Editors’ Note
Welcome to the annual Senses of Cinema World Poll. Readers should find it a fascinating overview of cinema from a multitude of countries and cultures.

As some readers will seek and search entries, rather than read from beginning to end, full titles, director credits and years of release have been included with each reference. Several authors have added details about countries of origin, but these have not been standardized.

Grateful thanks to all those who sent in lists, and the thoughtful and provocative comments.

Acquarello

Julien Allen

Michael J. Anderson

Geoff Andrew

Sean Axmaker

Martyn Bamber

Christian Checa Bañuz

Mike Bartlet

Paolo Bertolin

Adam Bingham

Alexander Bisley

Christopher Bourne

Stephen Brower

Andrew Bunney

Thomas Caldwell

Michael Campi

Neel Chaudhuri

Ben Cho

Lesley Chow

Stephen Cone

Jesús Cortés

Daniel Mudie Cunningham

Adrian Danks

Brian Darr

Dustin Dasig

Brian Dauth

John Demetry

Acquarello

A NASA Design Engineer and author of the Strictly Film School website.

My Favourite Films for 2006 (in preferential order)

Paprika

Paprika (Satoshi Kon, 2006)
Días de campo (Days in the Country, Raúl Ruiz 2004)
Coeurs (Private Fears in Public Places, Alain Resnais, 2006)
Iklimler (Climates, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2006)
Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006)
Haebyonui yoin (Woman on the Beach, Hong Sang-soo, 2006)
Sang sattawat (Syndromes and a Century, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006)
L’Enfer (Hell, Danis Tanovic, 2005)
Honor de cavallería (Honor of the Knights, Albert Serra, 2006)
Batalla en el cielo (Battle in Heaven, Carlos Reygadas, 2005)

Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)

Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2006)
Belle Toujours (Manoel de Oliveira, 2006)
The Camden 28 (Anthony Giacchino, 2006)
Iraq in Fragments (James Longley, 2006)
Kinetta (Giorgos Lanthimos, 2005)
El Laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro, 2006)
Saratan (Ernest Abdyjaparov, 2005)
United 93 (Paul Greengrass, 2006)
Unser täglich Brot (Our Daily Bread, Nikolaus Geyrhalter, 2005)
When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (Spike Lee, 2006)

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Julien Allen

Film enthusiast and Editor of www.orsonwelles.co.uk.

My Top Ten (UK releases in 2006)

1. Marie Antoinette (Sofia Coppola, 2006)

2. Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005)
3. Volver (Pedro Almodóvar, 2006)
4. The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach, 2006)
5. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (Alex Gibney, 2005)
6. Miami Vice (Michael Mann, 2006)
7. 13 (Tzameti) (Géla Babluani, 2005)
8. A Cock and Bull Story (Michael Winterbottom, 2005)
9. La Tourneuse de pages (The Page Turner, Denis Dercourt, 2006)
10. Banlieue 13 (District 13, Pierre Morel, 2004)

Honourable Mentions

Zidane, un portrait du 21e siècle (Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno, 2006): a fascinating experience more akin to an art installation than a film.

Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood, 2006): both films not seen at the time of going to print and I believe the two should be assessed together.

Brick (Rian Johnson, 2005): deserves a mention for courage and originality, though the resulting film flirts heavily with the preposterous.

Dishonourable Mention

All the King’s Men (Steven Zaillan, 2006): the original, directed by Robert Rossen, is one of the great undersung films of all time. This tepid remake features a dreadful jeu de théâtre from Sean Penn and contains none of the power or humour of the original.

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Michael J. Anderson

Splits his time between New Haven, Connecticut, and Brooklyn, New York. In New Haven, Anderson is pursuing a joint PhD in Film Studies and History of Art at Yale University. In New York, he sees the movies that comprise the list. Anderson is also the proprietor of a blog that he updates weekly, Tativille. Foremost, Tativille is an orgy of Ten Best lists.

In alphabetical order

Belle Toujours (Manoel de Oliveira, 2006)
Coeurs (Private Fears in Public Places, Alain Resnais, 2006)
Haebyonui yoin (Woman on the Beach, Hong Sang-soo, 2006)
Iklimler (Climates, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2006)
Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006)
Juventude em marcha (Colossal Youth, Pedro Costa, 2006)
Moartea domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mister Lazarescu, Cristi Puiu, 2005)
The Queen (Stephen Frears, 2006)
Sang sattawat (Syndromes and a Century, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006)
Volver (Pedro Almodóvar, 2006)

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Geoff Andrew

Head of Film Programme at the British Film Institute, National Film Theatre.

2006 wasn’t amazing for world cinema, but it was a very strong year. I do not include here UK releases like Caché (Hidden, Michael Haneke, 2005), L’Enfant (The Child, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2005 ), Zui hao de shi guang (Three Times, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2005), Moartea domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mister Lazarescu, Cristi Puiu, 2005) or The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Tommy Lee Jones, 2005), all of which I first saw last year. I have only included films I first saw in 2006.

The first ten stood out above the rest in various ways, but the other films listed (in no particular order) gave ample cause to maintain my faith in film as a living, developing art.

Climates

La Morte rouge (Soliloquio, Victor Erice, 2006)
Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2006)
Iklimler (Climates, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2006)
Sehnsucht (Longing, Valeska Grisebach, 2006)
A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman, 2006)
Volver (Pedro Almodóvar, 2006)
Flags of Our Fathers (Clint Eastwood, 2006)
The Queen (Stephen Frears, 2006)
WWW: What a Wonderful World (Faouzi Bensaïdi, 2006)
Ten Canoes (Rolf de Heer, 2006)

Miami Vice (Michael Mann, 2006)
Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005)
This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2006)
Red Road (Andrea Arnold, 2006)
37 Uses for a Dead Sheep (Ben Hopkins, 2005)
La Tourneuse des pages (The Page Turner, Denis Dercourt, 2006)
Quand j’étais chanteur (The Singer, Xavier Giannoli, 2006)
Indigènes (Days of Glory, Rachid Bouchareb, 2006)
Jardins en automne (Gardens in Autumn, Otar Iosseliani, 2006)
L’Ivresse du pouvoir (The Comedy of Power, Claude Chabrol, 2006)
L’Amicio di famiglia (The Family Friend, Paolo Sorrentino, 2006)
Sílení (Lunacy, Jan Svankmajer, 2005)
Laitakaupingin valot (Lights in the Dusk, Aki Kaurismäki, 2006)
Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006)
Das Fräulein (Andrea Staka, 2006)
Daratt (Dry Season, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, 2006)
Bes Vakit (Times and Winds, Reha Erdem, 2006)
Zemestan (It’s Winter, Rafi Pitts, 2006)
Chaharshanbe-soori (Fireworks Wednesday, Asghar Farhadi, 2006)
Yamiutsu shinzo (Heart, Beating in the Dark, Shunichi Nagasaki, 1982 and 2005)
Hei yan quan (I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, Tsai Ming-liang, 2006)
Sang sattawat (Syndromes and a Century, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006)
Opera Jawa (Garin Nugroho, 2006)
Play (Alicia Scherson, 2005)
Nacido y criado (Born and Bred, Pablo Trapero, 2006)
El Violin (Francisco Vargas, 2005)

The most risibly overrated Bad Film of the Year was without doubt Marie Antoinette (Sofia Coppola, 2006).

I have not yet seen The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006).

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Sean Axmaker

Film critic for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and a DVD columnist for the Internet Movie Database, and is a frequent contributor to MSN Entertainment, Asian Cult Cinema, Greencine.com, and StaticMultimedia.com. His reviews and essays are featured in the recently released Scarecrow Movie Guide.

1. The Wire (season four, created by David Simon, produced by David Simon and Ed Burns, 2006)
No, it’s not a movie, at least no more than Dekalog (The Decalogue, Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1989-90) or Berlin Alexanderplatz (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1980), but is the cinematic equivalent of a rich and powerful work of literature. The least of the characters have a fully developed personality, the worst of them have dignity, and the greatest of them have a complexity and depth beyond anything seen on film screens all year. The storytelling, true collaboration between the producers, the writers (among them George P. Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane and Richard Price) and the directors (among them Agnieszka Holland, Brad Anderson and Ernest R. Dickerson) is no less powerful.

2. L’Intrus (The Intruder, Claire Denis, 2005)
3. Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, 2006)
4. Moartea domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mister Lazarescu, Cristi Puiu, 2005)
5. Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood, 2006)
6. El Laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro, 2006)
7. La Science des rêves (The Science of Sleep, Michel Gondry, 2006)
8. The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005)
9. The Descent (Neil Marshall, 2005)
10. The Queen (Stephen Frears, 2006)

Honourable mention

L’Armée des ombres (Army of Shadows, Jean-Pierre Melville, 1969)
After almost 40 years, its belated American release made it the best film to début in theatres in the United Stated in 2006. Out of respect for the years between the French and English releases, I have left it off the Top Ten List

Best Documentary
Iraq in Fragments (James Longley, 2006)

More honourable mentions (in alphabetical order)

13 (Tzameti) (Géla Babluani, 2005)
Apocalypto (Mel Gibson, 2006)
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Larry Charles, 2006)
Brick (Rian Johnson, 2005)
Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)
Innocence (Lucile Hadzihalilovic, 2004)
Sorstalanság (Fateless, Lajos Koltai, 2005)
Stick It (Jessica Bendinger, 2006)

Most overrated
Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, 2006)

Most arrogantly bad
Lady in the Water (M. Night Shyamalan, 2006)

Most incompetently bad
The Celestine Prophecy (Armand Mastroianni, 2006)

Most misguided message movie
The Pursuit Of Happyness (Gabriele Muccino, 2006)

Most misguided movie period
The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things (Asia Argento, 2004)

In the realm of commercial studio moviemaking, Martin Scorsese had a well-deserved hit with his technically accomplished The Departed (2006), but there is little personal engagement and passion behind the otherwise throbbing genre exercise. On the flip side, Spike Lee found that the heist movie mechanisms of Inside Man (2006) was a perfect crucible to explore his pet themes of race and class in the lumpy melting pot of New York City, and he even proved his chops at action and suspense filmmaking. The unabashedly, unapologetically B-movie action explosion Banlieue 13 (District 13, Pierre Morel, 2004) was the most purely enjoyable bit of kinetic cinema. Who would have predicted that Mel Gibson would top them all for sheer thrills and cinematic action spectacle?

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Martyn Bamber

Provides English subtitles and audio description for International Broadcast Facilities, and is a writer for 6 Degrees Film and Close-Up Film. He has also contributed articles to CTEQ: Annotations on Film, and has written for cinemattraction and Slant Magazine.

Favourite films released in UK cinemas in 2006

(in alphabetical order)

Angel-A (Luc Besson, 2005)
The Black Dahlia (Brian De Palma, 2006)
L’Enfant (The Child, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2005 )
Huo Yuan Jia (Fearless, Ronny Yu, 2006)
Munich (Steven Spielberg, 2005)
The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005)
Red Road (Andrea Arnold, 2006)
Running Scared (Wayne Kramer, 2005)
Tideland (Terry Gilliam, 2005)
Transamerica (Duncan Tucker, 2005)

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Christian Checa Bañuz

Has recently graduated from the School of Film and Audiovisuals of Catalonia, Spain, and is currently studying Philosophy at the University of Barcelona, where he is also expanding his filmmaking experiences.

These are the films that I enjoyed the most of those released in Spain in 2006:

(in no particular order)

Caché (Hidden, Michael Haneke, 2005)
The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)

Zui hao de shi guang (Three Times, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2005)
Volver (Pedro Almodóvar, 2006)
United 93 (Paul Greengrass, 2006)
El Laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro, 2006)

Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)
The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)
Díes d’Agost (August Days, Marc Recha, 2006)
Honor de cavallería (Honor of the Knights, Albert Serra, 2006)

Caché, The New World and Three Times are minor films by great filmmakers that are nonetheless easily included in my Top Ten.

Caché works as a compilation of Haneke’s favourite themes and obsessions – the image and its manipulation as a means for accessing the dark side of everyday life; racism and other controversies in the bosom of the community, especially the European community; the masks of the middle-class; the tricks of democratic society – made for a broader audience. The same can be said of Three Times, which is included here especially because of its middle episode – beautiful is the precise word to describe it. The New World, besides being quite a cinematic event – Malick’s film of this decade – is a beautiful reflection about the thin threads that link the inside with the outside, the individual with all others; man with the absolute other, nature; from a point of view that has grown calm. It shows an appeased Malick that gives himself over to romantic love instead of exploring the depths of human passion.

For me, Volver is an exercise in humility by a director whose humility is not often apparent. This is an Almodóvar film in which Almodóvar is not the central figure. This is a moving story skilfully told and it deserves every award the film industry is going to confer on it.

In United 93, Paul Greengrass works very well with a compromised situation that finds its hardest difficulty, as well as its strongest asset, in its commitment to reality. Would this film be as poignant if those events had not really taken place? No. But it certainly is poignant, and respectful.

Children of Men, The Departed and Pan’s Labyrinth are the other titles I would highlight as the best mainstream cinema I have watched this year. Each film in its own way seduces the audience with an emphatic and captivating mise en scène. Children of Men unfolds in an outstanding cinematography and uses a documentary-like æsthetic that is so precise it makes it hard to believe it is a fake. It is a pity that the script is not as good as the technique. Pan’s Labyrinth displays an elegance and frugality seldom seen in fantastic cinema, with a masterly command of narrative tempo. With The Departed, Scorsese seems to return to his original environment, the one he truly knows, and is backed by a group of actors giving their best.

Finally, in my list I have included two examples of a kind of film that truly deserves more attention. This is cinema with a small “c”, written in the particular language of each part of the world. I am sure that the most recent film by the outsider called Marc Recha – whom I consider the most interesting Spanish filmmaker today – and Albert Serra’s exercise on image axiology, Honour of the Knights, are not two of the “best” films of 2006. It doesn’t matter. Just remove these and include yours, those you have near.

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Mike Bartlet

A freelance film writer who regularly contributes to Close-Up Film and BFI screenonline.

Top Ten

Syndromes and a Century

Iklimler (Climates, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2006)
Moartea domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mister Lazarescu, Cristi Puiu, 2005)
L’Enfant (The Child, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2005)
Miami Vice (Michael Mann, 2006)
Munich (Steven Spielberg, 2005)
Offside (Jafar Panahi, 2006)
The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005)
Sanxia haoren (Still Life, Jia Zhangke, 2006)
Sang sattawat (Syndromes and a Century, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006)
Zui hao de shi guang (Three Times, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2005)

Many of these appeared in 2005, but such are the vagaries of the UK distribution system. All are masterpieces.

The surprise of the year was The Proposition, an outstanding new contribution to the ongoing lore of the Western.

The problem film of the year was Munich, which I casually dismissed on first viewing, but which subsequently haunted me for weeks and kept coming back to me in conversations with friends until I realised that, like many critics, I had been blinded by the prejudice attached to a Spielberg film and that its simple clarity was actually a virtue, not a constraint.

In a great year for film, there were many worthy runners-up to my Top Ten

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Tommy Lee Jones, 2005)
A little overrated but still great.

A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater, 2006)
A little underrated but still great.

Keane (Lodge Kerrigan, 2004)
A masterclass in acting if a little betrayed by its pat ending.

Red Road (Andrea Arnold, 2006)
A masterclass in mood and tension, if a little betrayed by its atrocious ending.

Deep Water (Louise Osmond and Jerry Rothwell, 2006)
An intelligent documentary on the voyage of Donald Crowhurst, one of the great stories of the 20th Century.

And two guilty pleasures

Nacho Libre (Jared Hess, 2006) and Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Larry Charles, 2006)
The backlash against the latter is, in my view, far more suspect than the film itself – and at least Borat is funny.

Disappointments of the year

Match Point (Woody Allen, 2056)
Woody still hasn’t got his mojo back

Brick (Rian Johnson, 2005) and Operetta tanuki goten (Princess Raccoon, Seijun Suzuki, 2005)

Sensory overload.

The Queen (Stephen Frears, 2006)
Fascinating – if you’re English, I suspect – but not in any way controversial; in fact, deeply conservative.

Babel (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2006)
Mutton dressed up as lamb, or, in other words, a soap opera masquerading as social commentary.

Little Children (Todd Field, 2006)
A text for A-Level (high-school) students to study in Sociology class (“Now, children, what’s the significance of Madame Bovary here?”)

Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2006)
The most distressing let-down of the year; a brilliant idea compromised by indecisive execution.

Major personal discoveries from cinema’s back catalogue

This Land is Mine (1943) and The Southerner (1945)
Jean Renoir’s American period is grossly underrated.

Out 1: Noli me tangere (Jacques Rivette, 1971) and L’Amour par Terre (Rivette, 1984)
Seeing the first in its totality was the experience of the year.

Ride in the Whirlwind (Monte Hellman, 1965)
As good as The Shooting (Hellman, 1967).

Millions Like Us (Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder, 1943)
British wartime propaganda is the great neglected “school” of world cinema.

Majo no takkyûbin (Kiki’s Delivery Service, 1989) and Kaze no tani no Naushika (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Winds, 1988)
Hayao Miyazaki is the king of animators.

L’Armée des ombres (Army of Shadows, Jean-Pierre Melville, 1969) and Yuki Yukite shingun (The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On, Kazuo Hara, 1987)
These last two have blown all my previous ideas on film to the wind. The latter is essential viewing for the student of documentary.

Intimni osvetleni (Intimate Lighting, Ivan Passer, 1966)
A little beauty from the Czech New Wave.

Queimada! (Burn!, Gillo Pontecorvo, 1969)
The equal of La Battaglia di Algeri (The Battle of Algiers, Pontecorvo, 1966).

Distant Voices, Still Lives (Terence Davies, 1988)
At the London Film Festival première of a restored print, Terence Davies argued for more films expressing the poetry of the ordinary people, a poetry “they’re entitled to”. I would suggest the ten films I’ve chosen as the best this year show that poetry is alive and well across the world.

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Paolo Bertolin

Italian film critic and journalist writing for newspaper Il Manifesto and film magazine Cineforum.

2006 was a great year in cinema and it was hard for me to scale down the number of films in my ‘best of the year’ list. Of course, there was a core group of about a dozen masterworks that stood well ahead of all other competitors. I nevertheless thought it was unfair not to mention at all the other, many remarkable films of the year. At the cost of somehow diminishing the relevance of the abovementioned masterworks, I so resolved to compile a very unstable Top 20, followed by a secondary alphabetic list of 21 more ‘hits’ bubbling under…

2006 Top 20 (in unstable order of preference)

1. Joeun Baeu (A Great Actor, Shin Yeon-shick, 2005)
2. Opera Jawa (Garin Nugroho, 2006)
3. Sanxia haoren (Still Life, Jia Zhangke, 2006)
4. Paprika (Satoshi Kon, 2006)
5. Sang Sattawat (Syndromes and a Century, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006)
6. Hei Yanquan (I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, Tsai Ming-liang, 2006)
7. El Laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro, 2006)
8. Juventude em marcha (Colossal Youth, Pedro Costa, 2006)
9. Maicling Pelicula nang Ysang Indio Nacional (A Short Film about the Indio Nacional, Raya Martin, 2006)
10. Taiyang Yu (Rain Dogs, Ho Yuhang, 2006)
11. Biyeolhan Geori (Dirty Carnival, Yu Ha, 2006)
12. Flandres (Flanders, Bruno Dumont, 2006)
13. Iklimler (Climates, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2006)
14. Love Conquers All (Tan Chui Mui, 2006)
15. Fuge (Refrain, Cui Zi’en, 2006)
16. Kubrador (The Bet Collector, Jeffrey Jeturian, 2006)
17. Taimagura Baachan (Taimagura Grandma, Yoshihiko Sumikawa, 2006)
18. Bihisht Fagat Baroi Murgadon (To Get to Heaven First You Have to Die, Djamshed Usmonov, 2006)
19. Diliman (Ramon ‘Mes’ de Guzman, 2006)
20. A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (Dito Montiel, 2006)

Bubbling Under (Alphabetic List)

A Fost sau n-a fost? (12:08 East of Bucharest, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2006)
Aju Teukbyeolhan Sonnim (Ad Lib Night, Lee Yoon-ki, 2006)
Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2006)
Bambi (Heart) Bone (Shibutani Noriko, 2005)
Bei ya zi de nan hai (Taking Father Home, Ying Liang, 2005)
Belle Toujours (Manoel De Oliveira, 2006)
Cavite (Neil dela Llana, Ian Gamazon, 2005)
Daratt (Dry Season, Mahamat Saleh-Haroun, 2006)
Fangzhu (Exiled, Johnnie To, 2006)
Huhoehaji Ana (No Regret, Lee Song Hee-il, 2006)
Lai Xiao Zi (Walking On The Wild Side, Han Jie, 2006)
Lelaki Komunis Terakhir (The Last Communist, Amir Muhammad, 2006)
Manoro (The Teacher, Brillante Mendoza, 2006)
Nogada (Kim Mi-re, 2005)
La Passione di Giosuè l’Ebreo (The Passion of Joshua the Jew, Pasquale Scimeca, 2005)
Podonamureul Beeora (Pruning the Grapevine, Min Byeong-hun, 2006)
Poeti Veradardze (Return of the Poet, Harutyun Khachatrian, 2006)
Reanglao Jak Meangnue (Stories from the North, Uruphong Raksasad, 2006)
Shaonian Hua Cao Huang (Withered in a Blooming Season, Cui Zi’en, 2006)
As Tentações do Irmão Sebastião (The Temptations of Brother Sebastian, José Araújo, 2006)
Yawarakai Seikatsu (It’s Only Talk, Hiroki Ryuichi, 2006)

Most Overrated

Babel (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2006)
Il Caimano (The Caiman, Nanni Moretti, 2006)
Requiem (Hans-Christian Schmid, 2006)
Marie Antoinette (Sofia Coppola, 2006)
Coeurs (Private Fears in Public Places, Alain Resnais, 2006)

Retrospective Discoveries

Kim Ki-young Retrospective at the Cinémathèque Française, Paris.

Pangarap ng Puso (Demons, Mario O’Hara, 2000)
Jiwonbyeong (Volunteer, Ahn Seok-yeong, 1941)
Nanjangiga Ssoaollin Jageun Gong (The Ball Shot by a Midget, Lee Won-se, 1981)
Luk E-san (Son of the North-East, Vichit Kounavudhi, 1982)
Ashima (Liu Qiong, 1964)

Still Waiting for the Final Cut
Heremias (Lav Diaz, 2006?)

Holy Relics
The pressbooks of Sang Sattawat and Hei Yanquan, real objects of art that complement the beauty of the films. To be preserved with the utmost, religious care!

A Devotional Mention
To Fuori Orario, the nightly broadcast of Italian PBS Rai Tre.

Italy has one of the most problematic, unfathomable and excruciating theatrical markets in Europe, and the many (unforgivable) gaps in our distribution system have often been bridged by this quirky and utterly idiosyncratic showcase. Haunting the nights of every weekend, host Enrico Ghezzi has been introducing (in deliberately off sync footage) generations of Italian cinéphiles to the otherwise unavailable works of Hou Hsiao-hsien, Jia Zhangke, Manoel de Oliveira, Satyajit Ray, Pedro Costa, Aleksei German, Ritwik Ghatak, Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, Amir Naderi, Yasujiro Ozu, Jacques Rivette, Paulo Rocha, Raúl Ruiz, Michael Snow and Aleksandr Sokurov, just to name a few. Not to mention the many Hollywood classics to which Fuori Orario (the Italian title of After Hours, Martin Scorsese’s 1986 classic urban nightmare) has returned their original voices, by presenting them with subtitles (sadly, in Italy everything is dubbed!). I don’t think many television programs in the whole world could match the dishes Fuori Orario has been serving to its insomniac devotees in the past few weeks: films by Kira Muratova, Larisa Shepitko, Elem Klimov, Goutham Ghose, and the full three hours of footage William Friedkin shot in his 1974 interview with Fritz Lang. To Enrico Ghezzi and all the crusaders of cinéphilia at Fuori Orario, the most sincere and grateful grazie!

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Adam Bingham

Teaches film studies and Japanese at the University of Sheffield, England, and writes for CineAction.

In preferential order, my films of 2006 are:

Caché (Hidden, Michael Haneke, 2005)
As much a horror film in its detailing of the return of the (personally and nationally) repressed. The most vital, intelligent and shocking film of the year.

The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)
One for the ages. This rapturous film continues Malick’s obsession with paradise, both lost and found, and allies the narrational omniscience of The Thin Red Line (1998) to the romantic triangle of Days of Heaven (1978) and transgressive love affair of Badlands (1973). Deceptively simple in outline, Malick’s structure and editing are arguably more dense and allusive than ever, producing a profound meditation on the vagaries of love, time, history and the place of humanity on this boundless stage.

Zui hao de shi guang (Three Times, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2005)
The world’s greatest living filmmaker follows the minimalist Japanese sojourn of Kôhî jikô (Café Lumière, 2003) with this subtle, piercing inquiry into communication, into love and words and truths unspoken, and into personal and historical movement and continuity. Not quite as extraordinary as the similarly-themed and structured Hai shang hua (Flowers of Shanghai, 1998) – what could be? – but Hou’s formal genius, exquisite mise en scène and sense of minute detail against the tenable canvas of history and the world remain unmatched.

Tony Takitani (Jun Ichikawa, 2004)
Ichikawa is not well-known in the West, but has directed a remarkable series of Ozu-esque dramas. Apart from the end, this follows Murakami Haruki’s story to the letter (content and tone), and compliments this with an utterly singular style that depicts the titular protagonist at the static centre of a world moving around and beyond him. Utterly sublime.

Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005)
Part Klaus Kinski, part Bruno S.; part Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (Aguirre: The Wrath of God, Herzog, 1972), part Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle (The Enigma of Kasper Hauser, Herzog, 1974). Fated naturalist and ‘friend to the bears’ Timothy Treadwell emerges as a quintessential Herzog protagonist in a film that proves a needed corrective to the sentimental anthropomorphism of other recent wildlife docs.

Miami Vice

Miami Vice (Michael Mann, 2006)
Strange to find myself in the position of defending this film already; a great film about action, professionalism, masculine identity and sensory experience. To complain that the characters are thinly drawn is akin to complaining that we don’t know what really happened in Rashômon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950).

Kisses (Yasuzo Masumura, 1957)
I caught this film along with many other delights in the touring Masumura retrospective, and can honestly say that the Japanese New Wave began here. This film features the clear progenitor to the youthful, disaffected protagonists of early Nagisa Oshima and Masahiro Shinoda, with a neo-realist inspired move out onto the bustling Japanese streets.

Gue Mool (The Host, Bong Joon-ho, 2006)
Joon-Ho follows the best serial-killer film since Sogo Ishii’s Enjeru dasuto (Angel Dust, 1994) with the best monster movie since Ryuhei Kitamura reinvented Godzilla with Gojira: Fainaru uôzu (Godzilla: Final Wars, 2004). The Host takes on Hollywood at its own game … and wins hands down.

Flags of Our Fathers (Clint Eastwood, 2006)
Eastwood’s current purple patch continues with this terrific companion piece to Unforgiven (Eastwood, 1992), which picks up that masterpiece’s thematic concern with the social and cultural investment in romantic images of heroism as contrasted with the grimy reality underneath, and makes a film more subtly relevant to the current climate than Spielberg’s heavy-handed Munich (2005). I can’t wait for Letters from Iwo Jima (2006).

L’Armée des ombres (Army of Shadows, Jean-Pierre Melville, 1969)
The great Melville’s glorious amalgamation of resistance drama and shadowy noir gangster picture, framed as a visual and thematic winter – as fresh, vibrant and affecting as ever it was.

El Laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro, 2006)
Every inch a Del Toro film, from the (visual and thematic) centrality of underground tunnels and the labyrinth (present and correct in everything since 1997’s Mimic), to the child’s eye view of a horrific adult world; this is part El Espirito de la colmena (The Spirit of the Beehive, Victor Erice, 1973), part The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Andrew Adamson, 2005), part art-cinema commentary, part genre-driven spectacle, all intelligent, adult fantasy. Arguably it’s the director’s masterpiece.

Marebito (Takeshi Shimizu, 2006)
Neverwhere (Dewi Humphries, scripted by Neil Gaiman, 1996) transposed to Japan, mixed with Peeping Tom (Michael Powell, 1960) and Heart of Darkness, and executed in the experimental narrative style reminiscent of Tsukamoto Shinya (who stars). This proves that there is life beyond the grudge for Shimizu.

Honourable Mentions

Jarhead (Sam Mendes, 2006)
Mendes’ best film, in which he stops striving so hard to say something … and says something.

Lemming (Dominik Moll, 2005)
Confirms Moll as Claude Chabrol’s heir to the ‘French Hitchcock’ crown, but entirely on his own terms.

Casino Royale (Martin Campbell, 2006)
After the dismal Die Another Die (Lee Tamahori, 2002), this film twists the knife in the Bond franchise to enervating effect.

37 Uses for a Dead Sheep (Ben Hopkins, 2006)
Incredibly affecting history of the Pamir Kirghiz, told in a bold style reminiscent of Werner Herzog.

Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)
For its technical virtuosity alone. If Theo Angelopoulos directed an action film, it would probably resemble this.

Qing hong (Shanghai Dreams, Wang Xiaoshuai, 2005)
Another study of disaffected youth from the director of Dongchun de rizi (The Days, 1993) and Shiqi sui de chan che (Beijing Bicycle, 2001), but placed more emphatically within a clearly delineated historical milieu. Not as great a director as his contemporary Jia Jhang-ke, but a vital voice in contemporary Chinese cinema.

Operetta tanuki goten (Princess Racoon, Seijun Suzuki, 2005)
Kabuki and Rock ‘n’ Roll; for anyone who thought Kon Ichikawa’s Taketori monogatari (Princess from the Moon, 1987) proved fantasy films couldn’t come from Japan, one of the country’s most innovative and idiosyncratic genre-benders moves away from delirious yakuza films into folkloric flights of imagination with spellbinding, utterly beguiling results.

A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater, 2006)
The Rotoscopic animation process pioneered by Linklater for Waking Life (2001) was made for this adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s masterpiece. Linklater’s obsession with alternative lives and parallel universes is beautifully narrativised here.

Les Amants réguliers (Regular Lovers, Philippe Garrel, 2005)
Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959) to the High Noon (Fred Zinnemann, 1952) that was Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers (2003), Garrel’s film courts pretentiousness and lethargy in that indomitable way that comes so naturally to the French, but has real value as a cinematic dissection of a time and place and the contradictory, Godardian gulf between action and reflection.

Ludicrously Overrated

I would also like to give dishonourable mentions to the following films:

Walk The Line (James Mangold, 2005)
Not quite as frustrating in its attempts to ‘explain’ its subject as Taylor Hackford’s Ray (2004), but emerges as even more hagiographic in blaming everyone but Johnny Cash for his ‘faults’; this film, unlike Clint Eastwood’s magisterial Bird (1988), never finds (in fact, barely even tries to find) a form commensurate to exploring Cash’s life, work or personality, and, despite good performances, its clean and conventional structure feels hidebound and evasive.

Hard Candy (David Slade, 2006)
As careless in its celebration of its heroine’s vengeance as Tony Scott’s Man on Fire (2004), but more suspect because of the subject matter. Several plot details beggar belief, as does the protagonist. What, exactly, do we cheer in this nasty film?

Firewall (Richard Loncraine, 2006)
How this ridiculously antiquated non-thriller got made is beyond me.

Syriana (Stephen Gaghan, 2005)
Not a bad film exactly – certainly ambitious and committed – but too equivocal and self-conscious in its approach, and seems rather to revel in its bleak posturing.

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Alexander Bisley

Film critic for The Dominion Post in Wellington, New Zealand, and Associate Editor of Lumière.

A highlight of my year was talking film with Robert Fisk. “[Steven] Spielberg’s movie [Munich, 2005] has crossed a fundamental roadway in Hollywood’s treatment of the Middle East conflict”, he told me. Munich, a prayer for peace, tracks the famous “Munich” Israeli assassination squad. Spielberg puts us there. The orchestration, scope and nuance are profoundly impressive.

Top Ten

An Inconvenient Truth (Davis Guggenheim, 2006)
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Larry Charles, 2006)
Capote (Bennett Miller, 2005)
Good Night, and Good Luck (George Clooney, 2005)
Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005)
Look Both Ways (Sarah Watt, 2005)
Match Point (Woody Allen, 2005)
Munich (Steven Spielberg, 2005)
Syriana (Stephen Gaghan, 2005)
Zui hao de shi guang (Three Times, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2005)

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Christopher Bourne

Writer and cinéphile based in New York City.

There were so many great films this year that I didn’t even try to restrict it to the traditional 10, which anyway seems to me a very dubious and arbitrary way of organizing one’s film experiences. The vagaries of distribution, personal circumstances, etc., affected so much of what I got to see that it makes it seem even more presumptuous to attempt to sum up the entire year. However, it does serve as a good occasion for reflection and in affirming or revising one’s æsthetic standards.

That said, some brief thoughts on the films that stood out for me this year:

Films Distributed in the U.S.

Shortbus

Shortbus (John Cameron Mitchell, 2006) and Dave Chappelle’s Block Party (Michel Gondry, 2005)
Hands down, the two most enjoyable experiences this year. Mitchell’s film was truly revolutionary, not only in his filmic depictions of sexuality, but in its beautiful and incredibly moving utopianism and life-affirming qualities. Gondry’s document of Chappelle’s Brooklyn concert also offered a bracing, joyous vision of harmony and generousness of spirit. And in the age of Iraq, prisoner torture, police shootings and images of death flooding every screen in sight, Mitchell’s and Gondry’s glimpses of an alternative are more necessary than ever.

United 93 (Paul Greengrass, 2006) and Jonestown: The Life and Death of People’s Temple (Stanley Nelson, 2006)
Two real-life stories of mass murder, told with a complete lack of exploitation and which made us feel keenly for the loss of each individual to religious conviction gone horribly awry.

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Larry Charles, 2006) and Jackass Number Two (Jeff Tremaine, 2006)
Two that took comedy to new levels of fearlessness and radicalism, both examples of performance art at its best.

Inside Man (Spike Lee, 2006), Chinjeolhan Geumjassi (Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, Park Chan Wook, 2005), Miami Vice (Michael Mann, 2006)
These films proved once and for all that so-called genre cinema, when done with the sheer mastery and obvious love for pure cinema shown by these three directors working at the top of their form, can be more entertaining and intellectually stimulating than the dour, self-important product that too often passes itself off as “art cinema.”

And the rest of the best

Batalla en el cielo (Battle in Heaven, Carlos Reygadas, 2005)
The Road to Guantanamo (Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross, 2006)
Be With Me (Eric Khoo, 2005)
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (Dito Montiel, 2006)
Iklimler (Climates, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2006)
Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (Zhang Yimou, 2005)
Moartea domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mister Lazarescu, Cristi Puiu, 2005)
El Laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro, 2006)
Linda Linda Linda (Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2005)
Manderlay (Lars von Trier, 2005)
The Pursuit of Happyness (Gabriele Muccino, 2006)

Films Not Yet Distributed in the U.S.

As usual, most of the best films I saw this year were from Asia, especially Korea. But, of course, you’d never know if from what gets distributed in this country. An all-region DVD player has never been more necessary than now. However, here are some films I actually got to see on the screen. If I included the great films I saw on DVD, this list would probably be twice as long.

Especially notable are

Hyeongsa (Duelist, Lee Myung-se, 2005) and Mabeopsadul (Magicians, Song Il-gon, 2005)
Two masterpieces by two of Korea ’s best directors. Lee’s Stan Brakhage-meets-Shaw Brothers-in-the-Chosun Dynasty extravaganza was an incredibly beautiful interplay of sound, light, colour, androgyny and comedy that haunted me for weeks afterward. Song’s single-shot film truly showed the beauty and resonance digital cinema can have, and it was a melancholy yet hopeful evocation of memory and transcendence of death.

In Between Days (So Yong Kim, 2006) and Police Beat (Robinson Devor, 2005)
These two American independent films share a feature that makes them radical in the context of U.S. cinema and which will unfortunately probably doom their chances of distribution in this country: their protagonists, for the most part, do not speak English.

Their subtitled voiceovers let us into their thoughts, and leap beyond the stereotypes and superficial associations most assign to immigrants. I want to especially acknowledge the performances of Jiseon Kim as Aimie, the troubled Korean girl in Kim’s film, and Pape Side Niang as Z, the Senegalese Seattle cop in Devor’s film. Both these actors, who had never been in films before, sensitively portray the isolation of their characters, both from personal angst and their status as people new to the country, and were more memorable than most of the professional actors in films I saw this year.

Eve and the Fire Horse (Julia Kwan, 2005)
This reminiscence of 1970s Vancouver is a beautiful, magical-realist slice of nostalgia that featured great performances by its cast, and one of the most accurate evocations of a child’s point of view that I’ve yet seen. And its affirmation of the value of religious faith, no matter what that is, is one that is truly necessary for this time.

Bei ya zi de nan hai (Taking Father Home, Ying Liang, 2005)
This Chinese film, made for next to nothing with a borrowed video camera, was a devastating portrayal of the new China, rushing to global dominance and trampling over anyone in its way.

Colma: The Musical (Richard Wong, 2006)
Another American indie that was funny and charming, a riotous and profane film with great, catchy songs and a go-for-broke approach that was quite invigorating.

Haebyonui yoin (Woman on the Beach, Hong Sang-soo, 2006)
With this one, Hong has made seven films, all confirming his status as one of Korea’s most brilliant filmmakers. His devastating portrayals of male obsessiveness and stupidity are quite unique and fascinating. As of now, only one of his films, Yeojaneun namjaui miraeda (Woman is the Future of Man, Hong Sang-soo, 2004), has shown theatrically here. Hopefully this will change with his latest, along with Saenghwalui balgyeon (Turning Gate, 2002), his most accessible and funniest film.

Tian bian yi duo yun (The Wayward Cloud, Tsai Ming-liang, 2005)
I finally got to see this on screen this year (although I’d had the DVD for months). Probably his most devastating and shocking work, its lack of distribution in this country continues to baffle me.

Naisu no mori: The First Contact (Funky Forest: The First Contact, Katsuhito Ishii, Hajime Ishimine, Shunichiro Miki, 2005) and Shin Sung-il-eui hangbang-bulmyung (Shin Sung-il is Lost, Shin Jane, 2004)
Forget David Lynch and Inland Empire (2006). No disrespect to Mr Lynch, but these films offered true cinematic surrealism. Truly unclassifiable, Ishii’s bizarro variety show and Shin’s allegory of totalitarianism and religious fundamentalism threw conventional narrative to the winds, and greatly rewarded our trust in the prodigious strength of their visions.

And here are other films that I implore U.S. distributors to allow more people to see

Berbagi suami (Love for Share, Nia Di Nata, 2006)
Der Freie wille (The Free Will, Matthias Glasner, 2006)
The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief (Jake Clennell, 2006)
Inner Circle Line (Eunhee Cho, 2006)
Kargaran mashghoole karand (Men at Work, Mani Haghighi, 2006)
Eumranseosaeng (Forbidden Quest, Kim Dae-woo, 2006)
Kong que (Peacock, Gu Changwei, 2005)
Yeoja, Jeong-hye (This Charming Girl, Lee Yoon-ki, 2004)
Saratan (Ernest Abdyjaparov, 2005)
Bashing (Masahiro Kobayashi, 2005)
Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachtani? (“My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?”, Shinji Aoyama, 2005)
Qui hong (Shanghai Dreams, Wang Xiaoshuai, 2005)
Dalkom, salbeorhan yeonin (My Scary Girl, Sohn Jae-Gon, 2006)
Yeonae-ui mokjeok (Rules of Dating, Han Jae-rim, 2005)
Gwangshiki dongsaeng gwangtae (When Romance Meets Destiny, Kim Hyeon-seok, 2005)

And two outstanding short films: Worldly Desires (Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Pimpaka Towira, 2005), from the Jeonju International Film Festival’s Digital Short Films by Three Filmmakers omnibus, and Impaled (Larry Clark, 2006) from the omnibus film Destricted (2006).

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Stephen Brower

Director of Marketing and A&R Development for Vanguard Records in Santa Monica, CA. He is also an avid film fan and publisher of the blog pocketcinephile.blogspot.com.

The Departed

Top Ten

1. The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)
Scorsese delivers his finest crime saga in more than a decade with this exquisitely paced, sharply acted police procedural.

2. Manderlay (Lars von Trier, 2005)
With Manderlay, the second chapter of his proposed “USA – Land of Opportunities” trilogy, von Trier offers a brilliantly subversive, genuinely uncompromising and remarkably accessible Brechtian yarn.

3. Miami Vice (Michael Mann, 2006)
Mann, more so than any major director, has embraced the digital format and showcases its full capabilities with this brooding adult art epic.

4. The Queen (Stephen Frears, 2006)
Frears’ ivory-tower saga is taut, engaging and suspenseful in much the same fashion as Robert Altman’s Gosford Park (2001), its upstairs-downstairs forerunner.

5. Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006)
Inland Empire is nothing if not a psychological experiment, as Lynch’s hypnotic composition, core-rattling sound design, and labyrinthine (some may say Sisyphean) narrative thoroughly disarms, disturbs and dismantles the viewer.

6. Inside Man (Spike Lee, 2006)
Lee’s skilfully executed heist tale rates among the best modern takes on this classic genre.

7. L’Enfant (The Child, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2005 )
Not unlike Panahi’s Crimson Gold, the Dardennes’ examination of local delinquency is at once small and significant.

8. A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman, 2006)
Altman’s appropriately artful meditation on death and purpose serves as a pitch-perfect coda to the director’s staggering œuvre.

9. Come Early Morning (Joey Lauren Adams, 2006)
Adams’ directorial début is a small triumph, bravely revisiting the fractured Southern psyche so expertly explored in such recent films as Phillip Morrison’s Junebug (2005) and David Gordon Green’s All the Real Girls (2003).

10. L’Intrus (The Intruder, Claire Denis, 2005)
Denis’ rapturously meandering tone poem of loss, boundary and memory is a visceral sensory experience.

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Andrew Bunney

Was raised in the province of Newfoundland Canada, world-renowned for its seal pelts and unique gene pool. Currently living in Montréal, he spends many of his hours on the phone earning money and, in his free time, enjoys films and arm wrestling.

Top Ten (or so)

1. Sticky Carpet (Mark Butcher, 2006)
A documentary hewn from the Melbourne rock ‘n’ roll scene, celebrating of what is best about urban Australia. Shows the globally adored community of independent musicians who refuse to sell-out or to be ground down. (Already on DVD.)

2. Kanyini (Melanie Hogan, 2006)
Stunning footage of happy, healthy Indigenous Australians lorded over by crass station owners and un-Christian missionaries. The gently persuasive commentary from an Indigenous elder, Bob Randall, lifted the white blindfold view of Australian history.

3. Breakfast on Pluto (Neil Jordan, 2006)
Cillian Murphy plays Patrick/Kitty who started life as a foundling in Ireland. 1970s pop music and terrorism are the backdrop for these innocents seeking independence. Jordan lyrically explores his favourite themes.

4. Caché (Hidden, Michael Haneke, 2005)
The Austrian director of Funny Games (1997), Benny’s Video (1992), etc., looks at surveillance and terror in the domestic setting. Past sins come back to haunt the characters, dark images to take home for the audience.

5. An Inconvenient Truth (Davis Guggenheim, 2006)
Al Gore’s ‘slide show’ disaster movie that changed the world’s attitude to climate change, even Australian Prime Minister John Howard’s. Probably the most influential film ever.

6. Transamerica (Duncan Tucker, 2006)
An intelligent road movie unfolds along a highway of sexual taboo and gender ambiguity. Better than Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005) and Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch, 2005), with which it shared some themes and had similarities. A glorious take on the re-union of parent and child. Lovely performances especially from Felicity Huffman.

7. Last Train to Freo (Jeremy Sims, 2006)
A taut thriller, unravelling fears and assumptions about men and violence, set entirely in one train carriage. Steve Le Marquand is great in the main role. Excellent portraiture cinematography, well-lit with railway-style effects. The classical soundtrack is a main character.

Volver

8. Volver (Pedro Almodóvar, 2006)
Another brilliantly insightful film about women, family and place.

9 . Factotum (Bent Hamer, 2005)
The fictional film about writer Charles Bukowski starring Matt Dillon.

10. Babel (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2006)
11. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)

12. The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach, 2005)
Laura Linney continues on her brilliant way, here in the main role of the wife and mother seeking liberation after seventeen years in a poisonous nuclear family environment.

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Thomas Caldwell

An Australian freelance writer specialising in film criticism and film education, currently based in Paris, France. He is the author of Film Analysis Handbook (Insight Publications, 2005).

My contribution to the World Poll this year reflects the limited number of films that I was able to see in 2006, as I am an English-only speaker and, for the majority of the year, I was living in a non-English speaking country. Due to different release dates not working in my favour and a lack of English subtitles, I was prevented from seeing many films that would have probably made it onto my list. I am also ashamed to say that I saw no Australian films at all.

So, my list of favourite films (in preferential order) that I happened to see for the first time in 2006 is as follows:

1. Conversations with Other Women (Hans Canosa, 2005)
A film that challenges conventional film style by being entirely in split screen, which becomes integral to the story. Beautiful performed and a genuinely painful film about regret and love lost.

2. Match Point (Woody Allen, 2005)
Possibly the most gracefully nihilistic film ever made.

3. Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, 2006)
Despite initially looking like a blueprint for every other American independent film about dysfunctional families, this turned out to be a wonderful sad-comedy about life’s genuine losers who are never going to achieve any conventional forms of success.

4. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)
A thinking person’s action film where masterfully choreographed scenes of chaos are fused with a bleak and poignant vision of a not-too distant future.

5. The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)
Significant return to form by Scorsese with this electrifying remake of the ridiculously overrated Mou gaan dou (Infernal Affairs, Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, 2002).

6. Inside Man (Spike Lee, 2006)
Lee brilliantly infuses the generic narrative of this film with a deeply resonant exploration of American politics in a post 9/11 world.

7. Capote (Bennett Miller, 2005)
A harrowing examination of murder seen through the eyes of an opportunistic literary genius.

8. Flags of Our Fathers (Clint Eastwood, 2006)
Successfully and fittingly pays tribute to the soldiers who experienced the horrors of armed conflict while simultaneously revealing the cynical propaganda machine that exploits images of “war heroes” for political purposes. Depicts war as simply brutal, instead of making it an entertaining spectacle.

9. Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)
A solid drama that evokes some of Elia Kazan’s best work about American sexual repression and self-denial.

10. A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman, 2006)
It is fitting that Robert Altman’s final film is such a warm and moving tribute to past entertainers who must inevitably finish their run.

11. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
12. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (Tom Tykwer, 2006)
13. Sorstalanság (Fateless, Lajos Koltai, 2005)
14. L’Enfant (The Child, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2005 )
15. Shortbus (John Cameron Mitchell, 2006)
16. The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach, 2006)
17. Transamerica (Duncan Tucker, 2005)
18. A Cock and Bull Story (Michael Winterbottom, 2005)
19. Thank You For Smoking (Jason Reitman, 2005)
20. Munich (Steven Spielberg, 2005)

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Michael Campi

Has been under the spell of the cinema for half a century. He was involved with the film society movement, assisted with the former National Film Theatre of Australia and was a committee member of the Melbourne Film Festival in the 1970s.

My Top Ten for the year is:

46-okunen no koi (A Big Bang Love: Juvenile, Miike Takashi, 2006)
Gabrielle (Patrice Chéreau, 2005)
Hana yori mo naho (Hana, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan, 2006)
Le Domaine perdu (The Lost Domain, Raul Ruiz, 2005)
Sanxia haoren (Still Life, Jia Zhangke, 2006)
Sang sattawat (Syndromes and a Century, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006)
Bei ya zi de nan hai (Taking Father Home, Ying Liang, 2005)
Yongseobatji Motan ja (The Unforgiven, Yoon Jong-Bin, 2006)
Haebyonui yoin (Woman on the Beach, Hong Sang-soo, 2006)
Volver (Pedro Amoldóvar, 2006)

Followed by

The Archive Project (John Hughes, 2006)
The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)
Mang zhong (Grain in the Ear, Zhang Lu, 2005)
Yamiutsu shinzo (Heart, Beating in the Dark, Nagasaki Shunichi, 1982 and 2005)
A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
Gue Mool (The Host, Bong Joon-ho, 2006)
Bangmunja (Host and Guest, Shin Dong-il, 2005)
Lelaki Komunis terakhir (The Last Communist, Amir Muhammad, 2006) My Friend and His Wife (Shin Dong-Il, 2006)
Dalkom, salbeorhan yeonin (My Scary Girl, Sohn Jae-Gon, 2006)
A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman, 2006)
Shortbus (John Cameron Mitchell, 2006)
Solntse (The Sun, Aleksandr Sokurov, 2005)
A Cock and Bull Story (Michael Winterbottom, 2005)
Withered in a Blooming Season (Cui Zi’en, 2006)
Wo men liang (You and Me, Ma Liwen, 2005)

Special mention again for the continued blessing to cinéphiles of the existence of the Melbourne Cinémathèque screenings, particularly the imported presentations to which one can only start to guess at the amount of effort, anguish, expense and enthusiasm involved, and for the significant array of world cinema on view in the Melbourne International Film Festival, especially its selection of films featuring Chinese silent film goddess Ruan Lingyu. 2006 was a milestone year, marking James Hewison’s final year as director of this huge event.

DVDs continue to be more and more our essential way of keeping up with some of the best of world cinema that the taste-makers of arthouse cinema avoid. An insightful and meticulous colleague and old friend reports on the Mauritz Stiller films elsewhere in this edition, while I would like to encourage every cinéphile to watch the releases of the Masters of Cinema editions from the UK. This label provides an eclectic and informed series of absolutely essential discs for which we should all put in permanent orders for every new edition. Of special attention recently have been its two-disc set of F. W. Murnau’s Faust (1926) and Jean Renoir’s Toni (1935), while its first set of Naruse Mikio films with English subtitles should be treasured by all. More on these anon.

The Second Sight label also in the UK should be thanked also for its four-disc Max Ophüls collection: Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), Madame de … (1953), Le Plaisir (1952) and The Reckless Moment (1949).

In recent months, the Panorama label in HK has been adding to its Yasujiro Ozu series as well. Recently, some of the silent films to be released include Gakusei romance: Wakaki hi (Days of Youth, 1929) and the surviving reels of Haha o kowazuya (A Mother Should be Loved, 1934). While the real cinema experience should be encouraged at all levels, it’s reassuring to know we can watch well-mastered discs of current and past cinema greats with excellent sound and vision at home, without the distractions of audience members who chatter and/or eat continuously and/or who are moths to the glow of their mobile-phone displays.

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Neel Chaudhuri

A writer and cinéphile based in New Delhi, and currently the Deputy Editor of Osian’s-Cinemaya, the Asian Film Quarterly.

I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone

I have grown to dislike polls, mostly because it’s so bloody hard to make definitive lists that represent your position as a cinéphile, editor, critic, etc. As with my list two years ago, I’ll stick to Asian films screened at film festivals or released locally during the past year. I’m delighted to be able to include two Indian films.

These are my favourites; I’m not comfortable using the word “best”.

1. Hei yan quan (I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan, 2006)

(and then, in no particular order)

2. Ahlaam (The Dreams, Mohamed Al-Daradji, Iraq – UK, 2005)
3. Offside (Jafar Panahi, Iran, 2006)
4. Herbert (Suman Mukhopadhyay, India, 2005)
5. Iklimler (Climates, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey, 2006)
6. Majimak Babsang (The Last Dining Table, Roh Gyeong-Tae, Korea, 2006)
7. Todo todo teros (John Torres, The Philippines, 2006)
8. Dunia (Kiss Me Not on the Eyes, Jocelyne Saab, Lebanon-Egypt-France, 2005)
9. Taht Al-Sakif (Under the Ceiling, Nidal Al-Dibs, Syria, 2005)
10. Nekam achat mishtey eynay (Avenge But One of My Two Eyes, Avi Mograbi, Israel-France, 2005)
11. Lelaki Komunis terakhir (The Last Communist, Amir Muhammad, Malaysia, 2006)
12. Changhen ge (Everlasting Regret, Stanley Kwan, Hong Kong-China, 2005)
13. Niwe mung (Half Moon, Bahman Ghobadi, Iran, 2006)
14. Hana yori mo naho (Hana, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan, 2006)
15. Opera Jawa (Garin Nugroho, Indonesia, 2006)
16. Tai yang yue (Rain Dogs, Ho Yuhang, Malaysia-Hong Kong-China, 2006)
17. Anae-ui-Ae-in-eul Mannada (Driving with My Life’s Lover, Kim Tai-sik, Korea, 2006)
18. Cherm (Midnight My Love, Khongdej Jaturanrassamee, Thailand, 2005)
19. Love Conquers All (Tan Chui Mui, Malaysia, 2006)
20. Omkara (Vishal Bharadwaj, India, 2006)

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Ben Cho

Writes for magazines and the internet.

Highlights

L’Armée des ombres (Army of Shadows, Jean Pierre-Melville, 1969)
Bashing (Kobayashi Masahiro, 2005)
46-okunen no koi (A Big Bang Love: Juvenile, Miike Takashi, 2006)
Dalkomhan insaeng (A Bittersweet Life, Kim Jee-woon, 2005)
Jjakpae (The City of Violence, Ryoo Seung-wan, 2006)
Dong (Jia Zhang-ke, 2006)
Yi nian zhi chu (Do Over, Cheng Yu-chieh, 2006)
Faceless Things (Kim Kyung-mook, 2005)
Geo-Lobotomy (Kim Gok and Kim Sun, 2006)
Mang Zhong (Grain in Ear, Zhang Lu, 2005)
Hana yori mo naho (Hana, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan, 2006)
Yamiutsu shinzo (Heart, Beating in the Dark, Shunichi Nagasaki, 1982 and 2005)
Hey Man (Ryoo Seung-wan, 2006)
Gue Mool (The Host, Bong Joon-ho, 2006)
Hei yan quan (I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, Tsai Ming-liang, 2006)
Jarhead (Sam Mendes, 2005)
Keane (Lodge Kerrigan, 2004)
Wang-ui namja (King and the Clown, Lee Jun-ik, 2005)
Linda Linda Linda (Yamashita Nobuhiro, 2005)
Dalkom, salbeorhan yeonin (My Scary Girl, Sohn Jae-Gon, 2006)
Yeui-eomneun geotdeul (No Mercy for the Rude, Park Chul-hee, 2006)
The Queen (Stephen Frears, 2006)
Tai yang yue (Rain Dogs, Ho Yu-hang, 2006)
Les Amants réguliers (Regular Lovers, Philippe Garrel, 2005)
Request (Kim Ki-hyun, 2006)
The Silent Holy Stones (Wanma-caidan, 2005)
Sanxia haoren (Still Life, Jia Zhangke, 2006)
Sang sattawat (Syndromes and a Century, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006)
Takeshis’ (Takeshi Kitano, 2005)
Bei ya zi de nan hai (Taking Father Home, Ying Liang, 2005)
Todo todo teros (John Torres, 2006)
Yongseobatji Motan ja (The Unforgiven, Yoon Jong-Bin, 2006)
Lai xiao zi (Walking on the Wildside, Han Jie, 2006)
The Weatherman (Gore Verbinski, 2005)
Haebyonui yoin (Woman on the Beach, Hong Sang-soo, 2006)
Workingman’s Death (Michael Glawogger, 2005)

Apichatpong Weerasethakul retrospective @ GoMA, Brisbane.
25th Vancouver International Film Festival: Tony Rayns’ final year.
Jia Zhang-ke winning Golden Lion.
Random Girl giving Bong Joon-ho flowers at VIFF screening of The Host and generally being mobbed like a rock-star.
Hu Ge’s Internet parody of Wu Ji (The Promise, Chen Kaige, 2005)

Lowlights

Brick (Rian Johnson, 2005)
Hao qi hai shi mao (Curiosity Kills The Cat, Zhang Yibai, 2006)
The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)
Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist (Paul Schrader, 2005)
Hak se wui (Election, Johnnie To, 2005)
Em 4 Jay (Alkinos Tsilimidos, 2006)
Hostel (Eli Roth, 2005)
Rofuto (Loft, Kurosawa Kiyoshi, 2005)
Lord of War (Andrew Niccol, 2005)
San wa (The Myth, Stanley Tong, 2005)
Wu ji (The Promise, Chen Kaige, 2005)
Rampo jigoku (Rampo Noir, Takeuchi Suguru, Jissoji Akio, Sato Hisayasu, Kaneko Atsushi, 2005)
Gwai wik (Re-Cycle, Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang, 2006)
Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (Zhang Yimou, 2005)
Chinjeolhan Geumjassi (Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, Park Chan Wook, 2005)

Ludicrous letter-to-the-editor by a certain Australian critic lambasting me for the “damage” I had inflicted on Lady Vengeance and Park Chan-wook, Asia’s “greatest and most underrated filmmaker” (his words, not mine). Funny though it might have been that he could write such a misguided letter, I included it in the ‘lowlights’ because it meant that someone actually thought Lady Vengeance mattered.

Crash (Paul Haggis, 2004) winning Best Picture Oscar.
Sitting through Brick in the cinema: a tedious, soul-crushing experience in surround sound.
Missing out on seeing Tian Zhuangzhuang’s Wu qingyuan (The Go Master, 2006)

Impending Thrills for the New Year

New films by Ying Liang and Zhang Lu.
The Host given a deluxe DVD treatment for the Korean market.

Lu Chuan’s Nanjing project.
Wang Xiaoshuai’s Zuo You (Left Right).

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Lesley Chow

An Australian fiction writer who writes on film for Bright Lights and Urban Cinefile, and on art for Art Interview.

FILMS

1. The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)

2. Il Caimano (The Crocodile, Nanni Moretti, 2006)
3. Les Amants réguliers (Regular Lovers, Philippe Garrel, 2005)
4. Solntse (The Sun, Aleksandr Sokurov, 2005)

5. Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)
6. Junebug (Phil Morrison, 2005)
7. Himalaya Singh (Wai Ka-Fai, 2005)
8. Wait ‘Til You’re Older (Teddy Chan, 2005)

9. Lucky Number Slevin (Paul McGuigan, 2006)
10. The Prestige (Christopher Nolan, 2006)

PERFORMANCES

Time to Leave

1. Melvil Poupaud, Le Temps qui reste (Time to Leave, François Ozon, 2005)
Most of all, this film is built around a stunning central performance from Poupaud as a man who makes others wait on his mercurial changes of expression. As Romain, he constantly shifts between arousal, detachment and hostile impatience. When asking a doctor whether he has AIDS, he seems less frightened than angry about succumbing to that cliché. Occasionally, his face resolves itself into the bright and amiable expression of a young boy; however, this light of intelligence can be deceptive. Poupaud shows us the tension and excitement that precede an evil act; his character has sly impulses of cruelty, not unlike Jean Seberg’s Cecile in Bonjour Tristesse (Otto Preminger, 1958). If, like Seberg’s character, Romain is a “mean little monster”, he’s a monster in its last throes. In its depiction of terminal illness, the film examines the decline of the beautiful boy: forced to watch his curls being cut off and his body withering in the sun.

2. Q’Oriana Kilcher, The New World

3. Emily Blunt, The Devil Wears Prada (David Frankel, 2006)
One of the best comic turns in years: Blunt makes every nuance of fashion talk compelling, with her beautiful, dramatic phrasing – you don’t expect to hear the word “Starbucks” pronounced with such fierce clarity. Blunt is as great a comedienne as Joan Greenwood, and maybe even better, since Greenwood had Ealing and Oscar Wilde, while Blunt has a corporate culture to redeem. She manages to convert the film’s world (ad layouts, Starbucks at a specific temperature) from a jumble of phrases into a consistent, articulate fantasy.

4. Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
5. Colin Farrell, The New World

6. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brick (Rian Johnson, 2005)
Like the early appearances of River Phoenix and Jonathan Jackson, this is one of those performances in which a young person seeming closed or open, carelessly seductive or responsive, or even just holding his own space for a few minutes, seems like a miracle of observation.

7. Cecilia Cheung, Wu ji (The Promise, Chen Kaige, 2005)
8. Christian Bale, The Prestige

9. Maggie Q, Mission: Impossible III (J. J. Abrams, 2006)
Ever since The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941), I’ve loved scenes where women use their compacts as rear-view mirrors – vanity as a pretext for intelligence – and Q has a terrific one here.

10. Andy Lau, Wait ‘Til You’re Older (Teddy Chan, 2005)

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Stephen Cone

26, makes film, theatre and a day-job boss happy in Chicago, IL.

1. The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)
The most exhilarating filmmaking of the year. Scorsese’s best since the early 1980s. A movie William Shakespeare would have been proud to make.

2. A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman, 2006)
A strong contender for Movie I Want to Watch the Day I Die.

3. Marie Antoinette (Sofia Coppola, 2006)
Coppola follows two superficial movies with a movie about the superficial that is profoundly meaningful. It seems to me, finally, to be painfully, beautifully, about our obliviousness to our impermanence.

4. Les Temps qui changent (Changing Times, André Téchiné, 2004)
Truly alive. The year’s greatest final moment.

5. Four Eyed Monsters (Arin Crumley and Susan Buice, 2006)
The future of cinema begins?

6. L’Enfant (The Child, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2005 )
The Dardenne brothers continue to justify the verite style. The year’s second greatest final moment.

7. Zui hao de shi guang (Three Times, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2005)
Three movies, all good, with one mini-masterpiece in the bunch.

8. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)
I just saw this last night and can’t think of a damn thing to write about it except that it, oddly, felt both unusually slight and masterful at the same time.

9. Mutual Appreciation (Andrew Bujalski, 2005)
As far from John Cassavetes as you can get, but worthy of Richard Linklater and, maybe one day, Eric Rohmer.

10. United 93 (Paul Greengrass, 2006)
I am unable to articulate my discomfort with how good an action film this is, but that’s almost beside the point. As an austere, gut-churning re-enactment, it almost feels like art (or it feels like almost art).

Any of these could have been number 10: Clean (Olivier Assayas, 2004), Miami Vice (Michael Mann, 2006), Gabrielle (Patrice Chéreau, 2005), Friends With Money (Nicole Holofcener, 2006), For Your Consideration (Christopher Guest, 2006), Happy Feet (George Miller, 2006).

Haven’t Yet Seen

El Laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro, 2006), Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, 2006), Fast Food Nation (Richard Linklater, 2006), Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006), Iklimler (Climates, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2006), The Black Dahlia (Brian De Palma, 2006), Moartea domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mister Lazarescu, Cristi Puiu, 2005), Half Nelson ( Ryan Fleck, 2006), The Queen (Stephen Frears, 2006).

Most Overrated
Brick (Rian Johnson, 2005), hated; and A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater, 2006), liked.

Most Underrated Cinematography
Antonio Calvache, Little Children (Todd Field, 2006)

Best Performances

Catherine O’Hara in For Your Consideration
Kirsten Dunst in Marie Antoinette
Gerard Depardieu in Les Temps qui changent
Kevin Kline in A Prairie Home Companion
Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin in A Prairie Home Companion
Sascha Baron Cohen in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Larry Charles, 2006)
Winona Ryder in A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater, 2006)
Nicholas Cage in World Trade Center (Oliver Stone, 2006)
The entire Friends With Money ensemble
The entire The Departed ensemble.

Bravest performance
Paul Giamatti in Lady in the Water ( M. Night Shyamalan, 2006 ).

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Jesús Cortés

Writes for El Unicornio, a Spanish magazine about cinema and culture, and for the Rotten Tomatoes website.

I am not lucky enough to live in a city (or country) where you can find or see whatever you want, so I only can mention a few new movies. It would be a lie if I included in my list Hou Hsiao-hsien, David Lynch, Clint Eastwood, Claire Devers, Tsai Ming-liang or Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s last features because I have not seen them.

Honor de cavallería

First of all I want to say that at least two Spanish movies deserve to be in the list of the best of the year: Isaki Lacuesta’s La Leyenda del tiempo (2006) and Albert Serra’s Honor de cavallería (Honor of the Knights, 2006), but I guess only Pedro Almodóvar’s Volver (2006) has been released in many countries (and that’s not bad, I mean).

I liked very much Jean Claude Brisseau’s Choses secretes (Secret Things, 2002) and Les Anges exterminateurs (2006); Aki Kaurismäki’s Laitakaupungin valot (Lights in the Dusk, 2006); Vincent Gallo’s The Brown Bunny (2003); Cherd Songsri’s last masterpiece, Kang lang phap (Behind the Painting, 2002), which is maybe the best “new” film I have seen this year; Hayao Miyazaki’s Hauru no ugoku shiro (Howl’s Moving Castle, 2004); Claire Denis’ L’Intrus (The Intruder, 2004); Im kwon-taek’s Chihwaeson (2002); Philippe Garrel’s Les Amants réguliers (Regular Lovers, 2005) and Ousmane Sembene’s Mooladé (2004).

I found very interesting, too, Nanni Moretti’s Il Caimano (2006), Claude Chabrol’s L’Ivresse du pouvoir (Comedy of Power, 2006), Li Yang’s Mang jing (2003) and Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Kôhî jikô (Café Lumière, 2003).

Talking about older movies, I’ve discovered this year masterworks like Humphrey Jennings’ Listen to Britain (1942); Maurice Tourneur’s Victory (1919) and The Last of the Mohicans (1920); Evgenii Bauer’s Revoliutsioner and Za schástiem (both 1917), Zhízn za zhízn (1916), Grezí (1915), Ditia bólshogo doroga or Nemye svideteli (both 1914); Sadao Yamanaka’s Ninjo kami fusen (Humanity and Paper Balloons, 1937), which is for me one of the four or five best Japanese movies ever; Louis Feuillade’s Les Vampires (1915) and Judex (1916); Maurice Pialat’s Nous ne viellirons pas ensemble (1971) and A Nos amours (1983); Mario Peixoto’s Limite (1929); Mauro Bolognini’s Per le antiche scale (1975); Luigi Comencini’s Tutti a casa (1961); Renato Castellani’s La Vita di Leonardo Da Vinci (television, 1972); G. W. Pabst’s Die liebe der Jeanne Ney (The Love of Jeanne Ney, 1927) and Das tagebuch einer verlorenen (Diary of a Lost Girl, 1929); Boris Barnet’s Devushka s korobkoy (1927) and Ou samovo sinevo moria (1935); Budd Boetticher’s Seven Men from Now (1956); Dimitri Kirsanoff’s Menilmontant (1926); Frank Borzage’s Mannequin (1937) and Lazybones (1925); Jean Epstein’s La Chute de la maison Usher (1928) and Coeur fidèle (1923); Henry King’s Tol’able David (1921) and The Sun Also Rises (1957); Jean Luc Godard’s Lettre à Freddy Buache (1981); Michael Curtiz’ Life with Father (1947); Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s A Canterbury Tale (1944) and I Know Where I’m Going (1945); Raúl Ruiz’s L’Hypothese du tableau volé (The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting, 1978); Robert Bresson’s Lancelot du lac (1974) and Une Femme douce (1969); Roy William Neill’s The Scarlet Claw (1946); Philippe Garrel’s La Naissance de l’amour (1993); and Tod Browning’s The Black Bird (1926).

Also, I have seen for the first time very good movies, such as Chantal Akerman’s Je, tu, il, elle (1974), Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) and Les Rendez-vous d’Anna (1978); Alberto Cavalcanti’s Rien que les heures (1926); André De Toth’s Crime Wave (1954); Maurice Tourneur’s The Blue Bird (1918); Gregory La Cava’s The Age of Consent (1932); Cecil B. DeMille’s The Cheat (1915); Abbas Kiarostami’s Nan va kuche (Bread and Alley, 1970); Germaine Dulac’s La Souriante Madame Beudet (1922); Edgar G. Ulmer’s The Strange Woman (1946), The Naked Dawn and Murder is My Beat (both 1955); Mario Bava’s Il Rosso segno della follia (1970); Gonzalo Suárez’s Ditirambo (1969); Giuseppe de Santis’ Caccia tragica (1947); Albert Lewin The Private Affairs of Bel Ami (1947); Luciano Emmer’s La Ragazza in vetrina (1960); Luis Alcoriza’s Tlayucan (1961); Peter Watkins’ The War Game (1965); Victor Sjöstrom’s Klostret i sendomir (1915); and Delmer Daves’ Spencer’s Mountain (1963).

Finally, I revisited and confirmed my appreciation of great films like Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinema (1987-1998); Don Siegel’s Madigan (1968); Gordon Douglas’ Rio Conchos (1964); Stanley Donen’s The Grass is Greener (1960); Delmer Daves’ The Last Wagon (1958); Jacques Tati’s Playtime (1967); Maurice Pialat’s Police (1985); and Sous le soleil de Satan (Under Satan’s sun, 1987) and Sam Peckinpah’s Junior Bonner (1971).

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Daniel Mudie Cunningham

An independent writer and curator based in Sydney and the Blue Mountains. His website is http://www.danielmcunningham.com.

A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman, 2006)
Jindabyne (Ray Lawrence, 2006)
Ten Canoes (Rolf de Heer, 2006)
Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis (Mary Jordan, 2006)
C.R.A.Z.Y. (Jean-Marc Vallée, 2005)
An Inconvenient Truth (Davis Guggenheim, 2006)
Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, 2006)
The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach, 2005)
Fast Food Nation (Richard Linklater, 2006)
The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)

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Adrian Danks

Senior Lecturer and Head of Cinema Studies in the School of Applied Communication, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (University). He is co-curator of the Melbourne Cinémathèque, and editor of Cteq: Annotations on Film, published in Senses of Cinema.

Best ’new’ films screening somewhere in Australia (in order of preference):

1. Un Lever de rideau (A Curtain Raiser, François Ozon, 2006)
2. Zui hao de shi guang (Three Times, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2005)
3. Die Grobe Stille (Into Great Silence, Philip Gröning, 2005)
4. À Travers la forêt (Through the Forest, Jean-Paul Civeyrac, 2005)
5. The Pervert’s Guide to the Cinema (Sophie Fiennes, 2006)
6. Ten Canoes (Rolf de Heer, 2006)
7. The Wild Blue Yonder (Werner Herzog, 2005)
8. A Map with Gaps (Alice Nelson, 2006)
9. Ballets Russes (Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine, 2005)
10. Gabrielle (Patrice Chéreau, 2005)

Bubbling under

The Archive Project (John Hughes, 2006), Capote (Bennett Miller, 2005), You’re Gonna Miss Me (Keven McAlester, 2005), Offside (Jafar Panahi, 2006), An Inconvenient Truth (Davis Guggenheim, 2006), Vendredi ou an autre jour (Friday or Another Day, Yvan le Moine, 2005), Zemastan (It’s Winter, Rafi Pitts, 2006), La Moustache (Emmanuel Carrère, 2005)

10 Worst ’new’ films of the year

1. Scared Sacred (Velcrow Ripper, 2004)
2. The Book of Revelation (Ana Kokkinos, 2006)
3. Mary (Abel Ferrara, 2005)
4. Be with Me (Eric Khoo, 2005)
5. Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, 2006)
6. Kanyini (Melanie Hogan, 2006)
7. Beed-e majnoon (The Willow Tree, Majid Majidi, 2005)
8. This Film is Not Yet Rated (Kirby Dick, 2006)
9. Flandres (Flanders, Bruno Dumont, 2006)
10. Don’t Come Knocking (Wim Wenders, 2005)

Overrated and Major Disappointments

The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006), Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch, 2005), A Cock and Bull Story (Michael Winterbottom, 2005), A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005), Cars (John Lassiter, 2006), Iraq in Fragments (James Longley, 2006), Jindabyne (Ray Lawrence, 2006), The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach, 2006), Volver (Pedro Almodóvar, 2006), The Queen (Stephen Frears, 2006), United 93 (Paul Greengrass, 2006), Hunt Angels (Alec Morgan, 2006), Il Caimano (The Caiman, Nanni Moretti, 2006), Match Point (Woody Allen, 2005), Miami Vice (Michael Mann, 2006), The Black Dahlia (Brian De Palma), The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005) – despite some remarkable passages and images – and Robert Altman’s wildly uneven, indulgent, retrospectively apt, intermittently enjoyable A Prairie Home Companion (2006)

Retrospective Highlights

The overwhelming highlight of the year was the Jean-Pierre Melville retrospective at the Sydney Film Festival and the Melbourne Cinémathèque. Although I need to confess that I co-curated this season, the experience of seeing L’Armée des ombres (Army of Shadows, 1969) for the first time on 35mm confirmed it as one of the greatest of all films – a view that others now seem to be coming around to as well.

Screenings of El Sur (Victor Erice, 1983), Un Condamné à mort s’est échappé ou le vent souffle où il veut (A Man Escaped, Robert Bresson, 1956), Macbeth (Orson Welles, 1948) and the Max Ophüls season at the Melbourne Cinémathèque; Victim (Basil Dearden, 1961), Sabotage (Alfred Hitchcock, 1936) and Black Narcissus (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1947) at ACMI (which despite some highlights was generally somewhat incoherent and underwhelming in its programming); L’Eclisse (1962) and the early shorts in the Michelangelo Antonioni retrospective (a general highlight); Senso (1954) in the Luchino Visconti retrospective; They Died with Their Boots On (Raoul Walsh, 1941), Le Pays des sourds (In the Land of the Deaf, Nicolas Philibert, 1992), Star Spangled to Death (Ken Jacobs, 2004) and Humoresque (Jean Negulesco, 1946) on DVD.

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Brian Darr

Referees the battle between his film blog and the rest of his life.

A Prairie Home Companion

For my contribution to this year’s world poll, I consider first the films (among those which found their first San Francisco screening in 2006) that I felt most privileged to view, that I most would like to see again or to share and discuss with other cinéphiles.

The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)
Les Amants réguliers (Regular Lovers, Philippe Garrel, 2005)
Histoire de Marie et Julien (The Story of Marie and Julien, Jacques Rivette, 2003)
Linda Linda Linda (Yamashita Nobuhiro, 2005)
Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine (Peter Tscherkassky, 2005)
A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman, 2006)
Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, 2006)
La Science des rêves (Michel Gondry, 2006)
La Moustache (Emmanuel Carrère, 2005)
Tian bian yi duo yun (The Wayward Cloud, Tsai Ming-liang, 2005)

And then the “honourable mentions”: the ones I liked very much, but that, in the list-making game, fell slightly short of the above titles.

Caché (Hidden, Michael Haneke, 2005), Half Nelson (Ryan Fleck, 2006), Iraq in Fragments (James Longley, 2006), Jonestown: the Life and Death of People’s Temple (Stanley Nelson, 2006), Mang Zhong (Grain in Ear, Zhang Lu, 2005), Moartea domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mister Lazarescu, Cristi Puiu, 2005), Phantom Canyon (Stacey Steers, 2006), The Puffy Chair (Jay Duplass, 2005), A Short Film About the Indio Nacional (or the Prolonged Sorrow of Filipinos) (Raya Martin, 2006), Wide Awake (Alan Berliner, 2006).

A few terrific films that I can’t figure out if I’m tending to overvalue because of a familiarity with the director’s previous work, or undervalue because I felt they didn’t quite measure up to said work:

Les Artistes du Théâtre Brûlé (The Burnt Theatre, Rithy Panh, 2005), The Black Dahlia (Brian De Palma, 2006), Kôhî jikô (Café Lumière, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2003), L’Enfant (The Child, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2005), How to Pray (Bill Morrison, 2006), Mah nakorn (Citizen Dog, Wisit Sasanatieng, 2004), Sílení (Lunacy, Jan Svankmajer, 2005), Solntse (The Sun, Aleksandr Sokurov, 2005), The Wild Blue Yonder (Werner Herzog, 2005), Zui hao de shi guang (Three Times, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2005)

The most enjoyable yet disposable Hollywood entertainments seen this year
The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006) and Dreamgirls (Bill Condon, 2006)

Not so enjoyable, but definitely not disposable
For Your Consideration (Christopher Guest, 2006) and Lady in the Water (M. Night Shyamalan, 2006)

My favourite music video
The Subway Home (David Enos and Paul Stepahin, 2006)

I also must mention an untitled video installation made by Patrick Kack-Brice, Ben Sherwyn, Jason Sussberg and Travis Steil for a performance event called “Growing Social” at San Francisco’s CELLspace. Dueling projectors aimed at opposite walls created a tennis match between a diverse rotation of enthusiastic participants dislocated in space and time. This installation was the subject of a documentary I have yet to see, Love-Love (Patrick Kack-Brice, 2006). Something to look forward to in 2007, hopefully.

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Dustin Dasig

A training director and film reviewer for three Philippine-based magazines.

My busy career as a training director and part-time film reviewer prevented me from breaking 2005’s film viewing record of 217 movies. While I contemplate the future state of my film viewing habit, I should say that out of the 138 films that I have seen (as of today, 17 December 2006), 30 of them are highly recommended.

In my annual best movies list, there is a slot that is reserved for classic cinema (films that were released in the past eight decades). Though I have only seen six of them this year, three ended up in the top 10.

Here are the movies I have seen in 2006 that jived with my critical appreciation of film:

Sib (The Apple, Samira Makhmalbaf, 1998)
The daughter of Iranian cinema greats Mohsen and Marzieh Meskhini (The Day I Became a Woman, 2000) has crafted an intriguing yet profound satire on Iranian society.

Moartea domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mister Lazarescu, Cristi Puiu, 2005)
Puiu’s second directorial feature is a thought-provoking character study and message movie. It showed that Romanian cinema is alive despite being unknown in the festival circuit.

Sunset Blvd. (Billy Wilder, 1950)
2006’s best classic film is an outstanding exercise in scriptwriting, acting and directing, which deserved its status as a Hollywood classic.

Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)
The first openly homosexual romantic drama I have seen that struck me most.

Bu san (Goodbye, Dragon Inn, Tsai Ming-liang, 2003)
Tsai’s ode to movie going echoed my previous forays in watching movies.

Fanny och Alexander (Fanny and Alexander, Ingmar Bergman, 1982)
Bergman’s personal evocation of his childhood echoed some reverberations of my own parental upbringing.

Caché (Hidden, Michael Haneke, 2005)
Haneke’s mindbending and mysterious psychological thriller sustains its narrative and thematic urgency long after watching it.

Lakposhtha hâm parvaz mikonand (Turtles Can Fly, Bahman Ghobadi, 2004)
The second Iranian film in my Top 10 list is a stunning parable of war and its impact on children.

Lásky jedné plavovlásky (Loves of A Blonde, Milos Forman, 1965)
Forman’s intelligent pro-feminist film deserved to be a Czech New Wave and world cinema classic.

Zui hao de shi guang (Three Times, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2005)
The second Taiwanese film in my ten best of 2006 is an anti-feel-good romantic movie.

The following titles also deserve to be recognized in an otherwise limited year for film viewing:

Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (Aguirre, The Wrath of God, Werner Herzog, 1972)
Aideista parhain (Mother of Mine, Klaus Haro, 2005)
Djomeh (Hassan Yektapanah, 2000)
Hak se wui yi wo wai kwai (Election 2, Johnnie Tong, 2006)
He liu (The River, Tsai Ming-liang, 1997)
Palais royal! (Valerie Lemercier, 2005)
The Queen (Stephen Frears, 2006)
Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977)
13 (Tzameti) (Géla Babluani, 2005)
You’re the One (una historia de entonces) (José Luis Garci, 2000)

The following significant festival entries or award-winning films of 2005 and 2006 that I have to watch before the end of the year are:

The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)
Haebyonui yoin (Woman on the Beach, Hong Sang-soo, 2006)
Little Children (Todd Field, 2006)
Shi gan (Time, Kim Ki-duk, 2006)
U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha (Mark Dornford-May, 2005)

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Brian Dauth

An essayist and playwright living in Brooklyn, New York.

Flags of Our Fathers

The following films were seen between 1 January 2006 and 31 December 2006 in New York City during their commercial runs (which for some of these films amounted to a shamefully brief period of time). They are the ten (or 11, depending on how you regard Eastwood’s latest work) films that gave me the greatest pleasure in terms of both form and content. For me, each film represents a triumph of mise en scène (defined as broadly as possible) over empty stylistic flourishes that seem to be in greater ascendancy every year (NB: I probably said something similar to this when I composed by first year-end list as a teenager.)

Each film engaged me as only movies can. Original screenplay or adaptation, genre piece or a work defying classification, these films and their unique and deep pleasures could exist in no other medium. The films are listed alphabetically:

A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman, 2006)
Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)
Find Me Guilty (Sidney Lumet, 2006)
Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood, 2006)
Iklimler (Climates, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2006)
L’Enfant (The Child, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2005)
Manderlay (Lars von Trier, 2005)
Tian bian yi duo yun (The Wayward Cloud, Tsai Ming-liang, 2005)
Volver (Pedro Almodóvar, 2006)
Unser taglich Brot (Our Daily Bread, Nikolaus Geyrhalter, 2006)

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John Demetry

Revolution to Revelation.

Ten Best Movies of 2006

1. The Good Shepherd (Robert De Niro, 2006)
2. El cielo dividido (Broken Sky, Julian Hernandez, 2006)
3. Infamous (Douglas McGrath, 2006)
4. Wu ji (The Promise, Chen Kaige, 2005)
5. World Trade Center (Oliver Stone, 2006)
6. Running Scared (Wayne Kramer, 2006)
7. A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman, 2006)
8. Akeelah and the Bee (Doug Atchison, 2006)
9. Les Temps qui changent (Changing Times, André Téchiné, 2004)
10. Neil Young: Heart of Gold (Jonathan Demme, 2006)

Runners-up (preferential):

We Are Marshall (McG, 2006), Bobby (Emilio Estevez, 2006), The Black Dahlia (Brian De Palma, 2006), Monster House (Gil Kenan, 2006), Nacho Libre (Jared Hess, 2006), London (Hunter Richards, 2005), Le Temps qui reste (Time to Leave, François Ozon, 2006), Crank (Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, 2006), Gabrielle (Patrice Chéreau, 2005), Beowulf & Grendel (Sturla Gunnarsson, 2005), Final Destination 3 (James Wong, 2006)

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