I'm well aware that Newsvine has already decided the best movies of 2006. That's cute and all, but what you were really waiting for was the opinion of a 21 year-old dork from heart of Michigan (it's up near the fingers) who has not and probably will not watch any of the movies that will be nominated for Best Picture. Why? Because you clearly have low self-esteem and arguably some masochistic tendencies. But that's your business, and I'm not going to stop you.
For the purposes of this article, I will be choosing the three best movies and the two worst. If you are looking for reasons as to why this is, you'll never find them because there aren't any. They're nice, arbitrary prime numbers and I like it that way. Films are judged on a myriad of criteria, ranging from artistic expertise and cinematic quality to the number of snakes on airplanes. The scores were aggregated in accordance with the rules of jai alai and then fed into the Criticomatic 9000 to ascertain the numerically superior films. Those results were then immediately tossed out and I just picked the movies I liked, in no particular order.
1. V for Vendetta.
Alan Moore's original work is considered by many to be a classic in the graphic novel field, and a film adaptation of such was met with trepidation by hardcore fans. Moore even took his name off the project in protest of not only how this film altered his original vision, but also prior Hollywood adaptations of his work like "From Hell" and "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Moore, as the creator, is free to his opinion, but if a movie this good was made out of something I wrote, I'd take the director out to dinner.
Nearly everything about this movie is pitch-perfect. The cinematography is dazzling, the soundtrack is exquisite, and the acting is stellar. And my thesaurus is tired. Natalie Portman hands in a performance that it's nigh-impossible to take your eyes off of, and Hugo Weaving carries the Herculean task of acting without his trademark facial expressions with aplomb, instilling V with personality and vulnerability even though his face is stuck behind an expressionless mask.
Beyond that, however, this is one of those rarest of treasures - a blockbuster "action" movie with something on its mind. The great thing about it is that its subtext varies from viewer to viewer. One individual may view it as a scathing indictment of the Bush Administration, another may see it as an anti-liberal screed. If there's a meaning you're looking for, you can find it. There is literally so much going on in this movie underneath its surface that it's difficult to discuss it all - for those who are interested, I have a twenty-plus-page term paper I wrote last semester that does just that.
2. Clerks 2.
Far be it from me to begrudge Kevin Smith "another trip to the well", especially when the well in this case is one that I personally was more than ready to revisit. I expected some dirty jokes, fanservice, and genuine laughs from the movie and was by no means disappointed. What really shocked me, though, and it's the thing that propels this film into the "excellent" category, is the heart inherent in this film.
At its core, Clerks 2 is a movie about what happens when geeks grow up, and how guys who spent their working hours griping about Star Wars handle the situation when reality rears its ugly head. It's a coming-of-age tale for people who have come-of-age about fifteen years too late. Dante and Randal are still in much the same positions we saw them in back in the original film, and in fact little has really changed. That status quo cannot be maintained forever, and life-changing events threaten to jumpstart their arrested development.
This "journey into adulthood" theme hit me at just the right time. I saw this movie after being laid off from a summer job, with little money to my name and no idea how I was going to get through the next month. Maybe I'm projecting too much of my own situation onto Smith's characters, but I cannot be the only one who was profoundly affected by how this obscene little movie illustrated the perils of maturity.
Plus, it had a donkey show, and that has to count for something.
3. Snakes on a Plane
I've seen this movie three times now, and it never ceases to be entertaining. So much for the criticism that this thing outlived its welcome before it was released.
That moment of tongue-showing "told you so" braggadocio aside, Snakes on a Plane was not only one of the most entertaining movies of the year, it is also one of the most staggering social commentaries ever (inadvertently) devised. The Internet made this movie - let no one tell you different - and it really says something about the new Web culture when not only do we get excited about a movie that sounds like something Homer Simpson would watch, but said film also has rabid, hardcore fans long before filming even started. Beyond the real-world implications of the movie, it's also a subtle indictment of the arrogance of man. MaryAnn Johanson of FlickFilosopher.com sums it up best:
In this high-tech variant on Kurasawa's Gojira o nibasha (Godzilla on a Cart) -- in which peasants grown overconfident in their farming skills take a beating from the big reptile -- we are dared to confront our own arrogance as technological beings. We think, Ellis seems to suggest, that because we can float 250 metric tons of steel and electronics and people eight miles up we are all-powerful, and yet see how the lowliest of creatures reduces us to preverbal whimpering.
She's so hot.
Anyway, this movie is terrific on a number of levels. For the sake of brevity, I've already addressed five of them in my review of the film. Click that link, read it, then come back. You'll love it. And I loved this movie. And if you haven't seen it yet, odds are you will too.
1. The Wicker Man.
I could go on about just how truly, unequivocally bad this movie is, how it effortlessly blends misogyny and a storyline that makes no sense into one of the worst movies I've ever seen, but I feel this actual, no-foolin' line from the movie will do it for me:
"Killing me won't bring back your goddamn honey!"
It's like Snakes on a Plane, but not intentional.
2. Superman Returns.
This movie just makes me tired. I've expressed my disdain for the film in numerous other forms in numerous other locations, and I'm tired of talking about it. Here are the bullet points:
1. Movie is too long by at least half an hour
2. Superman is made into a deadbeat dad and a creepy stalker
3. The kid is completely unnecessary
4. Kate Bosworth is a lackluster Lois Lane
5. Can't decide whether Lex is a psychotic mastermind or a buffoon
6. Too caught up in its own pretension
In short: It's not so super, man.
That sound you hear is me chortling about my own cleverness.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it, despite the fact that this is impossible. I may add some other movies if I can think of any.