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As we enter a new cinematic year it feels like the time to look back at the year just passed, so here are my top ten films of 2006.
 10. Walk The Line  I was never a massive fan of the Man In Black until I heard his cover of Hurt which I thought was amazing, and soon got into his American Recording albums.  I looked forward to this film and was right, terrific performances from Phoenix and Witherspoon and great music to boot, it wasn’t just ‘Ray with white folks’ as Chris Rock described it. The guy had an interesting life and this movie showed it.  Favourite Scene: The Folsom Prison gig.

9. United 93 

It was a brave man who would make a film about September 11th, and Paul Greengrass was the first and it turned out the best. By placing the film in real time and using some of the real people at air traffic control helped make this a gripping and shocking film. Some people said it was ‘Too Soon’ but I feel that by being respectful and not making a bravado story but showing the passengers as real people made the impact stronger and will be remembered for years to come.  Favourite Scene: The passengers fight back.

8. Cars 

For some reason film critics really ripped into this film and I really can’t understand why. Okay it’s Doc Hollywood with cars but as with all the previous Pixars films it looked amazing with a witty script and great characters. I think a lot of the negatives were just people looking to knock Pixar because they have been the biggest success story in Hollywood for the last decade. I think in Mater they have created one of their funniest characters in a while.  Favourite Scene: The tractor tipping.

7. Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby

To say I was looking forward to this film was an understatement, the Anchorman director working again with one of my favourite actors of the last few years, Will Ferrell. Although Nascar is a bit of an unknown in this country it worked as a background for another tour de force of improv.  John C. Reilly showed his comedic skills and in his second great perfomance of the year Sacha Baron Cohen almost steals the film as the French Formula 1 driver coming to threaten Ricky Bobby’s dominance. Favourite Scene: I’m on Fire!!

6. Borat

Jagshemesh. Who would have thought at the start of the year that a side character from a british comedy series woud be the biggest comedy film of the year. Well Sacha Baron Cohen pulled it off, and managed to offend everyone, whilst making us choke on our popcorn, what is even more amazing is that a film that uses the Americans as comedy pawns was embraced by the USA in a big way.  Favourite Scene: Naked Wrestling.

5. Casino Royale

Who would have thought looking back that there was such a controversy about Daniel Craig as Bond. I always thought he was the perfect choice, Bond is supposed to be ex military and hard as nails, and Casino Royale showed this. This was one of the first Bonds’ that was like Ian Flemings original character, but brought up to date. It had all the ingredients we expect form a Bond film with great chases, action sequences and of course Beautiful Ladies. Like he did with Goldeneye, Martin Campbell has given the fracnhise a shot in the arm and I think a lot of people are now looking forward to the next one. Favourite Scene: The Car Crash.

4. Clerks II

Its not very often that I find myself disagreeing with Johnathan Ross, but with this film we are definitely at different opinions. He hated this film with a vengeance, whereas I loved it. I am a huge Kevin Smith fan, hey I even liked Jersey Girl, but it’s his foul language and questionable taste films I like the most, Mallrats is my favourite. One US critic described this film best when he said “It has a dirty mouth and warm heart”. Unlike anything he’s done before this film showed some real emotion as you can see when Randall realising he’s about to lose his best friend. Favourite Scene: Jay’s Silence Of The Lambs tribute!

3. Stranger Than Fiction 

As mentioned earlier I have become a big fan of Will Ferrell in the last few years with his great comedic performances, but this one was something else. As Harold Crick the man having his life narrated to him  by author Emma Thompson who informs him of his imminent death, he showed a whole new side to his acting. The scenes where he is arguing with the voice are classic Ferrell, but when he is dealing with the events in his life he showed a great dramtic edge and tenderness in his scenes with Maggie Gyllenhall.  Dustin Hoffman also gives a brilliant perfomance, almost stealing the film. This was a real gem of a film. Favourite Scene: The bus flirtation.

2. The Prestige 

It’s great when you go to see a film and don’t know a huge amount about it, this was the deal with The Prestige. I knew it was about rival magicians in the late nineteenth century but that was it, well it’s a whole lot more. This is a movie that plays out like the magic tricks it shows, it uses cinematic sleight of mind to pull you one way before revealing that all isn’t all it seems. Following up Batman Begins, Chrstopher Nolan has produced another classic which will hopefully gain a bigger audience this year on DVD, as it is a film that deserves to be seen, and improves with repeated watches. Favourite Scene: The Prestige it self, the grand finale.

1. Superman Returns 

So here we are, my favourite film of the year. If you have been reading my blog you will know how much I was looking forward to this and how much i love the original Richard Donner film. I think you’re opinion of this film will depend on how much you liked Christopher Reeves films, as in Returns, Bryan Singer has made a film that is a homage to the these films. It was critised due to the lack of action, but watching it again on DVD you realise it has quite a bit of action in it. It also has a real emotional side, as Clark realises how much everything has changed since he’s been away, and the final scene with the kid is very touching. A lot of the success of the film rode on the broad shoudlers of Brandon Routh as the man of Steel and he did a great job, paying tribute to Reeve but also making the charcter his own. As uber villian Lex Luthor, Kevin Spacey brought a real menace to the charcter showing a real dark side we haven’t seen before. Favourite Scene: Shuttle Rescue.

Well there you have it, my favourite films of last year, you’ll might agree with some and disagree with others, let me know what you think. So lets look forward to what 2007 has in store.    

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