Sunday, December 27, 2009

Top 10 Films: 2006

2006 was jammed packed with amazing films, but here's my breakdown of the year in cinema. See who I gave top honors to after the break...

10. The Puffy Chair
One of the simplest films of 2006 is the Duplass Brothers The Puffy Chair. The film follows Josh, who is on a mission to deliver a LazyBoy recliner to his father for his birthday. While the plot revolves around Josh and the chair, the film is very much a dialogue comedy. For me some of the best movies are very dialogue and satire heavy and The Puffy Chair is a perfect example of just that. Another aspect to The Puffy Chair that always reminds me why I like it so much, is the fact it takes the over used road trip comedy and makes it work in a simple yet effective way.

9. Rocky Balboa
I'm sure when most of us heard Stallone was making another Rocky film, we rolled our eyes as far back as we could. Stallone however proved that he had more to say in the character of Rocky Balboa and I for one am thankful he did so. Rocky Balboa is the best Rocky film since Part 4, but more so the most effective since the first film. What makes the film that much better from the other sequels, is the dramatic effect that resends back to the original film. Unlike Part 2-5, Rocky Balboa is not about the fight, but more so the man. Not only did Stallone prove he had a worthwhile Rocky chapter left in him, he did a astounding job behind the camera both directing and writing the sixth film in the franchise.

8. Superman Returns
Not everyone is a fan of Bryan Singer's Superman Returns but I love it. I really enjoyed that Singer took the time to reintroduce the man of steel to the next generation by paying homage to the original Richard Donner film. Brandon Routh did a knock-up job of stepping into the character made iconic by Christopher Reeves. Both as Superman and Clark Kent. I've always loved Clark and is goofy demeanor and Routh does a perfect job. I never would've thought someone other than Gene Hackman could have me head over heels as Lex Luthor, but Kevin Spacey is polished as the nemesis to Supes. I will agree that 'Returns' could have used a bit more action and a little less love story, but outside of that I thought Superman Returns is remarkable superhero flick. Sadly, I know that I am in the minority with my opinion and Superman Returns resulted in WB throwing a huge question mark next to any further Superman movies.

7. Pan's Labyrinth
Guillermo del Toro has a fabulous imagination and Pan's Labyrinth is a eye-popping example of his talents. The innocence and imagination of childhood is always a subject I enjoy and del Toro does a mesmerizing job of weaving his tale about a little girl faced with her fairy tales becoming a reality. Like any fairy tale Pan's Labyrinth houses an evil parental figure and imaginative plot devices, but del Toro's story also has a thrilling backdrop of post-Civil War Spain in 1944. Pan's Labyrinth is a tantalizing adventure but, in the end, what makes it so masterful is there are no black and white answers to the result of the film. Del Toro leaves the ending to the film up to the viewer, they must decide for themselves was the story all a just fantasy or a reality.

6. Hard Candy
Pedophilia is a touchy subject to say the least and David Slade's suspense thriller Hard Candy takes a wonderfully abrasive look into the world of online predators. The thriller takes a provocative approach by having both the underage girl and the pedophile being predators in their own regard. It also draws some of it's themes from the classic Grimm Fairy Tale Little Red Riding Hood and does a notable job of doing so. Hard Candy is very much a shock value film and in works perfectly as such. The performances by Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson are hypnotizing and the script penned by Brian Nelson is both exhilarating and stirring.

5. Little Children
Suburbia and the middle American family has always been a something I resonate interest in. Little Children takes a dispiriting look into a few dysfunctional marriages and lives. The drama directed by Todd Field focuses on individuals vulnerabilities in a delicate and stimulating way. At the core of the film is polished performances by Patrick Wilson, Kate Winslet, Jackie Earle Haley and Noah Emmerich. Each one of them deliver captivating portrayals in very pedestrian characters. Something I am reminded by revisiting this film, is how much this story could be on any block in America or around the world. It is very simple and very generic, but at the same time it focuses on themes that are not traditionally explored in abundance.

4. Thank You For Smoking
Jason Reitman broke on to the scene with Thank You for Smoking and instantly became a director that deserves attention. Thank You for Smoking is hilarious, charming and most of all drives home the message of what we are being told to do by advertising or spin machines. Aaron Eckhart is electrifying as the quick tongued spokesperson for the Academy of Tobacco Studies and Reitman shows he has the knack for adapting novels for screen. In every way Thank You for Smoking is a performance based film and Eckhart's astounding performance easily earns the film top honors in 2006.

3. Children of Men
The most engaging and mesmerizing Sci Fi film in 2006 and possibly of the decade is Children of Men. The film outlines a future where humans are now unable to reproduce and a select few risk everything to harbor a pregnant woman to a medical sanctuary. Like other apocalyptic films released Children of Men paints a grim future, but the resounding themes of hope and humanity ring through brilliantly in the dark adventure. Children of Men displays a perfect blend of story, vision, direction and performances. The bitter sweet tale is extremely moving and Alfonso Cuaron direction is his best to date. The cinematography throughout the film is breathtaking. Specifically a few of the lengthy and well put together one take continual shots. Just miraculous work.

2. The Prestige
You may have begun to notice a pattern with Christopher Nolan and my Top 10 Lists. The guy is a genius. He knows how to tell a story and he knows how to sell it so that nearly everyone appreciates it. The Prestige is a true gem in 2006. The fact that Nolan's film starred Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman alone was reason enough to love the film, but he gave his viewers a second film with a big reveal that remains a superior effort. Watching as the two magicians attempt to out do the others illusion is only one avenue of perfection in The Prestige but on top of that is remarkable performances by the entire cast. Even though The Prestige contains a reveal that could have meant a loss in intrigue, the film holds up extremely well after repeated viewings.

1. The Proposition
The Proposition is my favorite western of the last twenty years hands down. Written and scored by one of my favorite musicians Nick Cave, The Proposition is a bleak and uncompromising account of rural Australia in the late 19th century. The Proposition houses a perfect historical backdrop, however at the forefront is a brutal story following three outlaw brothers who are plotted against themselves in order to gain pardon from the law. Guy Pearce is immovable as Charlie Burns and Ray Winstone delivers his best performance to date as Captain Stanley. Like any great western, The Proposition has some great gunplay, but the hostile and melancholy story that Nick Cave penned is absolutely arresting. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' score is one of a kind. The rugged score matches the intimidating tone to the film directed by John Hillcoat precisely. Overall The Proposition is the pinnacle of the western genre in the last twenty years of cinema. The film furthermore is an unexpected masterpiece from a musical talent I have loved for quite some time.