FILMS OF THE YEAR
1. PAN’S LABYRINTH Moving between a grim fantasy world and the still bleaker realities of the Spanish Civil War’s violent aftermath, Guillermo del Toro creates fresh legends for future ages. A masterpiece. 2. BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN Already part of the canon, Ang Lee’s unforgivingly sad gay-shepherd drama seems to have been around forever. It was, in fact, released here in January. 3. THE PROPOSITION Flies. Murder. Flies. Rape. Flies. Torture. More flies. This magnificently austere Antipodean western, directed by John Hillcoat from a script by Nick Cave, was not made in conjunction with the Australian tourist board. 4. THE SQUID AND THE WHALE It surely would require a genius to generate interest in the travails of a family of self-important Brooklyn intellectuals in the 1980s. Thankfully young director Noah Baumbach was up to the task. Witty and sad. 5. CAPOTE The fulsome praise for Philip Seymour Hoffman’s superb performance as Truman Capote distracted attention from the subtlety of Bennett Miller’s direction. 6. HIDDEN/CACHÉ A rare example of a film which – by encouraging the viewer to examine Michael Haneke’s puzzling images as closely as the characters scrutinise their own equally bewildering surveillance tapes – actually becomes even more fascinating on DVD. The director’s best yet. 7. CHILDREN OF MEN Why are British landscapes so suited to the frayed, post-apocalyptic thriller? Who knows, but Alfonso Cuarón delivers the best such film in decades. 8. THE DEPARTED After observing audiences straining desperately to enjoy The Aviator and Gangs of New York, it is a pleasure to see Martin Scorsese deliver a genuine popular success. Give him a bloody Oscar. 9. THE HOST A giant tadpole-like thing, created by the release of toxins into the Han River, threatens to consume Seoul in Bong Joon-ho’s singular combination of horror and political commentary. 10. BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN Yes, it’s sophomoric and borderline racist. True, it has barely enough structure to qualify as a proper film. But, boy, is it funny. The DVD will sit beside This Is Spinal Tap on students’ shelves forever.
THE FIVE WORST 1. THE DA VINCI CODE No event movie since The Phantom Menace has proved to be quite so unrelentingly terrible. Worse even than the book (if that is possible). 2. RENT “We are bohemians in 1980s New York”, they sing. “La! La! La! The world owes us and all our stupid performanceartist friends a living.” The real lyrics are grislier still. 3. TRUST THE MAN A light romantic comedy set in downtown Manhattan can’t really be all that horrible, can it? Wrong. A film packed to the portholes with people who deserve to contract scabies. 4. TERKEL IN TROUBLE Horrendous animated Danish comedy that fails to extract humour from rape, murder and child abuse. Is to South Park as nitric acid is to Moët & Chandon. 5. THE SANTA CLAUSE 3/ DECK THE HALLS/GROUNDED (tied) Tis the season to fill the cinemas with the foulest effluent Hollywood’s sewers can generate. Don’t worry. The Great Escape’s still on telly.