Best Movies of 2006

1) Children Of Men (Alfonso Cuarron) 

It took a while before Alfonso Cuarron's science fiction masterpiece finally hit the top spot. It started off at #5 and slowly creeped up as the years went by. An absolute virtuosic feat of filmmaking with some of the most remarkable shots you will ever see in any movie. In its telling of the last pregnant woman on earth, Cuarron has crafted a timeless movie that resonates deep in your thoughts. The cinematography is incredible and the narrative is a pure lesson of the craft.

2) The Departed (Martin Scorsese)

Martin Scorsese doesn't necesarilly tell a story as much as pour heart and soul to it. There's no way a person can come away unaffected from any of his movies. In The Departed Scorsese tackled familiar territory -the Gangster genre, yet reinvented himself by way of form and style. This is unlike any of the other Scorsese Gangster pictures in that it lets go of the New York  Italian Mob and decides to the tackle Boston Irish brood. Scorsese injects an intensity that he only he can inject in a film and there isn't a moment in the film's 140 minute + running time.

3) Borat (Larry Charles)

Sacha Baron Cohen made a real name for himself in 2006. I was already a fan of his brilliant but retired Da Ali G Show but it was a real kick to see him bring back his loveably racist Kazakhstani man Borat Sagdiyev. The real kicker of the film is that its brilliance doesn't just lie in its Guerilla style doc filmmaking but that the laughs comes with satirical sting. Cohen's Borat brings out the worst of America, a homophobic, racist culturally divided nation that hides beneath its hate. Has any other film done so much to expose that before?

(4) Little Miss Sunshine (Valerie Farris/Jonathan Dayton)

Here's the little comedy that could. Straight out of Sundance in fact. An incredibly reliable cast that brings laughs at you every which way. Little Miss Sunshine is the crowd pleaser that 2006 needed - a raucous showcase for Steve Carell and -especially- Alan Arkin's talents. An almost too relevant satirical look at the little miss beauty pageant scene that only makes you recall how outrageous Honey Boo Boo really is. A family Drama that -for once in movies- actually IS about family. A scathing look at addiction through humor, with Alan Arkin's junkie Grandpa using in a very matter of fact way. pure dark, unadultered fun.

5) United 93 (Paul Greengrass)

Paul Greengrass shoots with a handheld camera to make you feel like you were really there with the passengres and crew of the ill fated September 11th United 93 plane. A heroic story of unimaginable horror with an edge of your seat finale that only reinforces the importance of why that plane had to go down. Greengrass gives his film a documentary style look that goes well the subject matter. It also helps that he casted no name actors to give the film even more realism. When it came out people asked if it was soon. It clearly wasn't.
6) Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro)

Del Toro finally makes a film worthy of his immense talent. This is no Blade 2 or Hell Boy, instead it's a cinematic triumph with enough stunning images to pop your eyes wide open. If there ever was a modern day Wizard Of Oz, this is it - with a schizophernic little dorothy, scarily created monsters and brilliant open ended finale that made us all talk about it when the lights came back on. In his short Hollywood career Del Toro has always had a knack for visuals but never had the story to back it up - here he did.
7) Babel (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)

Director Inarritu makes deep, depressing movies about the human condition. One can look at his first 2 films Amores Perros and 21 Grams as brilliant examples. I'll be the first one to admit that his shtick might be getting tiresome but if he has one more left in him it might be this one. A maddening, mosaical film that shows the connectivity we have with one another in this small planet. It veers towards melodramam at times and frustrates yet its brilliance lies in how much we care of the outcome and how the filmmaking is just so damn good. muchos gracias.

8) Apocalypto (Mel Gibson)

When watching Apocalypto, you can clearly tell it is the work of a mad man. All the better for it. What I look for in movies is a person's vision and if that person has clear issues then it isn't my problem and it, at times such as this one, makes the movie pleasantly cinematic. The director is Mel Gibson and given all his problems with the law, the racist comments he's splurred out and his psycho horror religious previous film The Passion Of The Christ - it kind of made it all the more fun to watch. Which is not to say Gibson is not a brilliant filmmaker. He actually really is. His shot selection and handling of the camera is incredible and his love for historical stories -here it's the mayans- undeniably there.
9) Blood Diamond (Edward Zwick)

Some may have this movie but I dug it very much. This is an important piece of filmmaking about an important subject; the blood diamond trade in Sierra Leone. &&& If you still think Leonardo Dicpario is not that good of an actor, watch this film, he's just so good and so is Dijimon Hounsou who justifiably got an Oscar Nomination for his intensely emotional performance. This is probably the movie-movie of 2006. I don't know many people that didn't like this picture, critic proof but audience ready.

10) The Illusionist (Neil Burger)
10) The Prestige (Chriistopher Nolan)

A great year for movies about Magicians. It's interesting how so many people that I know mix both of these up but in a way they are so different. Different because of their filmmakers. The Prestige is directed by Christopher Nolan and he's just a very different kind of Hollywood director. The ending he uses in The Prestige is head scratching and you really do have to think hard to figure it out, whereas The Illusionist's director Neil Burger is more conventional in his storytelling but nevertheless just as effective as Nolan wth his subject matter. I Couldn't choose one or the other so I decided to make it a tie for 10th place.

12. Inside Man, Spike Lee

13. Casino Royale, Martin Campbell

14. Little Children, Todd Field

15. The Descent, Nei Marshall

16. Cars, John Lasseter

17. Block Party, Michel Gondry

18. The Queen, Stephen Frears

19. V For Vendetta, James McTeigue

20. Crank, Mark Nevldine & Brian Taylor