Let me preface this by noting that I have so far only seen a few dozen films released in 2006. And have not yet seen, for various reasons, a number of films that may eventually make it on to a later edition of my “best of 2006″ list (e.g. Children of Men, Pan’s Labyrinth, Volver). But I’d like to get a few thoughts down now for posterity:
- Street Fight. The second greatest documentary I’ve ever seen (after Fog of War), Street Fight covers the 2002 mayoral race in Newark, New Jersey. One-sided of necessity and circumstance, Marshall Curry simply and competently gets the right shots of Cory Booker and Sharpe James, and creates exactly the right sort of tension that ultimately sways elections.
- Thank You for Smoking. A consistently funny film, with a lovely script, some great performances, and exactly the right level of intelligence. Aaron Eckhart, who has been in my good book ever since In the Company of Men, proves himself once again a very likable and capable leading man. Jason Reitman (son of Ivan), assuming he hasn’t peaked here, demonstrates he is a director-writer to watch. And Rob Lowe turns in exactly the sort of performance he ought to be canonized for.
- The Child. A special sort of coming of age story, The Child looks at the transformation of an individual from amoral child to moral adult. The Dardenne brothers have created something here that displays the purity of youth in all its destructive glory, and have done so in a very entertaining and moving picture.
- V for Vendetta. The Wachowski brothers’ V is about as good an adaptation as I could have expected. And I expected a lot, considering the source material. The film is exciting, contains some great fight scenes and explosions, and some cool lines. One of the better popcorn films to come along for some time.
- Clerks II. Kevin Smith’s return to his roots turned out to be exactly the right decision; rather than slumming, it is an acknowledgment of his strengths as a filmmaker. The film succeeds precisely because it is raunchy, scattered, pop culture conscious, and absolutely hysterical. Also, Rosario Dawson, by making approachable-sexy-quasi-slumming believable and giving me a pleasant crush-stiffy, is now forgiven for Pluto Nash and Men in Black II.