My friend Ron Reed over at A&F asked me for a year's best list, and I'm not sure I can come up with 10. I hated this year in film. I mean, really, really hated it. Of the 50 notable films listed in Entertainment Weekly's Year End "Critical Mass" column, I think I saw 12, and one (V for Vendetta) was actually a 2005 release, I think.
So yeah, 2006 is the year I officially went off the deep end, jumped the shark, whatever. Anyone who wants to dismiss my list out of hand because of my increasingly eclectic viewing habits is welcome to do so, though of all the films I haven't seen from the last year, I can only really, seriously imagine that three (The Queen, Pan's Labyrinth, The Death of Mr. Lazarezcu) would have a serious shot at making me like them enough to deem them worthy of some meaningless honorific such as my best of list. Without further ado, then, here's what I liked from the year that I hated, and here's hoping 2007 has some better mainstream, narrative films that are worthwhile:
1) Shut Up and Sing
2) The Pervert's Guide to Cinema
3) An Inconvenient Truth
4) When the Levees Broke
6) Forgiving Dr. Mengele
7) Manufactured Landscapes
9) Lake of Fire
10) Miami Vice
Put 3-9 in a bag and shake it up and they could come out in a different order on any given day. They were all films I appreciated but which I'm not sure I could rouse myself to champion would anyone else care to take exception.
I can't make a case for Pervert's Guide being a great film, but it was over three hours (I think), and I enjoyed every minute of it, which ain't nothing.
Miami Vice is on there not because it's a great film but because it was a horrible year for studio releases, it's Michael Mann, and I suspect, like Heat it may grow on me in time. I certainly would rather see if again another three times rather than having to sit through the island sequence of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. I mean, really, you would have been happier if I had thrown in Who Killed the Electric Car?
Requiem fell a few notches the second time I saw it, but it is the sort of film that I'm still grappling with and could easily work its way back up in my estimation as easily as it could fall off such a list altogether.
The rerelease of Melville's Army of Shadows was also a favorite theatrical experience, but I always think of these sorts of lists as being reserved for new releases.