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JR'S TOP 10 FILMS-2006
2019, 2019-2010, 2019 MID YEAR, 2018, 2018 MID YEAR, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2009-2000, 2006
"Good Old JR" Jim Rutkowski weighs in with his picks for the TOP 10 films of 2006
"Another year brings another top 10 list. This is the time when most critics like to tell us what a lousy year it’s been. I’m inclined to disagree. I think 2006 has given us some fine movies. As usual most of the best were released towards the end of the year. Of course the summer was filled with fluff. We’ll start at number 10 and work our way to the top banana. Afterwards, there will be some honorable mentions, interesting trends and the dreaded worst of the year list. Now, if you’re quite ready, let us begin."
10. PROPOSITION
Directed by Australian John Hillcoat. This is everything that Deadwood wishes it were. Gritty to the point of being disturbing, with a cast and setting awash in dirt. Essentially a western set in 1880’s Australia, it tells a revenge story every bit as grim and filthy as the setting. Starring Guy Pierce and a nearly unrecognizable John Hurt. The strength of The Proposition is its relentless moral ambiguity. Characters that would be heroic in more conventional movies show their darker sides, and the blackguards are given lighter, less ominous shades. It comes down to survival and justice. In a harsh land where so many are fighting to attain the former, is the latter an unreachable dream? And when does revenge as a means of justice cross over to become revenge as a means of survival? The Proposition may not answer these questions, but it addresses them and leaves it to the viewer to draw the conclusions. The result is as unsettling as it is compelling.

9. the QUEEN
"Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown," goes the Shakespeare quotation that opens The Queen, Stephen Frears's commanding docudrama of a royal clash between the privileged, the political and the public. It is to Frears's great credit, and to the wonderful screenplay by Peter Morgan (The Last King of Scotland), that this royal predicament isn't spun for infantile laughs or cheap shots, as would undoubtedly happen in many American productions of a similar crisis within the U.S. presidency. Put your money on Helen Mirren in the title role that demands Oscar glory.

8. BORAT
Lacerating irony has rarely had such a sweet, unassuming face as that of Borat Sagdiyev, the sixth most famous reporter in Kazakhstan. "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" is a comic put-on of awe-inspiring crudity and death-defying satire and by a long shot the funniest film of the year. It is "Jackass" with a brain and Mark Twain with full frontal male nudity. The enlightened cynicism of H.L. Mencken and Jonathan Swift courses through this movie's veins, along with the social curiosity of Alexis de Tocqueville, the scientific eye of a wildlife biologist, and a great comedian's love of the unspeakably juvenile. Which is to say I hurt myself laughing at "Borat," but I'm not sure whether it was from the jokes or from the deep clefts the movie leaves in our national psyche.

7. PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION
Robert Altman's "A Prairie Home Companion" is at least as much about the director as it is Garrison Keillor's long-running weekly radio show. The film is a rich, funny and warm examination of mortality told in sublimely subtle ways. Most of the great movies addressing death and dying, comic or in-between are viewed from beyond the grave. But "A Prairie Home Companion," employing drama, comedy and music, looks at it straight on from this side, which is not to say it is without sentiment. The movie is not just enormously entertaining, it is deeply moving, both in the way it celebrates storytelling and storytellers -- and in the unembarrassed way its creators and performers remind us how much we need them. The storytellers are not immortal, but the stories are a different matter, especially if they are told, or sung, with generosity, dignity and respect for an audience the performers may never see.

6. FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS/LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
Indulge me here. I managed to find a way to get eleven films into a top ten list. But I believe it is justified in this case. Many people say that Martin Scorcese is the reigning Master of American directors. Look farther along in my list and you’ll see that I could agree. But in Clint Eastwood we now have another contender. Eastwood has always been a formidable director. But in the last few years his work has excelled. These two films centering on a pivotal event in World War II represent some of Eastwood’s finest work behind the lens. Letters is the better of the two but taken as a whole, this represents a real cinematic achievement. One film about symbols and heroes and how a country can rely on both, the other about the usually faceless and implacable enemy and their ideas of honor.

5. LITTLE CHILDREN
Director Todd Field’s second feature after the terrific In The Bedroom, is the closest sensation possible to get to a book without reading one. The performances, especially those by Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson (the tortured pedophile in Hard Candy), Noah Emmerich, and Jackie Earle Haley, are tremendous. Winslet and Wilson face the challenge of portraying regular, intelligent people who are trapped by the normalcy of their lives and stray into infidelity. With In the Bedroom, Field demonstrated his mastery of difficult dramatic material and his ability to direct actors. His sophomore feature, which avoids the dreaded "slump," reinforces those characteristics and gives us reason to believe Field is a director whose next project should be met with anticipation.

4. PAN'S LABYRINTH
Brilliant from first frame to last, “Pan’s Labyrinth,” a fancifully aesthetic, densely rich fairy tale for adults, represents the full blossoming of Mexican Guillermo del Toro as a filmmaker of the first rank. It’s easily the most visionary, haunting, and expressive film I’ve seen this year. A mid-career summation work, “Pan’s Labyrinth” raises the bar considerably for del Toro as well as for the fantasy-fable genre. The movie offers the excitement of watching a filmmaker, who rightfully assumes his place alongside other masters of world cinema. The bar has been raised not just for del Toro, but also for other directors (Peter Jackson and Tim Burton included) working in the fantasy genre. “Pan’s Labyrinth” is a unique work, one with strong allusions to literature, painting, film, and music.

3. BABEL
Babel is a masterwork from director Alejandro González Iñárritu whose each effort re-enforces his international reputation. This movie is as mature and potent a piece of cinema as 21 Grams, and a worthy conclusion to Iñárritu and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga's "trilogy" which also includes Amores Perros. This is cathartic, thought-provoking, emotionally solid movie-making. It's a compelling tale, one that delineates how small mistakes and lapses in judgment can have tragic consequences. It also illustrates how poorly we communicate in an ever shrinking world. In addition to those umbrella themes, the movie also has "smaller" messages for its individual segments. It’s the kind of cinema I hope to see whenever I sit down in a theater to view a drama. Babel stands out from the crowd. Its complex (yet not mystifying) storytelling, forceful character development, and superb cinematography make this a sure Oscar contender.

2. the DEPARTED
With The Departed, Martin Scorsese proves that it is possible to craft a superior remake. The source material, a Hong Kong film called Infernal Affairs, is a good movie, but Scorsese has improved upon it in nearly every way imaginable. He has transformed the material into vintage Scorsese, bolstering characters, expanding the plot, and adding a twist ending. My definition of a great remake is a movie that retains the essence of the original while changing it in ways that make it a unique production and give it its own identity. The Departed accomplishes this. It's the director's most successful movie in more that 10 years and it is one of the first triumphant motion pictures since The Return of the King. This is masterful cinema in every way from the manner in which it is shot to the impact of performers like Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson. It's hard to imagine that Scorsese won't win that elusive Best Director Oscar.

1. UNITED 93
It is not an easy thing to walk into a theater and willingly open oneself to being transported back to the blackest day (at least thus far) of the 21st century. There are those who believe this movie should not be released, that it is "too soon." I will admit to having believed there was merit to this position - until I saw Paul Greengrass' vision brought to the screen. United 93 is it’s own most compelling defender. There's not a whiff of exploitation to be found. This is an honest, fact-based account that exists for two reasons: to assure that we do not forget the events of that day and to remind us that amidst all the horror and tragedy, there was still room for heroism. If not for the actions of the doomed passengers of United Flight 93, the United States might not have a Capitol Building. United 93 is a masterful motion picture. Its impact stays with the viewer; its images are hard to shake. In the years since 9/11, much of what happened that day has become ingrained in our culture. We have absorbed it. United 93 picks the scab and brings back the freshness of the wound. But the passage of time allows us to see the events of this film in a larger context. I do not use the phrase "must see" lightly (and there are those for whom this film may be too painful). Seeing United 93 represents a difficult film-going experience, and one that should not be undertaken lightly. It's hard to imagine anyone not being affected on some level by United 93. But the value of what this picture imparts is worth the challenge of sitting through it.
HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Children Of Men,
CASINO ROYALE, Hard Candy, HALF NELSON, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, APOCALYPTO, Volver.

MOST INTERESTING TREND:
Spanish directors. Pedro Almodovar’s Volver, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s
BABEL, Guillermo Del Toro’s PAN'S LABYRINTH and Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men. All top caliber work from Spanish directors.

BEST DOCUMENTARY:
AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH

BEST ANIMATED FILM:
MONSTER HOUSE

BEST COMIC BOOK ADAPTATION:
V FOR VENDETTA

BEST MOVIE ABOUT TURN OF THE CENTURY MAGICIANS:
the PRESTIGE

BEST HORROR MOVIE:
The Descent
 
WORST MOVIES:
PINK PANTHER, POSEIDON, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST (the #1 box office movie of the year, shame on all of you!).

THE WORST FILM OF 2006:
WICKER MAN with Nicholas Cage. I would rather chew glass than watch it again.
 
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Review © 2019 Alternate Reality, Inc.
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