OK then, the 14 best films of the year
As ever with these lists, this isn’t definitive, as I haven’t seen all the films that have been released this year. Most of the important ones, but a few slipped through the net, for various reasons, that I think I would have liked (The New World, The Child, The Death Of Mr Lazarescu, Little Miss Sunshine, Requiem, Paradise Now, Three Burials Etc., The Host, all of which I’ll tidy up in the new year on DVD). Anyway, here goes:
1 Good Night, And Good Luck. For having a fully punctuated title, which I like. Liberal porn at its most handsome. Let’s watch the good guys bash McCarthy again, live on telly! I love George Clooney. No, I love him. I was, of course, tempted to put Hidden at number one like all the Sight & Sound critics, but I expect French films directed by German auteurs to be good, and I don’t expect American ones to be good, so when one is this intelligent and frugal and powerful, it deserves extra praise. Best DVD commentary of the year, too. I love George Clooney.
2 An Inconvenient Truth Dismissed as uncinematic – and indeed it is a fat bloke in a blazer talking about the weather – Al Gore’s PowerPoint presentation was still one of the most gripping experiences I had at the cinema this year.
3 United 93 One of ours, Paul Greengrass, doing well over there. I am obsessed with September 11, and this brave, low-key telling of the tale brought it all back, but in a way that watching the news, or allowing Oliver Stone to idiot-filter it first, never could.
4 Hidden I’m still thinking about it. That’s the mark of a film. It stays with you. I watched The Sentinel, a thriller starring Michael Douglas, two days ago, and I wasn’t even thinking about it during the film.
5 The Wind That Shakes The Barley Ken Loach at his indignant best. The moment the right wing press started laying into it – without having actually seen it – for being anti-British and pro-IRA, I was there. Not as much of a polemic as parts of Land And Freedom, its obvious cousin, Loach and co-writer Paul Laverty found a way of telling a piece of history through a human story.
6 Volver One of the strangest pieces of criticism I read all year was Peter Mathews’ burial not just of this film but of Almodovar’s entire canon in S&S. The magazine’s critical standing still feels damaged. This was a glorious piece of work. Certainly full of Almodovar’s ticks, but what ticks.
7 Red Road Andrea Arnold: one to watch. This, her debut, was like Lynne Ramsay meets Paul Verhoeven. Stunning. Out on DVD in February, having enjoyed anything but a wide theatrical release in ’06.
8 The Squid And The Whale Now that’s what I call indie.
9 Brokeback Mountain Just to prove I have nothing against big, fat, Oscar-winning American studio pictures. Landscape meets subtle performance and changes the way we look at something we thought we knew all about.
10 Children Of Men Alfonso Cuaron, a Mexican, captures everything that’s wrong with Britain. (I know it’s based on a British novel, but still.) Clive Owen may never regret missing out on Bond.
11 The Queen Who’d have thought it? A film about the Queen!
12 Capote More than just a world-beating performance from a former character actor, but not much more.
13 Borat Funniest film of the year, by a long chalk. Mind you, looking back at the list, there’s little competition
14 Breaking And Entering I find myself defending this pretentious and contrived film now, wherever I go. My pet theory: if it had been in French, critics would have fallen over themselves to praise it.