25 From 6: My Favorite Movies Of 2006
2138 6.2 6.525. Happy Feet (2006)
Wait a second.....
The hot, continental island of Oz, with it's giant heartland of desert sands,
is responsible for a happy go lucky computer cartoon flick that takes place down in the icey wastelands of the antartic?
Why those clever blimey bastards....!
319 6.1 6.224. Art School Confidential (2006)
Art School Confidential first appeared in the #7 issue of the Dan Clowes comicbook series Eightball, as a four page short story that was, of course, expanded to fit the length of the movie.
To be honest, I normally wouldn't give a thumbs-up to a film who's clunkiness in it's plot seems to distract from it's distinctive premise, but I think that this industry needs more Clowes-based comicbook based movies. IMO, these kinds of films really do provide a nice refreshing break from the standard "same ol' same ol'" cinematic fare that have numbingly dominated theatres screens for several years.
I guess that they're kinda like the Junior Mints of the world of cinema.
1012 6.6 7.223. Rocky Balboa (2006)
While not comparable to the first two, this final installment of the Rocky franchise is still a nice closing chapter to the saga of the Italian Stallion.
For me personally, it was great to see that Sly could come up with a story that not only brings back the integrity to a character who starred in two my favorite films from the 70's, but also, in a manner that helps to wash out the bad taste left over from the horrible sequels of the 80's.
The Mighty Celestial's rating:
2575 6.6 7.322. Cars (2006)
To be honest, for me, the story in Cars really isn't the strongest I've seen in these type of movies, the characters, while a worthy effort, aren't the most memorable, and just the very concept of a universe of cars "running" around by their own "ignition" and with the ability to talk doesn't lend itself very well as a consistent idea in believability, no matter how much suspension I try to apply into my sense of belief.
However, I'm still including this film onto this list of favorites on the basis that the visuals on this thing are pretty damn insane.
The reflecting light off of the hulls of the shiny race-cars is eyecatchingly reflective, the realism in may of the backgrounds shots are incredibly affecting, the just the sheer amount of detail in everything is amazing (consistency in the color-schemes keep it from getting too distracting like in Speed Racer).
After watching Cars, it truly boggles the mind of where computer graphics will be in twenty, or even in just ten years from now.
The Mighty Celestial's rating:
1040 5.8 6.421. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
And speaking cartoonish stories about the fast-paced Nascar racetrack life style coming to life,
in TNTBoRB, Will Farrell, John C. Reilly & Sasha Baron Cohen show that you don't need millions of dollars worth of hi-tech CGI. Just a couple of million dollar comedians getting paid a couple of million dollar paychecks and who are willing to go those extra couple of miles.
This is a modern day spoof that from the the starting gate to the finish line was that just speeding along with one funny bit after another.
340 7.2 7.520. Jesus Camp (2006)
Back when I was a kid, I was sent to a Jesus camp for one summer.
I even earned a badge for being able to whistle thru my stigmatas.
Jesus Camp is the kind of documentary whose real life depictions of children having their evolving mindsets encrypted with teachings of the extreme religious right can seem more horrifying & disturbing than the fictional tales of movies like Paranormal Activity or The Exorcist.
4308 8 8.519. The Departed (2006)
A good movie, that for me was kinda of let down. Martin Scorcese is definitely one of my favorite directors & because of that, I probably expected much more from this film that I should've. It didn't grab anywhere near as much as Goodfellas, Mean Streets or even Casino. maybe it would've made up higher on my list if it the same movie directed by another name.
Despite this, I'm still glad to see that this helped Scorcese get more respect from the Academy than he's gotten so far.
760 7.8 7.818. The Fall (2006)
130 6.5 6.317. Cold Prey (2006)
A Norwegian-speaking cabin in the woods type of flick that follows the formula of the more well=known american franchises of the Freddy Kruger/ Michael Myers variety. Except, instead of a cabin, it takes place in an abandoned hotel. And also, the teenagers that terrorized by knife wielding slashmaster (a mountain man in this instance) are not so much in the woods as they are in the snowy mountains of Jotunheimen.
140 7 7.816. Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (2006)
I went and got this movie not just because the original 1978 Superman movie was & still is my second favorite movie of all time (The Godfather is my all time No. 1, for those of you still wondering), but also because, I kept hearing how Richard Donner's original script for the sequel was better than the one released back in 1980.
I must say, after watching this Cut, I don't agree. Maybe it's because of the childhood sentimentality that I hold for Supe's first two outings on the big screen, maybe it's because the iconic ending of Krypton's Last Son flying around the globe seems to fit better in the first film (IMO, anyways), or maybe it's just harder for me to see Donner's original vision via the different scene edits & jumbled outtakes & screen tests.
I could go into a much more lengthy discussion about this, but, since my movie lists are long enough as it is, I'll save that for another forum.
However, I will say that my disagreement is not so far away with the opinion of the majority when it comes to this subject. This Cut is still an excellent view as a movie, and for someone who grew up on these versions of Kal-El's cinematic exploits, it was exceptionally cool to catch a glimpse of what could've been almost a new chapter from the superhero film series that actually made me first believe that a man could fly.
1650 7.3 7.715. Inside Man (2006)
I've always had a soft spot for bank heist movies & also for movies where a director tries his/her hand at something their standard fare.
In this film, Spike Lee turns his directorial talents away from his usual theme of racial issues & instead takes a stab at a cerebral crime thriller.
Combined with his efforts on 25th Hour, Inside man makes me look forward to seeing how he handles other films in genres that he's not usually associated with.
798 6.9 714. The Host (2006)
Chemicals get dumped into the Han River,
and several years later,
the result of man's disregard for the aquatic ecological balance surfaces in the form of a....a...
well, in this film they call it a host.
I say, it's more of a giant walking catfish with Olympic level gymnastic skills.
Whatever you wanna call it,
it's payback time for all the centuries that humans have been hoisting waterbreathing critters outta the water since back when we first learned how to bait a hook.
And as far as the Host is concerned, this is a case in which the law of catch & release does not apply.
4010 7.9 8.413. The Prestige (2006)
An H.G. Wellsesque type of sci-fi thriller told thru the modern directing & co-writing talents Christopher Nolan.
And while this pic isn't as grand as The Dark Knight, I must admit, I found myself enjoying the story in this one more. For it's premise, The Prestige is overall innovative & cohesively engaging. A fantasy plot of the age of early 20th century magicks whose complex twists & turns eventually all complete their spiral turns to lead into a surprise climax that the viewer can still satisfyingly comprehend & enjoyably appreciate.
That is, if the proper amount of suspension is applied to one's belief. And when it comes to magic, let's be honest: no matter how physically impossible it may seem, at a certain level, we all want to believe.
998 7.6 7.912. Once (2006)
The down-to-earth tale of two strangers who find themselves coming together with a shared love for creating music
& ultimately, they end up creating a love for each that they can never truly share.
A nice lil' no frills romance story without the typical cumbersome complications of the...uhmnn, well.....romance.
1456 7.5 7.611. Volver (2006)
Living in Madrid, Raimanda is a wife & mother who, in an incident that instantly makes her a widow, suddenly finds her's & her daughter's small household in jeopardy as family secrets threaten to come forward. Trying to formulate a plan, she is soon juggling the responsibilities of running a restaurant with trying to get rid of evidence that could be her family's undoing.
And if all that wasn't enough, there are now rumors that the ghost of her deceased mother has been seen wandering about the premises of the apartment studio/hair salon owned by Raimanda's sister, Soledad.
But is it really some kind of apparition or just the results of her family's dark's secrets finally coming out to the open?
3050 6.4 7.310. Borat (2006)
A mockumentary that at certain times can become almost humoursly scary in that it seems to interweave into actual documentary, revealing certain areas of our society that we always knew was there, but didn't want have to confront yet.
At it's heart, Borat:CLoAfMBGNoK is a cross country journey of discovery across rural America that includes a huge naked fatman running in public, anti-semitism, racism, Pamela Anderson & a chicken in a traveling bag.
And it's all for a good cause
2817 7.5 7.99. Children of Men (2006)
A down to Earth, post-apocalyptic tale of humanity's last hope for the future that is told in a manner that doesn't insult the intelligence of the viewer.
Which, in this day and age, usually translates into that it's a great modern sci-fi that was commercially underrated but is bound to become both a classic & a cult favorite.
607 8 7.88. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)
Another quality anime animated movie of which seems to have become more and more of a consistant flow into the world of western film.
This one consists of a simple story of a simple girl who discovers that she can simply leap thru time. But instead of using her powers for good, or even for evil for that matter, she uses it in a manner that we all wish we could if we were so magically endowed (especially if we were her age): to make up time when we were late, to retake exams we didn't study for, to get to our favorite snacks in the fridge before our annoying little siblings got the chance to polished 'em off, etc..
Which all leads up to a simple coming of age story that is as simply & beautifully told as it is simply & beautifully animated.
Simply put, simply beautiful.
1003 6.4 6.77. Monster House (2006)
Even tho the animation in this film doesn't have the chance to get as creative as other comp.-animated movies of this generation & that focus on non-human subjects, this movie does very well with what it has. The facial expressions are choice quality & the movements during the action sequences are both smooth & dynamic. While there have been many animated films that have come along that look "better", this one for me, is one of the rare ones that have the whole package. The story is does not insult the intelligence despite being based on a child-based fantasy genre,
the characters are distinguishly engaging,
& the action scenes are very high in the area of thrill.
Monster House matches the excitement of any other movies released this year with the same intention.
1597 7.1 7.86. Apocalypto (2006)
25 years earlier, Mel Gibson starred in one of my favorite chase movies ever as the Road Warrior.
Two & half decades later, he's in the driver's seat of another chase film, but this time as the director instead of the star & instead of a post-apocalyptic future of the Outback, it's set in the pre-Colombian era of the Mayan civilation.
And almost as exciting & suspenseful as it was to watch a bad-ass Mad Max speeding a gas-semi tanker down a dusty road with a gang of S&M Rock 'N' Rolla disciples after him,
so is Apocalypto, with a Mesoamerican family tribesman in a desperate barefooted dash through the thickly foilage-layered jungles, a pack of murderous village raiders hot on his heels & even hotter for his blood.
A really great movie with it's ancient Maya South American providing a great distinguishing quality to the film.
3369 7.3 7.95. Casino Royale (2006)
Personally, I was never too big on the James Bond series, and I didn't think that Daniel Craig had the right look to be an Agent 007. Therefore, I ended up avoided this film when it was theatres. However, after I watched it on DVD, it became one of those films that I wished I had caught whilst still in the theatres.
Suddenly, Mr. Bond felt like a new character (which is no surprise, considering that this story focuses on the secret agent at the beginning of his career) & absent were the schtick of the goofy sex-pot sidekicks & the cartoonish weaponry & the over the top comicbook-like villians bent on world domination. All that was left was the energetic action sequences ( still-high powered, yet still in the realm of logistical suspended belief that one walks into for a film such as this), international spy intrigue, antagonists of a more believable & sophisticated level & even an intricate romance sub-plot that reveals the mechanics of the mindset required for an agent to achieve the level of double-o seven.
IMO, this is the James Bond movie for non-James Bond enthusiasts without sacrificing the heart & soul of loyal fans.
486 6.8 74. Curse of the Golden Flower (2006)
Some of the most breathtaking & gorgeously intricate background set designs ever in a film. So rich are the colors & exquisite details in this movie, that it requires multiple viewings just to be able to soak it all in. Once one can get passed that aspect of the film, it will become obvious that the sets are not a distraction, but an enhancement to the story. An enrichment that adds to the dialogue with an intensity that allows the ideas of what appears to be human pettiness behavior in a royal setting to be revealed as much grander in scope & concept.
And for a movie that can make someone as simple minded as myself come to a conclusion like that, that's definitely a statement to the power of it's artistry.
1257 7.5 7.93. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
Clint Eastwood excellently directs this tale of the pacific war from the view of a band Japanese.
A country in which the war is not just against the the Allies, but also in a war within intself between the new methods & technology of the new age against it's revered ancient traditions of honor for one's native land & emperor, not to mention against the obligational feelings towards own family.
Who knew that a tale about the "other side" would make such a great American movie?
3917 8 8.32. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
Pan's Labyrinth is a film whose creativity & emotion are elegantly entwined in a manner that blurs the barrier between the "real" world & the fantasy dimension, almost beyond physical distinction.
Just an absolutely beautiful movie that successfully takes the constant air of peril that comes with living under the grim realities of war & overlays it with the macabre & twisted influence that such a situation can have on a young creative mind's fairy-tale-like imaginations.
4176 7.6 7.91. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
And in my number one spot for the year 2006 is Little Miss Sunshine, a film about an average dysfunctional family that reveals just how normal dysfunctionality in the household truly is.
A suicidal gay uncle, an unspoken emo brother who dreams of flying jet fighters, a motivational-speaking dad who always seems to be out of touch, a seven year old out of shape, pangeant-contesting "super-freak", and a heroin-addicted grandpa with the power to spout out Oscar-worthy expletives, all capped off by a mom who tends to serve popsicles for dessert.
Everything you need to provide a big yellow vehicle such as this one with a solid push.
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