1. “Letters from Iwo Jima”
Quite possibly the best war movie ever made. Some scenes are truly heart-wrenching to watch, and the camera doesn’t pull away from the ugliness of combat. Eastwood makes the enemy of the U.S. sympathetic, proving that we’re all the same regardless of the powers that lead us.
2. “Children of Men”
Another great film from Alfonso Cuarón, who seems to keep on getting better. This is one of those films that will undoubtedly be remembered for years to come. Can be classified as sci-fi/adventure/drama, but the test of time will surely call it a classic.
Might be the best Bond film ever made, although my heart still lies with “Dr. No” and “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” Daniel Craig knocks it out the park, a few more like this and Sean Connery will be looking over his shoulder. Also features the best Bond girls, my favorite being the villain’s girlfriend.
4. “V for Vendetta”
I absolutely loved this movie, with the unflinching political messages it bring forth with modern day relevance, combined with the best performance of Natalie Portman’s career. The voice of Hugo Weaving as V brings a simple mask to life, which is all the more remarkable.
5. “The Queen”
I’ll never forget how my girlfriend and I felt when we learned of Diana’s death, and this movie brings a completely different perspective to the forefront, that of Queen Elizabeth II. Helen Mirren will win an Oscar for this, and Stephen Frears shows enough restraint as director to let all the performances shine.
I was very skeptical going in, mostly because of the Beyoncé factor, but she didn’t need to really act in this one since the great songs had me tapping my feet. I liked it a lot better than "Chicago." I also smiled a lot watching this, and the scenes of drama are filled with power. Who is Jennifer Hudson?
7. “The Departed”
This could be the best remake ever. Courtesy of the brilliant Martin Scorsese, he’s able to weave a complicated storyline seamlessly while getting the best performances out of a staggering all-star cast. I still think “Infernal Affairs” is a superior film to this, but "The Departed" does remain one of the best films of the year.
Pedro Almodóvar is one of my favorite filmmakers, and this is yet another one of his little masterpieces. Penelope Cruz is superb whenever she does films for her native Spain as opposed to her scattershot American films, and this ghost story is elevated by the wonderful cast, especially Carmen Maura as the dead mother that lurks.
9. “Inland Empire”
Many people I know, especially Steven, hate David Lynch. This is his weirdest film since “Eraserhead” (his first feature), and I’m not sure exactly what happens in it. But Laura Dern turns in a brave performance, the DV cinematography is haunting, and there’s images throughout that I’ll never forget.
10. “The Descent”
Best horror movie in a long, long time. I’ve never felt so claustrophobic and uncomfortable in a theater in my entire life. Good plot, high quality scares run amok, and throw in female empowerment/vulnerability that hasn’t been showcased like this in a long time. Hard movie to watch, but ultimately very rewarding.
The Very Long List of Honorable Mentions
“Apocalypto” best anti-Semite director, better than Leni Reifenstahl
“Blood Diamond” see you at DeBeers
“Borat” too funny, great social commentary
“Cache” best suicide of the year
“Cars” I go crazy for Pixar flicks
“Hard Candy” sucks to be a child molester
“Idiocracy” Fox dropped the ball by dumping this
“Inside Man” Denzel and Clive Owen, need I say more?
“Lady Vengeance” nice follow-up to the brilliant “Oldboy”
“Last King of Scotland” see the documentary “General Idi Amin Dada”
“Lemming” the French still make great thrillers
“Little Children” sucks to be a sex offender
“Little Miss Sunshine” second funniest film of the year
“Marie Antionette” loved this movie and the soundtrack
“Pan’s Labyrinth” might be over-hyped, but still enthralling to watch
“Thank You for Smoking” some biting satire with a great message
“The Devil Wears Prada” Meryl Streep can do no wrong in my eyes
“The Prestige” cannot wait until “The Dark Knight”
“The Proposition” the Aussie western is one of the best on years
“United 93” much better than “World Trade Center”
The Worst of the Year
“Basic Instinct 2” garbage
“Little Man” stupid
“Lucky Number Slevin” why?
“Mission Impossible 3” Tom Cruise
“Saw 3” painful
“Silent Hill” video game
“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” nonsense
Best Actor: Ken Watanabe, "Letters from Iwo Jima"
Best Actress: Laura Dern, "Inland Empire"
Best Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin, "Little Miss Sunshine"
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls"
Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón, "Children of Men"
Best Foreign Language Film: "Volver"
Best Cinematography: "Children of Men"
Best Score: "Pan’s Labyrinth"
Best Animated: "Cars"
Best Costume Design: "Marie Antoinette"
Best Make-Up: "Apocalypto"
Best Art Direction: "Dreamgirls"
Best Special Effects: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"