Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Favorite Films Of My Lifetime: 2006

This year turned out to be really easy, but contained a lot of my absolute favorites from the entire decade.  I remember being severely disappointed in the Best Picture nominees for this particular year.  And while I liked The Departed and think Scorsese's career deserved a Best Director statue, I was rooting against its Best Picture win, because its a remake and a lot of it (including full sequences and framings) were ripped straight from the original.  Also, this was the year of the Mexican director, but of the 3 that made big time films, they picked the one that wasn't even that good of a movie as a Best Picture nominee.  But, what can you do.

Here's what that year looked like.

WINNER - The Departed
Letters From Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

And lucky me, 4 of my favorite modern directors made the list and 2 of my favorite veteran action directors did too.

16 Blocks

If this goes down as Richard Donner's final film, then he went out on a big high in my book.  What I have often considered the "final Die Hard" movie in spirit, is also one of Bruce Willis' best in the last so many years.  This is one of those point A to point B in X amount of time films that I love.  But it also deals with an interesting dynamic and one of Mr. Willis strongest characters and performances of his career.  This movie displays some good chases, shootouts and has a wonderful sense of suspense.  I consider this more in the Die Hard family than that last one we got.  Its 8 years later and I'm still spreading the word of this gem that seemed to have come and gone.

Casino Royale

Martin Campbell returns to helm and jump start another James Bond and its easily my 2nd favorite of all time.  I can't think of many people that disliked this movie.  As a fan of the book it was terrific to see how they brought this to life and then some.  I wrote all about it back in my inaugural retrospective series HERE.

Children Of Men

That Alfonso Cuaron can sure direct the hell out of a movie, can't he?  Crazily enough, this was his last film before last year's Gravity.  Children Of Men is an absolute marvel at how Cuaron uses the camera and really makes you feel like you are in the middle of the action.  The car chase being an absolute highlight.  This is a terrific little science fiction movie about a future with no births, just growing old and dying out.  This is probably the career best so far for the once "put this guy in everything" Clive Owen.  I wonder if he still feels happy and confident about turning down James Bond.  Anyway, if you haven't seen this movie...well...gosh, its one of the best.  Its full of suspense, action and incredibly unique visual storytelling.

The Fountain

Maybe this movie isn't for everyone.  Its definitely not for you if you like everything neat and spoon-fed to you (or watch nothing but CBS).  But if you're a Darren Aronofsky fan, the I'm sure you don't mind this movie.  I, for one, love it.  I love how much he was able to do and the amazing visuals produced in what ended up being a very low budget minimalist production.  Hugh Jackman is terrific as always.  What I love is all the ambiguity and piecing together of this story.  I'm a person who loves to have his brain put to work when watching a movie and after.  And this one surely fits the bill.  I'm sure a lot of its pieces and "clues" to what its going on in this film is likely intended to have one run in circles, but that's what's so great.  I don't think I'll ever get the same result and feeling from this movie after each watch.  There's a lot of theories, ideas and conclusions one could come to with this film, but they're all not certain.  This is a beautiful piece of modern arthouse and one I think over time will be dug up and maybe finally full appreciated as it should have been upon arrival.

Pan's Labyrinth

Another film I love and gush about.  And you can read that gushing right HERE.

The Prestige

I'm really glad Christopher Nolan was able to fit a film between each Batman entry as to keep his motor still turning on original product.  The Prestige might go down as his most underrated or under-appreciated film as it comes right before he made the phenomenon that was The Dark Knight.  This one pits Wolverine against Batman in the form of 2 competing magicians.  This one is a whole lot of fun and one of those movies that perfectly melds the thinking man's film with that of the crowd pleasing popcorn munching blockbuster.  I love the ambiguity approached with Hugh Jackman's characters ploy (not gonna go into spoilers) toward the end.  Its really fantastic to watch Bale and Jackman as they go head to head.  Fun fact: this and Memento were the first Blu-rays I ever purchased (I bought them at the same time, so neither was "first").

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