As always, I have to limit my list to the flicks this year I’ve seen, until such time that some organization sees fit to send me to screen films for free. (If any such organization is out there reading this, please note that I’m fairly cheap and am overwhelmingly respectful of deadlines.)
Anyway. The best:
5.) Casino Royale: just like last year’s Batman Begins rescued the franchise from utter silliness, Casino Royale took Bond from the brink of cartoonish irrelevance and injected some realism, excitement, and fun back into him. Instead of some sissy tuxedo-wearing fop, Daniel Craig looks like he could actually kill someone with his bare hands. The year’s best action flick.
4.) Thank You for Smoking: dammit, this is why we need more black comedies in the movies. Here was 2006’s best: a whip-smart, satirical look at a tobacco lobbyist who’s tasked to pay off the Marlboro Man who has lung cancer. Brilliantly done – good novel, too. Makes the maximum use of the always-underrated Aaron Eckhart. Oh, and the movie features Katie Holmes, right before the Scientology programming set in.
3.) Babel: this year’s Crash. If you liked that movie, you’ll like this one, too; it just sucks that Oprah didn’t get behind this one. Maybe if Terrence Howard would have gotten involved. An ensemble effort that shows us how difficult it is to communicate with each other, especially with the boundaries of borders, culture, and physical ability. Babel will tear your heart out. No other movie in 2006 affected me like this one did.
2.) Little Miss Sunshine: the most fun at the movies I had this year. I want to hurl hard, sharp things at my tv everytime I see the commercials for the DVD that gives the ending away.
1.) Brick: a mashup of Dashiell Hammet and Sarah Dessen? The Third Man meets Heathers? A combination of Touch of Evil and That’s So Raven? I can’t properly define this one for you, you’ll just have to see it for yourself. A concept – an old-school film noir set in modern-day high school – that’s so perfect and simple, I’m surprised that some screenwriter hasn’t thought of this before. An excellent story, dialogue sharper than the edge of a katana, and amazing performances from a group of teenagers and twenty-somethings. The next generation might not be completely wasted after all.