I'm going to take a page out of my New York counterpart, Julian Roman and agree - 2006 was not the best year for cinema. However, as he says, there were some gems that did stand out. Not wanting to leave some really good movies, there are a little more than just my top ten. However, my pick for best film of the year is:
One film which was the best out of all of them has to be Little Miss Sunshine. Sure, it came out in July - way before the 'big dogs' of the holiday season, but it's got everything that makes a movie good. There's drama - and lots of it; if it's the dysfunctional family crisis going on between Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear or the fact that Steve Carell is coming off a stint at a mental institution because his 20-year-old student turned him down for a date. Or how about Toni's son Paul Dano who has taken a vow of silence or Greg not getting along with his father, Alan Arkin.
And what a comedy, which could include all four of those previous drama examples; or add the six-person drive from New Mexico to California in a 1970's rundown VW van. Just that alone is great, and the cast having to run in the side door every time they take off.
But what makes Little Miss Sunshine the best film of the year is the outstanding performances from the entire cast, including 10-year-old Abigail Breslin. There's a scene between Alan and Abigail in a hotel room where she feels she's just not good enough to win the beauty pageant; it's emotional, funny, heart-warming, and great acting! This is one movie you can watch over and over again and see something new every time.
As for the rest of the top films for 2006, we'll start at the beginning of the year and go up in order of their release date...
Greg Kinnear had a pretty good year when it comes to movies; this is another film sleeper for the year, also starring Pierce Brosnan. Pierce plays a washed up hit man in Mexico; he recruits Greg to help him get back in the game. Once again, a great mix of comedy and drama - and a good look for Pierce in his post-007 days.Movie PictureHoodwinked
An animated flick from The Weinstein Company that really did not get the attention it deserved. The underground story of what really happened to Little Red Riding Hood and her granny; Anne Hathaway and Glenn Close voice the main characters. The animation in the film is tremendous!
For one of the first times, I actually agree with the Academy's choice for best foreign film. Written and directed by Gavin Hood, the South African flick follows the life of a teen rebel loner as he steals a baby, but finds the crime life is not all its cracked up to be.
Vin Diesel puts on an awesome performance; the muscle-bound actor takes on the true life story of Giacomo 'Jackie' DiNorscio, written and directed by Sidney Lumet. The rise and fall of the former mobster is told through the body of Vin; he also took on a New York court room himself for the longest trial in the state's history.
It made headlines when it came out for its semi-controversial subject; Aaron Eckhart stars as a tobacco lobbyist in Washington. Once again, Jason Reitman wrote the comedy and drama which goes together so well; Ivan's son also made his directorial debut on the flick.
He went into hiding for months, but resurfaced with an awesome concert and stand-up comedy routine. The documentary was shot by Michel Gondry through the streets of Brooklyn, New York; with The Roots as the house band, performances were outstanding from Common, Kanye West, Mos Def, Erykah Badu, and the reforming of The Fugees - you cannot go wrong with this flick, no matter what kind of music you like.
Brilliant! Outstanding! There's really no other way to describe this film; a break-out performance from Keke Palmer and Laurence Fishburne proves what makes him such a star. You find yourself routing for a spelling movie - there aren't too many films which can claim that.
Too little publicity for this film; even if you didn't understand it, the acting was still awesome! Even the small parts from Lucy Liu highlight the cast of Josh Hartnett, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, and Ben Kingsley.
Guy Pierce and Danny Huston battle it out in the rugged outback of Australia. Now this is a movie - it probably won't win any awards, but it should; it's gritty, dirty, and what a real Western should be.
How does Adam Sandler choose the best movies to be in? Funny, sweet, and an amazing cast! Thanks to a little remote control, Adam fast-forward's through his life in an amazing rate of speed. Christopher Walken and Kate Beckensale co-star.
Disney got back with Pixar and teamed up with their latest CG animated film. Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy, Richard Petty, and John Ratzenberger voice the cars in a throw back to the old towns of Route 66.
It was a real good year for the Mouse! Pirates 2 had everything you want in a sequel - wanting more. Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley step up in the film that topped the $1 billion mark at the box office.
After Rudy, there aren't too many sports movies that still make me cry; Mark Wahlberg made me tear up. The true story of a 30-year-old fan of the Philadelphia Eagles made the team after an open tryout. Greg Kinnear makes my list again playing coach Dick Vermeil.
It truly is one of the funniest films I've seen in a long time! I can quote myself and say 'It's this generation's Animal House!' Justin Long stars as a guy who doesn't get into college so he and his friends make one up. They hire Lewis Black to play their dean - now, that's some funny stuff!!
Forest Whitaker plays the former dictator of Uganda, Idi Amin in a tremendous film! Forest transforms into the man who took over the African country as a 'man of the people' only to change as a ruthless killer. Not only should Forest get an Oscar, but his supporting co-star, James McAvoy, deserves one as well.
World War I is not a subject a lot of people make movies about; but Dean Devlin and Tony Bill put together a great film about the first fighter pilots during war time. James Franco stars as one of those flyers, brought to France to take on the Germans.
I just like Zach Braff; he's a good actor, and a good guy. Like his role in Garden State, he takes a stab at drama and love; except in this film, he's stuck in a love triangle he created with his fiancé, Jacinda Barrett and his new found 'friend,' Rachel Bilson.
Nancy Meyers' latest romantic comedy is a real treat for the end of the year; another kind of 'love triangle' - this one with four people. Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet switch houses and cities (Cameron in LA and Kate in London) and find love after a life of rejections.
Ok, this has to be the best of the franchise since the first film; Sylvester Stallone might be 60 years old, but he looks in the best shape of his life. And when that music hits about an hour in, chills run up your body - Rocky is one of America's favorite underdog story, and this final movie proves it as he takes on Antonio Tarver in the ring.
The list ends with Freddie Highmore and Mia Farrow in the family film. It switches between animation and real-time. The animation is awesome; half the time, I forgot it was animated. All the voice characters had their own distinct characteristic; the small supporting roles like Snoop Dogg and Anthony Anderson were memorable roles!And so goes another year of movies - hopefully next year will prove to be a little better.