I watched The Host
again last night. When I listed my Best of 2006
at the beginning of this year, I made a comment that The Host was a lot like Little Miss Sunshine
, but watching it again, with that idea in mind, it's much more obvious. There's even a wacky escape from the hospital in a van with family members running to get in the open van door! It's practically the same movie!
So I figure, now that I've seen most of the key films, I'll re-do my list. I think the only really important films (besides those Iwo Jima movies, which I really doubt I'll ever get around to) that I still haven't seen are Hostel
. So for now, my Top 10:
1. Pan's Labyrinth
2. The Fountain
3. Children of Men
4. Dave Chappelle's Block Party
5. The Descent
6. Lady Vengeance
7. United 93
8. Casino Royale
10. Old Joy
And the 10 runners-up:ShortbusThe HostBrickThe Good ShepherdThis Film is Not Yet RatedTidelandAwesome: I Shot ThatThe QueenJet Li's FearlessMarie Antoinette
Looking back on it, 2006 is really an incredible year for movies. This bullshit about the Death of Art Films, or Hollywood studio product driving everything else out of the market, is totally given the lie by a half-dozen filmmakers who realized very ambitious, unconventional projects last year: Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth, Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men, Alejandro Innaritu's Babel, Darren Aranofsky's The Fountain, Terry Gilliam's Tideland, and David Lynch's Inland Empire. I think three of those turned out to be masterpieces of cinema. Tideland and Babel both missed the mark a bit, and Inland Empire...is what it is. But the fact that anyone is even attempting this sort of thing speaks pretty well for the state of the art. Add Almodovar's Volver and Park Chan-Wook's Lady Vengeance and you've got a pretty great year right there. Then, almost on the opposite end of the spectrum, there's Paul Greengrass' 9/11 docudrama United 93, one of the most intense movies I've ever seen and a masterpiece in it's own right.
I didn't put Casino Royale in the top 10 after my first viewing, even though I loved the hell out of it. But, like most people I know, I've been into the Bond films for almost as long as I've been going to movies, so I'm an easy mark for stuff like the buildup to the big line at the end of the movie, or just the idea of making a Good James Bond Movie. So I had to handicap it a bit. But watching it the second time on DVD, I realized just how good it is, not just in conception but in executino as well. Everything, from the rapier dialogue on the train to the brutal fight on the stairway, is just much better than it needed to be. This is a Great Movie, full stop. Maybe even better than Goldfinger.
2006 also gave us two of the best concert films of all time. I know I'm very, very biased when it comes to the Beasties, but there is no film out there that conveys the experience of being in the audience at a concert better than Awesome. And I've already watched Block Party multiple times. I can tell that it's going to be the movie I watch the most times over my life from the whole year.
The Descent is an excellent genre entry. I said this before, but the problem with so many horror movies is that they have to make the characters make idiotic decisions in order to keep them in danger. The characters in The Descent make very bad decisions, but they all make sense for those characters, in those situations, with the incomplete information those characters have.
Finishing out my top 10, the zen character study Old Joy is, like The Descent, a movie about old friends spending a weekend in the Appalachians, but with much less spectacular results. I'm always fascinated by these small movies where not much seems to happen (my favorite example has always been Ruby in Paradise).
Shortbus, The Host and Brick are all fun, kooky, and well-made little movies. The Good Shepherd is a great film for History Channel/espionage buffs, but probably a bit slow and ponderous for anyone else. It has to be, given the subject matter, but you can't deny that it hurts the film, so I can't quite put it in the top 10. This Film is Not Yet Rated is maybe not quite as great as I thought it was when I first saw it, but certainly one of the movies I'd be quickest to reccomend as a must-see movie this year, and manages to be as fun and entertaining as it is informative.
The last few I just added on there to make it an even 20, but The Queen is the film that I think should have won Best Picture. It's not perfect--way too reliant on expository dialogue to convey every idea to the audience--but it seems signifigant in a way that none of the other nominees did. It was about an important moment, and I don't mean the death of Diana, but the change in the way people do things, the "Oprah-ization" of the world, although that's generally used as a derogatory term, and I don't think it's necessarily a good or bad thing. But, as Elizabeth says in the film, the world has changed, in very strange ways, and the film does a great job of exploring the divide between the old world and the new.
A few other things I'd like to mention. First of all, The Fake Life is coming to an end. Sad but true. But we're ending with a two-week blowout of posting new and old material. The old stuff includes a repost of some of my (and Charlie's) What's Left? columns. I still get a lot of compliments for the piece on Song of the South and the Censored Eleven, but I'm personally very proud of the Going Ape! article, because it's one of the only funny things I managed to write for TFL. As for the new stuff, check out Doug and Andrew's debate about Land of the Dead. Good stuff. And both Andrew (dark and cruel) and Doug (happy and inspiring) have pieces up about their favorite movie endings (with more to come).
Bobbie has her own blog now. Go there for her opinions on comedy and politics, stuff about upcoming shows and classes, and general stuff about life. She's moved copies of most of the stuff she's written at TFL and elsewhere on the web there, but she's also writing some new stuff.
Joss Whedon has a new webcomic up at the Dark Horse Presents' MySpace page. It's called Sugarshock, and it's a scifi comedy about an all-girl rock band. It's pretty silly. I mean that in a good way. For the record, I didn't really like the first four issues of his new Buffy comic (Chris Stangl has a pretty good review up, which mostly lines up with my take on it), but I LOVE the stand-alone issue 5.
And don't forget: Tomorrow is Vincent Price day on TCM! I might call in sick just so I can finally see The Last Man on Earth.