Monday, January 15, 2007

Top Ten Films of 2006

It's January, so it must be time for me to complain about this bad studio habit of releasing 90% of their awards contenders in December and about 75% of those (or so it seems) in N.Y. and L.A. between Christmas and the new year. I *live* in L.A., and it still annoys me. Admittedly that's partly because during the winter holidays I'm usually visiting family in suburban Virginia (not exactly movie nirvana, there), but also because I seem to spend the better part of the year unenthralled by the lean pickings in theaters, only to be overwhelmed by a surfeit of options at the very end. Why not spread the wealth more evenly over the year so it doesn't feel like either rut or glut? I think the industry underestimates its ability to remember good films that come out in the spring. If anything, they're more likely to stand out by comparison!

Anyway, I've been busy trying to watch as many promising-looking movies as I can in the past few weeks - both new releases (Pan's Labyrinth, Children of Men, Letters from Iwo Jima, The Painted Veil) and older ones that have been picking up Oscar buzz (Little Children, The Queen). Unfortunately, I've also gotten busy at work again so I haven't had time to review them, though I will get to them when I can. In the meantime I think have caught up sufficiently to make my top 10 list for 2006.

1. Pan's Labyrinth
2. The Prestige
3. Children of Men
4. The Departed
5. Marie Antoinette
6. The Fountain
7. United 93
8. A Scanner Darkly
9. The Last King of Scotland
10. Letters from Iwo Jima

(just out of the running: "Little Miss Sunshine," "Inside Man")

What strikes me about this year's top 10 list is that almost every single film on it has major flaws - and yet they are an infinitely more interesting bunch than those that made my top 10 last year. Whereas the movies I picked last year were thoughtfully, carefully, and somewhat generically "well crafted," this year's chosen filmmakers generally went much more out on a limb and illustrated much greater variety and distinction of styles. These are movies that burned themselves into my brain, even if they didn't completely work at all times.


Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

Great list .. Children of Men and The Departed made my Top 10 also, and I'm almost certain Pan's Labyrinth will do, if I ever get to see it! .. It seems like it's been out for about five years now, but I think it's finally going to play wider next week

12:20 PM  
Blogger LVJeff said...

I'd love to see a Pan's Labyrinth review from you. I admire the movie, but I didn't fall in love with it like everyone else, so I've been reading all sorts of reviews to figure out what did and didn't work for people.

1:24 PM  

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