Here’s how old I am: I’m listening to solo Sting and enjoying it. (The first four albums, at least.)
2006 was the first really good year of my life, professionally. I spent three months of 2004 in school, two months on vacation, and seven months at work. I spent nine months of 2005 at work and three months on what we’ll charitably call a “hiatus.” So I only saw around 22 movies throught 2006. It took a last-minute surge of rentals during my Christmas vacation to tie my 2004 roster of 33 movies.
Matthew Yglesias has his take on 2006 movies here, and experiences some trouble with ordinal ranking. Well, ordinal ranking is my thing. Here are all the movies I saw, from the worst to the best. And here are the movies I didn’t catch but will eventually try to, especially if they become Oscar nominees. Italicized movies are ones I really want to see; non-italicized are ones I feel obligated to.
Children of Men (went to see it last night and the damn thing was sold out)
The Devil Wears Prada
Flags of Our Fathers
The Good Shepherd
Lady in the Water
Letters from Iwo Jima
Pirates of the Carribean 2
The Pursuit of Happyness
A Scanner Darkly
Stranger Than Fiction
World Trade Center
Also: I am experiencing problems with my comment feature. I’d been getting slammed with comment spam and tried to tweak WordPress to request more information from commenters. Now I’m told no actual humans can register, but spammers keep finding a way in. I tried to upload some more protections, but I think readers are still having problems with commenting. If you are, email me at daveweigel at gmail.
33. Date Movie
A misfire in every way but the casting – Alyson Hannigan is just right as the naive lovestruck twentysomething, Fred Willard is (obviously) great as the father with half his brain under construction. But Jesus, what a terrible script (by two of the writers of the first, second-worst Scary Movie) that doesn’t understand 1) romantic comedies and 2) things which are funny. What’s that, you ask? “Will there be a sequel that takes on blockbusters”? Yes, and it will feature Mary Castro as “Breast Bite Women.” I’ll need a cyanide pill if I’m in the theater when that trailer rolls in.
32. All the King’s Men
If Steven Zaillian tries to make another movie, shoot him.
31. Nacho Libre
Gosh, I hope Jared Hess didn’t show all his cards with Napoleon Dynamite. This is a beautifully designed farce that looks funny but doesn’t let funny things occur.
30. Friends With Money
She’s better than Zaillian, but Nicole Holofcener has yet to make a good movie; one that’s more than interesting characters stumbling through their uninteresting lives.
29. Clerks II
Looking back, Kevin Smith had said everything he had to say artistically with Chasing Amy, and everything he wanted to say comedically with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. I’m probably the only person who thought that movie was better this one, but I’m right. Between the neutered role for those characters, the 2-D performance by Smith’s wife and the completely predictable 80s sex comedy climax, there’s very little to recommend this apart from a Jersey Girl-level number of good jokes.
28. Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World
Completely overshadowed and forgotten by the Mohammed cartoons, but really not so bad. Sure to be one of the top rentals in 2015, when Mark Steyn’s predictions come true and the Muslims take over everything.
27. The Notorious Bettie Page
Ed Wood without the wit.
Looking for Crash in the Muslim World. (And Tokyo.)
25. A Prairie Home Companion
Worse than most Altman movies and worse than an average episode of Keillor’s show, but generally sweet and enjoyable.
24. Snakes on a Plane
A good b-movie that, if every DVD came with a recording of the opening night crowd shouting and riffing, would be the best b-movie.
23. Art School Confidential
A misfire, but Terry Zwigoff’s psyche is snuggled too closely to mine for me to hate it.
22. Mission: Impossible III
Probably my favorite in the trilogy, but I’m just not much of a spy movie person.
21. Inside Man
And I liked this far, far less than everyone else. I agree with whoever (Steve Sailer) said it was Crash with a plot, but I found myself really not caring about that plot.
20. For Your Consideration
Probably the year’s biggest disappointment in that it made you wonder if Christopher Guest was out of ideas.
19. Little Miss Sunshine
Great cast, some good jokes, predictable plot and resolution.
18. Jackass Number Two
Only a little worse than the first one, and the movie on this list I expect to re-watch (at least certain scenes) the most.
17. Rocky Balboa
My favorite aspect was probably how it felt like a 1970s movie – the slow pacing, the lingering on the characters.
16. An Inconvenient Truth
Global warming is one of the areas where I break with most libertarians, so of course I liked this.
15. Thank You for Smoking
Okay in 2006; would have been incredible in 1997.
Wonderfully sulry and lazy tribute to Charles Bukowski. Matt Dillon deserves to be one of the four Oscar nominees who’ll lose to Forrest Whitaker.
13. Superman Returns
Remember how the other Superman movies had wonderful acting and action but lame plots? This one corrects the last problem while falling a little short on the acting.
I’m surely not the only person who wants Mel Gibson to make 100 more movies. He’s really good at it, crazy bastard.
11. V for Vendetta
Flawed adaptation of a great story, and very padded in the last hour.
Best movie about crossword puzzles ever.
9. X-Men: The Last Stand
As with Superman Returns, the best plot of any movie in its series. And the rare blockbuster that runs a little short (you kill or de-power half of the characters and it’s under two hours?).
8. The Last King of Scotland
I won’t know how much I really liked this one until I rewatch it in a year or so. But in the theater I was enraptured by the inversion of the “white saint in Africa” cliche and Forrest Whitaker’s perfomance as Amin.
7. Dave Chappelle’s Block Party
5. Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
4. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
3. The Queen
2. The Proposition
1. The Departed
All the King’s Men (2006) – Holy shit, what a disaster. Let’s get a few things straight.
- Robert Penn Warren was a good poet and a mediocre novelist. His book is overrated and overstuffed and if someone wants to adapt it ever again he/she needs to cut either the Stark plotline or the Burden plotine significantly.
- Tim is wrong, for once. Sean Penn hams it up, sure, but he’s actually a good choice to play Willie Stark. Huey Long, if you remember, was not a fat or physically imposing man. He did have a curly shock of hillbilly hair. But he could veer between sober speechifyin’ and raw-throated demogoguery, and Penn doesn’t veer. But when he’s on, he’s on.
- I assume Jude Law agreed to be in this movie after James Carville found him coked out and bleeding in a hallway and promised him an Oscar. This might be the worse performance of his career. Actually, all of the British actors stink up the place.
- What the hell happened?
Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World – Brooks seizes on a couple jokes that don’t actually work (500 pages! AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA), but he has many more that do, and the inevitable aging boomer-PYT Henry Higgins relationship works better than usual.
The quest for 30 continues.
The Proposition – A nearly perfect movie where… look, let me just describe the plot. An Australian outlaw is captured with his dim-witted brother, and the local military commander tells him he’ll free the dim-wit if he kills his other, deadly brother. Nick Cave can retire from songwriting and write brutal Westerns, and I’d be happy.
Rocky Balboa – Better than I initially expected to be upon learning, nightmare-like, of its existence; only as good as I expected after the last week of hype. Stallone made some artistic choices here (mmm, I love saying that) that I didn’t quite understand. I get that he wanted us to return to the Rockyverse, where the guy who beat Apollo Creed and Ivan Drago is a John Glenn-sized folk hero who still gets approached for autographs. But I didn’t agree with his aggressive use of real world sports promotion. The announcers during the exhibition match, the incredible reliance on ESPN broadcasts, the bitter press conference. I know it was supposed to make the movie seem even more real, but it took me out of it occasionally – that display of Balboa’s and Dixon’s stats before the bout reminded me of the credit sequence of the Mayflower in Best in Show. But I can’t deny how much I liked the idea that Rocky’s Horatio Alger style of athleticism was still the model for how sports should work (Dixon was basically a non-crazy Mike Tyson, right?), and how carefully Stallone brought the saga full circle. I’m still not sure anyone needs to see Rockys II-VI, but Stallone’s instincts were right – this was the way to end it.
Superman Returns – Fantastic. What’s everyone complaining about?
Little Miss Sunshine – And here’s one that didn’t live up to the hype.
Am I actually watching Eliot Spitzer judge a guitar solo contest between Stephen Colbert and the Decemberists?
I’m completely aware that tearing up at commercials is the habit of over-hormoned pregnant women. That said, the commercial for Aricept – some kind of Alzheimers medication – is gut-punchingly sad and I don’t want to see it anymore. The image of the vaguely-Stockard Channing-like woman tying her father’s tie – because he no longer knows how – is more than I care to see between updates on the Poor Missing Climbers.
I have a column in the LA Times today about the science fiction that’s been inspired by the war on terror, and specifically why it’s 1)crazy and 2)bad.
I had speculated earlier this year that I would fall short on my usual quota of new movies. In 2004 and 2005 I saw around 35 movies, including almost all of the eventual Oscar winners. This year, so far, I’ve only seen 19.
The Last King of Scotland
A Prairie Home Companion
X-Men: The Last Stand
Mission: Impossible III
Jackass Number Two
V for Vendetta
Date Movie (I know, I know. Goddamn you, cable.)
Snakes on a Plane
Thank You for Smoking
Friends With Money
I still want to see: The Pursuit of Happyness, For Your Consideration, Casino Royale, Stranger Than Fiction, Idiocracy, Dreamgirls, Shut Up and Sing, Letters from Iwo Jima, The Fountain, Pirates of the Carribean II, Superman Returns, Talladega Nights, The Devil Wears Prada, The Break-Up, Little Miss Sunshine, Lady in the Water, An Inconvenient Truth, for starters. I know the last eight of these are on DVD and a few of the first nine are catchable while I’m holidaying in DC and Delaware, so let’s see if I can get up to at least 30 before the end of the year. (Spoiler warning: Date Movie will absolutely bring up the rear. I saw it for free and was tempted to sue HBO for damages.)
You know, sometimes I wonder why we have TV news producers.
David Sirota is writing a book about anger? Uhn… isn’t that called an “autobiography”?