Saturday, June 12, 2021

The 100 Project: The Top 25 Movies of 2006

   Throughout 2006 I was still working at Blockbuster as a second job. Thanks to their policy of selling used DVDs 3 for $20, and of course, allowing 5 rentals per week for employees, I continued watching tons of movies and building my personal collection. Since this was still in the early stages of me expanding my horizons it all felt new to me. I started checking out more classics and other popular stuff I missed. No worries, I watched plenty of 2006 films also.

    Before diving into that, I've got tiny bit of an announcement on how this post (and most of the rest) will play out. Because I've seen so many releases each year from 2005 forward, the plan was to do a top 25 for each year. That's still the case. Sort of. I will still do that, but I won't comment on all of them, only the top 10. Believe it or not, coming up with a few sentences on each film adds a ton of time to the creation of a post. And I'd like to get this project over with at some point. What was supposed to take a few months had stretched into a few years. And here I am adding more time by yapping about it. So, let's get to it.

My Top 25 Movies of 2006

  • According to my Letterboxd account, I've seen 142 movies released in 2006.
  • I saw 11 of them in theaters. Only 2 make my top 25 with 1 other being an honorable mention.
  • I've seen all 5 Best Picture nominees. 3 of them make my top 10. Another is an honorable mention. One is completely left out.
  • 3 of my top 6 films have a female protagonist. While not the protagonist, a woman is the driving force of my number 1.
  • 2 non-English films are in my top 25. Oddly enough, both are American made.

25. Clerks II

24. Stranger Than Fiction

23. Snakes on a Plane

22. Dreamgirls

21. Penelope

20. Black Snake Moan

19. Blood Diamond

18. Crank

17. Casino Royale

16. Fearless

15. Apocalypto

14. Miami Vice

13. Monster House

12. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

11. The Lives of Others

10. Half Nelson

This is the movie that introduced me, and much of the world, to Ryan Gosling. And it's a great introduction. His work as a drug addicted teacher is brilliant. His teenage co-star Shareeka Epps is quite the revelation herself. Sadly, we haven't seen much of her since.

9. Inside Man

This is the answer to the trivia question, "What is Spike Lee's most commercially successful film?" It's also an excellent heist film. The cast is amazing and includes Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, Clive Owen, Christopher Plummer, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. However, it's the late-looping plot that keeps us engaged.

8. 300

It's stupid and pumped full of more testosterone than a high school boys' locker room. And just like those bastions of faux manhood, it all boils down to a dick measuring contest. However, it just might be the most fun one ever committed to film.

7. Letters From Iwo Jima

Clint Eastwood has an extensive filmography, both in front of and behind the camera. Most movie fans, even ones who aren't Eastwood fans, have their favorites. When people make lists ranking his work, this one rarely comes up, which is a shame. For my money, it's one of his best. It's also one half of a story. The other half is Eastwood's <i>Flags of Our Fathers,</i>  released a few months earlier. As it stands, <i>Letters</i> deserves to be mentioned among the greatest war films of all-time. Had it been released with <i>Flags</i> as one movie, it very well may be at the top of that list.

6. Pan's Labyrinth

Director Guillermo del Toro took the fairy tale, infused it with horror and war, and created his masterpiece (not <i>The Shape of Water</i>). He had already had a reputation for bringing nightmarish creatures to life. Here, he took that ability to a new level and matched it with superior storytelling. 

5. The Pursuit of Happyness

This film had an inside track to my heart the moment I heard about it. It's a dad doing everything he can to take care of his son even though the odds are stacked against him. When I saw it, and Will Smith's transcendent performance, I was putty in its hands. Only my being indoctrinated in 70s style machismo kept me from becoming a blubbering ball of goo.

4. Akeelah and the Bee

So yeah, let's talk more about personal connections. Way back when I was in 6th grade I won my class spelling bee because the other last person standing misspelled "separate" and I didn't. That led to me winning the school spelling bee and being sent to compete for the district title. At that point, I was one of a handful of Black kids among a field of 50 or 60. I finished 6th that day. To say I related to the protagonist is a bit of an understatement. By the time I left the theater I was praying for a DeLorean to take me back to 1983 for a do-over at that district crown and take it all the way to nationals.

3. Little Miss Sunshine

I'm sticking with the theme of relatability, here. On the surface, this family is nothing like man, and I'll be damned if I go through all that trouble for a child beauty pageant. It's basically understood in my house that those things are of the devil and parents who push their kids into them are Satan's minions, but I digress. At their core, the family depicted is just like mine. A happily, but imperfectly married couple trying their best to take of their kids who are starting to have their own ideas and aspirations. We even have a lovable granddad who is often around, though he doesn't live with us. Even without that point of entry for me, the movie is still hilarious and heartwarming.

2. The Departed

Movie snob protocol requires that I tell you American remakes of foreign films are worthless because they're never as good as the originals and people should just seek those out and stop being afraid of subtitles. In this case, however, I like the American remake better. The original is a really good film. This is a great one. 

1. Children of Men

I had not heard of this movie, and it had just made it to DVD when I pressed play on it one night. By the time I pressed eject, it was my favorite movie of the year. Through multiple viewings, that hasn't changed. It works on a surface level, but so much better on a metaphoric one. 

Honorable Mentions (alphabetically): All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, Bobby, Flags of Our Fathers, The Host, The Last King of Scotland, Little Children, Lucky # Slevin, Running Scared, Slither, Smokin' Aces, Volver


  1. I have 300 and Black Snake Moan in my 2007 list mainly because I don't count the Butt-Numb-a-Thon film festival to be something big as it's nothing more than a dumb ego stroke for Harry Knowles who is just a fat piece of shit that doesn't know fuck about cinema. Based on our respective lists, we share 16 films in our top 25 with 4 more films from your honorable mentions. It's good to have you back and I hope you had a nice break. I blame this pandemic for just fucking with our heads.

    1. I just went by whatever year Letterboxd had listed without looking too deep into it, lol. Lots in common between us this year. I'd say that's a win-win. Thanks for the welcome back. Yeah, the pandemic did a job on all of us.

  2. Little Miss Sunshine was an absolute revelation for me, it was the starting point of my favourite sub-genre. Those movies that are dramas, but also really funny, but definitely not a comedy!
    The Pursuit of Happyness makes my eyes misty just thinking about it. Without a doubt my favourite Will Smith movie.

    1. Yay, another fan of Little Miss Sunshine! Funny you say that. In my collection I have it with my comedies. That's said, it's definitely what's known as a dramedy. The Pursuit of Happyness is fantastic.

  3. Yeah to see you again! I miss you and your comments and movie choices. Love many choices, some I have not seen but want to and tigers not so much although maybe Snakes on a Plane. I would Have Dream Girls higher as well as Casino Royale. I have not seen Children of Men so it’s on my growing list. I would addA Good Year which I love and is a nice gentle romantic comedy set in France. Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe wanted to make something much more chill after Gladiator. I love The Queen as well as The Prestige and The Illusionist. Funny but both of those latter 2 films are about magicians in the same era. I think The Prestige is a bit better but both are great. Oh and I The Lives Of Others which is such a true type story during the communist times in East Germany.

    1. Thanks! Glad to be posting again, at least for now. I haven't seen A Good Year, so that one's going on my watchlist. I like The Prestige, but I don't love it like everyone else. I'm not really a fan of The Illusionist. The Queen is one of those movies I appreciate more than I actually like. Helen Mirren is fantastic, though. There's no denying that. Glad so see some love for The Lives of Others.

  4. Welcome back!

    This is a solid list, but I take exception to one thing. As much as I love Pan's Labyrinth, del Toro's true masterpiece is The Devil's Backbone.

    1. Thanks! Full disclosure: I've never seen The Devil's Backbone.

  5. Hi Dell,

    Love the story about your spelling bee experience! I’ve always been a fairly good speller and won a couple of classroom bees but never went any further than that.

    I’ve seen 15 of these, two that I haven’t seen (The Lives of Others & Half Nelson) are on my to see list but the others I’ll probably never watch.

    Of the others I loved Casino Royale, Inside Man and Little Miss Sunshine (I’m against kid beauty pageants by and large as well but Olive WANTED to participate in this one which put a different color to it).

    I liked Stranger Than Fiction, Dreamgirls, Crank, 300, Letters from Iwo Jima, Pan’s Labyrinth, Akeelah and the Bee and Children of Men (I was close to loving this until the end-it made sense but was so abrupt it threw me and moved it down a notch).

    With Penelope, I didn’t really like it much, but I didn’t hate it either. But I did hate Clerks II, Miami Vice and most of all The Departed. That one was such a disappointment; I had loved Scorsese’s previous film “The Aviator” so I walked in to Departed ready to do the same, but it was torture which I could not wait to see the end of.

    I haven’t seen Snakes on a Plane, Black Snake Moan, Blood Diamond, Fearless, Apocalypto, Monster House, Talladega Nights, The Lives of Others, Half Nelson and The Pursuit of Happyness.

    My top 10 for this year would run in this order:

    Casino Royale
    Last Holiday
    Little Miss Sunshine
    The Queen
    Inside Man
    Love and Other Disasters
    The Painted Veil
    Tell No One
    The Prestige
    The Fall

    The rest of my 25 in alpha order:

    Akeelah and the Bee, Away from Her, Bobby, Children of Men, The Devil Wears Prada, For Your Consideration, A Good Year, The Illusionist, Infamous, Jindabyne, Letters from Iwo Jima, Pan’s Labyrinth, A Prairie Home Companion, Shock to the System and 300.

    1. A fellow spelling nerd! I knew you were good people. Of your top 10, I haven't seen Love and Other Disasters, The Painted Veil, and Tell No One, for sure. I think I've seen The Fall, but I'll have to look it up to be positive. I like Last Holiday well enough, but it resides in that "nice" territory. It's really pleasant, but doesn't connect enough to be anything more. I think Helen Mirren is amazing in The Queen, but I also think she's far better than the movie which is a bit of a chore to get through.

      Of the rest of your 25, a few made my honorable mentions. Of the ones that didn't, I like The Devil Wears Prada, but I'm not the biggest fan of The Illusionist or The Prestige for that matter. I haven't seen the rest.