"When the world is running down, you make the best of what's still around"

Film Wrap-up for 2006

By Shanathalas
Last year was a banner year for film. I haven't seen such quantity of quality films in ages. For a long time there it was a matter of picking a few good ones amongst a veritable sea of crap films. As the Oscars approach, I reveal my favourites, whether they were actually nominated or not.

Best Film: The Departed
Runners up: Pan's Labyrinth, Children of Men
This one was very hard. I just kept seeing movies that seemed so great. Choosing an absolute favourite from these three was hard, but The Departed just seemed like the most complete piece in the gallery. Pan's Labyrinth was visually stunning, and Children of Men was just so poignant.

Best Actor: Clive Owen (Children of Men)
Runners up: Leonardo Di'Caprio (Departed), Kazunari Ninomiya (Letters from Iwo Jima).
Clive Owen gave the most un-stereotypical performance in years. Tough but sensitive, cynical but hopeful, a man who knows there's no point trying and yet doesn't give up. Leonardo Di'Caprio has finally grown up, and is a very compelling figure in both the Departed and Blood Diamond. And while the better-known Ken Watanabe gave a great performance in Letters from Iwo Jima, it's Kazunari Ninomiya's role as Saiko, the poor grunt who just wants keep his head down and get home to his family, that was the most touching.

Best Actress: Ivana Baquero (Pan's Labyrinth)
This was a tough category as I must admit to having not seen most of the films that the contenders are nominated for. Many of the films I have seen lately have cast almost all men. Two of my favourite actresses, Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett are nominated, but the films they're in don't seem to compel me to see them. Ivana Baquero's performance in Pan's Labyrinth is reminiscent of Natalie Portman's in Leon. Once again a young girl is forced to deal with the dangers and burdens of a violent, adult world.

The Underachiever: Babel
Runners Up: Little Miss Sunshine, Last King of Scotland
This category is for good films that somehow let me down. Babel had a great story and absolutely amazing performances, but seemed like only half a film. Certainly a very good film, but not satisfying. I feel perhaps that Little Miss Sunshine suffered from overhype. Everyone said how fantastic it was, so I must have been expecting more. The performances were very good (I love Alan Arkin and Greg Kinear) and there were amusing spots in the film, but just too many bits seemed to drag for me and lacked "pop". Last King of Scotland had a great performance by Forrest Whittaker, but when the main character is fictional in a recent historical film, it makes me feel played. The cinematographer was going for a retro look, but hand held cameras just serve to make the audience nauseous.

The Secret Shame: Borat...

Runners Up: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, V For Vendetta
I came out with a sore tummy from cringing so much in Borat... I also laughed my fucking head off. Regardless of whether it was exploitative, it was one of the freshest things I've seen in ages. And the Pirates franchise might be cheesier than a quattro formaggio pizza, but the pace makes it sooo much fun. V for Vendetta is a great film with a powerful message, but the flood of poor comic-based action films in recent years make me feel defensive about endorsing it.

Worst Film: Superman Returns

Runners up: X-men 3, Da Vinci Code
While I am sure there were many more worse films than these three, these were the worst I actually sat through. I'm probably going to hell for saying this rather non-pc thing: Christopher Reeves was a very bad actor. I'm sure he was a nice guy, and it was awful what happened to him, but an terrible actor. But at least he had a modicum of charisma. This new superman is so dull and boring, it makes you miss Christopher Reeve. The script must have been written by a computer, and while I love Kevin Spacey, he was just doing an imitation of Gene Hackman. I thought X-Men 3 must have suffered from the loss of the director of its first two iterations. That was until I saw Superman Returns*. The X-Men franchise is one of the few where the second film is better than the first. Unfortunately the curve did not continue, and the script for the third movie must have been written by a 80s video game designer. And the DaVinci Code? I knew it was in the crapper when I heard it was being directed by smaltzmeister Ron Howard, but I got suckered into paying good money to see it because of how much I love Ian McKellen, Jean Reno and Paul Bettany. I chose poorly.

*Bryan Singer turned down directing Xmen 3 so that he could direct Superman Returns. Go figure.

other picks:

Best Documentary: An Inconvenient Truth.
This film made people sit up and listen to the drip, drip, drip of the glaciers melting. The general public has finally realised what scientists and greenies have been telling them for years. Its actually a good thing he never got the presidency; I'm sure he's never have been able to devote so much time and effort to this cause.

Film I most regret not seeing: The Fountain.
I was so looking forward to this film as the photography looked amazing and I love both Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weiss. But the stupid "50" score on metacritic made me hesitate, and before I knew it, this film's very brief theatre run was over. I will definitely see it when it comes out on DVD, but I am sure that it would have been stunning on the big screen.

Film in 2007 that I most want to see: 300
The trailer for this film gives me goosebumps everytime I see it. Artistically, it looks stunning, and historically, the Battle of Thermopylae was just that violent.


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