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My Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2006

08 Nov

When I start putting one of these lists together, I first check which movies I’ve given high scores to during the years to get a general selection of likely candidates. Then I pick my favorites. No attempt is made to add variety to the list just for the sake of variety. I simply try to determine which ten films I liked the most from that year.

This 2006 list is very heavy on comedy. I count five clear-cut comedies and three more where humor plays a substantial part. That 2006 was a great year for this genre of film isn’t something I have reflected upon before, but there it is. It’s no secret that I’m very fond of films that make me laugh and smile, so one of these years were bound to pop up sooner or later in this series. The way things look at the moment, the eventual 2005 list will feature an unusually high amount of films of a different genre. Again, not a concious decision.

This doesn’t mean that 2006 was a weak year for more serious film. Plenty of great stuff from a variety of genres was released upon the world. The multitude of comedies on here is not due to a lack of competition. It’s just that I happen to love these funny movies so much.

As usual, this is 2006 as listed on IMDB. Also note that this is a list of my favorite films of the year, and nothing more.

10 – LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN (Paul McGuigan)

“You mean this isn’t the first time a crime lord asked you to kill the gay son of a rival gangster to pay off a debt that belongs to a friend whose place you’re staying in as a result of losing your job, your apartment, and finding your girlfriend in bed with another guy?”

A smart crime thriller in which a young man (Josh Hartnett) finds himself caught in a war between two crime lords due to a case of mistaken identity. The main draws here are the funny dialogue that has its own unique rhythm to it, and the contrived but delightful plot. And Lucy Liu, whose role as hyperactive neighbor Lindsey surprisingly steals the show despite her being in the presence of some of the all-time greats in Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, Bruce WIllis and others.

9 – TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY (Adam McKay)

“Hakuna matata, bitches!”

Sitting down to watch a Will Ferrell comedy is a bit of a gamble, as he has about as many misses as hits on his resume. This one is hilarious though, as his standard idiotic man-child character meets the world of NASCAR. A lot of credit needs to go to the supporting cast, especially John C. Reilly as his held-back team mate and Sacha Baron Cohen as the stereotypically French antagonist. Holds up surprisingly well on a rewatch, too.

8 – THE HOST (GWOEMUL, Joon-ho Bong)

“The Han River is very broad, Mr. Kim. Let’s try to be broad-minded about this.”

The most impressive thing about Korean monster movie The Host is how well it brings together its different genre components. There are action scenes as good as anything Hollywood brings out, funny comedy bits and some really tense horror-ish parts. And still the story of a family trying to save the youngest daughter from a big amphibian-like creature feels like a collective whole, and a very satisfying one at that. Stand-out part: the adrenaline-pumping scene where the moster wreaks havoc by the river.

7 – BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN (Larry Charles)

“Gypsy! Give me your tears! If you will not give them to me, I will take them from you!”

Few comedies can make me both laugh and cringe in equal meeasures quite like this one does. The fact that most of the film is real certainly helps. As Sacha Baron Cohen dons the guise of a clueless Kazakhstani journalist on a journey to investigate America, the main focus of the movie are issues of racial prejudice. While the Borat character himself might be a bumbling antisemite, it’s the things his unsuspecting American interviewees spit forth that really make you worry about the state of things.

6 – STRANGER THAN FICTION (Marc Forster)

“I don’t need a nicotine patch, Penny. I smoke cigarettes.”

This film is often mentioned with regard to Will Ferrell tackling a more toned-down and serious kind of comedy than his usual fare. Which is a bit unjust, because while he does a competent job, there’s plenty more to like about Stranger Than Fiction. Such as its novel premise of a man who starts hearing a voice narrating his life. Or the wonderful dialogue. Or the great supporting turns by Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Or the neat overlays showing how numbers-minded protagonist Harold Cricket views his life. All in all, it’s a film that even people who don’t like Ferrell much ought to give a shot.

5 – CASHBACK (Sean Ellis)

“Being Swedish, the walk from the bathroom to her room didn’t need to be a modest one.”

This one I mentioned in my post on overlooked films of the 2000s. Based on an Oscar-nominated short film of the same name, Cashback is about an art student (Sean Biggerstaff) who suffers from insomnia after a bad break-up with his ex, so he takes a nightshift job at a supermarket and realizes that he can freeze time. There’s certainly plenty of laugh-out-loud moments to be had, but there’s also room for a lot of contemplation on time, love, boredom and beauty. Highly enjoyable film.

4 – UNITED 93 (Paul Greengrass)

“Open the cockpit and nobody will be hurt.”

Paul Greengrass‘ mostly fact-based, sometimes speculative reenactment of the events of 9/11 is as powerful as it is chilling. There’s a distinct sense of imbalance at work: the viewer knows just what is going on, whereas the people on screen are drowning in uncertainty and lack of information. As the magnitude of what has happened slowly dawns on them, I’m reminded of just what it was like on that day over ten years ago. But what really makes United 93 great is its frank nature and respectfulness.

3 – LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris)

“Everyone, just pretend to be normal.”

Dramedies populated by quirky characters are a dime a dozen. What makes Little Miss Sunshine better than most is that the characters have real believable emotions and aren’t solely defined by their quirks. Essentially a road trip film with a dysfunctional family onboard, Little Miss Sunshine is truly delightful, occassionally dark but always funny. The kind of movie that has made my interest immediately perk up whenever I see one of its cast members listed for other films. MVPs: Paul Dano and Steve Carell.

2 – CRANK (Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor)

“Fuck no, you’re not better. You’re in such shit shape it’s stunning. I can’t belive your heart’s still beating. Shit should be in a fucking medical journal.”

Crank is loud and dumb, has paper-thin characters and features plot elements so ridiculous that the term “suspension of disbelief” might well have been invented specifically for them. It’s also very possibly my favorite action film of all time. Pure distilled mayhem from the word go, so reluctant to pause for a breath that it has to cram exposition into a high-speed car chase through a mall, simply because there’s nowhere else to put it. Jason Statham‘s charisma and screen presence has never been utilized better, and this film more than anything else has cemented him in my mind as the greatest action star of the millenium. And let’s not undervalue Jose Pablo Cantillo, perfect as the annoying asshole antagonist who you just want to see get thwarted again and again and again.

1 – ONCE (John Carney)

“You have suffered enough and warred with yourself. It’s time that you won.”

I often forget that this film is a musical. The songs are integrated so well in the film’s story (music is a big plot element and both lead characters play instruments) that they become a natural part of it, rather than springing up as breaks from the narrative. No, Once is not primarily a musical in my mind. It’s a love story between a street musician and a flower seller (Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová), who meet by chance on the streets of Dublin and form a bond through their love for music. And it feels real, both in how it looks and sounds and in the situations, complications and emotions it presents. How often do you come across a film like this?

What was you favorite films of 2006? What do you think of the movies on this list?

 
20 Comments

Posted by on 8 November, 2011 in Lists, Top 10 of a year

 

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20 responses to “My Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2006

  1. Tyler

    8 November, 2011 at 04:41

    Great, great list. I’m especially happy with the placement of BORAT, UNITED 93, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE and ONCE. I love all those movies, and three of them were once in my Top 100 favourite films but have since dropped below the cut.

    I saw ONCE a few months ago on late night TV; it was 1-2 in the morning, and so I just sat there for about 80 minutes watching this story unfold. The relationship itself was interesting and kept me going, but the music was what really grabbed me. I agree, it is so well integrated with the storyline. ONCE is definitely a superior, deserving film that I wouldn’t mind seeing again.

     
    • Emil

      8 November, 2011 at 10:05

      Thank you, Tyler!

      When I first briefly heard about Once, I somehow got the impression that it was a standard romcom. Then I kept seeing it mentioned quite often as a really great film, and I just went “Wow, seriously? Must be one hell of a romantic comedy if people like it so much”. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Was it just because it was Irish or something? Either way, I’m a sucker for good romcoms, so I already knew I wanted to see it.

      Obviously, it wasn’t a romcom. But it hooked me right from the start, and the music store scene where Guy and Girl play Falling Slowly while coyly glancing at each other is when I realized the film was truly something special. Wonderful movie.

       
  2. Dave

    8 November, 2011 at 05:48

    Fantastic list, Emil. Our tastes continue to line up nicely, despite a few differences here and there. I can’t say I loved Once or Stranger Than Fiction, but I certainly understand the appeal of both. Kudos on the Borat love (I make explosions on your tummy!), as well as singling out the power of United 93, the zaniness of Lucky Number Slevin (perhaps the most underrated film of the year) and Crank, and the charm of Little Miss Sunshine. Looking forward to ’05, man!

     
    • Emil

      8 November, 2011 at 10:15

      Thank you, Dave. Yeah, I went over to check out your 2006 list after posting mine and was actually surprised at how little overlap there were. It was bound to happen sooner or later, I suppose.

      Once seems to be an interesting case of a film people won’t necessarily love even if you expect them to. I’ve recommended it to some friends whose taste would seem to allign with it, only to be met with “meh” once they saw it. It’s strange.

      Agreed on Lucky Number Slevin being underrated. There’s a lot of interesting things going on in that film, what with the twisting plot, the dialogue, the strange wallpapers and set designs and so on. I think it makes for a very fun watch.

      Have you seen Cashback? If so, I’d love to hear what you think of it. It’s probably the best blind-buy I’ve ever done, picking up the DVD on a sale after the title and blurb caught my eye despite never having heard of it before. It’s a very funny romantic comedy, quite different from the norm.

       
  3. Scott Lawlor

    8 November, 2011 at 12:13

    Nice year this one!! I adore Little Miss Sunshine. Probably more than I should.

    Thanks for sharing this my friend!!

     
    • Emil

      8 November, 2011 at 12:30

      More than you should? Why’s that? It’s a lovely film.

       
  4. Paavo

    8 November, 2011 at 12:54

    A really nice list! I should check out Cashback. Meanwhile, here’s my personal list:

    1. Children of Men
    2. United 93
    3. Stranger Than Fiction
    4. The Prestige
    5. Borat
    6. Lights in the Dusk (Laitakaupungin valot)
    7. Crank
    8. Black Book (Zwartboek)
    9. Casino Royale
    10. Jackass Number Two

     
    • Emil

      8 November, 2011 at 14:06

      Thank you! Seems there is some overlap between our lists. The Prestige is a really good movie, and I’ll gladly admit to laughing tons at Jackass 2. Haven’t seen Lights in the Dusk, Black Book or Casino Royale yet, though I most likely will.

      Children of Men is a movie that left me cold. Visually, it’s teriffic. Beautiful cinematography and gorgeous long takes. These are things I appreciate in that film. But I really couldn’t get into the story or characters at all. The whole thing felt very sterile to me. Perhaps a rewatch is in order.

       
  5. Dave

    8 November, 2011 at 14:00

    I never saw Cashback, it just never caught my eye. I’ll add it to the queue only because you said so, not because of the excessive nudity. ;-)

    What did you think of Hard Candy (may be on IMDb’s ’05, not sure), Sweet Land, Thank You For Smoking, and World’s Fastest Indian? If you haven’t seen them, they are worth a look.

     
    • Emil

      8 November, 2011 at 14:17

      Glad to hear you’ll give it a shot. I think you’ll enjoy it. :)

      Yeah, Hard Candy is 2005 according to IMDB. That said, it’s not likely to show up on my list for that year. It’s a good film, mind you. It’s an intriguing and fresh story with solid performances, but it flows a bit too stiffly for my liking. I’ve had lots more fun discussing that film than I had actually watching it. But, as I said, I did like it.

      Thank You For Smoking is great. Funny, smart and engaging. Probably still remains Eckhart’s best performance, and it’s a very impressive debut for Jason Reitman. It could have definitely made this list. Ultimately, it didn’t. If I did honorable mentions, it would get one.

      World’s Fastest Indian is a solid biopic with a great performance from the always top-notch Anthony Hopkins. Few people can disappear into roles so effectively. But the story lacked that certain spark to make me really love it. I’m glad I saw it, but I don’t particularly want to revisit it.

      I haven’t seen Sweet Land, unfortunately. I shall try to fix that in the future.

       
  6. Movies - Noir

    8 November, 2011 at 19:44

    Interesting list, as always. Is it just me or does this list feel a bit more mainstream than the other years you’ve done ?

    Lucky Number Slevin – I enjoyed this one and thought it was both funny and had good action.

    Talladega Nights – Must be the biggest surprise on this list for me. I personally didn’t find it very good, but a comedy is of course seen differently by everyone.

    The Host – I really enjoyed Memories of Murder by the same director (one of the best South Koreans movies made), but this one left me a bit dissapointed. I do however feel I need to watch it again as I liked a lot of things.

    Borat – I agree, this one deserves to be on the list and I even could go as far as seeing it as #1 on my own list if I had to pick just one movie from 2006 (which I find almost impossible as there are several good ones, but no really great movie).

    Stranger Than Fiction – Nice litte movie and I liked it, but doesn’t make my top ten.

    Cashback – I saw this because of your recommendation. Even though I didn’t like it as much as you do, I liked parts of it and can understand why you like it as much as you do.

    United 93 – Powerful and eerie for sure. Saw it at the cinema and it was one of those viewings you don’t forget. Should be mandatory viewing and is one of the years best.

    Little Miss Sunshine – Enjoyable comedy that I had fun watching. I also liked the fact it’s so warm.

    Crank – I also like this movie for what it is. Doesn’t make my top ten, but definitely one of the most entertaining action movies you can see. I had a blast so it’s nice to see it so high on your list.

    Once – I also had my reservations towards this movie. But I also enjoyed it and liked the nice feeling it gave me. I agree that the Falling Slowly song and scene made the movie for me, pure magic and I was really happy to see it win the Oscar for best song.

    My 10 favorites of the year were (in no particular order): A Dirty Carnival, Babel, Borat, Casino Royale, Ne le dis à personne (Tell No One), Renaissance, The Departed, The Pursuit of Happyness, United 93 and Zwartboek (Black Book).

     
    • Emil

      8 November, 2011 at 19:59

      I don’t know if I’d say it’s mainstream, though it depends on how you choose to define the term. Are these movies I think many people would enjoy? Yeah, probably. People tend to have an easier time swallowing comedies than heavy dramas, and there’s plenty of comedy on this list. I would say that a lot of these films haven’t achieved big mainstream success, though. Once is a small Irish film, The Host is Korean, Cashback is largely unknown and Stranger Than Fiction, while packing plenty of known names, is probably still too small to really have registered for many people. So yes and no, I suppose.

      I’ll check out Memories of Murder. Thanks for the tip.

      I commented on your favorites over at your blog a while ago, so I won’t go through it again. I will be getting Casino Royale from Lovefilm tomorrow though, so I’ll be seeing that one soon.

      Thanks for sharing your opinions!

       
      • Movies - Noir

        8 November, 2011 at 20:06

        I meant that it’s more mainstream if you compare it to the other years you’ve listed. But it’s not THAT mainstream if you compare it to many other peoples lists ;)

        But of course most of the movies on your list aren’t blockbusters and I always enjoy and look forward to your lists so it wasn’t meant as something negative.

        You’re welcome, Memories of Murder is the Korean movie I’ve seen the most times, it has everything a great Korean movie and thriller should have in my opinion.

        Looking forward to your thoughts on Casino Royale.

         
  7. Jandy

    8 November, 2011 at 23:17

    Heh, what I learned from this list is that you and I should never EVER try to watch comedies together. Of your list, I pretty much hate Lucky Number Slevin, Talladega Nights, AND Borat. I don’t care for Stranger Than Fiction, either, but that’s largely because I thought it had a great premise and then didn’t follow through on the philosophical/metaphysical side of it well enough.

    I enjoyed Cashback, but not as much as you. I do have Little Miss Sunshine just shy of my top ten, and The Host is awesome, so I’ll give you those. The one we totally agree on is Once. :) That’s my #2 for the year. Oh, and I haven’t seen United 93 or Crank yet.

    My list, as of now, goes something like this:
    1. Pan’s Labyrinth
    2. Once
    3. The Fountain
    4. INLAND EMPIRE
    5. Thank You for Smoking
    6. The Lives of Others
    7. Paris, je t’aime
    8. Marie Antoinette
    9. Volver
    10. Children of Men

    I actually agree with your criticism of Children of Men in a comment above. I felt like it was a perfectly-crafted film but it didn’t pull me in emotionally at all. It’s still high on my list, though, because I value craft very highly.

     
    • Emil

      8 November, 2011 at 23:37

      Haha, fair enough. Different senses of humor, I suppose. :)

      I’d be very interested to hear what you’d make of Crank if you get around to it at some point. I know there are others like me who love it for all its absurdity and craziness, but an equal number who loathe its very existance.

      Pan’s Labyrinth and Thank You For Smoking (and Once, obviously) are the ones on your list that I’m very fond of myself. The Fountain is interesting like all Aronofsky films are, but it’s way too short which causes the story to feel a bit rushed to me. I could easily have gone for another half hour of that one to give it time to flesh out its characters and ideas. The Lives of Others is another good movie even if it lacks a certain energy at times. And you’ve already read my thoughts on Children of Men.

      The rest are still unseen by me, but all are on my watch list. I’m particularly interested in Marie Antoinette. It’s the one Sofia Coppola film I’ve yet to see, and I do need to watch everything the director of Lost in Translation has put out.

       
      • Movies - Noir

        9 November, 2011 at 03:17

        On a quick note, Sofia Coppola will never make anything as great as Lost in Translation again. Truly wonderful. And experiencing and loving Japan myself means the movie has a very special place in my heart.

        Marie Antoinette didn’t quite do it for me, but it’s still worth watching.

         
        • Emil

          9 November, 2011 at 08:57

          I try not to deal in absolutes, but yeah, I have a hard time seeing her top Lost in Translation. Hell, I have a heard time seeing anyone top it anytime soon. Fantastic movie.

           
          • Movies - Noir

            10 November, 2011 at 01:32

            Agreed, there hasn’t been a better movie made after LiT (so far)…

             
  8. Alex

    16 December, 2011 at 15:42

    Great list. Babel and United 93 always vied for the top spot on my Best of 2006 list.

     
    • Emil

      16 December, 2011 at 17:35

      Babel is one of those films that could probably have snuck on this list had it been a weaker year. I really dug that one. The scene with the deaf girl in the nightclub stood out to me. Dancing looks quite strange without music.

      Thanks for the comment!

       

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