2006 was not a good year for film. There were a few gems sprinkled throughout, but the overall product was tremendously uninspiring. Studio films took bland and formulaic to new heights, while the so-called Indies sold out completely to big name stars. Indie films used to be about 'the anti-establishment, middle finger to the box office, damn it all to hell for art' school of filmmaking. Now they're just Oscar audition tapes for the A-listers and their need to show range. I suppose that's my rant for the year, here are my faves...
The Proposition - John Hillcoat's bleak western is amongst the best in the genre. This incredibly gritty tale of lawlessness in the Australian outback dazzles with Benoit Delhomme's brilliant cinematography. Guy Pearce, Danny Huston, and Ray Winstone turn in career best performances.
Pan's Labyrinth - A little girl is given three tasks by a satyr during The Spanish Civil War. Beautiful and haunting, Guillermo Del Toro's dark fairy tale is a fantasy masterpiece.
Volver - Pedro Almodovar reclaims his title as the king of Spanish cinema. Penelope Cruz is fantastic in this ensemble drama about a family of poor women coming to terms with their past.
Thank You For Smoking - Nepotism is a good thing. Jason Reitman, son of director Ivan Reitman, delivers the smartest and most creative comedy of the year.
The Queen - Helen Mirren towers as Queen Elizabeth in Stephen Frear's dramatization of the events following Diana's death.
Casino Royale - Craig, Daniel Craig. 007 is reborn in the best Bond film in thirty years.
Stranger Than Fiction - Marc Foster takes Will Ferrell and an all-star cast to existential greatness in a heartwarming comedy about self-discovery.
The Last King of Scotland - Forrest Whitaker menaces as crazed Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. Start dusting off the mantle for the Oscar.
Superman Returns - I l-o-v-e-d this film. I kneel before Bryan Singer for his homage to the Man of Steel. This film is a sequel to Superman Two, and should have been marketed as such. I don't think the Superman neophytes picked up on half the subtext.
L'Enfant (The Child) - The French finally got one right. A lowlife druggie sells his newborn for quick cash; the winner of this year's Cannes Film Festival is minimalism at it's best.
1. Guy Pearce (The Proposition)
2. Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland)
3. Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson)
1. Helen Mirren (The Queen)
2. Penelope Cruz (Volver)
3. Ivana Baquero (Pan's Labyrinth)
1. Guillermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth)
2. John Hillcoat (The Proposition)
3. Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking)
Best Supporting Actor
1. Adam Beach (Flags of our Fathers)
2. Ben Affleck (Hollywoodland)
3. Michael Sheen (The Queen)
Best Supporting Actress
1. Catherine O'Hara (For Your Consideration)
2. Shareeka Epps (Half Nelson)
3. Maribel Verdu (Pan's Labyrinth)
1. Benoit Delhomme (The Proposition)
2. Dick Pope (The Illusionist)
3. Matthew Libatique (The Fountain)
1. Dana Glauberman (Thank You For Smoking)
2. Stuart Baird (Casino Royale)
3. Elliot Graham & John Ottman (Superman Returns)
1. Phillip Glass (The Illusionist)
2. David Arnold (Casino Royale)
3. John Williams & John Ottman (Superman Returns)
Best Visual FX
Best Sound Effects
2. Happy Feet
Best Animated Film
3. Happy Feet