Saturday, December 30, 2006

2006: The Year in Movies

I am done seeing movies for the year, so here is my year-end wrap-up. (I'll do separate reviews of the most recent movies later.)

I liked going to movies anyway, but I really got into them when I was at Cornell because there was nothing else to do. (I also got more into theatre and classic rock while I was at Cornell, so I guess Ithaca did do me some good.)

I still haven't quite decided on a single best movie, but I'll see if trying to put the year's flicks in perspective helps me out with this. In contrast to Gazebo, this is because there were several fantastic films this year that I can distinguish clearly as being my favorites but which I have trouble ranking relative to each other. Hence, I have to disagree with Gazebo in that I feel there were several standout films in 2006. In my opinion, this year had more really awesome movies than any of the last several years (ever since I began going to movies this frequently). His movie of the year is Brick, which I didn't originally want to seem, but which his high praise has made me want to see.

I'll use wikipedia's film list to hopefully prevent me from forgetting any films, and then I'll try to hand out some awards at the end. It's possible some of the rankings below aren't entirely jiving with my initial reactions to a film or two, but sometimes opinions change upon reflection. Anyway, here are my films of 2006 separated into very broad categories (with order within a ranking not meaning anything):

Fantastic: Thank You for Smoking, V for Vendetta, A Prairie Home Companion, Stranger Than Fiction (wow... Will Farrell can act!), A Scanner Darkly, The Science of Sleep. (I considered putting Smoking and Vendetta on the list just below this one, so this gives me four finalists for film of the year)

Extremely good but not quite awesome: Cars, Pan's Labyrinth (I would consider putting these two on the next list because not much separates them from the top films in that list and in the case of Pan, some more reflection could change the order)

Very Good: Underworld: Evolution (barely makes this category, and I know I like this series more than most), Ice Age: The Meltdown, The Devil Wears Prada, Employee of the Month (which was much better than I thought it would be), Flushed Away (near the top of this list), Casino Royale (near the top of this list), District B13, Night Watch, Scoop (near the top of this list), Curse of the Golden Flower (my 4th foreign language film in a row at the time I saw it [today]!), 10 Items or Less

Good: Ultraviolet, Mission Impossible III, X-Men: The Last Stand, Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest, Little Miss Sunshine (good but not close to as good as most people seem to think), Fearless, The Prestige, Kinky Boots (part of this year's Lola sequence), Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School, This Film is Not Yet Rated, Take The Lead, The History Boys

Fair--OK to Decent--Pretty Good: The Pink Panther (decent), Art School Confidential (fair), Over the Hedge (OK), Clerks II (fair), Marie Antoinette (decent), Happy Feet (OK), For Your Consideration (pretty good), Factotum (fair), Find Me Guilty (pretty good), Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (fair), Volver (decent)

Not so good (aka, bad): Borat (ok, I know why I saw it but I wish I hadn't because things where people are harming other people really stick in my craw, despite the fact that some moments in the film were genuinely funny), Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World (or perhaps in this comedy... all the jokes were in the trailer!)

Snakes on a Plane: This movie is special and deserves its own ranking. I had a lot of fun with it, but it was absolutely essential that I saw this on opening night. So, under the circumstances that I saw it, I would rank the experience as very good. However, if I had seen this film by renting it and watching it at home on my own, then the experience would have suffered a lot and my opinion would be much lower. Accordingly, I hereby proclaim that SoaP is not just a film but also a film category. (Actually, I probably would have classified it as OK independent of everything else because I have a fondness for campiness, but the whole experience was a very important part of the film.)

OK, here are some awards:

Best film of 2006: I can't really decide, so I'm going to cop out and proclaim a four-way tie: A Scanner Darkly, The Science of Sleep, A Prairie Home Companion, and Stranger than Fiction. The second and 4th of these (and Adaptation, for that matter) have some characteristics in common, and all four of these films are considered so-called "independent" releases. (More and more of my favorite films have been going in that direction the past couple years, though I still really enjoy a good blockbuster.) Ask me again in a year, and we'll see if more time makes one of these stand out more than the others.

Best pre-2006 film that I finally saw: Adaptation. My runner-up is Rushmore.

Heaviest film: Pan's Labyrinth, and it isn't close. (In fact, this may be the heaviest film I have ever seen.) This is the first time I have ever been in a theatre where the audience cheered when the bad guy (and, oh, was this guy bad) was nailed. He really had it coming.

Most breasts: Curse of the Golden Flower (again, no other movie is even close)

Most deceptive trailer: United 93

Best stories (outside of the film): Tie between the United 93 trailer and the whole Night Watch experience.

Best animated film: A Scanner Darkly

Biggest disappointment: Borat

Best musical and/or play: I'll do this instead of writing a separate year-end summary. Anyway, the award goes to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

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