2007-08 Oscar Calendar

[Monday, December 3, 2007]

Official Screen Credits
Forms Due.

[Wednesday, December 26, 2007]

Nominations ballots mailed.

[Saturday, January 12, 2008]

Nominations polls close
5 p.m. PST.

[Tuesday, January 22, 2008]

Nominations announced
5:30 a.m. PST
Samuel Goldwyn Theater

[Wednesday, January 30, 2008]

Final ballots mailed.

[Monday, February 4, 2008]

Nominees Luncheon

[Saturday, February 9, 2008]

Scientific and Technical
Awards Dinner

[Tuesday, February 19, 2008]

Final polls close 5 p.m. PST.

[Sunday, February 24, 2008]

79th Annual
Academy Awards Presentation
Kodak Theatre

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"A Good Year" Indeed: The Best Films of 2006


A fine year at the cinemas is an incredibly subjective thing. After all, the worst year in a long time in my view (2005) could be seen as one of the best years in your view or the next guy’s. I fought hard to enjoy myself last year, but something about those 365 days made them a chore to weather. As I mentioned in an item posted earlier this year, that disregard for, and ultimate displeasure with what Hollywood had to offer manifested itself in a top ten list full of morose and down-tuned artistic endeavors, from Gus Van Sant’s “Last Days” to Gore Verbinski’s “The Weather Man.”

2006 started off quietly. Typical dumping ground efforts came and went (“Firewall,” “Freedomland”), while a number of disappointments lurked around the corner of spring (“Inside Man,” “V for Vendetta”). A cynical movie-goer in my position might begin to dread a woeful continuation of the prior year’s offerings. But there were shafts of light penetrating a darkened sky in those early months, hinting at a potential oasis beyond.

Sidney Lumet’s “Find Me Guilty” and Jason Reitman’s “Thank You for Smoking” really kicked things off in this regard. Critical acclaim soon came the way of Paul Greengrass’s “United 93,” an effort truly exemplary of a rising director carving out a niche undoubtedly his own. Independent efforts like Doug Atchison’s “Akeelah and the Bee” and Rian Johnson’s “Brick” were also opening and impressing on the spot. Things were looking up.

The summer landed and all you could make out in the blockbuster garble was this or that about Tom Cruise and the box office “failure” of J.J. Abrams’s “Mission: Impossible III.” But I still thought it was a hell of a ride worthy of the series – no worries. I even found some room to have a good time in an IMAX screening of Wolfgang Peterson’s “Poseidon,” while the rest of the world was hanging it from the rafters or otherwise strapping it to a stake, critically igniting it like a witch.


Sure, Ron Howard’s “The Da Vinci Code” opened and seriously stunk up the joint, serving as one of the worst films of the year throughout. But how can you complain when Al Gore is preaching “An Inconvenient Truth” to America, while at the same time Dreamworks is releasing a quality animated experience in “Over the Hedge?” And thank goodness for that, by the way, given that Pixar was missing the mark considerably with “Cars” (even if they were cleaning up at the box office).

Heck, I didn’t even mind that the screenwriting team behind “X-Men: The Last Stand” royally screwed the franchise over, going out of my way to commend Brett Ratner for shooting his film with such expediency at the mandate of a foolish studio decision. That alone shocked my socks off. (Note: The movie is still a train-wreck.)

Various summer flops ebbed and flowed amongst it all, and finally the first serious awards film of the season landed in June – what would come to be the swansong of one of the most championed American directors of all time. Robert Altman’s “A Prairie Home Companion” survived the next six months as one of the finest offerings of 2006 – a perfect, paradoxically golden-hued exit for the rebellious craftsman.

Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns” was acceptable and a delight for the July 4th corridor, Gore Verbinski’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” destroyed box office records and exhausted this viewer with the wildest of rides, M. Night Shyamalan’s “Lady in the Water” received the thrashing the director deserved, if not the film, and Michael Mann’s “Miami Vice” punctuated the fact that there is a necessity for him to stay out of frivolous, commercial fare and get back to business.


The touchdown of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’s “Little Miss Sunshine” and Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Center” announced a great start for the 2006 film awards season. By the middle of August, it seemed we were neck deep in it, and THAT’S when my eyes began to open.

It seemed to me that every other day I was sitting in a screening room, witnessing wonderful, diverse and surprisingly capable filmmaking. Seasoned vets and youthful upstarts alike were cranking out cinematic gold. Four star reviews (whatever those mean) seemed to pour out of me, and it became clearer and clearer that, to my mind, 2006 was the best year for movies since the rush of excitement we felt in 1999.

By the time the fall months hit us, the entire ride was dizzying. Film festivals blurred together, drama came and went and the business of Oscar prognostication was a surprisingly tame experience (most of the time).

And then, in the final month of 2006, I saw the two best films of the year – or what I would come to consider the year’s best – and a whole new perspective would set in. I began to recognize potential change lying on the horizon in a medium long-settled upon in its current state, and vibrantly, beautifully, 2006 made sense.


Interestingly enough, there wasn’t a “decade’s greatest” sort of film in the mix for me. There isn’t that film on the level of Terrence Malick’s “The Thin Red Line” or Lars von Trier’s “Dogville” that left me shouting to the heavens “This is the best film I’ve seen in ‘x’ number of years!” But the overall quality across the board is what will make 2006 stick out in my mind – that notion that every time I turned around, every time I glanced over my shoulder, there was something to like, something to champion, something to appreciate. That and, of course, the punctuation of those two pioneering efforts of innovation at the end of the line.

And that was my 2006 experience. I blinked, it was over…and here we are.

Crafting an ordered list of the best films of the year was a difficult chore this time around. Like no other year, I really wish I could just cough up a blob of films and call the list the year’s finest. But people like their qualifiers, so rank them I shall. But first, the films that just missed placement in the top tier.



Unfairly maligned by a critical community forever emotionally on guard, Emilio Estevez’s “Bobby” is everything his prior work was not. It is both insightful and meaningful. It exudes passion and commands relevance. It represents a cross-section of a country battered and bruised, and emphasizes the beacon of light that hoped to usher it to greener pastures. Crafted with graceful devotion and blistering sincerity, “Bobby” is not merely one of the most personal films of the year. In a season curiously dedicated to themes of compassion and understanding, it is one of the most resonant film-going experiences politically inclined cinema can aspire to be. Heaven help the cynical.


Rian Johnson’s “Brick” was the single greatest feature debut of the year. Chocked full of unique panache, an ironic sense of the medium and boasting a charismatic lead performance from actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the film is a thrill from start to finish. It is one of those efforts that slips through the cracks and misses deserving notice once the film awards season finally rolls around. And that really is a shame, because “Brick” represents the sort of filmmaking that rejuvenates and refocuses the perspective of individual creation. This is the kind of film that creates new filmmakers. This is the kind of artistry that eventually gets lost in the shuffle of success and financial necessity. This is what independent filmmaking is all about.


It took two viewings of Phillip Noyce’s “Catch a Fire” to really get my head around the accomplishment. Inspired by the true story of Apartheid-era freedom fighter Patrick Chamusso, the film is a tight and specific dissection of one of the humanity’s most deplorable times. Typically an uneven filmmaker, Noyce is the sort to find both artistic and commercial room for his politicized brand of output. “Catch a Fire” is a mixture of the two, serving as an exhilarating pot-boiler and a deeply analytical work all the same. Derek Luke proves, yet again, that he is one of the most promising actors of his generation, while Tim Robbins crafted a steely-eyed villain to make the skin crawl (another aspect of the film that took subsequent viewings to fully appreciate).



What director Clint Eastwood and his seasoned crew expedited in the wake of missing the mark with “Flags of Our Fathers” earlier in the fall is a film unlike any other entry in the war genre to date. “Letters from Iwo Jima” is ultimately an anti-war statement as lacerating and unique as the anti-violence mandate of Eastwood’s masterpiece, “Unforgiven.” But regardless of perceived success or failure, there is something exceptional about an American filmmaker taking this approach, sympathetically revealing the story of a former enemy of his homeland. One of the year’s most organic ensembles finds high marks in the performances of Ken Watanabe and Kazunari Ninomiya.


Richard Eyre’s “Notes on a Scandal” is a particular sort of film, one that builds suspense and tension with every moving part of its machinery. On the surface, the film plays like a thriller, dragging the viewer through its wicked tale toward a sinking, almost matter of fact conclusion. But on deeper levels, “Notes on a Scandal” is a true character study – an analysis of dependence, delusion and, ultimately, hopelessness. It would be much too simple to claim Dame Judi Dench’s performance as her bravest portrayal to date. Philip Glass’s score, perhaps his best work yet, tells the story as well as the visual elements, functioning more appropriately as a work of musical composition than any other such effort this year.


Probably director Guillermo del Toro’s career-finest work, “Pan’s Labyrinth” is an unabashedly creative piece of filmmaking. Perhaps not quite the masterpiece some critical communities might deem it to be, the film is nonetheless an example of an artist stretching the limits of his medium, as well as his audience’s consciousness. A visual feat to say the least, high marks go to the already award-winning cinematography and production design, and especially Sergi López’s vile, serpentine performance as the deplorable Capitán Vidal. There might be a masterpiece lurking in the imagination of del Toro yet, and though “Pan’s Labyrinth” isn’t quite there, something, someday, most certainly will be.



Robert Altman’s lingering vision of a radio show’s dying hours is one of the director’s greatest creations in a career that has spanned decades. Crafted from the imagination of “Prairie Home” maestro Garrison Keillor, the screenplay hides a certain shade of faith and destiny beneath the surface of an otherwise hilarious ensemble piece. The effect is an elaborate richness, proving a number of levels being worked upon. The cast shines throughout, but standouts would have to include Kevin Kline’s gumshoe wannabe Guy Noir, Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly as a pair of misfit country-western singers, Dusty and Lefty, and Meryl Streep’s sensitive and world-weathered portrayal opposite on-screen sister Lily Tomlin.


Carefully calibrated and wound to a specific 103 minutes, Stephen Frear’s “The Queen” is a modest and fine hour for a director who has been cranking out work of the highest quality for over two decades. Though it revolves around an event that occurred nine years ago, and prior to the post-9/11 environment we endure today, the film is very much a current piece of filmmaking. It is about the necessity for a leader to be in touch with his or her people. It is about finding a balance and, if not maintaining that balance, at the very least striving for it at all costs. “The Queen” could be seen as quite applicable to our current domestic political environment, or it could simply be enjoyed as an airy, pleasant endeavor with no frills. But isn’t it the best of cinema that finds that balance?


In his feature directorial debut, writer/director Jason Reitman (son of filmmaker Ivan Reitman) saw what would become one of the year’s best comedies lie in gestation for a number of years. Based on the Christopher Buckley novel of the same name, “Thank You for Smoking” is the libertarian flag-waver of the cinematic universe. First hitting the page when he was younger than the editor of this website, Reitman stuck with this story of freedom of choice as seen through the veil of a tobacco lobbyist and spinmeister, ultimately knocking his first lengthy endeavor out of the park. Aaron Eckhart is devilish and playful as Nick Naylor – and he’s seemingly the only guy on the planet born for such a role.



The pair of 9/11 endeavors this year couldn’t have been more opposing, both in style and in tone. But both films are a testament to professionalism, each existing as exemplary pieces of filmmaking rather than stunts set in motion to capitalize on the emotion found bottled in the memories of that fateful day. Paul Greengrass’s “United 93” is a swift trip into the hyper-real, a film as dizzying in its sense of authenticity as it is harrowing in its depiction of heroism. But the real story seemed to be Greengrass himself, most certainly one of, if not the most promising director of his generation. If Michael Mann is a director that glamorizes ultra-reality, Greengrass is a director who utilizes it like a tool in his arsenal. It's a commanding sort of helming that seems to almost recall the notion of autuerism.


Oliver Stone’s close-to-the-cuff depiction of something so personal, yet so universal, leaves the instigating events of September 11, 2001 almost as an afterthought – lipstick on the rim of a wineglass long emptied. The triumph of commanding such humanity belongs in large part to screenwriter Andrea Berloff, who pitched a striking and rich tale to producers Michael Shamberg and Stacy Sher before burying herself into the lives of her story’s subjects. A huge chunk of that glory, however, deserves to be placed into the hands of Stone, a filmmaker who shows in this latest effort (amidst a career speckled with films that are his own, if nothing else) that he retains the professionalism to tell a story free of artistic whimsy or personal commentary.

And now, the top ten films of 2006:




Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

A good comedy is a difficult thing to come by. Usually comedies aim for the easy marks, and typically, that’s the best course of action. In the immortal words of Cosmo Brown, “Make ‘em laugh!” But when a comedy reaches past the funny bone and wiggles its way into the heart, that’s the mark of a true gem. If a filmmaker (or filmmakers) can manage such a task beyond the never-ending check book of a major studio, the accomplishment is even more considerable. That’s precisely what Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris managed with “Little Miss Sunshine.”

Michael Arndt’s screenplay has quickly become one of the most championed original works of the year. As well it should be. He capably molded a troupe of characters that colorfully carried across a tale of love, family, understanding and camaraderie. Any thespian would have killed for a place in the mix, and Dayton and Faris peppered the narrative with some of the finest actors for this kind of work. Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin, Abigail Breslin and Steve Carrell each hit the mark and then some, both separately and collectively.




Directed by John Curran

Not since the heyday of Merchant/Ivory has a film in the vein of John Curran’s “The Painted Veil” come along and found the right emotional and artistic marks. Based on the M. Somerset Maugham novel of the same name, the film is a different kind of love story, one crafted in the world of independent filmmaking rather than the glut of studio tent poles. And the intimacy shows, as Curran leaps from the strictures of efforts like “We Don’t Live Here Anymore” and into a different place of epic command at a story’s roots.

Edward Norton had a field day in the world of independent cinema this year. Performances in Neil Burger’s “The Illusionist” and especially David Jacobson’s “Down in the Valley” proved his migration out of the studio system and into a world of more creative control. In “The Painted Veil,” he disappeared into the role of Walter Fane like no other performance since 1998’s “American History X.” Naomi Watts also puts forth an exemplary leading performance, charting the arc of a woman who matures through love and understanding.




Directed by Anthony Minghella

Anthony Minghella has spent most of his career tackling large, sometimes grandiloquent epics with central themes of obsession and passion, love and longing lurking within the frames. “Breaking and Entering” marked the first departure from such sweeping settings since his directorial debut, “Truly Madly Deeply.” What feels like the director’s most personal work to date, the film is possibly his most achieved work as well, something that represents a reawakening to the passion of filmmaking and sporting a lived-in quality that warms the soul.

Sharing themes of an individual’s place in his or her life with Todd Field’s “Little Children,” for instance, “Breaking and Entering” is one of a select few films from the 2006 film season that seems to ponder what it is putting forth through every nuance and scene. Jude Law offers his greatest performance to date opposite actresses Juliette Binoche and Robin Wright Penn. Binoche, in particular, carries across a mixture of beauty and exhaustion like no actress since Meryl Streep in “The Bridges of Madison County.”




Directed by Marc Forster

Zach Helm’s screenplay “Stranger than Fiction” received mixed reaction from critics and audiences alike toward the end of 2006. Some circles found it a creatively muted experience, while others offered praise for its ingenuity, fit with comparisons to the work of Charlie Kaufman. Others still saw parallels to the films of Frank Capra. Regardless, the film quickly became one of the most meaningful cinematic exercises of the year for this viewer – an achievement as profound in its broad gestures as it is in its more intimate commentaries.

Directed with a thoughtful hand by filmmaker Marc Forster, “Stranger than Fiction” can be about a number of things to a number of people. Some might see modest Christian symbolism. Others might sense the story of a man’s refusal to live his life by the numbers any longer. But whatever it might be to you or me or the next guy, that a film this commercial leaves interpretation up in the air in this manner is an achievement unto itself. A great comedic ensemble finds high marks in performances by Emma Thompson and Ferrell, in a career-topping portrayal.




Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu

Filmmaking duo Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo Ariaga sadly parted ways in 2006, but not before unloading the crowning achievement of their young careers, “Babel.” Much more ambitious than their prior collaborations “Amores Perros” and “21 Grams,” though paradoxically more accessible on the whole, the film is a particular specimen in the recent lineage of socially and politically conscious filmmaking.

Amidst a year noted as having an intriguing devotion to compassion and harmony through a variety of filmmaking efforts, “Babel” sat right at the top of the heap. “Listen” was the tagline peppering movie posters and print advertisements, and it resonated deeply, yet simplistically, within the parameters of Ariaga’s screenplay. Sporting an international ensemble that has deservedly corralled praise from all corners of the film-going community, the film’s true find is actress Rinko Kikuchi, a fresh face with searing talent we’d be so lucky to witness on screen again in the future.




Directed by Martin Scorsese

Celebrated filmmaker Martin Scorsese tapped into youthful aggression once again this year in a remake of the Hong Kong thriller “Infernal Affairs”: “The Departed.” Working from a textured script by the clearly gifted William Monahan, Scorsese sculpted his most visceral artistic endeavor since 1990’s “Goodfellas,” and perhaps his darkest effort since 1976’s “Taxi Driver.” A cinematic experience dripping with gore, violence, sin and cynicism, the ride that is “The Departed” won’t soon be forgotten by the film-going community.

In the film, a cast of A-list thespians combines to showcase one of the most unique ensemble performances of the year, with every contributor seemingly at the top of his or her game. Standouts include Leonardo DiCaprio in perhaps his best performance to date, Jack Nicholson wallowing in the villainous glory of a detestable character and Vera Farminga in one of two accomplished supporting efforts this year. But the real ignition comes behind the camera, where one of the art form’s greatest living directors shows no signs of slowing down.




Directed by John Cameron Mitchell

John Cameron Mitchell is one of the few creatively challenging filmmakers in the independent scene, crafting works of art more so than movies easily marketed to the masses. Ever since launching onto the filmmaking scene in 2001, transitioning from stage to screen with “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” he has shown the promise of a fast and furious talent. Underneath a delightful exterior of sex, sex and more sex, his latest film is a meditation on fear – fear of love, fear of loneliness, fear of self and fear of connectivity.

Working from material improvised by a cast of unknowns, Mitchell molded a kaleidoscope of his personality in “Shortbus,” finding a piece of himself in each of the characters he presented. One would be hard-pressed not to find a piece of oneself in each of these creations as well, making the director’s effort all the more poignant and crucial to the filmmaking community. Metaphor and insight abound, while one of the most organic ensembles of the year works as a giant, living creature of definitive purpose.




Directed by Kevin Macdonald

It only occurs to me now that two of the best films of 2006 exist as the most living, vibrant technical celebrations of the medium we’ve seen in a long time. Kevin Macdonald’s “The Last King of Scotland” is a narrative document of such electric and seductive force that it is unimaginable this is the director’s first foray into the world of fiction, following a healthy career as a documentary filmmaker. Those sensibilities and instincts force themselves quite comfortably into a twisted, ruthless adaptation of the Giles Foden novel of the same name.

Screenwriter Jeremy Brock brought his touch of the macabre to a structurally resonant Peter Morgan draft, paving the way for a pair of outstanding performances from James McAvoy and especially Forest Whitaker as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. The most organic pairing of two actors found on screens this year, McAvoy and Whitaker play cat and mouse above and below the surface of a narrative that threatens to boil over at every waking moment.




Directed by Alfonso Cuarón

What has quickly become one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year, Alfonso Cuarón’s “Children of Men” has also been viewed as the most technically dazzling cinematic achievement to come along in quite some time. Something seemed to become lost, however, even amongst this wave of deserved praise of craftsmanship: the notion that Cuarón’s film captures a uniting aspect of humanity like no other filmmaking endeavor of the year.

“Children of Men” is about hope. It is a genre film successfully boiled down to a single idea, and it is an examination of what happens in a world where that idea has become lost. Held on high as a vehicle for dystopian visual panache and wonder, the effort is so much more. It is at once immediate and timeless, and while it certainly exists as Mexican auteur Alfonso Cuarón’s most accomplished film to date, it is also one of the crowning achievements of 2006, bleak, bold and brilliant in one commanding, luscious stroke.




Directed by Darren Aronofsky / David Lynch

The art of filmmaking has stagnated. There are no two ways about it. Something good enough or even inspiring enough screens every year for audiences and critics, but nothing moves beyond that expected level of entertainment and/or narrative pleasantry. Nothing has attempted to push the medium toward another level of artistry in quite some time indeed, and filmmakers have settled into a steady, albeit accepted vein of typicality that seems almost as it should be. But it isn’t…and it shouldn’t.

2006 afforded two separate, diametrically opposed works of cinema that can finally be considered a part of another movement altogether. They are Darren Aronofsky’s “The Fountain” and David Lynch’s “Inland Empire,” and though qualification is a fool’s errand when it comes to each, both films combine to form the number one film-going experience of the year in this viewer’s opinion.

Since the release of “Pi” in 1998, it has been clear that director Darren Aronofsky is interested in something more visceral in his filmmaking. He continued the trend in 2000 with “Requiem for a Dream,” for better or for worst. But in “The Fountain,” Aronofsky has dared to envision a truly unique perspective on the science fiction genre, reaching to form something so fresh as to manifest an entirely singular experience.


Years of failed preparation left the director slashing and burning ideas and intentions all along the way to a 90 minute condensation of his original vision. But he made it to the other side, a difficult task for even the most accessible of filmed entertainment. The result might be considered a failure in some viewers’ eyes, a success in others. But what it undeniably exists as is the trail left behind by a creator determined to stretch his artistic vernacular. A commanding, multi-tiered performance from Hugh Jackman and one of the most penetrating scores of modern times from Clint Mansell are immediately commendable aspects of the piece.

Similarly, David Lynch has been twisting the cinematic medium to fit his whims of fancy for the better part of three decades. From the initial explosion of “Eraserhead” through equally ambitious creations in “Blue Velvet,” “Wild at Heart,” “Lost Highway” and “Mulholland Dr.,” Lynch’s has been an imagination that knew no boundaries. But with “Inland Empire,” he seems almost bored with the medium, perhaps even contemptuous of his audience.

Anchoring the incomparable effort with an intrepid central performance from Laura Dern, Lynch dares the viewer to stick with 180 minutes of sheer audacity, a certifiable tapestry of narrative innovation. What can only be considered his least accessible effort to date, and at times even the most terrofying cinematic experience of 2006, “Inland Empire” is the moment one of the most creatively cavalier filmmakers of all time left this plane for alternate possibilities, finished with the tedious strictures his medium has to offer. He just doesn’t seem to see things the way we do anymore, and “Inland Empire” is evidence of his longing for something else, something different, something unequivocally diverse.


The “#1 film of the year” is a subjective notion to say the least, meaning something different to each and every person. It in fact means something different to me each and every year I sit down and attempt to determine “the best of the year.”

2006 was a good year for films in my opinion, but when it all trickled down to “the best,” the clearest indication was two films that couldn’t be bothered with being “good” or “bad,” and certainly not “the best.” It came down to two films that are playing by a whole other set of rules – a set the medium will not likely be playing by for years to come, when narrative and thematic typicality have given way to further potential and intentions. They are truly ahead of their time.

Stay tuned throughout the week for more on the 2006 retrospective.


01. (tie) “The Fountain” / “Inland Empire”
02. “Children of Men”
03. “The Last King of Scotland”
04. “Shortbus”
05. “The Departed”
06. “Babel”
07. “Stranger than Fiction”
08. “Breaking and Entering”
09. “The Painted Veil”
10. “Little Miss Sunshine”


kris , you sneaky, sneaky man! I thought you HATED the fountain, beacuse you never mentioned it here! it's also my own personal favorite of 2006. ditto for children of men as #2.

too bad these two films are getting somewhat ignored in the whole awards shuffle... 20 years from now people will talk about these masterpieces the way you and I talk about Kubrick or Malick, to name a few...


Whaaaaaaaaa.........? I was scrolling ever so slowly fully expecting Children of Men to take the crown.

Regardless, I haven't seen The Fountain yet, but heard only great things about it from trusted sources (not those snobbish mainstream critics). My best friend even called it "the best movie watching experience of her life" -- which might be a hyperbole but I'm eagerly anticipating the release.

PS: A tie for #1 is technically cheating ;) Though I do understand the need to go for it sometimes.

Great list.

Yeah, like I mentioned over at The Blog, I typically rail against ties. But this is a very special circumstance.

Also... thanks for pointing out Vera Farmiga's work in THE DEPARTED. I thought she was terrific despite having an underwritten character. I continue to be shocked by her complete absence from the awards season -- though a lot of that might have to do with the campaign.

Kris, you didn't see The Fountain at TIFF? I thought that I remembered seeing both you and Gerard giving it 2.5 stars (or something like that), but I guess it was just Gerard?

I wasn't at TIFF, just Gerard, who wasn't much of a fan.

Shortbus is a porn film disguised as art.

The beauty of subjectivity.

Fantastic climax to a superb year of reviewing. Like Sid above, I too thought the crown had already been given away. Great list Kris, and congratulations on your first year of incontention.com. Your website has slowly become my favorite in the business - artistically/visual layout and content - thank you. Keep up the great work.

Yay! The Fountain was possibly my favorite film in years-- it had its fair share of faults but the scope of what Aronofsky was trying to accomplish more than compensated in my opinion. I'm surprised The Queen didn't make it into your tally, but I'm definitely looking forward to the release of Breaking and Entering and The Painted Veil.

Oh heavens, thank you for pointing out the missing "Queen," Jamie. It most definitely secured a place amongst the year's bes. I'll update ASAP...not sure why I left it off in the first place.

Colour me surprised. VERY surprised. You sure kept that one close to your chest. And despite my disliking of ties, this was a very good read.

Yeah, I saw "The Fountain" at TIFF. It's a technical marvel with a lot of great ideas in there but I simply found the whole experience underwhelming and lacking in coherence (which I blame on a very poor script).

But hey...to each his own!

Keep in mind that script was about 1/3 what it was supposed to be. The full story can at least be found in the graphic novel, but this is what happens when stars drop out, studios cut financing and an artist is forced to abbreviate his vision. "Poor" is a relative term when you take everything into consideration.

As for the tie, I'm hoping that doesn't rub too many people the wrong way, as I too dislike them on top ten lists. But this is a very particular instance, calling for recognition of something much more than "the best film of the year."

As per The Fountain, I appreciate fresh ideas, but they have to connect with me emotionally, so that I care about the story. That was achieved somewhat, but not as much as I'd like. However, the last ten minutes of the film are unlike anything I've ever seen and took my breath away. So in the end it was worth it.
And this has become my favorite site as well :)

we hate ties... but oh well, I seriously think Children of Men is WAY better than The Fountain and Inland Empire, but still The Fountain is a great film, Inland Empire just isn't...

love your top 10... and your runners up as well... when are you putting together your annual ballot... don't let me down...

A very nice and well-argued list, Kris.

Although, with the exception of "Pan's Labyrinth," were there really no other foreign films you admired this year?

Not really, John. I found "Volver" extremely overrated. "The Lives of Others" was okay but fairly rote and much more derivative than people want to let on. "Curse of the Golden Flower" was pretty empty and "Water" was a chore to sit through.

I never got to "The Death of Mr. Larazescu" or 'Army of Shadows," regrettably. Not sure which other films I'm missing, though I'm sure I've forgotten a couple for the purposes of replying here.

tapley, i can't believe your list. i don't know how we could possibly disagree so much. granted i've only seen little miss sunshine, stranger than fiction, babel, the departed and shortbus. but out of that crop, i would only give babel above a C-.


I agree to your choice,especially"Letters from Iwo Jima".I saw it in Japan and I was deeply moved by Ninomiya's acting.I don't understand why Ninomiya is not on the FYC list.I think Ninomiya's acting steadily supported and lit up Watanabe's acting in this film.So,I hope Ninomiya will get the Oscar.

this is a great list kris. it's weird, before even reading your list I had already plugged Children of Men and Inland Empire as my favorite films of the year (not a fan of The Fountain. certainly ambituous though). In fact, if I were to make a top ten list, we would overlap on 6, maybe 7 movies depending on where I'm going to rank Stranger than Fiction after seeing the last few films of the year. I don't always agree with you, but our top films to be always seem to be close by.

I'm glad you have added World Trade Center. I don't remember seeing this on the list earlier.

Might I add, your pictures and layout look quite professional, as always. Where do you get your pictures from?

Good list, the only movie on it I really consider to be bad is Last King of Scotland. But leaving that aside, bravo for Shortbus (I guess people think any movie with nudity in it is porn these days) and Inland Empire.

Am overjoyed to see Children of Men (almost) topping your list as it's one of my favourites of the year!!! Along with Babel, Little Miss Sunshine and The Departed which are also in your top ten! :) Glad to see you left The Queen out of the top ten; I enjoyed it but don't see why it's such a big deal of a film as everyone is making it out to be (not "best film of 2006 material anyway)...
Seeing as how I've come to trust your opinions quite a bit, I can't wait to see the 7 films in your top 10 that haven't been released in my neck of the woods yet (especially The Painted Vail, The Fountain and Breaking and Entering)

Thanks for bringing this excellent website to us Kris (and Gerard!) and hope you keep up the brilliant work next year!

Kris, while I vehemently disagree with you on a lot of your choices (especially Bobby which I found trite, manipulative, hackneyed and asinine), I am glad to see that someone else appreciated Breaking and Entering as much as I did. It is a engrossing, subtle, mature and complex adult drama of the kind that is hardly made anymore.

Oh dear God, I now have to stop using this site. One thing more than anything else annoys me about film critics, and that's when they can't count.

Your list is a top 11. It's not a top 10. Children of Men is your 3rd best film of the year, not your 2nd. Little Miss Sunshine isn't in your top 10 of the year, being your 11th favourite.

Please make the necessary adjustments and I wont boycott.

Yeah...well...with that attitude...it's been nice having you as a reader...

I'm pretty stoked at your list Kris. Glad to see more people praising The Fountain, Inland Empire and Children of Men.

Interesting theories on your #1 (I haven't seen either, they're not out here yet). I always respond to movies that try to aspire to something more than simply being "a film". A lot of the time they're dismissed as "style over substance" films, but I like to see it as a director and his creative team, making a movie that doesn't have to rely on traditional methods of moviemaking.

...but that's just me.

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2008 Year in Advance Predictions

UPDATED: 2/25/2008

Main Charts | Tech Charts

[Motion Picture]

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”



“Revolutionary Road”

“The Soloist”


David Fincher
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Ron Howard

Gus Van Sant

Sam Mendes
“Revolutionary Road”

Joe Wright
“The Soloist”

[Actor in a Leading Role]

Benicio Del Toro
“The Argentine”

Jamie Foxx
“The Soloist”

Frank Langella

Sean Penn

Brad Pitt
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

[Actress in a Leading Role]

Vera Farmiga
“Nothing But the Truth”

Angelina Jolie

Julianne Moore

Meryl Streep

Kate Winslet
“Revolutionary Road”

[Actor in a Supporting Role]

Josh Brolin

Russell Crowe
“Body of Lies”

Robert Downey, Jr.
“The Soloist”

Heath Ledger
“The Dark Knight”

Michael Sheen

[Actress in a Supporting Role]

Amy Adams

Kathy Bates
“Revolutionary Road”

Cate Blanchett
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Catherine Keener
“The Soloist”

Carice van Houten
“Body of Lies”

[Writing, Adapted Screenplay]

“Body of Lies”

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”



“Revolutionary Road”

[Writing, Original Screenplay]


“Hamlet 2”


“The Soloist”


[Art Direction]



“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom
of the Crystal Skull”

“Red Cliff”

“Revolutionary Road”



“The Dark Knight”


“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom
of the Crystal Skull”

“Revolutionary Road”

[Costume Design]

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”


“The Other Boleyn Girl”

“Red Cliff”

“Revolutionary Road”

[Film Editing]

“Body of Lies”

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”



“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom
of the Crystal Skull”


“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

“The Dark Knight”

“Red Cliff”

[Music, Original Score]

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom
of the Crystal Skull”

“The Soloist”

“Revolutionary Road”


[Music, Original Song]

coming soon

[Sound Editing]


“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom
of the Crystal Skull”

“Iron Man”

“Speed Racer”


[Sound Mixing]


“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom
of the Crystal Skull”


“The Chronicles of Narnia:
Prince Caspian”


[Visual Effects]

“The Chronicles of Narnia:
Prince Caspian”

“The Incredible Hulk”

“Iron Man”

[Animated Feature Film]


“Kung Fu Panda”


[Foreign Language Film]

coming soon

[Documentary, Features]

coming soon

[Documentary, Short Subjects]

coming soon

[Short Film, Animated]

coming soon

[Short Film, Live Action]

coming soon