« Brothers of the Head | Main | The Circus »

December 31, 2006

My Best of 2006


The above shot is not an outtake from Dreamgirls. It is a frame from Kinky Boots, a film that my significant other chose from a selection offered by one of the independent DVD vendors here in Chiang Mai. The film was better than I expected, and is worth seeing because it was no fluke that Chiwetel Ejiofor was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. One goal for 2007 is to learn how to pronounce his name properly. Aside from starring in Kinky Boots, Ejiofor co-starred with Clive Owen in two of the best movies of the year, another reason to pay more attention. Those two films were Children of Men and The Inside Man.

In my list last year, I had expressed concern about The Departed, another one of the better films of 2006. I had also anticipated that The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros would make the news. While the film never received the distribution in the U.S. that it deserved, it is the Philippines first entry as a Foreign Language Film nominee. My list reflects what I saw, did not see, and for various reasons, could not see:

Best film seen in a theater: Children of Men. Had I not been in Berlin at the time, I would have had to wait for the DVD release probably. Of the several films examining the state of the contemporary world and the "war on terror", this was the most deeply realized. Alfonso Cuaron made a big budget film of actual substance. I especially loved Michael Caine's performance, representing the idealism of the late 1960s.

The Departed comes in a close second. I think Martin Scorcese's reworking of Andrew Lau and Alan Mak's Infernal Affairs was best appreciated by those who actually saw the film that was the basis of William Monahan's screenplay. What we saw was not a shot for shot remake, or a simple transposing of narrative elements. Scorsese has been an inspiration to Hong Kong filmmakers. With The Departed, Scorcese returns the compliment. The only flaw is the over-reliance on some too familiar rock songs, although I'm certain The Human Beinz appreciate the royalty checks.

Best new film seen on DVD: The Inside Man. It's sometimes hard for me to convince my significant other to see films in a theater, and this was one of those films that I didn't see until its DVD release. As it turned out, my significant other liked it too. One of Spike Lee's most entertaining films, where common decency outweighs individual needs, and brings three very different people with conflicting agendas together.

Best old film seen in a theater: This was a significant year for me seeing silent films, particularly in attending the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. The film that was a complete surprise for me was Au Bonheur des Dames by Julien Duvivier, an example of how sophisticated silent story telling had become before the talkies took over.

Best old film seen on DVD: Violent Summer. I especially like how Valerio Zurlini uses music to comment on the action. The DVD is a welcomed example of a filmmaker due for a more complete re-evaluation.

Runner-up: Plunder of the Sun. Thanks to the fine folks at the John Wayne estate, a couple of films produced by Wayne, directed by John Farrow, are now on DVD. Long before Harrison Ford went searching for the lost ark, Glenn Ford played a wise-cracking insurance adjuster in search of buried treasure in Mexico. Plunder of the Sun is a treasure of a film that deserves greater appreciation for both Ford and Farrow.

Best "popcorn" film: Casino Royale. A terrific opening sequence, followed by an amazing action set piece. If Casino Royale isn't as good as the Connery Bond films, it was still better than most of the junk that opened in wide release.

Best soundtrack that came with a movie: Marie Antoinette.

And a "Tony" to Michelle Rodriguez for her performance in BloodRayne. Rodriguez' urban elocution was a hilarious reminder of Tony Curtis in The Black Shield of Falworth. With all of her troubles, I hope Ms. Rodriguez has a much better 2007.

I also wish a Happy New Year to everyone who has checked in for "Coffee Coffee and more Coffee".

Posted by peter at December 31, 2006 12:31 AM


Thanks for the mention of Maximo Oliveros--it's a nice little Filipino film, somewhat atypical for being so low-key. That in part was thanks to the scriptwriter, Michiko Yamamoto, who's a bit of a mystery--an apparently Japanese girl who's completely fluent in Tagalog and familiar with the Philippine milieu.

Not that director Auraeus Solito's contribution is negligible--his short film, Suring and the Kuk-ok, is wonderful animation, and I hope he gets to adopt one of his full-length plays one of these days.

Posted by: Noel Vera at January 1, 2007 02:58 AM