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Somebody’s Watching Me: The Best & Worst of 2006

by Erik Childress

There wasn’t quite as much revenge as there was in 2005, but maybe that’s just because everyone was getting setup for the big fat kill. If movies or any sort of art are a reflection of the times, then we’re deep into an administration that has produced more outrage and debate then Michael Moore has time for. During the Clinton era our movie presidents, in-between having affairs (Dave, Wag the Dog), were saving the world from aliens (Independence Day), kicking people off their planes (Air Force One) and generally trying to inspire their country to mind their own business cause they had our back (The American President, Primary Colors). Nowadays even TV’s 24 turned the President into the ultimate heavy. “Like the fella says (Orson Welles in The Third Man), in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” That doesn’t mean that 2006 was an exemplary year for films. Far from it. But the ones that were – certainly worth the surveillance.

We had some surprisingly welcome revivals (Casino Royale, Rocky Balboa) and those that should have remained buried (Basic Instinct 2). The return of noir (Brick, The Good German) and the digging up of old murders (Hollywoodland, Bobby, Infamous, The Zodiac). Parodies both decent (Scary Movie 4) and possibly the worst ever (Date Movie). Horror remakes from the mediocre (The Hills Have Eyes, The Omen) to the pits (When a Stranger Calls, Pulse, Black Christmas) and remakes that became horrors (The Pink Panther, The Shaggy Dog, The Wicker Man). National Lampoon presented exhibits QV, QW and QX why films like Animal House and Vacation should completely disassociate themselves with the label (Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj, Pucked, Pledge This) while Fox dumped Mike Judge’s Idiocracy but ironically kept Deck the Halls, Just My Luck and Grandma’s Boy.

Television adaptations (Miami Vice, Borat, Strangers With Candy, Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny), video games (Stay Alive, Silent Hill), great animation (Monster House, Flushed Away, Over the Hedge, The Ant Bully) and piss-pore (Hoodwinked, Curious George, Barnyard, Open Season, The Wild, Doogal). Animals (Flicka, Lassie, Hoot), demonic possessions (An American Haunting, Requiem) and the art of stand-up (Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, 95 Miles to Go). Chicks from the water (Lady in the Water, Aquamarine), dudes in the water (The Guardian), equality in drowning (Poseidon) and a film just called Water.

There were stories about the workplace (10 Items or Less, Clerks II, Employee of the Month) including the pleasures of food (I Like Killing Flies, When Do We Eat?), the dangers (Fast Food Nation, How to Eat Fried Worms) and general fun with meat (Lunacy, Shortbus). Writers (Miss Potter, Stranger Than Fiction) had fun with words (Akeelah and the Bee, Wordplay). Spies (The Good Shepherd, Mission: Impossible III, Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker) had fun with torture (Hostel, Saw III, Hard Candy, Broken Bridges). Movies had fun with memories (Déjà Vu, Unknown White Male), those with ADD (Crank, Running Scared) and general what-the-fuck-was-that? (Inland Empire, Night Watch, Beowulf & Grendel)

The Prestige was to The Illusionist as United 93 was to World Trade Center. There were other potential terrorists (The Road to Guantanamo, Sorry Haters), but revenge in 2006 mostly came from the female side (Lady Vengeance, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Tamara, John Tucker Must Die). Some women got along (Friends with Money, Imagine Me & You), but we were terrorized by chick vampires (Bloodrayne, Ultraviolet, Underworld: Evolution), teased by hot chicks in bikinis (Scoop, Mini’s First Time, Turistas) and tormented by gross chicks who wore pool covers as smalls (Phat Girlz). Speaking of crossdressers (Big Momma's House 2, Kinky Boots, She's the Man, Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion), there were also crossgenders (Zerophilia) and general fashionistas (The Devil Wears Prada, Material Girls)

Sports lovers had Football (Facing the Giants, Gridiron Gang, Invincible, We Are Marshall), Basketball (Crossover, Glory Road, The Heart of the Game), Baseball (The Benchwarmers, Everyone's Hero), Softball (Artie Lange's Beer League), Soccer (Goal! The Dream Begins, Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos, Guys and Balls), Gymnastics (Peaceful Warrior, Stick It), Paintballers (Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story), Bullriders (Rank) and movies with cars (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, some film from Pixar). There was even a wrestling movie without someone from the WWE (Nacho Libre) cause they were all off doing their own (Gridiron Gang, See No Evil, The Marine)

You could return home (Lonesome Jim, Winter Passing, The Return), stay at home (Failure to Launch) or live out a fantasy world (Pan's Labyrinth, The Great Yokai War) through your favorite comic book characters (Superman Returns, X-Men: The Last Stand) or martial art ass-kicker (District B13, Jet Li’s Fearless, The Protector, Azumi, Curse of the Golden Flower, The Hidden Blade). Who could blame you with all the bad dads (Click, The Quiet, The Pursuit of Happyness), even worse moms (Freedomland, Loverboy, Running with Scissors, Sherrybaby, The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things) and bad combos altogether (The Night Listener, Unaccompanied Minors, L’enfant, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning)?

Better yet, go to high school (The History Boys, Half Nelson), a special school (Art School Confidential, Accepted, School for Scoundrels, Zoom) or even a dance school (Step Up, Take the Lead, Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School). You could become an artist (Sketches of Frank Gehry, Who the $#%& is Jackson Pollock?) or even a famous musician (Copying Beethoven, The U.S. vs. John Lennon). Hell, be an odd musician (Brothers of the Head, The Devil and Daniel Johnston) and one day you could have your own concert film (Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That, Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man, Neil Young: Heart of Gold), sorta musical (A Prairie Home Companion, Idlewild, Dreamgirls) or just ripoff (ahem, sample) a Bruce Hornsby song from Backdraft to end your film (Waist Deep). Or say the hell to all of it and have fun with drinking (Beerfest, Factotum) or not-so-much fun with drinking (Jonestown: The Life and Death of the Peoples Temple). As for my own PSA, just remember than Jenna Dewan was in three films involving vomiting either on-or-off screen (The Grudge 2, Tamara, Step Up).

Who’d ever suggest that race relations would have been better off if whitey didn’t interfere (Manderlay, CSA: The Confederate States of America)? Taboo subjects were hot in ‘06 (Fuck, The Notorious Bettie Page) which became a dictionary of sexual activity from blowjobs (Battle in Heaven) to anal sex (Let's Go to Prison) to sex with animals (Sleeping Dogs Lie, Clerks II) to sex with yourself (The Oh in Ohio) including autofellatio (Shortbus) to sex with minors (Somersault) or sex with just about everyone (I Am a Sex Addict). And yet the topic of shaving was left to other films (La Moustache, Jackass Number Two, Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus)

The box office reminded us why to never set a film in Africa (Blood Diamond, Catch a Fire, Tsotsi), but still went inside Hollywood (For Your Consideration, This Film is Not Yet Rated, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, The Outsider). Ed Burns made two more movies that nobody saw (The Groomsmen, Looking for Kitty) while good directors hit new lows (Tideland, The Black Dahlia) and nepotism was in full swing (Thank You for Smoking, Keeping Up with the Steins). Heavy lies the crown indeed (The Queen, Marie Antoinette). Speaking of the President, there were slimy creatures from above (Evil Aliens, Slither, Snakes on a Plane), on the ground (Feast, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector) and somewhere dark below (The Descent). Movies for Catholic leagues to protest (The Da Vinci Code), to embrace (The Nativity Story) and for those which they have no viable excuse (Deliver Us From Evil, Jesus Camp). Bad elections (All the King's Men, The Last King of Scotland, Man of the Year, ...So Goes the Nation) and films which spoke to our commander-in-chief’s intelligence (Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing, American Dreamz, Al Franken: God Spoke, America: Freedom to Facism), protecting him (The Sentinel) and failing (Death of a President)

It’s already a bleak present (Babel, Harsh Times) but it could all lead to a bleak future (Children of Men, Renaissance, A Scanner Darkly, V for Vendetta).The environment is in trouble (An Inconvenient Truth, Who Killed the Electric Car?, Happy Feet) even if there are places where ice still stands (Eight Below, Ice Age: The Meltdown). Time to take a personal vacation (A Good Year, The Holiday, Last Holiday) or a family vehicular vacation (Little Miss Sunshine, RV). Maybe have a doomed romance (The Break-Up, Ask the Dust, The Painted Veil, Tristan & Isolde) through time and space (The Lake House, The Science of Sleep) like the creepy dudes looking for chicks (Edmond, Venus, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer). Then when you find your true love you can experience the strains of getting married and staying married (Confetti, Standing Still, Trust the Man), get dissatisfied and have a juicy affair (Little Children, Notes on a Scandal, The Last Kiss).

It’s all enough for you to hire a hitman (or woman) (Lucky Number Slevin, Keeping Mum, Shadowboxer), deal drugs (Cocaine Cowboys, The Pusher Trilogy) or take them (Candy, London), pull a bank job (Firewall, Inside Man) or other robberies (Breaking and Entering) and wind up meeting a dirty cop (16 Blocks, The Departed, Dirty). We went to WWI (Joyeux Noel, Flyboys), WWII (Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima), Iraq (The Ground Truth, The War Tapes, Home of the Brave) and tried to make sense of Why We Fight. These cowboys were a dying breed (Don’t Come Knocking, Down in the Valley, The Proposition, Cowboy del Amor) while the rest of us had to deal with death (Charlotte’s Web, Volver, The Fountain, Look Both Ways), waiting to die (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, One Last Thing) and meeting death head-on (Final Destination 3, The Bridge) at the hands of Mel Gibson (Apocalypto).

But that’s all on tape behind us. So let’s get to the good stuff.

THE BEST MOVIES OF 2006

10. Letters from Iwo Jima
Clint Eastwood stumbled out of the gate with the first part of his multi-view epic about the battle for this island in WWII. Flags of our Fathers was an unfocused mess with an overly shifty timeline that lilted the drama on both halves of the story. Letters from Iwo Jima didn’t make Flags a better film, but did put Eastwood’s vision into greater focus. On its own, Iwo Jima is a beautiful and haunting piece of work told completely from the Japanese perspective; a variation on the word which encapsulates what these films wanted to say about war in general. Perception. Perception about war, perception about our enemy and perception about ourselves in the hellstorm of battle. While the U.S. were using photos to drum up support for the war, the Japanese leaders expected their soldiers to fight until they could die with honor. Ken Watanabe, who is becoming the Toshiro Mifune of all time, gives a magnificent performance as the Japanese commander and the result is one of the most emotionally claustrophobic war films since Das Boot and one of the saddest.

9. Inside Man
You didn’t really believe that Spike Lee would go so commercial as to make a simplistic cops-and-robbers bank heist, did you? Aided by a first-rate script from first-timer, Russell Gewirtz, Lee turned in some of his best work in a story that is very much like the robbery which takes place. Patient, methodical and clearly not all that it seems. It’s another signature NY tale from Lee about the corporate culture of greed and backroom deals that have bled over generations of politics and power brokers. Asking the bold question if a lifetime of servitude and good deeds is enough to erase the worst indiscretions of our past, Inside Man gave us a collection of compromised characters all trying to do their dirty jobs through a moral kaleidoscope. On top of that it’s also an exemplary thriller, peppered with an un-PC wit that gives it added flavor with one of the year’s best collection of actors in Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Chiwetel Elijofor, Christopher Plummer and Willem Dafoe.

8. The Queen
When Princess Diana’s car crashed a decade ago, I blinked and moved on. Stephen Frears’ film brought a whole new perspective to it. Peter Morgan’s cheeky script was unafraid to be critical towards all parties during the week that followed from the royals to the media and on the other side with Tony Blair and the millions of mourners joining the celebrity trough on hand. Helen Mirren’s performance was a masterstroke of matriarchal stubbornness and unexpected sadness as a lifetime is reduced to a punchline through the ignorant meanderings of different cultures. Michael Sheen’s brilliantly dead-on portrayal of Blair was our eyes and thoughts into the inflexibility of a family who left Diana in the wind and became the bad guys for it and then slowly with his own empathy towards the harshness, we gain an understanding of the media-driven lives of both the Queen and Diana until we become implicated in what happened to both of them.

7. The Good Shepherd
The temptation to turn an insider’s view of the CIA into a paranoiac thriller wasn’t great enough for Robert DeNiro and instead treated Eric Roth’s masterful screenplay (after last year’s brilliant Munich) as if it were The Godfather. Subdued and intimate in the study of its character’s actions, The Good Shepherd almost demanded us to wane attention away from its secrets as it ingrained in the audience the cost of defending this country through dirty dealings, smear campaigns and backroom torture to peel away the layers of the Cold War. These are things we probably didn’t want to know and probably shouldn’t know and DeNiro carefully massaged the debate about our most secretive orders having too much power to abuse.

6. Little Miss Sunshine
When I first saw it at Sundance, every second of the film’s final act was earning the record-breaking deal that Fox Searchlight bestowed upon it. Michael Arndt’s screenplay was already a terrific interplay amongst a dysfunctional family before its kicker, but directors Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris knew just how to play it and just how to conceal it until one little girl’s hopes and dreams became a cynical screamfest at the expense of the creepy pageants it represents with frighteningly little irony. Kinnear’s facial expressions are priceless enough, but I’ll always laugh thinking of Steve Carell’s sarcasm, Alan Arkin’s frankness, the broken car horn, the hospital insensitivity, Kinnear’s description of stag mags and always choke up a little at Abigail Breslin’s reaction to her own insecurities and watching her brother’s dreams dashed. Yes, its that special of a movie.

5. V for Vendetta
Even if the graphic novel from which it was based consisted nothing of its messages in dialogue bubbles, it would have been worth the read. The adaptation by the Wachowski brothers and director James McTeigue resisted the Matrix-urge to go for non-stop action and instead molded a Fugitive-esque story of revenge into a totalitarian nightmare of terrorism on both sides of the law and the man out to inspire a country into rising up against it. Natalie Portman is the reluctant heroine who must evolve from towing the daily line amidst what she knows is wrong and ultimately flipping the switch that will bring down Parliament forever. Hugo Weaving is masterful in a virtual voiceover performance as “V” and if you’re along for the ride, the final scenes are liable to bring chills of joy and sadness to the most apolitical of hearts.

4. Children of Men
When you hear critics use the words “pure cinema”, this is precisely the kind of film we’re talking about. Alfonso Cuaron made many of us reevaluate the directorial accomplishments we had praised in 2006 by effortlessly combining a future society not dependent on flashy gadgetry and innovation to spark our brains and action sequences so tense and complex in their structure that we were unaware until at least halfway through them that they were unbroken shots. People may be half-serious today when they talk about not wanting to bring children into this world, but this is where we are from 2009-2027. A looming newborn is enough to spark war between two factions content to their belief that they know better how to run a country. People could have their Nativity Story this holiday season, but this is the true piece of work deserving of the word “immaculate.” More solid work from Clive Owen and Chiwetel Elijofor in a Universal release this year.

3. United 93
They can make 100 more films about September 11, 2001 for 100 years to come, but I stand by my statement when I walked out of Paul Greengrass’ out-of-the-box cinematic treatment. There will never be a better film EVER made about the events of that morning. Maybe about the aftermath, maybe about the prelude, but never about what transpired from the early morning hours to the moment United 93 crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. (I offer Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center as exhibit “A”.) The moments on board the plane itself, which only occur about halfway through the film, were guaranteed to raise tension. But the concise detail to what occurred on the ground, at the flight stations as they tried to solve the mystery of garbled chatter and off-course flights is one of the great storytelling achievements of the year. Kudos to Ben Sliney for playing himself and selling us completely on the documentary-style approach so flawlessly that we could have been witnessing him do his thing on the very morning itself. Greengrass treats the passengers with clear respect and without a trace of melodrama, turning their final rush to the cockpit into maybe the most tense climactic 15 minutes any thriller can hope to achieve.

2. The Departed
While most were happy to see Martin Scorsese back into the crime genre (and it IS his best work since GoodFellas), there was so much more to appreciate about this cinefanatic’s wet dream team then mere semantics. You can start with the cast. Jack Nicholson turning in the most villainous performance of his career. Matt Damon so charming at times that you’re lured into his side more than once. Alec Baldwin embracing the Patriot Act. Mark Wahlberg never better. Leonardo DiCaprio making the turn that can legitimately call him the Brando of his generation. Then get into William Monahan’s screenplay, which turns a simplistic Asian gangster thriller and weaves into it a complexity that only the best screenwriters can recognize.

1. The Prestige
Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige was always going to be on my year-end list from the moment it faded out. I knew I had seen some unique masterwork that was going to root around in my skull for every minute that passed after it was over, but it was the second viewing that confirmed what a true and important work Nolan had achieved. No stranger to twisting our perception with Memento (2001’s best film), Nolan jumped into the world of magic; a world with no other purpose but to fool the audience with slight of hand and various trickery. What Nolan and brother, Jonathan, accomplished must become required study material for film students everywhere. Just as The Queen tried to build the uneasy bridge between old government and new, The Prestige is also about a changing of the guard during the turn of the century where magic was about to lose its luster to the world of science which could perform such fascinating tricks as electricity for real. Scientists were becoming the new magicians, but it wouldn’t stop the ancient tricksters from trying to invent something new for the audience still willing to come to their theater. Not once in the film is God, Jesus or religion ever mentioned but their presence is unmistakable. The three parts of a magic trick is a showman’s Holy Trinity. Sacrifice and misdirection is deemed necessary to keep their audience guessing; giving them enough reason to doubt what they had seen and maintain generations of loyal followers through the same ol’ tricks. “No one cares what goes in the box, they only care about bringing them back.” A film full of resurrections that plays so fair with us it even tells us what’s going to happen if we’re listening. But we want to see something greater, so we ignore the truth and hope for a second coming. I’ve seen The Prestige three times now and each time new truths and parallels present themselves. Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman and Michael Caine are all brilliant. Lee Smith’s editing is a wonderment of knowing just how much information to give us and when in the middle of flipping the timeline back and forth and back upon itself again. This is one of the best screenplays of recent years to rank alongside Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Christopher Nolan has positioned himself into the modern director elite. The Prestige may have been largely underappreciated in 2006, but a second coming is imminent no matter how many years it takes.


THE FIVE RUNNERS-UP
11. Happy Feet
George Miller does animated, talking penguins in only the way that he can. Certainly the most beautiful of all 2006 animation, Miller shifts from majesty to sadness to song-and-dance to comedy to excitement and is just warming up to hit us with the bizarreness of its final act which will keep kids in amazement and adults acknowledging the cynicism of those who literally have to dance for their supper before many of us will notice.

12. Fuck
While Kirby Dick got all the press for his attack on the MPAA (This Film Is Not Yet Rated), Steve Anderson crafted this superior gem of an entertainment tracing the granddaddy of all swear words back to its roots and through its battle with a disapproving faction who believe they are superior because they don’t use a word. Well, fuck them and this movie is the ultimate fuck you. If you were disappointed in Borat for not nailing Alan Keyes more in their interview, this film does it much better by just letting him hang himself with his own stupidity along with Miss Manners, Pat Boone, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and other assorted douchebags


13. Harsh Times
David Ayer loves to write films about guys in cars, talking, drinking and doing drugs. But with his first stab at directing, he outdid his own Training Day and turned in one of the most unexpectedly tense films I’ve seen in some time. Christian Bale is an absolute force in this film, continued proof that he’s one of the five best actors working today. (Make that three best.) And Freddy Rodriguez is every much his equal as the yin to his yang in a powerful story about an economy that creates warriors for its benefit and then doesn’t know what to do with them when they return – even in a position of law enforcement. Nail-biting to the very end.

14. Dixie Chicks: Shut Up & Sing
On the very morning I was to see the much-hyped Death of a President at the Toronto film festival, just two hours earlier I was watching the Dixie Chicks do it first. Where I feared another liberal talking head piece about getting Dixie Chick’d in America, we got not just an in-the-moment backstage blow-by-blow of the events surrounding Natalie Maine’s putdown of Dubya, but one of the best docs I’ve ever seen about the creation of music and how artists use their strengths and weaknesses to craft a new album. I’ve never bought a Dixie Chick album in my life, but at the end of this film I was tapping my feet over the closing anthem after having just applauded a no-more perfect line by Maines to wrap it all up. Bravo, ladies!

15. Art School Confidential
Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowe’s follow-up to Ghost World was not quite as perfect, but what great art ever is? Anyone who has ever attended any kind of arts training can certainly relate and its fun to mock the overly pretentious in their quest to be the one artist out of a thousand who ever makes a living doing what they’re studying. But this is also a sad story about a geeky idealist who loses all faith thanks to the stupidity around him, including the authority figures who can’t help but blame these creative times for a string of murders around campus. Sophia Myles was luminous in the role of Max Minghella’s muse and for anyone, like me, who believed John Malkovich had all but given up trying to act in Eragon should check this one out as a reminder of how good he can be.









10 MORE RUNNERS-UP (in ABC order)
Akeelah and the Bee
While the black community was out supporting Tyler Perry’s chitlin’ circuit, all communities missed out on this wonderful family film about a girl competing in the national spelling bee. It was easily the best “sports” movie of its kind since Searching for Bobby Fischer, but it didn’t have morons in drag slapping children, so it bombed. Catch it on DVD!

Babel
The best of the Inarritu/Arriaga trilogy after Amores Perros and 21 Grams. Full of emotionally-testing scenes and sad ironies. Plus, good for ideas on where not to take your vacation.

Brick
One of the true highlights of the 2005 Sundance festival, Rian Johnson’s flawlessly astute modernization of detective noir into high school was both thrilling and joyful.

Charlotte's Web
Parents largely ignored this one in favor of Night at the Museum and they should all have their kids taken away from them. This superior treatment of the E.B. White classic was beautiful, funny and heartbreaking in all the right places. Next to Happy Feet, the best family film of the year.

Clerks II
This is Kevin Smith’s finest accomplishment as a director. Cheerfully more offensive than the first one, but just as sweet. The final shot is a true stunner that also brings great closure to two characters whom Smith clearly loves.

Deliver Us From Evil
Equally the saddest and creepiest film of the year as Amy Berg got first-hand interviews with a serial child molester in priest’s clothing and the victims who can’t get any help from the Church. I’d love to sit down with the people who go to Jesus Camp and show this.

Monster House
An audacious tribute to the dark fantasies of Spielberg, Zemeckis and Dante from the 80s was one of the pure entertainments for families of the year. Shame on those who went to see Barnyard instead.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
The series has become the Indiana Jones for a new generation and Gore Verbinski crafted some brilliant setpieces before a cliffhanger worth smiling and applauding for. Can’t wait for part three.



A Scanner Darkly
Richard Linklater uses rotoscoping and actually has something interesting to say courtesy of Philip K. Dick. The interplay about bicycles and home invasions between Keanu Reeves, Woody Harrelson and the incomparable Robert Downey Jr. are worth the journey alone.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Not as funny as Anchorman, but funnier than anything Will Ferrell has done since. Sacha Baron Cohen was every bit as funny here as he was in Borat

MOST PLEASANT SURPRISES OF 2006


MORE FILMS OF 2006 THAT I WAS FOND OF

American Dreamz, The Ant Bully, Borat, The Descent, District B13, Feast, Flannel Pajamas, Flushed Away, Friends with Money, The Great Yokai War, Gridiron Gang, The Last Kiss, The Science of Sleep


10 Items or Less, Al Franken: God Spoke, Apocalypto, Beerfest, Edmond, Fast Food Nation, The Good German, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, Hard Candy, Lady Vengeance, Little Children, Look Both Ways, Mission: Impossible III, Neil Young: Heart of Gold, The Notorious Bettie Page, Over the Hedge, The Proposition, A Prairie Home Companion, Running Scared, Scary Movie 4, Slither, Tristan & Isolde, Venus, Wordplay

AND NOT SO FOND OF


Accepted, Blood Diamond, Eight Below, For Your Consideration, The Fountain, The Hills Have Eyes, Invincible, Jackass: Number Two, Killer Diller, The Lake House, Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, The Night Listener, The Omen, Pan's Labyrinth, Poseidon, Renaissance, Saw III, She's the Man, Sherrybaby, Thank You For Smoking, Underworld: Evolution, Volver, X-Men: The Last Stand


16 Blocks, All the King's Men, Aquamarine, Ask the Dust, The Break-Up, Cars, Click, Copying Beethoven, Curse of the Golden Flower, The Da Vinci Code, Deja Vu, The Devil Wears Prada, Down in the Valley, Dreamgirls, Failure To Launch, Final Destination 3, Find Me Guilty, Flags of our Fathers, Glory Road, A Good Year, Hostel, Infamous, Marie Antoinette, Miami Vice, Notes on a Scandal, The Oh In Ohio, The Pursuit of Happyness, Shortbus, Stranger Than Fiction, Tsotsi, Turistas


Basic Instinct 2, The Benchwarmers, Death of a President, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Freedomland, The Holiday, Hollywoodland, Lady in the Water, The Last King of Scotland, Lucky Number Slevin, The Pink Panther, Scoop, Silent Hill, Stick It, Superman Returns, Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, Unknown, We Are Marshall, World Trade Center


Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker, Pulse, RV, Stay Alive

THE MOST OVERRATED FILMS OF THE YEAR


THE BIGGEST CREATIVE FAILURES OF THE YEAR


10 RUNNERS-UP TO THE 10 WORST FILMS OF THE YEAR


Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus – A movie with a naked Nicole Kidman and the only one jerking off is the director.

Haven – There’s none from bad filmmaking like this.

Home of the Brave – Samuel L. Jackson drinks, Jessica Biel plays Roy Munson and special guest star 50 Cent in a film about Iraqi veterans that’s not supposed to be funny.

Just My Luck – This wasn’t a Disney obligation, so what the hell was Lohan doing?

Night Watch – Basically a Uwe Boll film in Russian.

The Sentinel – The clock countdown on 24 has more excitement.

Snakes on a Plane – I’m tired of the motherfuckin’ hype on this motherfuckin’ piece of shit.

Tideland – We finally know what happens when Terry Gilliam doesn’t have a studio to rein him in.

When a Stranger Calls – The house was nice. Camilla Belle was pretty. Was there something else?

You Me and Dupree – If the film had bombed at least that would have been something to laugh at.



THE TEN WORST FILMS OF 2006
10. Running with Scissors
Augusten Burroughs, huh? Never heard of you. Oh, you wrote a book? About your life? And nobody knows who you are? In the words of Tommy Lee Jones – “I DON’T CARE!”

9. The Black Dahlia
I was so embarrassed watching one of the directorial greats, Brian DePalma, stoop so low with this mess that I came closer to walking out than I ever had before.

8. Man of the Year
So a comedian becomes President and all Barry Levinson cares about are tampered election machines? Lars Von Trier has a better grasp on America.

7. John Tucker Must Die
With all due respect to Brittany Snow, who saved this film from being lower with a pretty charming performance, everyone else associated with this film must not just die, but be fed into a woodchipper.



6. The Return
Sarah Michelle Gellar’s 21st century resume is a horror film in itself. Not even the 17th remake of The Grudge was as dulling as this thing though.

5. Grandma’s Boy
Happy Madison productions must be stopped!

4. Material Girls
When the highlight of this Duff sister opus is the non-English speaking guy sitting in the front row with a duffel bag and a balloon in his lap, you know something is just wrong.

3. Broken Bridges
Toby Keith didn’t come off looking bad enough in the Dixie Chicks movie, so he decided to try acting. Even red states with a second coat have to be embarrassed by this.




2. Date Movie
The single worst parody film ever made. And that includes Going Under and The Silence of the Hams. Just because you recreate scenes in movies we know (a la My Big Fat Independent Movie) doesn’t mean you are parodying them, you dumb shits. Maybe I’m jumping the gun on this one. After all, Epic Movie comes out in a few weeks.

1. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion
Criticize Michael Richards all you want, but no one is setting back the black community faster than Tyler Perry.


BEST MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 MOVIES OF THE YEAR


And in case you missed myself and Collin Souter on Nick Digilio’s WGN show where we officially announced our lists – here are some additional categories we have fun with every year.

Worst Decision by an Actor: Sean Penn's mannerisms in All the King's Men
Worst Decision by an Actress: Kate Winslet making The Holiday
Best Ensemble: The Departed
Best Brainless Movie: Crank
Worst "Smart" Film: Stranger Than Fiction
Movie That Made You The Hungriest: Fast Food Nation
Most Underrated (Critically): The Prestige
Guiltiest Pleasure: Running Scared
Best Action Scene: The opening to District B13 or the ending of Children of Men
Most Romantic Scene: Charlotte spinning her web for the first time “Charlotte’s Web”
Worst Sequel: Basic Instinct 2
Worst Remake OR Movie based on a TV show: Miami Vice
Best Cameo(s): Joe Pesci (The Good Shepherd)
[b[Worst Cameo(s): Mike Tyson (Rocky Balboa)
Sexiest shot, moment or scene: Sophia Myles being painted in the nude (Art School Confidential)
Best Actor: Christian Bale (Harsh Times) and Leonardo DiCaprio (The Departed)
Best Actress: Helen Mirren (The Queen)
Best Supporting Actor: Jack Nicholson (The Departed)
Best Supporting Actress: Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine)
Best Director: Paul Greengrass (United 93)
Best Cinematography: Children of Men
Favorite Song: “The Long Way Around” (Dixie Chicks: Shut Up & Sing)
Favorite Score: Lady in the Water
Favorite soundtrack: The Last Kiss
Favorite Tearjerker Moment: Abigail Breslin asking if she's pretty (Little Miss Sunshine)
Best Movie That Never Received A Proper Release: Idiocracy or Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story
Favorite Bad movie: The Wicker Man
Worst actor: Josh Hartnett (The Black Dahlia & Lucky Number Slevin)
Worst actress: Kate Bosworth (Superman Returns)
Most overrated whatever (Picture, actor, director, etc.): Pan’s Labyrinth
Best Monologue: Rocky's speech to his son about getting hit and moving forward in "Rocky Balboa"
Favorite Character: "V" (V for Vendetta)
Most nail-biting moment: The siege of the plane in United 93
Most stomach-turning moment: Fish hook, Eat/Drink Horse Stuff, Fart Helmet (Jackass 2)
Best DVD: Superman 2: The Richard Donner Cut
Best/Funniest Gag: Borat & Azamat’s wrestling match (Borat)
Best Use of Music: The Departed
Best Line of Dialogue / Favorite Line of Dialogue or Dialogue Exchange: Honorable Mentions: “I'm the guy doing my job, you must be the other guy.” (The Departed)
Best Dramatic Pause: Myself - for taking a moment so I didn't puke in the screening room during Jackass 2
Best Fight: Casino Brawl (District B13)
Biggest Surprise (could be from an actor, director or studio): Sylvester Stallone "Rocky Balboa"
Biggest Disappointment: For Your Consideration / Superman Returns
Best Newcomer: Ellen Page (Hard Candy)
The “You Must Stop Making Movies” Award: Nancy Meyers
The "F. U." Award (Given to someone - director, actor, anyone - you'd like to get out of the movies permanently - based on a film released in 2006): Toby Keith
Favorite Movie that has a one-word title beginning with 'I' - Idiocracy, Idlewild, The Illusionist, Infamous, Invincible - Idiocracy


link directly to this feature at https://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=2050
originally posted: 01/12/07 04:35:00
last updated: 01/12/07 08:43:25
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