: criminals, murder, gritty violence, cops, f-words, etc. Great cast, great ending, great filmmaker who still loves movies and it shows every time out.
The Descent—This film with a group of athletic women going down in a remote cave, getting lost and then encountering some nasties my favorite horror film of the year. It turns into a friggin’ bloodbath and I loved it for that.
The Fountain—Highly pretentious, ambitious, nonsensical, visually dazzling, wildly romantic film that I loved (and wanted to hate) but sometimes damn it, I just want to see an American director who has the guts to make such an out there picture. This had no chance to be a hit but it’s got some thrilling filmmaking in it so I forgive the ponderous elements.
The Proposition—An Australian western that goes all Peckinpah and Biblical on us thanks to Nick Cave and cohorts. This has more flies per character than you are likely to see in a film. Violent, gritty and takes no prisoners. We need more westerns!
United 93—White knuckle gripping and very well made as the story juggles every conceivable element from the doomed 9/11 flight.