Monday, January 15, 2007

Top 10 Movies of 2006

My friend Ann Abeyta is not as crazy as she looks in this picture and of course I’m lying. And yes, that is the fat Elvis. I knew he was still alive.

Every year Abeyta sends out her list of Must See Movies so I’m posting it on the day of the Golden Globes. This standup comic, Hollywood projectionist and Genius Film Girl knows her cinema. So as she said in the email accompanying her list, “Set your Netflix to Stun!”

1. Half Nelson – I caught this at a Screen Actor’s Guild screening way late into the hype… actually WAY, WAY late into the hype. I was pretty convinced that the film had no chance of meeting the expectations that I had built up for it. But Ryan Gosling just smiled his gentle little smile, stroked my hair and gently whispered into my ear, "Shhhhhhhhhh, I got this baby. Just relax and let Daddy do all the work." Then he ripped my heart out and held it towards the heavens so Shareeka Epps could dance and giggle in the ribbons of blood. I didn’t stand a chance. You have heard all about the film at this point, so I will just say that I thought it was fearless, beautifully acted and I still can’t shake it.

2. Pan’s Labyrinth – I love me some Guillermo Del Toro! I am one of probably six people who thought "Hellboy" was genius. This however, is his masterpiece. A beautiful and very dark fairy tale.

3. The Departed – Hi Marty! Welcome back to everybody’s top ten lists! We missed you. Did you miss us? I bet you have hairy ears. Mark Walberg and Alec Baldwin (the only Baldwin who has managed not to become an embarrassment) alone are worth the price of admission. Leo will get nominated for an Oscar, as will Jack Nicholson, but in my heart I would love to see Alec or Marky Mark get one. This is an excellent film, violent, smart, and the editing is insanely brilliant.

4. The Proposition – The beating to death of our lord and savior from "The Passion of the Christ" has nothing on this tale of brother against brother, and quite frankly, westerns haven’t been this good since Sam Peckinpah was making them. It’s dark, bloody, and incredibly good. Nick Cave wrote it and set it in the outback of Australia. If you’re unfamiliar with Nick’s work download the songs off "Murder Ballads." Who better to write a film about having to kill your brother to save your own life than an ex-punk rocker?

5. The Descent – Every year I try to include a film that reminds me of why exactly we love movies. Seeing this in a jam-packed theater on opening night was film geek nirvana. I loved everything about this one, from the total chick empowerment to the blood-soaked thrill kills that left me crumpled in a sweaty heap. (If you get the chance you should see it with my coworker Amar, he surrenders to a great film with the genuine eagerness of an eleven year old. It’s an infectious and beautiful thing.)

6. Letters From Iwo Jima – I didn’t like "Flags of Our Fathers" and as a result I had totally written this one off. Christ, was I wrong. Clint has done it yet again. The greatest antiwar film I have ever seen. The tone, the acting, the dysentery, no detail was too small or overlooked. It breaks your heart and never turns its face away from the horror of the costs of war. They will probably sell this and "Flags" as a DVD boxed-set and my suggestion for a title is: "Everyone Loses a War."

7. United 93 – Not too soon!

8. Notes On A Scandal – Wow. Made me more uncomfortable than having dinner with white people. **** I am positive that this will receive at least two Oscar nods, but probably deserves way more. Such a great script and perfect note casting. Cate is amazing, but the film belongs to Dame Judi Dench, who once again is so good it’s almost criminal. I will also give a major shout out to Bill Nighy, he proves what an amazing actor he is once again doing so much with so little screen time. (I felt totally dirty watching Cate Blanchett make out with a fourteen year old boy.)

9. Children Of Men – What would happen if the entire world lost hope? I can’t believe how scary this film is, how utterly frightening the thought of the end of the world coming right at you, but at a snails pace, would be. You’re helpless to stop or change it, you just have to watch as the planet ages and dies off. It’s done so realistically here that you just get pulled in completely. Stellar work from Clive Owen, and we can now officially put to rest the question, "Is Clive Owen God’s greatest gift to man?" The answer is "Yes." I knew it a long fucking time ago by the way.

10. The Queen – I thought seeing this would be like having to do homework. I was more than pleasantly surprised. Helen Mirren will storm the Oscars like David Spade trying to get backstage passes to a Victoria’s Secret fashion show. My favorite moment in a film this year was the way she joyfully cries out "Tea!" Mirren manages to convey more with a simple glance than most actors or actresses can throttle out of a whole career. She pulls off something I would have thought absolutely impossible; she carries the weight of the monarchy, she is the Queen.

Honorable Mentions:
Borat, Dreamgirls, Babel, Hostile, The Hills Have Eyes, This Film Not Yet Rated, V For Vendetta, Jackass 2, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Volver, Hard Candy

****Editor’s note – I didn’t know Ann wasn’t white. I emailed her and asked her to check off one of these options:
A. Mexican
B. Octoroon
C. Chinese with an eye job
D. She wrote me back a not very nice email
E. End of chat.


  1. The Departed is a good film, I agree. Great performances. Apocalypto would definately be in my top 10. A great spectacle.

  2. Great list .. that line about Notes on a Scandal was priceless, even if I am a white person, and it was one damn fine flick

  3. I soooo agree with this list!!! I LOVED The Descent, The Proposition, Children of Men...have yet to see the remaining (awaiting some of their arrival on DVD, and our local theater usually only shows pap). I am determined to see every film on this list, however.

  4. I can honestly say I have not seen a single one of these films!

  5. James is a filmmaker himself and has been working on his oeuvre for the last year or so. It's called Yesterday Was A Lie and I'll be promoing it when it gets close to release.

  6. Ann Abeyta12:51 PM

    Joe Blogs - Apocalypto is a great film. I felt in the last reel (20 minutes) Mel totally lost control and it became a cartoon. It's a shame because up until then I was really with him and thought he had done a great job.

    reel fantic - Thanks for you kind words. For the record I love white people, they just make me uncomfortable in large groups.

    Jess Riley - You made my whole day. Thank you. You are gonna LOVE "Half Nelson." Also catch "Hard Candy" which was on my HM list. If you liked "The Descent" and "The Proposition" you will freakin love it.

    James - Check into they are doing the lords work over there.

    --Ann Abeyta

  7. heh heh, the lord's work at Netflix.

  8. Isn't that a picture from Stanhope's last wedding? Isn't that not only Fat Elvis but NAKED fat Elvis?

    Some pictures just sear your memory.

  9. Yes, it was the fat naked Elvis. But below that gold chain it was too gross even for me, and I'm more than familiar with the concept.

    BTW, this list is not in any particular order for those of you who keep emailing me and asking.

  10. Ann Abeyta9:35 PM

    It's a picture from extreme elvis's show at Goldfingers. Stanhope did take the picture and it's one of the greatest shows I have ever been to in my life.

    Yes... he was naked

    --Ann Abeyta

  11. Notes on a Scandal was fab - except for the mother christing fuck baby Hollywood ending. Sooooooooo twee! Such a great movie, ruined at the end.

    Im still in love with Little Miss Sunshine, it tries to get away from itself with the ridiculous yet somehow manages to wrestle its way back.

    Extreme E sends his love...

    Prrrrrr xxxx

  12. Ann Abeyta7:46 PM

    Prinny = vixen


  13. not steve mcgrew11:36 AM

    speaking of ACS, Steve McGrew says "Hi". i think that's what he said. it was tough to tell. more of a grunt, then a yelp. which was probably a direct result of the knuckle dragging.

  14. Ann Abeyta12:50 PM

    Love me some Steve McGrew!


  15. yeah, mcgrew's doing the lord's work at

  16. What is really sad is that only Dave, me, Prinny, Ann and Chandler know what the hell we're talking about.

    For the others who make it down this far, we all used to post on a newsgroup for comedians called Alt.Comedy.Standup. Then this psycho named Father Luke brought in a bunch of trolls and it all ended.

  17. Ann Abeyta10:31 PM

    And that's the story of baby jesus.