While I could write something about my favourite TV, games, music, etc. of 2006, it wouldn’t really be worth my time or yours as there’s not much to say. However, even if I didn’t see as many new films as I usually do (and there are still a lot of films I want to see yet to be released in Japan), here’s my overview of my cinematic consumption.
Best of 2006
- Children of Men
Breath-taking, gut-wrenching, genre-spanning brilliance; a technical achievement par excellence with both grittiness and soul to match.
- Casino Royale
The best Bond film of the year! But also, one of the very best films of the year. It captures everything that makes Bond great whilst adding a style and sophistication of its own.
- Thank You For Smoking
Sharp and frequently funny satire on the tobacco industry with an excellent central performance from Aaron Eckhart.
- Lady Vengeance
Chan-Wook Park’s final entry in his Vengeance trilogy is just as assured, emotional and visually arresting as Oldboy, but with a tone all of its own.
Jason Statham finally gets the kickass film he deserves in this ridiculously entertaining action flick – violence, laughs and camera tricks galore.
- A Scanner Darkly
Paranoia-heavy Philip K. Dick adaptation, with engaging rotoscoping techniques and superb support from Robert Downey, Jr., Woody Harrelson and Rory Cochrane.
Aliens, mutants, slugs and zombies combine in a real mess of the film, but in the best possible way. A great mix of grue and gags.
- A Cock And Bull Story
Not perfect, but not bad at all either – Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon bend reality and fiction in a comedy that is unconventional, but all the better for it.
- Snakes On A Plane
It may have been subject to a million fan-made videos and t-shirts, but thankfully it didn’t buy into it’s own hype, and ended up exactly how a film from the director of Final Destination 2 starring Samuel L. Jackson on a plane with a bunch of snakes should end up – stupid fun.
- Good Night, and Good Luck
It’s now hard to imagine a time when George Clooney was just ‘that guy from E.R. who was in that rubbish Batman film’. A succinct, straightforward and classy tale of journalism versus McCarthyism.
Best Not Released This Year, But Saw For The First Time
- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Finally capped off the Dollars trilogy with yet another superb Spaghetti Western; not usually a fan of the genre, but it’s completely involving from start to finish.
- The Crazies
George A. Romero’s dry run for Dawn of the Dead, this is a bleak, ominous tale of a viral outbreak and the chaos that ensues when military, civilians and scientists clash.
- Theater of Blood
Gleefully camp horror – Vincent Price hams it up like nothing else as a demented actor who takes revenge on the critics who killed his career through elaborate murders inspired by the Bard.
- Stop Making Sense
Got round to finishing the Talking Heads live concert filmed by Jonathan Demme. Excellent music and brilliantly staged with compelling onstage theatrics from David Byrne et al.
- Howl’s Moving Castle
Hayao Miyazaki’s most recent animated opus might actually be just as good as Spirited Away. Still downright bizarre and nonsensical in places (and the ending is laughably wrapped up), but it’s beautifully drawn and has genuine warmth.
And a round-up of some of the rest:
Despite several warnings, I decided to witness the full horror of House of the Dead, and genuinely regret doing so. Absolutely woeful cack-handed film-making that truly defies logic and taste. In several respects, Wild Zero is something of the Japanese equivalent, but pulls it off thanks to Guitar Wolf and the ‘ROCK AND ROLL!” vibe that permeates throughout. Supposed modern classics like Serenity and Superman Returns did little for me, and Anchorman and Dodgeball confirmed my suspicions that fans of the ‘Frat Pack’ are mostly mindless simpletons akin to Steve Carrell’s character in the former (who turned out to be the best thing in either film). Animation was a mixed bunch with the good (Porco Rosso), the baffling (Transformers: The Movie) and the boring (Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence). Out of the ‘classics’ I finally watched, Badlands, The Wicker Man, The Wild Bunch and The Conversation impressed, but Deliverance wasn’t quite the harrowing nightmare I’d been led to believe. In Hell was not half-bad for a Van Damme flick, while Silent Hill‘s vision of hell was impressive but replaced genuine suspense with silly dialogue and plotting. The Infernal Affairs sequels continued the high standard set by the original with more twisty back-and-forthing before, during and after the first film’s events. And finally, the big blockbuster threequels (X-Men: The Last Stand and Mission: Impossible III) turned out as expected, i.e. not very good, and while Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest was convoluted and lacking in fun, it still provided enough rollicking adventure to make At World’s End an exciting prospect indeed.