Holy shannanigans, Batman! The best films of the year (Part 2)

You asked for ‘em, so here they are! My top seven films of 2006. These are the best of the best; the most well-made, the most enjoyable. These are the movies that topped a relatively good year of cinema. Read on and enjoy!

07) The Fountain (Darren Aronofsky):
The single most visually breathtaking film of last year, “The Fountain” is a dreamlike cinematic gem. The film is profoundly intense story of one man’s desperate search for the mythical Tree of Life. “The Fountain” harks back to the good ol’ days of Kubrick and was most definitely one of my more enjoyable filmgoing experiences of 2006.

06) Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro): I think Guillermo Del Toro is a tragically underrated filmmaker – he’s talented, ambitious and strikingly original, and “Pan’s Labyrinth” is easily the best film in his repertoire. A darkly poignant fantasy sporting a masterfully constructed plot and deftly interweaving story arcs, “Pan’s Labyrinth” is beautiful piece of cinema.

05) The Prestige (Christopher Nolan): The better of this past year’s Victorian magician flicks (the lesser, of course, being “The Illusionist”), “The Prestige” is a brilliant, genre-bending spectacle with a stellar cast. Its first-class plot provides twists and turns a plenty and it’s certainly a great-looking flick (the set direction is top-notch). One of 2006’s definite must-sees.

04) Casino Royale (Martin Campbell): We have director Campbell and the darkly suave Daniel Craig to thank for revitalizing a fast-sinking franchise, one that had recently descended in hammy self-parody. This James Bond film pays homage to the dangerous Bonds (Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton), by amping up the drama and violence, and breathing new life into the character. Craig is simply brilliant, and I can’t wait to see him again the next Bond flick.

03) Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón): Distant, post-apocalyptic dystopian future films have become predictable of late – Alfonso Cuarón’s “Children of Men” dashed my expectations and supplies a truly invigorating film experience, one that I won’t soon forget. It’s a superbly shot movie, with some of the finest cinematography I’ve seen in years. In this day and age, cinema like this is, unfortunately, rare.

02) Brick (Rian Johnson): Possibly the most uniquely innovative film I’ve seen in a good, long while. “Brick” is a slick homage to the film noirs of classic cinema, paying tribute as well as revitalizing It’s like “The Maltese Falcon,” only replace Humphrey Bogart with a teenage outsider and the streets of San Francisco with a South Californian high school. Its taught script, superb cast and inventive camerawork make for a truly fantastic film. It’s being completely ignored come Oscar time, but it remains one of my definite favorites of last year.

01) The Departed (Martin Scorsese):
The best Scorsese flick since “Goodfellas,” this epic, Boston-set crime-drama single-handedly restored my faith in modern cinema. It’s a gripping drama, wonderfully shot, with a simply incredible ensemble cast. Scorsese is at the very top of his game here, skillfully crafting a truly intense gangster film. I loved “The Departed” with every living fiber of my being, and I justly believe that this is Scorsese’s year for an Oscar. This is a pinnacle piece in the repertoire of a true auteur. Scorsese for the win.

So, there you have them, in all their glory – my favorite films of the year. Looking back on 2006, I find at least seventeen films that I honestly enjoyed. That’s more than I can say of any recent year, really. So, here’s to you, 2006. You were a good year for great cinema.

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