Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My Top Movies & TV Shows of 2006

This year there weren't too many really great movies that WOWed the socks off me. I do my best to try and see as many movies as I can in the theater because I am notoriously bad at renting videos/DVDs. When I was going back thru the year trying to figure out which movies really stuck out in my mind I kept thinking back on all the really horrible or disappointing movies that came out this year (like Basic Instinct 2, Lady in the Water and Superman Returns to name a few). But there were 10 stand-out films that I really enjoyed this year ... and here they are:

My 10th fave movie of the year is Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan:

When I first saw the trailer for this movie I thought, "Oh yeah, I'm gonna hate that movie." When I saw it again I kinda chuckled to myself and tried to ignore it. The third time I saw the trailer, I laughed out loud and figured it prolly wouldn't be that bad of a movie. Truth be told, I had an amazing time watching this movie. I can't think of another film that I've ever seen that had me laughing consistently thruout the duration of the film. Sure, it's dumb humor but so are gossip blogs and so ... there you go.

Coming in at #9 is Shortbus:

Director John Cameron Mitchell has a flair for the dramatic but an excellent head for crafting interesting stories and interesting characters that you can't help but come to love. This movie was way more graphic and way more sexual than I had anticipated but that wasn't even the point or the movie's draw. Honestly, I didn't even really focus on the graphic nudity much ... I was too bizzy caring about what was going on with the characters.

The #8 position belongs to the Russian Sci-Fi/Horror/??? movie Night Watch: Nochnoi Dozor:

I try and see as many art house films as I can because they make me feel like I'm smarter than the average movie go-er and 8 times out of the 10 I really enjoy them. This Russian movie looked interesting so I thought, "What the hell." It was truly a feast for the eyes. I still don't know exactly what the whole thing was about (even tho the movie was shown in its entirety all over again in high-speed as the credits rolled at the end) but I do know that I loved watching the images on the subtitled screen. Apparently this movie was released in Russia in 2004 so we Americans are a little slow on the uptake ... it is the first in a trilogy of films so I am very much looking forward to being further confused with the next 2 films.

#7 goes to Marie Antoinette:

If Night Watch was a feast for the eyes then Marie Antoinette was a dessert for the eyes. Sofia Coppola overindulges once again with this visually beautiful (if somewhat hollow) movie of the adult life of Queen Marie Antoinette. David and I got to see this movie in Paris, France before the movie opened in the US so it was extra special for me. I am a fan of Sofia Coppola's work ... I truly enjoyed this movie about as much as I enjoyed Lost in Translation ... and the soundtrack kicks ass!

My #6 favorite movie of the year is Hard Candy:

This movie was marketed perfectly ... you go in expecting one thing and something completely different, completely out of left field happens instead. I spent much of the movie gap-jawed and squirming in my seat. Ellen Page's performance was superb, I was completely blown away. The movie was very believable ... which made it all the more upsetting.

The #5 spot goes to Hostel:

While the Saw franchise can be credited with bringing back the blood and guts of gory horror films, Hostel takes that phenomenon a bit further. In Saw you kind of feel sorry for the victims ... in Hostel you kinda loathe the victims and then don't really feel sorry for them when they get their due (at least for me). There are some gross things that happen in this movie -- which is apparently just what I like to see.

In the #4 slot I chose Little Miss Sunshine:

It's all about the little girl in this movie. Abigail Breslin was amazing. This movie was both funny and poignant all at the same time. As dysfunctional as that family was, they really loved one another and isn't that pretty much what every family is like?

My third fave movie of the year is The Devil Wears Prada:

This is one of those rare instances where the movie is better than the book. The whole thing was just so well done, Meryl Streep just nailed that Anna Wintour-like character and I actually didn't hate Anne Hathaway. There are some movies that make you stop hating an actor or actress (Requiem for a Dream undid the hate I harbored for Jennifer Connelly ever since she starred in The Rocketeer) and this movie actually made me start liking Anne Hathaway. Even tho it's the typical "coming into your own" story chock full of morality at the end, I still bought it hook, line and sinker.

My #2 movie of the year is The Descent:

This is by far the best suspense/horror film of the year for me. This movie was so well done because it wasn't overdone. The scariness just creeps up on you and then all of the sudden you realize, "Oh shit ... I'm really scared." and then it's too late. Just the cave scenes were enough to freak me out ... once the creatures got introduced ... well ... I was a goner. I loved every single second of this movie ... even if they had to sanitize the ending for the American audience to make for a more hopeful ending. I've still yet to see the original ending from this British film -- I'm not even sure I want to.

And my favorite movie of the WHOLE year is Dreamgirls:

Even tho this movie only came out 3 days ago, it still ranks as my #1 movie of the year. I was very fortunate enough to get to see the movie last month and was just stunned by how much I enjoyed it. Director Bill Condon knows his way around a movie musical and Jennifer Hudson just KILLS the role of Effie. When she opens her mouth and that voice just comes booming out you get chills -- I got chills for reals. I predict that this movie will do very well come Awards Season and I'm sure that Jennifer Hudson will be going home with a few trophies over the coming months. I loved everything about this movie ... plus it's set in Detroit ... c'mon ... what more could you ask for?

The Top TV Shows of 2006:
  1. 24: Bar none, this was the best show of the year. The bumbling President who turned out to be the evil mastermind ... the loss of Edgar Stiles and Tony Almeida ... Chloe O'Brien gettin' ass from 2 guys in the same season (her boyfriend and then her ex-husband) ... this season had it all. I just love 24 more than any other show out there -- it's my new Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  2. Heroes: Finally, someone took the fancy of comic book heroes and applied it to everyday people. Not only are the heroes and their superpowers cool but the storyline is very rich and engaging and each episode promises a surprise ending. This is the best new show of the year and looks to continue its run into the new year.
  3. Prison Break: Many people, me included, were worried that once the prisoners broke out of prison that the show would lose its appeal but that turned out not to be the case. The story arc just got wider and more complicated and it's not even over yet. I contend that, so far, this season is better than the first ... tho we still have to see how it ends. All I know is that I'll be watching no matter how long the hiatus is.
  4. Project Runway: The best competitive reality show on TV, hands down. This year we got to watch 2 seasons of Project Runway and I just loved them both. This show has a great formula for keeping the audience coming back for more ... due in large part to the interesting challenges they keep coming up with. The contestants are interesting too but this show can just keep going for as long as they keep coming up with great challenges -- they will never run out of interesting contestants.
  5. Nip/Tuck: After taking a break from watching Nip/Tuck for a couple of seasons I got hooked again this season and made sure to be home every Tuesday night to catch a new episode. Scientology, little people and lobster claw baby hands ... yeah, there was a lot going on this season. The organ harvesting aspect was just the craziest thing. I don't know how this show makes the ridiculous sort of believable but they got me watching. I loved every outlandish minute.
  6. The Nine: Okay, so I know this show is already cancelled but I was really liking it. I loved the idea that the audience would only get tiny bits of new info in each episode of what really happened to the nine hostages. I think the problem was that they weren't giving enough of that info. Much like the failed Fox series Reunion (last year), I fell for this show and am now left holding the bag not knowing how the whole story ends up.
  7. Ugly Betty: Everybody loves this show ... and I like it. It's cute, it's predictable and Eric Mabius has his shirt off in almost every episode. I'll keep watching.
  8. Survivor - Cook Islands: Okay, I'm not weird for liking Survivor ... a lot of people like Survivor. Something about this season just grabbed me ... I liked that the smaller tribe ended up destroying the larger tribe and the nicest, smartest guy on the island walked away with a million bucks.
  9. Mile High/Kath & Kim: These two shows are not new but I loved watching them nonetheless. Mile High is a British sitcom that airs in repeats on BBC America and Kath & Kim is an Australian sitcom that airs on the Sundance Channel. I DVR every episode and make time each week to watch them both. Truth be told, both of these shows keep me more entertained than Lost did this season. They are both outrageously funny and make me wonder what other British and Aussie delights I might be missing here in the States.
  10. All of the various MTV Real World/Road Rules Challenges/Flavor Of Love: Yep, I'm still a sucker for MTV/VH1 programming. This year we got to watch The Gauntlet 2 and The Duel on MTV and 2 seasons of Flavor of Love on VH1. All the drama, all the bitching, all the fighting ... and even the gross poopy-ness on Flavor of Love all conspire to make for fun TV watching. What? I can't be reading all the time.