Top 7 Films of 2006 (Plus 13 Really Good Ones)

So, yeah, this is late. I didn’t mean to wait this long, in fact I started this a while ago and just forgot about it. On the plus side, I’ve seen a lot more films since I started the piece. Unfortunately, that didn’t add much. I was going for the obvious top 10 list, but had trouble finding an obvious top 10. Then it hit me – I’ll just list the movies I loved. OK, I loved only two movies last year, but there were another 5 that I thought were awesome. 7’s a lucky number, so we’re going with that.

As usual, this post and all reviews I link to are completely spoiler-free.

Loved it!

Art School Confidential
Funny, insightful, wry. I didn’t go to art school, but this film portrays archetypes so I felt in on the joke the whole way through. Even if you just had an art department in your school, or have dealt with artists, you’ll know these characters. Maybe you are one. Certainly, many guys can relate to pursuing something grand just to get girls. It’s from Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes, the creators of Ghost World, which I think was even better.

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Do I really need to say anything about this one? Just make sure you watch the deleted scenes on the DVD (which looks like a bootleg disc from the eastern bloc equivalent of Memorex).


Casino Royale
Perhaps because I’m no expert in the early Bond films, I thought this was the best yet. Just read Masterchief’s review and the ensuing comments. Clearly, a movie near and dear to every Crack Team Agent in the field.

The Departed
A brilliant film that won all the major awards and deserved them. It’s really weird for a real man like me to admit liking the films of Leonardo DiCaprio, but his recent films – Gangs of New York, The Aviator, Blood Diamond, and Catch Me If You Can – have all been fantastic. Yes, of course, let’s credit Scorcese for most of that. Perhaps that will be Scorcese’s true legacy: the man who made DiCaprio less fruity. (Just kidding! Mostly. Stop yelling!)

Miami Vice
Another great film by Michael Mann, who gave it the Heat treatment. As Agent Renegade has often said, Heat is probably one of the most underrated (or perhaps under-appreciated) films of the last two decades. A tough, gritty film, very little like the series. I’d love to see this made into a franchise; we have so few action films of this quality, made for adults instead of 13 year olds.

V For Vendetta
Another film for us to enjoy and for author Alan Moore to get all pissed about and remove his name from. Strange and beautiful, which is also how I think of Natalie Portman. Again, read Masterchief’s review and ensuing comments for more, uh, commentary.

This did not get near the credit it deserved. It is hilarious, and frighteningly insightful. It makes crazy fun of idiots, including idiot corporations, which is very likely what held it back. It’s directed by Mike Judge, and OK, it’s not Office Space, but practically nothing is. This is probably more laugh out loud funny, and there are scenes where you’ll hit pause and marvel at the image on the screen. I’m thinking especially of a city skyline that you won’t soon forget.

Really Good!

Blood Diamond
As Renegade said, it’s not a light evening’s entertainment, but it’s very well made. Like Hotel Rwanda, I felt enlightened when it was over. However, I also felt depressed. Surprisingly, it was not because of DiCaprio’s accent, which I thought was going to drive me nuts but didn’t. If you want to be further enlightened on the ridiculous diamond trade, Wired has a fascinating article about synthetic diamonds. In fact, if you get your girlfriend to see this movie and read that article, you’ll save a fortune on your engagement ring.

Children of Men
A film of great impact and craftsmanship. This would be in most people’s top 10, but I’m not most people. For me, it joins films like Requiem for a Dream that I’m glad I saw, but I’m unlikely ever to see again. This is because I’m never in a mood to be depressed. So I may never see films like The Pianist, House of Sand and Fog, or Babel, but don’t let that stop you! Clive Owen and Michael Caine were superb.

Clerks II
I’m sure a lot of you are surprised I didn’t put this up top, what with my vast collection of Kevin Smith t-shirts (pretty much all of them). And I thought this was hysterical, and still quote it. But it just didn’t have the impact many of his other films did, and it’s hard not to compare this to them.

Flags of Our Fathers
Letters from Iwo Jima

These were stories that had to be told. I wrote a full review of Flags, but never did one for Letters. They are companion pieces, so obviously it’d be a shame to see one and not the other.

Inside Man
An entertaining and clever caper movie. It’s rare when you’re rooting for both the good guy and the bad guy. Clive Owen kicks ass (obviously, and literally) and Denzel was Denzel, which is good enough for me.

The feel-good movie of this list! Nicely captures the era and city, as I mentioned in my full review.

Little Miss Sunshine
Enjoyable, quirky film. Alan Arkin and Steve Carell really stand out.

Lucky Number Slevin
A complex but entertaining ganster/caper/comedy. Fun film, good cast. Did I mention Lucy Liu? She so cute…

Mission: Impossible III
Probably the best in the series. Directed by J.J. Abrams of Alias and Lost fame, and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, one my generation’s greatest actors. Everyone else does a solid job, too.

Rocky Balboa
Just a great way to end a franchise. Fitting, realistic, and never sells out.

Superman Returns
Screw you, I liked this. OK, maybe I just love Superman, the archetypal superhero. You can read my full review, which includes a rather complete rundown of alternate casting.

Thank You for Smoking
Smart, witty comedy. I never felt like I was being lectured, even though I learned a few things. But the Katie Holmes sex scene got way too much hype for what it was, so don’t get your hopes up there.