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The Best Films of the Decade: 2006

Fireworks2006.jpgFor those of us who enjoy exchanging presents and the big Xmas day meal, the time is just around the corner, and here in the UK we're even enjoying snow, it is indeed close to the end of the year, and with that we turn to The Best Films of the Decade with the year 2006.

I think this was a great year for film and I did see some great moments on screen, some of which are listed below, it was the first full year for Filmstalker and as a result my personal viewing shot through the roof, but there's still a surprising number of great films I didn't see.

So let's look at one of the strongest years so far for film, and see if you can pick out and voteyou're your Best Film of 2006.

Remember you can visit all the previous years and still vote on them.

An Inconvenient Truth (Filmstalker review)
For me this was the documentary of the year, and perhaps beyond that too, for some it was a hateful, lie-mongering tale at the forefront of some conspiracy which, at the very least, was trying to get us to show some respect to everything else that lives on this planet, including the generations to come. At best it was trying to get us to stop destroying and consuming what we have around us at such a rate that we may well end up wiping ourselves out. Either way, the documentary was a powerful one, presented in a passionate and convincing way. If it didn't do anything else, it showed that Al Gore should have been President.

Apocalypto (Filmstalker review)
A wonderfully shot film that really surprises you just how much you get drawn into the characters and their story, and what a story it is too. The scripting, direction and cinematography are fantastic, and Mel Gibson does a wonderful job behind the camera. I really wondered if this was going to turn out to be a film that almost made it, but actually it delivered on all fronts.

Air Guitar Nation (Filmstalker review)
I was lucky enough to see this film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival before its general release, and then I even got a trailer quote from the film, however that has nothing to do with my liking it, and it's because I loved it so much that my quote made it up there. Who could have realised that you could be so drawn into a film about air guitar competitions and the rivalry between two lead characters, but you are, and it becomes tense, dramatic, and hilarious at the same time. You just can't help but love this film, and it's the second documentary of the year.

I saw Babel just recently and enjoyed it, but I don't think it was as amazing as the hyped up ensemble piece that the industry made of it, but perhaps the audiences really did love it. Did you? Brad Pitt was really strong in the film, and the different segments each brought something very different to the film and the story. It's an interesting film but very downbeat, and quite a depressing reflection of who we are.

The Departed (Filmstalker review)
I've not been a big supporter of the American remakes of strong foreign films, and so this reported remake of Infernal Affairs wasn't something I was really expecting to surprise, but it did, and that was down to the utterly brilliant work by William Monahan on the script, Martin Scorsese's direction and the superb performances from Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen and Matt Damon, and in that order too. It's a great film that delivers a powerful punch and doesn't owe everything to, or pale into insignificance against, the original as so many remakes do.

Dreamgirls Bill Condon delivers a strong film that made an acting star of Jennifer Hudson and of Beyoncé Knowles, although she does claim less credit for the performance she put in, generally it's Hudson who gets the praise for the film. It also provided Eddie Murphy a chance to restart his career as an actor, something he's failed to capitalise on.

The Fall (Filmstalker review)
I may be one of the few but I did enjoy what Tarsem Singh did with The Cell, and I thought it was a captivating and exciting film. The visual style has come to The Fall but with it a powerful new storytelling that feels more Guillermo del Toro at times than anything else. It's a wonderfully inventive film that remembers to keep the emotional core fore and centre at all times, and it works superbly for it. Oh, and Catinca Untaru is superb and hugely endearing as the young girl.

This Film is Not Yet Rated (Filmstalker review)
Initially I'd forgotten about this film being in 2006, so it threw me when I saw it, a third great documentary of the year and no Michael Moore to be found. This isn't Kirby Dick's strongest documentary, but it's a hugely relevant and revealing one, skirting on the fringes of just going a little too far but never quite stepping over that line, something that itself is very relevant to the story behind the documentary. It is fair to say that this exposed the MPAA for what they were and weren't, and played a major hand in forcing them to take a hard look at themselves. This is another relevant, well intentioned, and thought provoking documentary for the year, rivalling An Inconvenient Truth in intent but not scope.

Flags of Our Fathers
I have to admit to having this film and Letters From Iwo Jima on Blu-ray but as yet I've not taken the time to watch them, and that's something I sorely regret at this point, not because I can't write in great detail about them for this article, but that after all this time of wanting to see them I still haven't. I did read the book about the Iwo Jima landings and was both shocked and moved at some of the stories, and I know that Clint Eastwood will have delivered something of similar tone for the two films. Are they the best of the year though?

The Fountain
The Fountain is indeed a very strong film that has an amazing concept with some superb cinematography and film-making from Darren Aronofsky and Matthew Libatique, with two great performances from Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman, but audiences didn't take to it as well as critics did. Does it deserve a place in the Best Films of the Decade? If so you'll need to vote for it here.

The Host (Gwoemul) (Filmstalker review)
When I saw this film I was surprised at how well it pulled together so many genres of film into one entertaining bundle and it seemed to do it so effortlessly. Sure there are flaws in the film, but it delivered bags more than other monster films I've seen from all over the world, and it did it with some superb effects, superb action sequences, and some interesting stories from a number of characters. The Host is a great all rounder.

The Last King of Scotland (Filmstalker review)
Another superbly crafted story that easily pulls you into the film and the characters, setting you at ease early on and when you're too entrenched to escape, it slowly reveals it's true intent, a lot like the main character of Idi Amin in the film itself. Based on actual events, a phrase that can all too often be abused, this marked a great film for the director and actors. Kevin Macdonald had already been noticed for a few films to this point, mainly One Day in September and Touching the Void, and there was a lot of talk about whether or not he would be able to pull off a film like this. It also marked the first big screen script from Peter Morgan, a man who has been churning out hugely powerful and winning scripts since. Meanwhile James McAvoy was making a statement for his career with this leading role and Gillian Anderson was doing something similar with her appearance, while Forest Whitaker was just delivering one of the most powerful performances of his career. They all came out on top.

Letters From Iwo Jima
See Flags of Our Fathers.

The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen)
Another film I feel embarrassed to say that I haven't yet seen, especially as it currently sits fifty-sixth on the IMDB top rated films, and that should say a lot for the German film which carries subtitles all the way through, so often a turn off for general audiences. The film about the East Berlin secret police and the power they exerted upon people, as well as how that power affects them, has resulted in the writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck not only coming to Hollywood but also remaking his own film for the Western audience, although I don't really see why we need to see that.

Pan's Labyrinth (El laberinto del fauno) (Filmstalker review)
Now I'm not entirely sure that Pan's Labyrinth belongs up here on the top list, after all there's quite a few I've dropped back down while I've been writing about the other films and realising just what the level of quality is up here. Still, while I might not have loved it as much as everyone else did, I know it's a widely loved and respected film, and there are some powerful messages and moments. Guillermo del Toro delivers a superb story and transfers it to film with some wonderful visuals, showing what a wild and fertile imagination he has, then bringing real life and the fantasy world together in a shattering conclusion.

Rocky Balboa (Filmstalker review)
Here's another film that I was unsure as to whether I should put it up on the list or not, but Rocky Balboa is boosted up here for some very significant reasons. The first is that it marks the return of Sylvester Stallone as writer, director and leading actor, and it also shows him returning with great reverence and love to a character and storyline arc that has been running through his career. He looks after the character beautifully when he could so easily have just applied all the Hollywood tricks to him. Instead we have a wonderfully touching film about the boxer in his twilight years trying to marry three distinct parts of his life together, the past, the present, and the life missed.

The Queen
Peter Morgan delivers another feature script this year that showed just what a powerful writer he is. The Queen gives Stephen Frears this fabulous script that examines the Monarch of Britain in a way never really seen until now. The film looks at a time in the history of the British Monarchy and of the Queen's own life that is far from plain sailing, and with some truth and dramatic interpretation we see a view of the woman we've never really seen before, showing passion, power, and some true emotion. Helen Mirren delivers a stunning performance and interpretation of Morgan's excellent script.

United 93 (Filmstalker review)
While I imagine a lot of film-makers, studios and producers thought that the events of September the 11th were to be stayed away from, or like Oliver Stone, paid homage to in one of the most uplifting and positive stories that could be taken from the events, Paul Greengrass decided to chronicle a very complex and harrowing part of the events, and he turned his cameras on the stories of the people aboard the planes. I think this took a ton of guts for all those involved in the production, but what Greengrass delivered is a powerful, inspirational, and altogether stunning film.

So those are the choices I've placed on the voting form for The Best Film of 2006, but I know there are others, in fact for me this was a great year for film. I've listed the "almost made it" list below, those films I think are deserving of a mention and just didn't quite make the list, amongst it are some personal favourites such as The Flying Scotsman, Holly, and Ils.

They may not be on the main list, but you can vote for them or any film not listed here by entering it in the voting form under the Other section. Remember you have to vote or you may not see your Best Film of 2006 in the final list for the voting of The Best Film of the Decade.

Here's the almost made it's…

300 (Filmstalker review), Black Book (Zwartboek), The Black Dahlia, Blood Diamond, Casino Royale (Filmstalker review), Children of Men, Curse of the Golden Flower (Man cheng jin dai huang jin jia), The Da Vinci Code (Filmstalker review), The Flying Scotsman (Filmstalker review), Holly (Filmstalker review)., Ils (Them) (Filmstalker review), Little Miss Sunshine, Lucky Number Slevin (Filmstalker review), Mission Impossible III (Filmstalker review), Notes on a Scandal, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, The Prestige (Filmstalker review), and Superman Returns (Filmstalker review)

Now get voting, and remember you can still vote for the Best Films of the years from 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001 and 2000.



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