10. Good Night and Good Luck: An intelligent, stylish movie, George Clooney’s work treats the audience with respect and is a powerful affirmation of the important role of journalism. For almost its entire running time the movie never leaves an enclosed TV studio, yet the story is multi-layered, the group of characters feeling reverberations from the national political climate, impacting on their professional and personal lives.
9. Children of Men: A raw foreboding movie, which is merciless in portraying a story of humans having abandoned all hope. In the midst of seeming self-destruction a new born child struggles to survive, the odds stacked against her yet she brings with her birth the solution to every fear driven power struggle going on around her. The violence and tension halt for only a minute and the outcome is as unsettling as the novel premise and its execution.
8. Munich: Having watched this movie last February I thought I had seen the movie of the year, don’t let its placing undermine how this movie masterfully gels the tenets of a thriller, an emotional drama and a politically sensitive tragedy. Revisit this film, (the Amsterdam set assassination is a standout) it’s genuinely gripping, Spielberg never compromises on story, delivering a well-constructed movie and an ode to the victims.
7. United 93: Looking through the list it’s largely demanding viewing. United 93 though trumps all these movies for instilling sheer fear and nerve in the audience. Empire Magazines Movie of the Year it is a resoundly powerful movie. Using a cast of unknowns, the film shells the story of 9/11 to a claustrophobic, harrowing core.
6. Junebug: I have described in Part 2 a scene from ‘Junebug’ as one of the most effective of the year, it leaves the audience frustrated as to how close Amy Adams is to having her doubts quashed as to her boyfriends feelings for her. Not since ‘Secrets and Lies’ have I seen a more earnest, exposed movie with such scenes saying more in 2 minutes than pages of dialogue in other dramas. The characters are identifiable not because they are stock movie characters but because they are resoundly real and so too the story offers no easy answers and stays with you long after you leave the cinema. Such movies serve more as an insight into others lives and you don’t feel like you are watching people act.
5. The Science of Sleep: Every romantic comedy has dirt kicked in its face by this movie; finding genuine love involves letting someone into your world and finding they can live there easily and in attempting to put this struggle in story form Michael Gondry has delivered a visual treat, full of evolved characters, familiar and obscure humour and effortless performances. Other than being an informative reviewer it never occurred to me that it might be an issue this is a foreign language movie (shot partly in French), there are no limitations on how much you can enjoy this movie.
4. Superman Returns: Why should one of the string of blockbusters perceived as being unsuccessful at the box office this year be placed so high. 'Superman Returns' distinguishes itself from the others by being more artful, visually arresting and respectful than any other mainstream film this year. The most mature comic book adaptation ever made, it flips comfortably from seamless action sequences to sombre brooding. Its themes at times mean the film teeters on the fringe of melancholy, but always the film serves to reaffirm the iconography of Superman going to far as to even create allegories with Christ. Brave enough not to attempt a revisioning, Bryan Singer steeps the movie in reference and homage to the Christopher Reeve films and equally creates an innovative film, fully realising Superman’s potential and weaknesses, lifting Superman Returns out of ever merely being listed as a comic book adaptation.
3. The Departed: So rarely do you find a perfect movie, The Departed though encroached on flawless territory for the bulk of its running time. The movie encompasses a truly mature turn from DiCaprio, scenery munching from Jack Nicholson, the least stylised but best looking of Scorceses recent work, a riveting story- intrigue, cat and mouse chases and an unhealthy dash of violence. Its fuse burns out towards the end but not to the effect that it will not be included in any top 5 of the year’s best movies.
2. Pan's Labyrinth: A late and unexpected arrival on my cinema conscience, this movie is outstanding. The expectation is that the film will be the story of an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ type escape from her difficult new life, however the bulk of screen time is actually devoted to the upheaval in the young girls real life as it slowly descends into suffering. The fantasy scenes are only sporadic inserts but importantly they never serve as a release from the girl’s worries. Both worlds are full of danger and terrifying ordeals and images. Equal parts tragedy and thriller, it is at its heart a real world fairytale, only the girl at the story’s centre finding any solace through an escape that is all but fleeting. Beautiful and heartful.
A very nice selection -- Pan's Labyrinth and United 93 were my favourites this year, but Little Miss Sunshine would probably figure pretty highly too. Have I missed the Science of Sleep? I don't remember it coming out at all.
I do know Science of Sleep was a 2006 cinema release but I saw it as part of a festival while I was abroad. I had read reviews of it in the Irish press before June though so I would say the best place to look for it now will probably be DVD.
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