The Best (and Worst) Movies of 2006--A Collaborative Project by Dawn and Bobby
I try to review all of the movies we see, but as my movie review tag indicates, I am sadly behind. (I have about a half-dozen reviews rotting in WordPad that I still need to post.) This year, I wanted to remember what movies I saw, which I liked, and which I hated. And which fell between. Two years ago, I hosted the w00t Awards, and I considered resurrecting that, but that was all full of drama the first time around and too hard to manage, so instead, Bobby and I will award our own private awards to the cinematic successes and failures of 2006.
(I'm pretty sure that I'm missing some. I reviewed the ticket stubs in my wallet, my 2006 movie reviews (sadly deficient), went through IMDB's "top" lists for 2006, scrolled each of IMDB's highest-grossing lists for 2006, and walked around the new-release wall in Blockbuster. Still, I suspect I'm missing some. Bah. Hope none were notably good or bad....)
For the record, we're only giving "awards" to those that we went to see in the theatre. We saw a good many more in DVD, but it would be simply impossible for me to attempt to list those as well.
What are award criteria based on? Whether we like the movie or not. Yep. That simple. That shallow. Feel free to debate us to your heart's content.
Dawn's commentary is in black, since it's Dawn's journal. Bobby's thoughts on my picks appear in blue.
Oh The Horror
This year's horror was slim pickin' for me. Of course, I am a self-proclaimed horror connoissuer and admittedly very hard to please in this genre. I read too many stories, I suppose, that prove the potential the horror genre has, and few movies can even begin to approximate it.
2006 saw a wealth of two kinds of horror films: multilation flicks and PG-13 horror. In other words, we're deviating to either extreme. Either the movie involves gratuitous gore and violence--usually in the form of torture and mutilation--or it has been diluted to attract the under-seventeen crowd and thus is rarely scary for those of us better seasoned (read: older and crustier) viewers.
I find myself with no choice but to give this year's Best Horror award to a surprising pick: Silent Hill. Whereas the other selections are a charming glop of attempts at being creative with power tools or watered-down ghost stories, Silent Hill was truly chilling in places and by far the most creative horror movie I saw this year. If you think that this is sad--as I find myself thinking--that is perhaps a testament to this year's offerings.
Runner-up for Best Horror goes to Hostel, which certainly fits the creative-with-power-tools sub-category but deviated just enough from the torture-movie norm to catch--and keep--my attention. It was also the only movie this year that truly disturbed me (and was intended to do so).
Choosing Worst Horror is so much easier. Yes, there are more choices, but this year's Worst Horror was the worstest of the worst...that is, one of the worst movies I saw this year. Period. The Omen was a boring and not-a-bit-scary attempt to make a cute little boy appear satanic; it overused startle tactics because it didn't stand a chance of raising the audience's heartrate on its own, and I found myself cheering for the bad guys. Not a good combination. It is perhaps further proof that remakes of classic movies--horror or otherwise--are usually a Bad Idea.
Runner-up for Worst Horror goes to The Wicker Man, which was toned down to the point of stupidity. If you're going to make a movie about burning people alive, then don't try to make it rated PG-13. All those convenient camera cut-aways are as annoying as a Fells Point hon with a beehive in the seat in front of you. Sometimes, a movie has to go all the way or just not go there at all.
I have to agree, the Best Horror movie I saw last year was Silent Hill. The story was original, and it had some truly creepy moments (kinda sad when one considers that it was based off of a video game).
For the Worst Horror movie, I also have to agree with Dawn's choice of The Omen. What a truly magnificent piece of crap.
All 2006 Horror Movies (in no particular order): Silent Hill, The Hills Have Eyes, Saw III, The Omen, The Wicker Man, Hostel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, An American Haunting, and The Fog.
Fantastic and Not-So-Fantastic Fantasy
For the record, I tend to be a bit liberal in categorizing movies as "fantasy." If I would class a short story as such, then I similarly class a movie.
This year's Most Fantastic Fantasy goes to The Illusionist. I thought about this movie weeks after seeing it, and it has one of the most justified twist endings I've yet to see in a movie. The movie itself is beautiful and truly, well...fantastic!
The runner-up for Most Fantastic Fantasy was perhaps one of my most anticipated movies this year: The Fountain. Blending stories within stories, some gorgeous scenes, and a beautiful score, it also managed to capture just about perfectly my idea of "afterlife." The movie tried a little too hard in places, but the end result was surprisingly thought-provoking and hopeful.
I wouldn't call any of the movies that I've listed below particularly bad. They're all very different, and I enjoyed them all. If someone gave me any of them on DVD, I would not take it back. And so I cannot offer an award for Not-So-Fantastic Fantasy this year. Let's hope that next year is similarly fortunate.
For my Best Fantasy movie I have to go with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. I thought the movie was really well done, and I loved the way they chose to depict Davy Jones. This would be closely followed by Eragon and Narnia, but I tend to be a bit prejudiced towards traditional sword and sorcery fantasy stories. As for Worst Fantasy of the year, I would have to say that I was very disappointed in King Kong. I guess I was hoping for a little more than what I was given in that movie.
All 2006 Fantasy Movies (in no particular order): Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, King Kong, The Chronicles of Narnia, Lady in the Water, The Illusionist, Eragon, The Fountain, and Night at the Museum.
Selling the Drama
This year's Best Drama goes to Invisible. Yep, I gave it to a sports movie. But, in my defense, I think that this sports movie goes beyond the hero winning the big game. It shows a desperate era and captures why people follow and need sports. And for a BOATS--Based on a True Story--it is relatively true to the real events. Always a plus.
Runners-up for drama include Munich and Stranger Than Fiction.
This year's Bombed Drama goes to The New World. And the runner-up is Flyboys. I mention them in the same breath because it was very hard for me to decide which was worse. And I wished to convey the degree to which I despised both of these movies. I would have them share an award, but none of the other movies are bad enough to be named after them. So they shall be named together.
I've reviewed them both elsewhere, so I'll try to keep it brief. The New World was a boring, shallow attempt at being artsy while really saying nothing new or profound. It is narrowly worse than Flyboys only because Flyboys--at least--gave you something interesting to look at. The New World mostly panned across trees or showed Colin Farrell as Colin Farrell and in need of a shave. Flyboys took a tremendous premise--a movie set in World War I, which does not get nearly the screentime it deserves--and, well, crashed it. The movie is campy, stupid, and shallow. It dishonors the real flyboys and the real soldiers who actually fought in the not-so-glitzy wars where everything is shiny and colorful and doesn't come with catchy battle cries.
Both movies should be ashamed of themselves for taking what might have been history worthy of profound and interesting exploration and making it into a steaming pile of shit.
Considering that I am a certified sports addict (yes I do attend AA meetings for football, baseball, and hockey fans) my drama movie of the year also goes to Invincible. The movie not only did a great job of showing the football culture of the 1970's, it also did a truly magnificent job of depicting the gritty nature of Philadelphia during the 70's. It was kind of cool seeing the way they depicted Philly because growing up in Baltimore City a decade after the movie's setting, it was easy to relate to some of the scenes in the movie since Baltimore and Philly really are sister cities. For Worst Drama I have to agree with Dawn and go with The New World, how I wish I had those two hours of my life back.
All 2006 Drama Movies (in no particular order): Apocalypto, The Black Dahlia, The Pursuit of Happyness, The Holiday, Stranger Than Fiction, Invinsible, Flyboys, Munich, Freedomland, and The New World.
Laugh-Out-Loud (and Sob-Out-Loud) Comedy
This year's Laugh Award was as difficult to decide as the aforementioned Bombed Drama award, though for a better reason. Two of my favorite comedies ever served as bookends to this year's movie-going season. In choosing, though, I have to give it to Little Miss Sunshine. The movie is hilarious, absurd, and utterly believable. I wanted to hug and slap each character in turn. And it remains the only movie that I have found myself laughing hysterically while weeping at the same time. Weird...but awesome.
The runner-up then is The Matador, which Bobby and I saw because there was nothing else to see and ended up adoring. Like Little Miss Sunshine, The Matador succeeds because of its characters, namely the chemistry between them. It is similarly absurd and believable and hilariously funny.
The Sob Award (and I don't mean sobbing with delight) goes to the disappointing Man of the Year. Billed as a comedy, its only funny bits were those featured in the trailer. The rest was a bizarre suspense thriller...which would have been cool, if we'd gone to see a suspense thriller. But no, we went to hear Robin Williams cracking fart jokes, and the switcharoo was not appreciated.
The runner-up for the Sob Award goes to Employee of the Month, which was just...bland. It just wasn't funny, except in predictable ways. This was just not the year for movies whose titles themselves attempt to endow awards.
For Best Comedy my choice is easy: The Matador. This is truly one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. Come on, how can you not laugh at a hit man that is having a nervous breakdown? As for Worst Comedy, I have to go with Man of the Year. The previews made it out to be something it wasn't, and as a political thriller it sucked noses.
All 2006 Comedies (in no particular order): Borat, Little Miss Sunshine, Click, A Night at the Museum, The Holiday, Talladega Nights, The Break-Up, Jackass Number Two, Accepted, Employee of the Month, Man of the Year, The Matador, and Thank You for Smoking.
A Is For...Action and Adventure
It is no secret that action movies are not my choice genre. Adventure films generally do better in being less corny but still don't tend to rate particularly high. This year, however, saw some notable exceptions.
This year, I give my A Award to Pirates of the Caribbean. While it didn't measure up to the first, it was still a good time full of action, laughs, and Johnny Depp in eyeliner. It was the only movie that we chose to see twice this year, and I enjoyed it more the second time around.
As for runner-up for the A Award, I am left in indecision. Only narrowly, I am choosing The Departed, which is set apart from the rest by just an extra notch of intensity, believable characters, and great psychological tension. Also notable were Inside Man, V for Vendetta, and, surprisingly, Poseidon.
The Inaction Award is a less difficult choice and goes without a doubt to Miami Vice,which seemed more concerned with making itself look cool than providing any sort of legitimate or believable entertainment. It shames the original series. And marks my official sickness with Colin Farrell, as though The New World alone didn't do the trick.
The runner-up for the Inaction Award goes to The Da Vinci Code, which was perhaps failed by its own hype and reputation. By the time I got to sit in the theatre and watch the movie, any surprises were no longer surprises and it didn't have much to offer beyond plot.
Since I already picked Pirates for my Best Fantasy movie, I have to go with The Departed for my Best Action action movie of the year. Easily one of the best mob movies I have ever seen (and I tend to like mob movies so I have seen quite a few). Inside Man is right behind this though with yet another stellar performance by Denzel Washington. As for my Inaction Award I once again have to go with King Kong. I don't know, I just think this thing was a real bomb.
Dawn's Retort: C'mon, King Kong was worse than Miami Vice? KK might have been disappointing, but at least it doesn't kill brain cells....
All 2006 Action/Adventure (in no particular order): The Departed, V for Vendetta, The Black Dahlia, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Da Vinci Code, Inside Man, Miami Vice, Poseidon, and King Kong.
This year's Animation Celebration Award goes to Happy Feet, which aside from being suitably saccharine packed some of the best music I've heard in a movie in a long while and also carries a kick-ass conservation message. Also notable was Cars, but Larry the Cable Guy as a buck-toothed truck just can't equal a flock of singing and tap-dancing penguins.
Bobby's Pick: Happy Feet
This year's Soapbox Award goes to Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. As global warming quickly takes the spotlight as one of the most important issues we will face in the future--and some would argue with good reason, the most important issue--this documentary provides a thoughtful and approachable introduction to the issue with some truly chilling (pun intended) statistics. Sharing the soapbox is Man of the Year, which for all of its failings as a comedy did bring to the silver screen another pertinent issue to our age.
Bobby's Pick: Once again, I concur.
The Unsung Hero Award goes to a movie that surprised me...in a good way. Perhaps it wasn't the best movie of the year but it far exceeded my expectations and provided good entertainment. This year's award goes to Poseidon, which I thought would be terribly stupid but was in fact quite tense. Not since Titanic did I have so much fun at a Big Boat Movie. Also notable was Accepted, which had all the trappings of a college comedy with a lame message at its core...and it was. But it was funny and not as bad as I dreaded.
Bobby's Pick: I have to go with The Illusionist for this category.I was pleasantly surprised by this flick. Really good fantasy story that wasn't campy or boring.
The WTF Award goes to the movie of the year that even I will admit is effed up. This years WTF Award goes to Hostel, which wasn't quite as shallow as its cousins in the mutilation-flick subgenre and was all the more disturbing for it.
Bobby's Pick: Yet again, I concur.
The Boo Award goes to a movie that took its potential, rolled it around in the mud, flushed it down the toilet, pulled it back up with a plunger, stuck it inside of Bobby's hockey bag for a week, and ran it over a couple of times with a semi on I-95. In other words, this movie had the potential to be awesome but really wasn't. This year's Boo Award goes to Flyboys, which took a great idea and made it...not so great. I've ranted at length about this movie elsewhere and will spare you now. Other disappointing movies were The New World and The Wicker Man.
Bobby's Pick: The New World. This movie makes watching Waterworld seem like a good idea (it's not, trust me).
Of course, no attempts at giving movie awards would not be complete if I didn't decide on a best and worst picture. Deciding on Worst Picture is always rather tough. There are inevitably more bad movies than good movies, but the baddest of the bad this year was The New World. And I've trashed this movie so much that I'm tired of trashing it and will hand over the trophy to my favorite movie of the year.
Bobby's Pick: See above. I would rather watch paint dry or have my eyes gouged out with hydrochloric acid than sit through The New World again.
Dawn would like to add that the bit about the HCl brings us back to the WTF Award....
And finally, this year's Best Picture was easily Little Miss Sunshine. From hilarious to heartbreaking in thirty seconds, I think that this movie actually improved my mood. It comes with my highest recommendations.
Bobby's Pick: This was really close and it came down to Invincible and the Departed, but at the end of the day I have to go with The Departed. This movie was actually one of the best movies I have seen in a while. Awesome, believable characters and a very interesting storyline. Awesome stuff.
Here are all of the movies we saw in the theatre during 2006, in no particular order. Links will take you to their page on the Internet Movie Database.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
The Da Vinci Code
Little Miss Sunshine
Lady in the Water
The Hills Have Eyes
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
An Inconvenient Truth
The Black Dahlia
Jackass Number Two
The Pursuit of Happyness
Stranger Than Fiction
Night at the Museum
The Wicker Man
Employee of the Month
Man of the Year
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
The Night Listener
An American Haunting
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
V for Vendetta
Thank You for Smoking
The New World