All of these lists are in rough order with my favorites at the top. I hope to write about some of these in depth in the near future. Here are my noteable cinematic experiences from 2006 (minus the notes):
Old Movies I caught up with for the first time:
Army of Shadows
The Rules of the Game
Aguirre, Der Zorn Gottes
Claude Lelouch's C'était un Rendez-vous
Days of Heaven
The Spirit of the Beehive
2 or 3 Things I Know About Her
Antonioni’s The Passenger
Zoo in Budapest
This list will help you understand what follows...Movies I've missed so far but hope to catch:
Letters from Iwo Jima
Children of Men
The Host (US release in March!)
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Battle in Heaven
Iraq in Fragments
Days of Glory
Quixotic [Honor de Cavelleria]
Woman on the Beach
Le Monde Vivant [The Living World]
Syndromes and a Century
Flags of Our Fathers
Brand Upon the Brain
Our Daily Bread
Note: I'll be seeing Inland Empire tomorrow night, if plans hold.
My list of Best Films of 2006 (new releases) is not a top 10 because it's incomplete for not having seen either Eastwood film, or Inland Empire, or Pan's Labyrinth, or Children of Men. So I'll leave two spots free and reserve the right to ammend this later (it was going to be one spot, but for all its whimsy Science of Sleep just didn't strike me as very good).
1. Army of Shadows
The powerful simplicity of the opening shot is overshadowed only by the strong visceral reaction it provokes in me; it's the perfect setup for the spectacularly intimate epic of national pride and self-sacrifice that follows. It's the brotherhood that strikes you in the moments when our main characters deal with ordinary Frenchman: in the barbershop, or in a Nazi military headquarters. Or even between members of the resistance, sworn to protect each other's identities even when alone together in a room. The final coda makes the story so much larger than even that which we've seen. A true masterwork.
2. United 93
The finest American movie about heroism ever made.
The perfect, singular appropriate response to September 11, 2001.
Update: 2.5 Inland Empire
more to come on that...
Why Fox tried to kill this I have no idea, as it was the funniest movie I've seen in a theater this millennium. Trenchant-enough social commentary to overcome the slight missteps into over-juvenalia. A meditation on cultural stupidity the way The Seventh Seal is a meditation on death.
4. Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
The funniest movie I'd seen in years - at least until I made it to Austin to see #3. TS has more hidden jokes than The Big Lebowski, but is aimed at the literati. Will they ever give sillyness it's due? Pre-Modern Post-modernism by way of Monty Python, but in book form, only then made into a movie, which is sometimes about the making of the movie that it's being made into. But much funnier than that sounds, and better with every viewing.
6. A Scanner Darkly
A good film that could have moved to greatness with a heavier use of surveillance-camera angles and conspiratorialism. A well-built skeleton that could use a good hearty meal of urban dystopianism for the camera.
7. Casino Royale
Seeing Bond becomne a Double-0 was the best action sequence since Jason Bourne left Paris. Eva Green makes the other Bond girls look like paper cutouts - on brains, acting ability, and, with apologies to Ursula, ownership of her physical appeal. The best Bond movie ever? Yes... considerably.
8. Mutual Appreciation
Bujalski may be overrated by certain critics and his movies may not tell us much that we don't already know, but I like that he doesn't shy away from insecutiry, silence, and inaction. His resistant protagonists are ripe for the kind of anthropological films he's making, and I'm looking forward to seeing what else he's got in store.
I like this for 5 minutes at a time; the only problem was that those 5 minutes were spaced about 20 minutes apart each time. Sofia, you're a very good filmmaker, but please take note: Movies about boredom do not have to be boring.
Best Small-Screen Movie Experience:
Claude Lelouch's C'était un Rendez-vous - ON YOUTUBE