The Onion calls Children of Men "A heart-breaking, bullet-strewn valentine to what makes us human." I couldn't agree more. The best movies of 2006 helped remind us of our humanity, our connection to each other, and how fragile that connection can be. Here's my list, in no particular order. Keep in mind, I didn't see Babel, Apocalypto, Borat, The Queen, L'Enfant, Shortbus, or Pan's Labyrinth.
Children of Men - Director Alfonso Cuaron turns a heart pounding action film into a moving, funny, harrowing tour de force. Clive Owen is an action hero for the new millenium, one who never picks up a gun.
Volver - Almodovar's best, and that's saying something. Part noir, part comedy, part tragedy, this film peeks into a fascinating family of women and how their connections to each other have made them what they are.
Little Miss Sunshine - Not perfect, but funny, sweet, and inspirational in a low key way that Hollywood never gets right. This low budget film proves Steve Carrell is not only a hilarious comedian, he's a great actor.
The Departed - Almost great Scorsese is better than just about anything else on screen. It's the supporting actors here that shine brightest - a filthy-mouthed Mark Wahlberg, a heavy-footed Alec Baldwin, and fatherly Martin Sheen. Check out the scene where the two actors sit silently on either end of the phone with each other for over a minute. That's good filmmaking.
Army of Shadows - Brilliant, depressing, and very French. See review below.
Little Children - Humdrum suburban life and the unexpected drama that can intrude when a pedofile moves into the neighborhood. I never thought I'd be so happy to see a romance fail as the one concocted between Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson.
I know there are more good ones out there. I'll post if I get inspired.