Top Ten Films of 2006

Contribution to the 2006 World Poll

My Top Ten this year reflects the limited number of films that I was able to see in 2006 as I am an English-only speaker and for the majority of the year I was living in a non-English speaking country. So due to different release dates not working in my favour and a lack of English subtitles I was prevented from seeing many films that would have probably made it onto my list. I am also ashamed to say that I saw no Australian films at all.

So my list of favourite films (in preferential order) that I happened to see for the first time in 2006 is as follows:

1. Conversations with Other Women (Hans Canosa, 2005)
A film that challenges conventional film style by being entirely in split screen, which becomes integral to the story. Beautiful performed and a genuinely painful film about regret and love lost.

2. Match Point (Woody Allen, 2005)
Possibly the most gracefully nihilistic film ever made.

3. Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, 2006)
Despite initially looking like a blueprint for every other American independent film about dysfunctional families this turned out to be a wonderful sad-comedy about life’s genuine losers who are never going to achieve any conventional forms of success.

4. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)
A thinking person’s action film where masterfully choreographed scenes of chaos are fused with a bleak and poignant vision of a not-too distant future.

5. The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)
Significant return to form by Scorsese with this electrifying remake of the ridiculously overrated Infernal Affairs (Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, 2002).

6. Inside Man (Spike Lee, 2006)
Lee brilliantly infuses the generic narrative of this film with a deeply resonant exploration of American politics in a post 9/11 world.

7. Capote (Bennett Miller, 2005)
A harrowing examination of murder seen through the eyes of an opportunistic literary genius.

8. Flags of our Fathers (Clint Eastwood, 2006)
Successfully and fittingly pays tribute to the soldiers who experienced the horrors of armed conflict while simultaneously revealing the cynical propaganda machine that exploits images of “war heroes” for political purposes. Depicts war as simply brutal, instead of making it an entertaining spectacle.

9. Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)
A solid drama that evokes some of Elia Kazan’s best work about American sexual repression and self-denial.

10. A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman, 2006)
It is fitting that Robert Altman’s final film is such a warm and moving tribute to past entertainers who must inevitably finish their run.

11. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
12. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (Tom Tykwer, 2006)
13. Fateless (Lajos Koltai, 2005)
14. L’Enfant (Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, 2005)
15. Shortbus (John Cameron Mitchell, 2006)
16. The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach, 2006)
17. Transamerica (Duncan Tucker, 2005)
18. A Cock and Bull Story (Michael Winterbottom, 2005)
19. Thank You for Smoking (Jason Reitman, 2005)
20. Munich (Steven Spielberg, 2005)

Originally appeared here on Senses of Cinema Issue No. 42, January – March 2007

© Thomas Caldwell, 2006