November 18, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Posted in Decade One | Leave a comment

So, here is how my list works.  I have put all 79 films I saw from 2006 in roughly my preferential order.


  1. Shortbus– This movie had to be #1 for me because it was the only film this year that really blew me away.  It opened my eyes to an entirely new way of looking at movies.  It took the most cynical genre in film (pornography) and made it into its opposite: optimistic, intimate, vulnerable, surprisingly funny and (most importantly) real.  What a revelation!
  2. The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief– Sadly this was a small Japanese documentary that I saw DocuFest; I doubt it will ever have wide release (sorry to tease you).  But, if you get a chance, see it.  It looks at the fascinating world of “host boys,” pretty young boys who make themselves up and sell the illusion of love to young women for large amounts of money.  It was eerie to watch the girls’ denial and to see these boys rationalizing the selling of their souls and see the effect it had on them.
  3. Brick– Many people hated this movie (especially critics) but, as you can see from my list, they were wrong.  This film both riffs on and plays homage to classic Film Noir and, for me, it worked.  The director so meticulously maintains the key elements of Noir while poking fun at them brilliantly.  The film manages its extremes well; it is both absurd and serious, goofy and complex, loveable and disturbing.  I giggled all the way through it, partly at the (very intentional) humor and partly at the audacity.
  4. Letters from Iwo Jima– I loved everything about this film.  The acting was fantastic, the pace unrelenting, and the camera work appropriately claustrophobic.  I was most taken with the lighting though: long shadows, muted colors, sharp distorted angles all gave me a powerful sense of being trapped and hopeless.  Making this film from the Japanese perspective may have been the only way to make a truly anti-war war movie; there are no good guys and bad guys, only horror.
  5. Notes on a Scandal– This film is only #5 on my list because of Judi Dench’s performance.  She was the best villain of the year and a sheer, horrible pleasure to watch.  She made me squirm every scene she was in.  Without her, the film would have been halfway down my list.  So, why is it above the Queen? Well, there is that boy too…
  6. The Queen– I am sure everyone has either heard of or seen Helen Mirrin’s performance, so there is no point in repeating the praise.  The film is sweet and touching and I find myself strangely sympathetic to the Queen but none of that by itself would get the film in my top 10.  That is all Helen’s doing.
  7. Babel– This film was a fitting completion to director Alejandro Inarritu’s trilogy (I liked Amores Perros and disliked 21 Grams).  I thought it beautifully explored the way in which cultures and languages clash in our modern world, even amongst those of similar ethnicity.  Some segments worked better than others for me and I was most drawn to Rinko Kikuchi’s performance as a deaf/mute Japanese girl; everything was caught in her facial expressions and they were brutal to watch.
  8. The Departed– The best edge-of-your-seat thriller I have seen in years.  I could hardly breathe in some scenes and, just when I thought it was over… Again and again it kept me jumping.  They should all be this good.
  9. The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros– The best word for this film is “sweet.”  It’s a Filipino film about a young gay boy falling in love.  It was the top film in the Philippines when it was released (last year?).  It was filmed in the director’s neighborhood using his home, family and friends.  In fact, the little gaggle of gay boys that Maximo runs with is actually the very real little gaggle of gay boys who run around that neighborhood.  I saw it at a film festival but the directors were hoping for an American release.  If you can, see it.  It is fun and touching and very sweet.
  10. The History Boys– This almost did not make the top 10.  Pan’s Labyrinth or Bobby almost made it.  In the end, I included it because it was such a pleasant surprise.  I had thought it would be trite and boring and trivial and, in fact, the only reason I saw it was because Richard Roper hated it so much (for silly moralizing reasons). But I had such fun at this film.  It was very witty (in the driest, geekiest sort of way) and very sentimental. As many of you know, I am such a sucker for the sentimental.  I find myself quoting lines from this film more than any other I saw this year; that alone should put in on the list.


The Rest, from better to worse:

Pan’s Labyrinth


The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

The Last King of Scotland

Scanner Darkly


Little Children

An Inconvenient Truth

Why We Fight

Casino Royale

Little Miss Sunshine

Thank You For Smoking


Half Nelson


Duck Season

Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man

Whole New Thing

This Film Is Not Yet Rated

The Children of Men

Clerks II

Inside Man


Boys of Baraka

FUCK: a documentary

Summer Storm


Brothers of the Head

New York Doll

Fast Food Nation


Unknown White Male

Monster House


Cowboy de l’Amor

The Confederate States of America


For Your Consideration

Who Killed the Electric Car?

The Libertine


The Lives of Others

Lonesome Jim

American Hardcore

The Good Shepherd


Running With Scissors

V for Vendetta

The Illusionist

Twelve and Holding

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

X-Men: United

Superman Returns


The Da Vinci Code

Blood Diamond

The Night Listener

Night at the Museum

Ice Age 2: The Meltdown

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story

Prairie Home Companion

Art School Confidential

Kinky Boots

The King

Al Franken: And God Spoke

Boys’ Grammar

Wondrous Oblivion

Wild Tigers I Have Known


The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things


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