Huzzah! The best films of the year (Part 1)

Before I launch into today’s entry, I’d like to thank you all. You’ve truly come through for me in the Reader’s Choice Review; the response has been incredible. It’s going to be tough choosing a film. The announcement will be made on March 10, and entries will be accepted until then! Keep it up, guys, you’re awesome.

On with the hilarity.

You know, I whine a lot about the current state of cinema. No, I do, don’t try to make me feel better, I’m constantly complaining about the utter garbage clogging our theaters. And don’t get me wrong, our cinemas are still heavily, painfully constipated with Hollywood’s stock schlock. But, in all honestly, 2006 wasn’t half-bad. So, here’s the first eight of my 15 favorite films of this past year.

15) V for Vendetta (Andy & Larry Wachowski): A somewhat forgotten film of 2006, “V for Vendetta” is a faithfully stylistic adaptation of the Alan Moore graphic novel. It’s a 1984-esque story, sporting the muted grays of a typical dystopian future, splashed with the vibrantly garish colors of a comic book. It’s easily one of the slickest, best looking films of 2006.

14) The Queen (Stephen Frears):
An honest, charming and unexpectedly funny film. It was definitely a pleasant surprise for me – I was expecting one of those dusty dramas that older people enjoy so much. Not quite deserving of a Best Picture nomination, but certainly one of the better films this year.

13) The Descent (Neil Marshall):
As a young horror fan growing up in an era of crappy PG-13-rated horror movies, it’s so refreshing to be genuinely terrified by a film like “The Descent.” Well-shot, well-thought-out and unbelievably terrifying, “The Descent” is easily the best horror film in a good three years (the last was “28 Days Later”).

12) Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris): This delightfully dysfunctional family drama is everything that the horribly self-indulgent “Running with Scissors” tries and fails to be. Quirky, well-paced and darkly humorous, “Little Miss Sunshine” is a thoroughly enjoyable little film.

11) The Proposition (John Hillcoat):
A dark, gritty, violent western set in the Australian outback, this tale of murder, betrayal and brotherly love has single-handedly restored my faith in a genre that has recently descended into camp and self-parody. Guy Pearce gives his best performance since “Memento,” and an awesome supporting cast make for a truly fantastic flick.

10) Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood): The second film by Clint Eastwood dealing with the WWII battle of Iwo Jima (the first being “Flags of our Fathers”), this time around focusing on the struggles of the besieged and undersupplied Japanese troops. The film is a superbly compelling drama, with an excellent performance from Ken Watanabe.

09) Stranger than Fiction (Marc Foster): It’s always interesting to see a well-respected actor work outside his usual genre. And that’s where the main appeal of the hilariously sharp “Stranger than Fiction,” a kind of quirky drama with a slew of strong, yet nuanced performances from all involved, lies. It’s one of the most genuinely unique films of the year, a rare find in a Hollywood of sequels, remakes and adaptations.

08) Borat (Larry Charles): Easily the funniest film in years, “Borat” is as much a raunchy, politically incorrect documentary as it is a subversive political commentary, exposing the racists, sexists and radical homophobes of our country in the most offensively hilarious way possible. Sacha Baron Cohen deserves a freakin’ Oscar for his immersive performance.

Look for the top seven films tomorrow!

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