Written by: Kristen Lopez, Editor in Chief
I see a LOT of movies. Every Friday, the people at my local United Artist/Regal Cinema know they will see me. The ticket takers even know me by name. So narrowing down what films are worthy of being called the best of the year was very difficult for me. That said, here’s what I came up with:
10. The Last King of Scotland -This was the one movie that was not included when I originally came up with this list. My original number 10 was the dark comedy Thank You for Smoking . Now while that movie is worthy of being on a list of this sort, Last King is by far a more worthy effort. Following a young Scottish doctor’s struggle to survive the reign of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, this was the story that got Forest Whitaker his Best Actor Oscar. Now, I have submitted a review for the film that discusses why this film is so great, which is why I won’t rehash my reasoning. All in all, the great cast interactions throughout this movie are what make The Last King of Scotland worthy of ousting out the original number 10.
9. Mini’s First Time-This is a film that nobody really knows and to me that’s very sad. A quirky black comedy about a teenage girl turning tricks, seducing her stepfather, and their plot to murder her mother makes for one truly unique piece of cinema in my book. With genuinely hilarious performances from Alec Baldwin, Carrie Ann Moss, and the always perfect Nikki Reed, it is truly the perfect revenge comedy.
8. Brick– The crime noir is alive and well and documented for all to see in the high school mystery Brick. A twist and turn thriller involving drugs, teen pregnancy and murder. Joseph Gorden-Levitt and the other young actors blend great 50’s dialogue and a typical crime noir premise to make a very unique little indie film.
7. The Departed– What would this list be without the 2006 Best Picture winner? This film easily holds you to the edge of your seat until the very last minute. I’m not one to label myself a Scorsese fan by nature, but this film definitely shows the man’s talent for directing. While Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson all shine in their roles, I was taken over by Mark Wahlberg’s performance. This film definitely proves that he’s an actor to take seriously.
6. The Prestige-I flat out adore The Prestige! While 2006 held two films dealing with magicians (this and The Illusionist) I feel this was definitely the better of the two. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale were truly amazing as the rival magicians Robert Angier and Alfred Borden, and the twist at the end was hands down one of the better film endings in awhile.
Hollywoodland– As a follower of the George Reeves murder/suicide story, I waited almost three years for this movie to hit the big screen, and boy was I not disappointed. A film showing every theory surrounding the mysterious death of television’s first Superman, this was a very tight crime thriller. Diane Lane easily steals the show as Toni Mannix, the jilted studio girlfriend of Reeves, and Ben Affleck (kinda, sorta) finally gained his comeback. The film itself was very ironic since Ben Affleck’s reputation was somewhat revived playing an actor who supposedly killed himself after losing his own. Some call the film melodramatic, I see a wonderful movie.
4. United 93– To be honest, I am still shocked that this film didn’t get the Oscar recognition it deserved, the film going public was very much divided on whether it was appropriate to show a film depicting these events. Watching United 93 makes you cringe, cry, and scream all in one. This film is so powerful; it’s almost too much to watch. Showing the final moments of the last plane involved in the 9/11 terrorist plot, it’s easily enough to take you back to where you were that fateful day. With unknown actors and a lot of lines being ad-libbed, it was probably one of the most realistic and heart wrenching films I’ve ever seen.
3. The Fountain– I feel like I’m in the minority by saying this is one of the top three films of 2006, but I have never thought about a movie’s twists almost a month after seeing it. With themes revolving around life, death, love, and resurrection, this film has so much going for it. Hugh Jackman has the heavy task of playing three roles in one, all trying to save the life of one woman (Rachel Weisz). I could talk about this movie all day, and really didn’t expect a lot of Oscar attention for it, although it would have been nice if it had been recognized. With an innovative story, haunting score and beautiful imagery,be sure to check this out once it hits DVD.
2. Happy Feet– Who has seen this movie and left the theater not humming the songs? Happy Feet one of the most creative animated films in awhile, and fun for kids and adults to boot. Revolving around a little penguin with the gift of dance, it has amazing vocal work from Brittany Murphy, Nicole Kidman, and Hugh Jackman (yes, him again). The animation is so realistic you really have to ask yourself what is real and what isn’t.
1. Half Nelson– My number one film for 2006 was this little indie, Half Nelson. Starring Ryan Gosling (in the role that nominated him for an Academy Award), the character of Dan Dunne is an inner city history teacher addicted to cocaine; this movie has a lot of heart and a truly touching story. Watching Gosling spiral out of control due to not only his drug problem, but his constant questions of whether he’s making a difference with his students, was a performance worthy of an Oscar. Newcomer Shareeka Epps is also brilliant as the student who discovers Dunne’s addiction. As the two become connected by this secret, the line between teacher and student starts to blur, and comes together to make one of the best films of the year.
Down in the Valley-This indie film stars Edward Norton as a modern day cowboy in LA, trying to live life with his newfound girlfriend (Evan Rachel Wood) while her father (David Morse) tries to keep them apart. A disturbing little gem with a very unique plot.
Scoop-Woody Allen’s follow up to the brilliant Match Point stars Scarlett Johansson trying to uncover the journalist story of a lifetime. After receiving a message from a dead journalist telling her that a wealthy playboy is a serial killer, the rest of the film is a very funny and quirky comedy.
Borat-I think Borat had a lot of hype and controversy that really wasn’t needed. Now the movie itself does show how some Americans view foreigners, which was interesting, but the humor really gets you to remember it.
The Quiet-If you’ve read my review of this movie you should know more about it then you would normally. A very disturbing thriller, this movie was very special and unique to me, but also labeled me as odd for loving a movie about incest.
The Libertine-This film followed closely on the heels of Johnny Depp’s performance in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. A dark and seedy film about the Earl of Rochester, this erotic thriller is very gritty with a lot of frank sexual dialogue. Showing how the Earl descends into a world of debauchery–only to die of syphilis–was one of the more unique biopics I’ve seen.
Author: Kristen Lopez, Editor in Chief
Kristen Lopez is the editor-in-chief of CC2K and a freelance pop culture essayist. Her work has appeared on Roger Ebert, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Daily Beast. When she’s not burning down Film Twitter she runs two podcasts, the female-centric film show Citizen Dame, and the classic film-themed Ticklish Business.