Monday, January 01, 2007

Best Films of 2006

It was a thoroughly satisfying personal film viewing year. I had more chances to watch festival films than previous years, while at the same time conducting personal film festivals (World Cup Film festival in the summer) or having theme festivals gifted to me (January 2006’s a tribute to Jean Cocteau and a Soccer Film festival for my birthday). In the last 10 years, I made the least trips to a multiplex this year and stayed away from quite a few hyped up Hollywood titles.

I can’t claim to pick an objective top ten as that is just impossible. So I compiled a short-list of all the movies that I loved watching this past year, from which I picked ten out. Overall, it was a truly rich year for movies and the diversity of the films is reflected in the choices. Just a note on the film selections: I only selected movies that I saw in 2006 because they were either released in the theatre this year (commercially or at a film festival) or released on DVD in 2006. Some movies in this list were released in film festivals last year but never made it out to Canada or to my city. Likewise, my favourite film of 2005 was a movie that was Brazil’s official entry to the Oscars in 2006 -- Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures was the finest film I had seen in 2005 thanks to the London Film Festival. However, that film won’t be out in most North American theatres until early 2007. Also, I separated the docs from the features. Each film title is followed by country name and director name in the bracket. So without further delay, here is the list:

Top Ten films of 2006 (in order of preference) :

1) The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Romania, Cristi Puiu)
2) Dosar (India, Rituparno Ghosh)
3) El Violín (Mexico, Francisco Vargas Quevedo)
4) Tzameti (France/Georgia, Géla Babluani)
5) The Bet Collector (Philippines, Jeffrey Jeturian)
6) Khosla Ka Ghosla (India, Dibakar Banerjee)
7) The Descent (UK, Neil Marshall)
8) The Lives of Others (Germany, Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck)
9) Election 2 (Hong Kong, Johnny To)
10) Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (South Korea, Park Chan-wook)

Remaining short-listed films (in no particular order):
Being Cyrus (India, Homi Adajania), Paradise Now (Palestine, Hany Abu-Assad), Still Life (China, Jia Zhangke), The King and the Clown (South Korea, Lee Jun-Ik), La Moustache (France, Emmanuel Carrère), A Scanner Darkly (USA, Richard Linklater), A Prairie Home Companion (USA, Robert Altman), Requiem (Germany, Hans-Christian Schmid), The Host (Korea, Bong Joon-ho)

Note on Jan 2: I forgot that Three Times (Taiwan, Hsiao-hsien Hou) should also be added to this year's short-list. I incorrectly thought that I had seen this film last year.

Top Docs of the year (in order of choice):

1) Iraq in Fragments (USA/Iraq, James Longley)
2) Bombay Calling (Canada, Ben Addelman, Samir Mallal)
3) Riding Solo to the Top of the World (India, Gaurav Jani)
4) Mystic Ball (Canada, Greg Hamilton)
5) Mo & Me (Kenya, Roger Mills)
6) The Trials of Darryl Hunt (USA, Ricki Stern & Anne Sundberg)

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