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Film
 
The Best Films and TV of 2006

By Brent Sallay
Brent Sallay's Top 10 Films of 2006
   
Jeremy Mathews's
Top 10 Films

 
   


Read Jeremy's full article at In Utah This Week.

1. United 93
2. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazahkstan
3. Half Nelson
4. Children of Men
5. Pan's Labyrinth
6. Brick
7. The Departed
8. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
9. L'Enfant
10. 49 Up

 
       
       
   
Chris Bellamy's
Top 10 Films

 
   


Read Chris's full article at The Daily Utah Chronicle

1. Children of Men
2. Pan's Labyrinth
3. The Departed
4. United 93
5. Brick
6. Three Times
7. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazahkstan
8. Caché*
9. The Devil and Daniel Johnston
10. The Proposition

 
       
   
 

10. The Queen
The British have always been delightfully quirky, but with The Queen we got to see their vulnerable side as well, as Stephen Frears quaintly chronicled the royal family’s response to the death of Princess Diana. With performances that lose you in the characters themselves, The Queen was about as delicious as a hidden camera in the White House could ever promise to be (under a different presidency, of course).

9. Half Nelson
I don’t normally care about movies featuring drug addicts coping with addiction, but this one added a few interesting twists: the drug addict is actually a devoted inner city teacher, and one of his students catches him using. Throw in a great soundtrack by Broken Social Scene, a pretty awesome knock knock joke, and probably the best performance of the year from Ryan Gosling (a modern DeNiro, seriously), and you’ve got a pretty engaging little film.

8. Little Miss Sunshine
You saw it. You liked it. So did I. ‘Nuff said.

7. L'Enfant
Much like an actual child, some will find this movie highly annoying, while others will find within it the key to solving the mysteries of the universe. The Dardenne brothers excel at this kind of thing, finding beauty in the dark and mundane corners of the earth. The Child would fit nicely as an eleventh chapter in Kieslowski’s Decalogue, if only there were a commandment about not selling thy girlfriend’s baby for revenge.

6. United 93
Some may not yet be ready to see this movie, and it is harrowing to watch, but in its defense, it takes a completely objective eye to the events of September 11th, without so much as a hint of forced sentimentality, didacticism, Hollywood sheen, or even star power.

5. Pan's Labyrinth
Basically, this is how fairy tales are supposed to be told, without tidy, happy endings (see: any Disney movie) or lame pop culture references (I’m looking at you Shrek). No, there are supposed to be knives and monsters eating fairies and detachable eye socket hands, because how else are kids supposed to learn that bad things will happen if you don’t do your chores?

4. Stranger Than Fiction
When I heard the plot to this film (kind of a cross between two of my favorite movies, Adaptation and The Truman Show) and that it would feature Will Ferrell in a more serious turn (a la Jim Carrey or Adam Sandler), I pretty much already knew I would like it. But little could I have predicted the imagination behind the film’s script, the depth of its philosophies, and the heart of its characters.

3. The Departed
Finally I can cheer for Scorsese to win the Oscar for best director, and not just because Taxi Driver and Goodfellas were great, but because he actually deserves it for this movie.

2. Brick
Style over substance? Perhaps. But sometimes if you get the style just right, that can be enough. In this case, it’s an endlessly clever film noir set in a high school, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (fresh off an excellent performance in last year’s Mysterious Skin) and borrowing liberally from some admittedly lofty forbears—think two parts Coen brothers, one part David Lynch, and a teaspoon of that new school flair.

1. Children of Men
Sure, there’s all the socially relevant stuff (the commentary on immigration, reproductive rights, Big Brother, etc.) that lets me get away with calling this the best film of the year, but secretly, I love Children of Men because of the daring cinematography, the random, sudden acts of violence, and that too-cool smirk that only Clive Owen can pull off. Like any good movie should be, watching this was kind of like watching someone else play a video game for two hours. Only they totally suck at it. And there’s nothing you can do about it. But somehow they keep managing to stay alive.

Brent Sallay's Top 10 TV Shows of 2006
10. The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman: Season One (IFC)
Laura Kightlinger has always been my backup black-haired comedienne celebrity freebie after Sarah Silverman. Now the rest of the world can see why.

9. Dog Bites Man: Season One (Comedy Central)
Though it will most certainly never air another single episode, this faux-news show/documentary featuring veterans from The Daily Show, The Comedians of Comedy, and the Upright Citizens Brigade, and produced by some guy named Sacha Baron Cohen, featured entirely non-scripted interactions between the news crew and the real world. Like this one, where Matt Walsh went undercover to expose discrimination against gays...at a Subway: “Hello, I’m a homosexual, and I’d like to buy a sandwich.” (He then later argued that he got short shrift on cheese.)

8. The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
Will honoring Colbert’s show on my list get me mentioned on a future segment of “Who’s Honoring Me Now?” or will its failure to place higher on the list only earn me a heavy wag of his finger? To find out, keep watching!

7. The Shield: Season Five (FX)
Forest Whitaker + any show = that show’s best season ever. Oh, and also, for the first time in a while, the threat to the Strike Team this season actually felt real. Also kids, grenades are dangerous.

6. The Office: Season Two (NBC)
The first season was a little shaky, but with Season Two, the American Office proved it didn’t really even need to try to compete with the British Office, and instead created its own inter-office dynamics that were every bit as off-the-wall and awkward as we all secretly wish our own were.

5. Thief: Season One (FX)
Here is another show that is probably already canceled (or for the sake of the Emmy Awards, demoted to miniseries status). But over only six episodes, Thief crammed in both more intense plotting and character development (for what few characters survived each episode) than most any other prime time serial drama this year, thanks in great part to the fine acting chops of Andre Braugher and Clifton Collins, Jr.

4. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season Two (FX)
While the addition of Danny DeVito may have slightly thrown off the chemistry of the four main characters of this show, if this hurt the show any, the fact that it still wound up at #4 on my list should be a testament to how great it was to begin with. Plus, having DeVito on the show made episodes like the brilliant MySpace-skewering “Dennis and Dee Get a New Dad” possible. Observe: “Why won’t this [guy DeVito wants to beat up] respond to my friend request? I’ve been on this stupid site a week and my only friend so far is this guy Tom.”

3. 30 Rock: Season One (NBC)
I realize that I am going out on a limb giving a show this spot only 10 episodes into its first season, but once you realize that Tina Fey (or as her boyfriend affectionately calls her, “dummy”) really does have lettuce in her hair, Tracy Morgan really is a stabbing robot, Alec Baldwin really did leave Condy Rice for Maureen Dowd, and that in five years, we will really all be dead by Jack McBrayer’s hand, I think you will all agree with me. Long live the Rural Juror!

2. Weeds: Season Two (Showtime)
Season One was good, but the second season of Weeds was a train wreck. Always on the verge of collapse, Weeds ended practically every episode with a mindboggling cliffhanger and then resumed the next with the most logically absurd resolution possible. Also, Mary Louise-Parker and Zooey Deschanel in the same show? Are you kidding me? I’m sold.

1. The Wire: Season Four (HBO)
It should be a testament to how great this show has become that the writers could sideline the main character for the sake of character development (and not because he got shot or something—he just wanted to take a break from the stress of police work and clean up his act) and still put out one of the show’s most engaging seasons. Not to mention that at least a third of the cast this season were brand new. Or the fact that an episode could start out with something as simple as a guy going out to buy a box of Honey Nut Cheerios and still have you on the edge of your seat. The Wire is as good as a great novel, and it makes most other shows on television that are trying to be serious or authentic just look plain stupid.

brent [at] saltshakermagazine.com

 

 
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