Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Top Ten of 2006

You’ve been patiently waiting. I’ve been rewatching. So here we go. The Film Experience Top Ten of the Year. Featuring (among other things)…

“That’s all” is the catchphrase she said.
Cruz’s mom? She’s back from the dead
Marie let them eat cake
The orgasms weren’t fake
And poor Leo got shot in the head

The Top 10 Movies of 2006...

Discuss and share your top ten in the comments. If you haven’t been around the past week, start at the beginning of the complete three page “Year in Review”

All that’s left now to wrap up 2006 is the Film Bitch Awards (my version of the Oscars) and the Oscars themselves. Woo-hoo!


Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see someone else loved Marie Antoinette. I don't understand people who say this film has nothing going on it. Well, I could go on for a very long time about how much I liked it and how much I hate people who dislike it for stupid reasons, but great list.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that CHILDREN OF MEN would get technical aces across the board in all technical areas. It's music spotting, scoring, selection and mixing left things to be desired and gave the (mistaken) impression of a rush job. ;)

Anonymous said...

Yay Children of Men!! Yay Shortbus!! I have to find Duck Season.

Several last second FYC's

--The Descent for best art direction (all those caves were designed on a set)

--The tattooed woman (Shanti Carson) for best cameo, female (the one Sophia makes out with in the end; she's got the right combination of feral sexuality and surprising tenderness that was hard to take your eyes off of).

--"In the End" for best song (Shortbus) and best musical sequence. Or you could be cheeky and include The Star Spangled Banner (sorry - worst pun ever).

--Daniel Craig for Infamous (supporting actor)

--Lindsay Beamish for best supporting actress (Shortbus)

--Tristam Shandy for best screenplay (don't know which category - probably original)

--Casino Royale for best editing (if only for that spectacular opening chase sequence) and best title sequence.

Anonymous said...

Thank God, it feels so good to see someone else (and not just anyone) who thinks Marie-Antoinette is the best film of the year.
I saw it in May and it's been on my mind ever since, and the way most people treated it, I thought I was going crazy.
Thank you Nathaniel.
Love your blog by the way.


Anonymous said...

Dancer in the Dark
Moulin Rouge
Far From Heaven
The Lord of the Rings: ROTK
Eternal Sunshine
Brokeback Mountain
Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette... holy shit.

adam k. said...

WOW. This was unexpected. I'd forgotten how long it's been since there was any real suspense in what your favorite film would be... but there was no telling this year with no "A" film in sight.

I really liked Marie-Antoinette a LOT, but apparently not quite as much as you. You surprised me, for once. Congrats. That's not where I thought this puppy was going...

And Duck Season's surprise drop out of the best pic category reminds me a lot of last year, when Brothers also dropped to 6th at the last moment (remember when you suddenly downgraded it and upgraded You, Me and Everyone...?). If I didn't know better, I'd blame it on a subconsious bias against subtitles ; )

Nice list, though. Mine this year will be a touch different ; )

Adam Luis said...


I so wanted to see Duck Season in the Best Picture field. It's been hovering around that spot for TWO YEARS! I was also kind of hoping to see Volver named Best Picture. Oh, well, I can totally get into Marie-Antoinette, a very original choice, which is too be celebrated. This year's list was very against the grain - I'm loving it!


Adam Luis --i feel terrible about Duck Season. i love it so. but it was so tiny and it's so old now that I'm like argh. and then children of men improved so much the second time. and argh....

every year there are one or two categories that just hurt to leave something or someone out.

and i want everyone to see it so i'm feeling sad right now *sob*

adam k. said...

Hm, Brothers was old, too. Makes sense...

Glenn Dunks said...

Yeah, I definitely didn't know what was going to be #1 (I had predicted Marie-Antoinette though). Great top 5 from the looks of it.

And thank christ somebody else has put The Devil Wears Prada AND Inside Man on their top 10. Both extremely deserving (and IM ahead of The Departed - YAY!)

And, yet again, you're right in your comparison of Scorsese to Coppola. Another sign of old white men being able to direct the same stuff, but women being told to move on.

russtifer said...

Gotta hand it to you, Nathaniel, this is a lovely, unique, thoughtful list. I desperately need to see Marie Antoinette a second time as I too feel it would improve things considerably and your high praise for it here only intensifies that desire.

That said, I'm overjoyed Children of Men managed to climb all the way to number five, and that your love for Shortbus and Duck Season held out for so long. I suppose my only disappointment is that Little Children fell off the top ten but your reasons are understandable.

Can't wait to check out your acting and tech noms.

Glenn Dunks said...

BTW, does your write up mean that Cache would now be your #3 and Pride & Prejudice #4? That's sad...

adam k. said...

I second that question.


yes. there's always a bit of shifting but doing it over again Caché would be a spot higher. but they're both still best pic nominees :)

not that i change anything once its posted.

cuz believe me. there's some things i'd love to change from 2000. ugh.

J.D. said...



Pretty noble and not caring what anyone thinks.

Parralels To Me:
4/10 - Choices (Marie, Fountain, COM (saw it today), Departed)
1 (maybe)/10 - placement (The Fountain)

But really? Wow. Marie Antoinette is the #1. I figured it would in your Top 5 by your review rating list, but wow. Wow. Really?

Sorry. It's in my Top 10 too, but at like 6 or 7. I don't know at this point. Children of Men had a shake-up effect.




That's for Inside Man. ? ? ? ? ?

J.D. said...

By the way, random question for personal knowledge,

Is 'Goodbye To My Mama', which was sung by Meryl & Lily, original to "A Prairie Home Companion"?

I don't know. Because if it is, there's another shake-up.

Could someone tell me, please?

Nick M. said...

That's really a shame, since Duck Season is a more successful film than Children of Men. Who says modesty cannot conquer ambition?

Actually, your Top 5 does (with the exception of Volver, I suppose) -- you had a thing for those large, ambitious films in 2006, even if they falter a bit at times, didn't you?

Nick M. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

ack. y'all stop making me feel bad about duck season.

i am thrilled to hear that at least a few others have seen it though. i thought i was the only one.

Glenn Dunks said...

I'm gonna see it whenever it's released in Australia (most likely direct-to-dvd)

Paxton Hernandez said...

You should all stop whining about Nathe's choices. It's his right to state his personal preferences in his TOP TEN. What do you prefer predictive boring groupthink that doesn't go beyond the December glut of releases or a list of the ten films a person actually enjoyed?

I saw 244 films in 2006, and without further ado I share with you all my top ten too.


01 Love Me If You Dare [Samuell]
02 Hostel[Roth]
03 Lady Vengeance[Park Chan-wook]
04 3-Iron[Kim Ki-duk]
05 C.R.A.Z.Y.[Vallée]
06 Así[Lozano]
07 Paradise Now[Hany Abu-Assad]
08 The Jacket[Maybury]
09 Marebito[Shimizu]
10 The Departed[Scorsese]

TOP TEN FILMS without distribution

01 Three Times[Hou Hsiao-hsien]
02 Analife[Goda]
03 Monobloc[Ortega]
04 Mysterious Skin[Araki]
05 The President's Last Bang[Im Sang-soo]
06 An Italian Romance[Mazzacurati]
07 The Red Cockatoo[Graff]
08 The Devil's Rejects[Zombie]
09 Mean Creek[Estes]
10 The Spectator[Franchi]

J.J. said...

Duck Season has been on DVD for a while, so people should have no trouble seeing it. That said, I thought it was pretty forgettable. I'd compare it to Lazarescu -- highly praised by many, but it left me saying "Uh, so what?" Perhaps I need to see it again (Duck Season, not Lazarescu -- There's no way I'm watching Lazarescu again).

J.J. said...

Duck Season has been on DVD for a while, so people should have no trouble seeing it. That said, I thought it was pretty forgettable. I'd compare it to Lazarescu -- highly praised by many, but it left me saying "Uh, so what?" Perhaps I need to see it again (Duck Season, not Lazarescu -- There's no way I'm watching Lazarescu again).

J.J. said...

I hate Blogger.

Andy Scott said...

That's a beautiful top 10 considering what a weak year it's been. Good job.

Boyd said...

Finally someone who recognises Marie Antoinette for what it is! A great piece of avant-garde cinema, a cross between the arthouse light of her previous two features and Gus van Sant's Death trilogy (Elephant, Gerry, Last Days).

Very very good and Coppola's best film yet, because it feels both personal and completely thought through. Shortbus and Marie Antoinette were both on my list of best non-European films I saw this year, together with Omaret Yacoubian (The Yacoubian Building, from Egypt), El cielo dividido (Broken Sky, from Mexico), Casino Royale, Lucky Number Slevin, Miami Vice, Glue - Historia adolescente en medio de la nada (from Argentina), The Departed and The Devil Wears Prada.

So there. I haven't seen The Fountain... everyone in Venice hated it (well, at least those I spoke to), so it went onto my "skip" list... maybe I should try to catch up.

By the way, my list of the Best European Films of 2006 is online here. Most of the films have not been released yet in North America, apart from the shamelessly overlooked The Science of Sleep and the either-you-like-it-or-hate-it Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.

RC said...

interesting choices, i was glad to see Prairie land a spot...I feel like it's been forgotten in award season for sure.

SusanP said...

As expected, a very interesting and provocative list, Nathaniel.

I'm still trying to catch up with my lack of film viewing up until about Sept., so of your list I've seen The Departed, The Devil Wears Prada, A Prairie Home Companion, Duck Season (on DVD and you'll be happy to hear thanks to your earlier recommendation of it, so don't feel bad about its placement!), and Children of Men...

At this point if I were doing a top 10 of my own (I don't think I'm going to rank films this year because I haven't seen enough and nothing has blown me away, but I'll probably create some kind of "films that stuck with me" list) I'd probably include The Departed and Prairie (in large part because of its bittersweet prophecy of Altman's death)...

Like you I usually need time to digest films (that was even the case with my beloved LOTR trilogy) and I'm not sure about Duck Season or Children of Men yet. I definitely must see the latter again.

Of those I've seen, Prada is the only one that I was underwhelmed by. Streep and Blunt were great, of course, but I actually found the career/personal life conflict kind of weak, mainly because the male characters (outside of Stanley Tucci, great as always) were so bland. I also think that my thoughts on the film may be colored by my previous job covering the magazine publishing industry (including pubs like the fictionalized version of Vogue in the film). Maybe I need to give it a second look, but it really didn't stick with me at all.

As for the rest on your list, all are must-sees for me.

Thanks for sharing!

Yaseen Ali said...

This top ten is a breath of fresh air; kudos to you for being so adventurous. Your top two selections are dead on, and I love that we're on the same page this year.

Anonymous said...

Nate, you have lost your head. Marie Antoinette is a train wreck. But I respect your list and love that you think outside the box!

Jason Adams said...

Great list, Nat. Your top 3 are each films I think that will rise in my esteem even further with a second viewing (and I liked them all already very much).

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I love that you challenge me to re-assess my opinion of Marie Antoinette, Nathaniel...however, after doing so, I still recall being very bored by it all.

I dunno - maybe it's just the case that I wasn't in the mood for dreamy-girl POV?

I did think that the final shot was stunning, and almost completely redeemed the languidity preceding.


Anonymous said...

I feel like "Crash" /"Marie Antoinette"/ has just won with "Brokeback Mountain" /"Volver"/.
Just kidding ;D

Beau said...

Excellent list. I'm not quite as enthusiastic about 'Marie Antoinette', but it did look excellent, and Kiki gave a noteworthy perf. I'm more stoked about the other films on your list, 7 of which I included on mine. (Departed, Volver, Devil Wears Prada, Shortbus, The Fountain, Prairie Home Companion and Children of Men). All of those sans 'Prada' got a good **** from me, as well as United 93 (even though some people weren't too keen on it, ;) ) and the wonderful teen-noir 'Brick'.

I'll have to check out 'Duck Season' very soon. Thanks for the recommendation.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps when you get to be my age (45+) the "freshness" of such films as MARIE A., DUCK SEASON and THE FOUNTAIN seem shallow, naive, narcissistic and self-indulgent rather than fresh. I don't know. What I do know is that I felt most of the films on Nathaniel's list were lacking in humanity, emotional resonance and intellectual chops. CHILDREN OF MEN and VOLVER would be exceptions to that. I thought COM was largely fascinating and surpisingly moving by its final third.


i'm in my mid30s, anonymous --so i guess i just maintained my youthful shallowness ;)

i don't know how you come out of duck season or a prairie home companion or shortbus without humanity and emotional resonance ... but that's just me, I guess.

but i would agree that this year didn't have much in the way of intellectual heft at the movies (at least as far as the best films went) --no todd haynes around to spice things up I guess.

Anonymous said...

You have amazing taste. I LOVE your love for Marie-Antoinette, althoug I preferred The Fountain.

Still, amazing choices.

J.D. said...


By the way, random question for personal knowledge,

Is 'Goodbye To My Mama', which was sung by Meryl & Lily, original to "A Prairie Home Companion"?

I don't know. Because if it is, there's another shake-up.

Could someone tell me, please?


i would tell you if i knew.

anyone know?

it's not on Oscar's eligibility list but that doesn't mean it's not an original. Merely that they aren't reqistering it as such (sometimes studio paperwork to blame, sometimes judgment call ruling)

Anonymous said...

Those are some interesting films chosen. I particularly like Marie Antionette.

Anonymous said...

I've gotten flack for saying Marie Antoinette was my favorite of the year, and I'm glad someone else saw what I saw. I'm absolutely astonished people had so much disrespect for the film. I thought it was completely enchanting and an amazing extension of Sofia Coppola's themes. I don't know what people expected with this film, perhaps a by-the-book bipoic, and I'm so thankful it was anything but.

Glenn Dunks said...

I would think that "Goodbye to Mama" would be original to the radio show. Why else wouldn't they target it for a song nomination. It'd be right up there I think it were.

J.D. said...

" Re: Goodbye to My Mama

Having checked my soundtrack of THE PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION, the CD jacket does indicate words and music by Garrison Keillor, so I do believe this is original to the movie (or perhaps original to the actual radio show)

Hope this helps! "

It does. I'm just putting it down as original, even if it isn't, I don't care. Very good song. Meryl can really sing, even if it is soft.

Anonymous said...

"Goodbye to My Mama" is sorta original. The words are all new, the last half of the tune is based on a hymn ("When I Survey The Wondrous Cross").

Paxton Hernandez said...


You lucky son of a gun. I want to see Black Book so freaking bad!


what about the other Prairie songs? anyone know which are originals or "sorta" originals? I need to know for the FB Awards and them not being on Oscar's list doesn't help me figure it out

Brian Darr said...

Found some lyrics and airdates on the radio show's website:

the Day is Short
Bad Jokes
My Minnesota Home
Whoop-I Ti Yi Yo

Couldn't find "Goodbye To My Mama", "You Have Been a Friend to Me", or "Franky & Johnny", but I don't know what that means.

Eight searches were enough for me to get bored.

adam k. said...

I wish "My Minnesota Home" were original. It's the best.

At least you have non-original music categories, Nathaniel. There's a lot to choose from this year for "best musical moment," "best use of a pre-existing song" etc.

Super Freak!


Anonymous said...

I really really wanted to see DUCK SEASON making it, but still 6th place is great, and I would've also put Children of Men in front of it, Cuaron is officialy my new god... for some reason I never really appreciate it mexican directors until this year, I mean amores perros or the crime of father amaro were a big meh! to me... but this year 5 films from mexican director made my top 10 list: battle in heaven, duck season, babel, children of men & pan's labyrinth... I'll rank your top 10....

1. Children of Men *****
2. Duck Season *****
3. Shortbus ****1/2
4. A Prairie Home Companion ****1/2
5. The Fountain ****
6. Marie Antoinette ***1/2
7. The Departed ***1/2
8. Inside Man ***
9. Volver **1/2
10.The Devil Wears Prada **

Anonymous said...

I'm really late at catching up with many of the year-end releases this year. I'm hoping to see "Marie Antoinette," "Volver" and "The Departed" soon. I'll just add my praise for "Shortbus," and for the year of the Mexican directors. "Duck Season" was delightful and held up well on a second viewing. I liked its formalist opening establishing shots as well as the sly humor once we get inside the apartment. "Children of Men," "Battle in Heaven" and "Pan's Labyrinth" were all superior (but not "Babel" -- each of Inarritu's films seems worse than the last). One Mexican director who was largely overlooked this year is Julian Hernandez, whose beautiful (if overlong) "Broken Sky" quickly disappeared from theaters.

Boyd said...


El cielo dividido/Broken Sky is my pick for Mexican film of the year. Too bad no-one seems to agree.. except for you!

I really didn't like Children of Men and Babel, and though I appreciated El laberinto del fauno/Pan's Labyrinth, I think it is overrated.

El cielo is a bit long, but I don't think it is too long, as I wrote in my review, it is like a ballet or an opera; it expresses emotion through physical presence.

Of course the fact that, crudely put, the film is a 2-hour-plus gay lovemaking fest, will not get a lot of bums in the seats (or at least, not the type of bums that would be interested in such a cinematic experience). It has sort of painted itself into a corner with its subject matter and ultra niche appeal, which only underlines how courageous Hernandez was to make the film anyway.

Anonymous said...

my top ten films seen in 2006 (when they made it to the UK), from 1 to 10
* Volver
* Shortbus
* Caché
* Brokeback Mountain
* C.R.A.Z.Y
* Brick
* Little Miss Sunshine
* Le temps qui reste
* Pan's Labyrinth

Paxton Hernandez said...

Anon, nice to see some love for the amazing C.R.A.Z.Y.. One tiny reason to be grateful for living outside the U.S., because it didn't made it there. It was a straight to DVD release.

How I feel about Nathe's choices? let's see. (A ? means that film hasn't been released here)

Marie Antoniette ?
Volver 7
Shortbus ?
The Fountain ?
Children of Men 6
Duck Season 6
A Praire Home Companion ?
The Devil Wears Prada 7
Inside Man 6
The Departed 8

Arun said...

Re: Original Song

I wish 'My Minnesota Home' had been original. That moment is just perfection. While we're on the topic though, Nate, I hope you remember both 'Language' and 'In the End' from Shortbus on your list (though I'm sure you will).

Also, great top 10 list. Cannot wait to see 'The Fountain'. I didn't like MA, but after a second viewing I respect your choice and (kinda) understand it, and YAY!! on Children of Men slipping into the top 5.

So when's the rest coming up? I'm dying here

Anonymous said...


Armond White praised Broken Sky and Nathan Lee (in the NY Times, no less) gave it a mostly positive review, which is why I decided to see it. However, the audience for such a challenging but very gay film is limited, to say the least. I can't wait to see his next film.

Joao Pedro Rodrigues's Odete (Two Drifters) did slightly better business (it's now on DVD). The Portuguese director of O Fantasma is another major filmmaker whose work is not as widely appreciated, at least in the U.S., as it should be.


I hated O Fantasma personally --but i understand it has ardent devotees.

but i'm curious about this other one. have added to my netflix queue.

Glenn Dunks said...

I have "Goodbye to Mama" down as original for my awards. "My Minnesota Home" was my second fave I think.

Anonymous said...

Dear friends and Nathaniel i won't spend much time commenting on your choices, (although i agree with some of the films especially in the second half of top ten) but let you know my list of Top Ten(with a word or phrase that motivates my choice)

10. The Illusionist- with no big surprize in plot-line , this films delivers one of the most beautiful scores i'he heard this year that succesfully sustains the pace of the picture

9. United 93- don't know if it stays true to the real events, but its stays true to itself, from top to finish...and that's the essence of art( in a way)

8. Half Nelson- beautifully directed, very well acted and perfectly ended with that 'Da Da Da' tune frm Broken Social Scene

7. Apocalypto- I rarely felt this year that a film set centuries ago can actually lead audience believe they were part of that forest

6. The Departed- Although its not necessarily one of my favourites, i can acknowledge its strong, well-directed, and mind-boggling( 'though the story-line is rather classic)

5.Little Children- its sexy, childish sometimes(i mean it in the good way), provocative, it has Kate in top form, and its directed by a man who worked with Kubrick...and boy, i did feel that sooo strong...mesmerizing

4. Dreamgirls- although it doesn't fully respect the 'laws of musical', it's original in its direction and manages to touch other cords( especially the 'don't walk out on me' Jenny Hudson act)

3.Little Miss Sunshine-rarely has such a simple scene like some guys running after a van been more moving and gut-wrenching in the history of contemporary cinema...and it worked every time they did that!

2 Das Leben der Anderen/The Lives of Others- Germany's official entry will leave you 'cry' for more hours after the film ended-pun intended ;)

1. Babel-its not a masterpiece, but close to it, its well thought in its pre-production phase , well played and directed during production and still heart-breaking months after its release

thanks, an actor

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Anonymous said...

Thank you for choosing duck season among your top ten. I also love this film, i just rented it for a second time viewing and i enjoyed it immensely. But you right, it is such a small film that it is very difficult to place it in the number one position. I decided to see it again because after several months those 3 kids and the pizza gay were living in my subconscious. I am glad to find other people that love that film. I love it and admire it equally. Brave choices. I just dislike the departed. I wish people were not afraid to read subtitles and look for the original film. Infernal affairs have survived for a couple of years in the collective memory of movie fans. The departed will extinguish after oscar season. Just Hollywood rewarding itself for its lack of original ideas.

Anonymous said...

My Nominees for the Best Picture of 2006:


Anonymous said...

Holy crap! Devil Wears Prada made me laugh only because it was sooooo bad! Ugh, ick, ack!
I'm a Meryl lover too, but that film is NOT what women want...please no! I am a woman...give me more Volver, Sherrybaby and even Miss Potter over another formulaic piece of idiot shite as Prada!