Ty Burr's top 10 best films of 2006
Wesley, my brother, I feel your pain. Top 10 lists are a diversion in a movie year that addressed such hard topics and so well. 9/11 was re-created in two multiplex dramas, documentaries fanned out across all aspects of the war in Iraq, and eco-catastrophe was the subject of the third-highest-grossing nonfiction film in history and two of the year's most successful CGI family films.
It was a year of ambitious looks at society's ills, from "V for Vendetta" to "Babel" to "Children of Men." Dysfunctional families were played for the uneasy comedy of "Little Miss Sunshine" and the tragedy of "Little Children." Hollywood entertainments, meanwhile, generally failed us. "The Da Vinci Code" was a pale photocopy of the book and the year's top-grossing movie, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," was a cynical shell kept afloat by hype and gullibility. "The Illusionist," by contrast, told an old-fashioned tale with old-fashioned craft and shocked everyone by becoming a hit.
Some movies grappled more obliquely with current anxieties. Torture porn like "The Hills Have Eyes" and "Saw III" were the cinematic equivalent of adolescent cutting, prompted by the need to feel something, anything in a numb culture.
And yet there were honest, well-told tales, too -- "Old Joy" or "The Great New Wonderful" or "Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont," a 2005 release that belatedly captured the hearts of local audiences looking for substance and taste.
The best movies of this year, by and large, aren't interested in tastefulness. This is their strength, and it has nothing to do with lists. They confront, they hector, they insist that all is not well with the world and that the appropriate responses are clear-eyed engagement or savage, cauterizing laughter. They make one look forward to the movies of 2007 with fear and with hope.
2006 HOME ENTERTAINMENT: The year in DVDs
2006 LOCAL MOVIES: A new venue, old gems, and Web offer many film choices
BOSTONIANS OF THE YEAR: The Storyteller