Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Top Movies of 2006 (Part 5)

I'm finishing up the list this morning, thus giving you the opportunity to finally know that I completely missed your favorite movie. Until now, you held out hope, now all hope is gone. Until this morning, you could believe that maybe, just maybe, I had good taste. Now, you can clearly see I have no idea what I'm talking about.

Also, just for MJ, all 25 of these movies (and about 6 others) ranked ahead of "The Island". Deal with it.

Time for some "closure", let's do it.

25. Hoodwinked
24. End of the Spear
23. Flightplan
22. Inside Man *
21. Akeelah and the Bee
20. Zathura
19. Good Night and Good Luck
18. A History of Violence *
17. World Trade Center
16. The Greatest Game Ever Played
15. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
14. X Men: The Last Stand
13. The Exorcism of Emily Rose *
12. Walk the Line
11. Sky High
10. Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story
9. Cinderella Man
8. Monster House
7. Lady In the Water
6. Match Point*

5. The Prestige

This is one of those movies that lingers. So amazing in it's execution and resolution that you can't help but talk about it for days afterwards. The movie itself is the perfect magic trick, with deft sleight of hand by Christopher Nolan (Momento, Batman Begins) who is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors. Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman are amazing (nice to see Batman and Wolverine in the same film, eh?) and the audacity of what this movie does is made completely acceptable by the metaphor that it resides in.

4. The Pursuit of Happyness

Will Smith has proven he can make a mediocre film good (Hitch) but with Happyness he (and his child prodigy offspring, Jaden) make an already good movie great. This is a great story of perseverance and integrity already (a lot of shadows and echoes of Cinderella Man), but the performances of this father/son combo blew me away. Really, it's a pretty straightforward tale and you know exactly where it is going, but Mr. Smith and son pull you into these characters to the point that my sister in law was actually praying in the theater for them (anyone for a prayer/predestination/freewill/omniscience discussion?). Powerful stuff.

3. March of the Penguins

Best documentary I've ever seen. Engaging, gorgeous, compelling, entertaining, educational, and funny. These are penguins, PENGUINS I tell you, yet somehow I was completely engrossed in every second of the amazing story of how these creatures make their living. Skip "Happy Feet" (and it's environmentalist overtones) and watch this instead. You will get a much better appreciation of the world we are caretakers of, and they don't even need Robin Williams to make funny voices to do it.

2. Cars

It says something about Pixar that this is probably the fifth best movie they've made and yet it's still the second best film I saw all year. Cars follows the well tested Pixar formula of putting story and character first and letting message rule the day over gimmick and crassness. An amazing allegory on stopping and smelling the roses and the importance of community and teamwork. As always Pixar backs up the substance with the style, as some of the animation in this film is incredible. I thought Pixar might be in for a miss with this one, but nope, they nailed it again.

1. United 93*

The most powerfully moving movie I've seen since "The Passion". Every decision director Paul Greengrass made in this was the right one. Not casting known actors, casting people in their own real life roles, developing the terrorists as real people and not caricatures, letting the events unfold without gratuitous commentary, not creating back story for the passengers (thus allowing us to get to know them just as they got to know each other) It all adds up to a movie that feels like they stumbled upon actual footage. It puts you directly in the seats of these honorable, brave, and heroic people and leaves you devastated at what evil looks like when laid bare. It would have been very easy to exaggerate or embellish the action points of that day. Todd Beamer saying "Let's Roll" is a perfect example of a moment Greengrass could have highlighted for dramatic effect, but instead he chooses to downplay it, because that's probably a more accurate look at how it happened. These aren't action stars, they are you and me in a situation you and me (and they) could never imagine being in. Somehow, the simplicity and honesty of this film leave a deeper impact and more completely honors these people and the choices they made September 11th, 2001.

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