Peter Biskind's Top Picks of '06
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I didn't think this was a great year, movie-wise - nor any other way either, except for the national election results - although there were a bunch that I liked. Even the "serious" films, or rather, films that it's necessary to take seriously, were invariably marred by being way too long. Maybe I have ADD, but two and a half hours seems like pushing your luck to me, and some of these movies felt like three and a half hours. The Good Shepherd, Blood Diamond, even Letters from Iwo Jima - which was long enough to start a third front - all put me to sleep.
But enough complaining: here's my top ten list, pictures that I actually enjoyed watching, in no particular order:
- Borat, that symphony of political incorrectness, particularly the scene where he throws five dollar bills at the cockroaches, which cracked me up;
- Casino Royale, the best Bond since From Russia With Love, maybe ever;
- United 93, the best anxiety film about flying since Fearless;
- The Departed, Scorsese's best since Goodfellas;
- Dreamgirls, recommended for those (like me) who hate musicals;
- The Last King of Scotland, Oscar performance by Forest Whitaker;
- The Lives of Others;
- Heading South;
- Little Miss Sunshine; and, finally,
- a shoot-out among Babel, Children of Men, and Pan's Labyrinth, for the best film by a Mexican director. Visually speaking, if that's not an oxymoron, these last three movies displayed more style in one frame than the others combined.
I also loved Annette Bening in Running With Scissors, although the movie itself is way over the top; Kate Winslet in Little Children - kill the uplift at the end; admired Helen Mirren in The Queen, but never "got" Princess Diana and don't appreciate Tony Blair, and the movie left me cold. All in all, I would say that any episode of Deadwood is as good if not better than most of the above.