Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Best Movies Watched in 2006

(This is my sixth such list. I have done this for my movie viewing in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005.)

As I look at the list of movies that I watched in 2006, I'm feeling satisfied. It was a good movie viewing year (nineteen in all; six of them in the theater). And almost every one of them was a super movie.

My top three movies this year were United 93, Hoop Dreams and Miracle. My favorite of these: Miracle.

Miracle tells the story of the 1980 Miracle on Ice, when the United States beat the Russians in the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid. After reading "Boys of Winter" last year, I knew I wanted to get to this movie, but after a few weeks, it slipped off my radar. Truth be told, the book was so good, I didn't think a dramatic movie could do the story justice. Heck, I didn't think any movie could do the sport of ice hockey justice.

With some skepticism, I watched Miracle during the last weekend of 2006. Instead of being disappointed, I was elated and enthralled. This is a great movie. Predominantly a character study of coach Herb Brooks, the movie also honors this fast game that I love. The hockey players are truly hockey players, and their "action" scenes were shot with a style that brings home the speed and skill of this awesome game. Kurt Russell's performance (his hair, his accent, his presence) is astounding. Patricia Clarkson, who plays his wife, is quiet perfection. Noah Emmerich, who plays Brooks' assistant coach, Craig Patrick, is terrific support.

At its simplest level, this inspirational movie is a story about the very hard work that has to be done to achieve great things. The hard work done by this young hockey team will have you thinking that your own miracles are within reach. You just have to keep at it. It's the perfect movie to watch at the turning of a new year.
  • Best DVD Commentary: Arthur Agee and William Gates in Hoop Dreams. When I acquired this movie earlier in the year, it stayed in my DVD player for nearly a month. It's an incredible and important documentary, and I watched much of the movie's key scenes over and over again. But primarly, I listened to Arthur Agee and William Gates (the documentary subjects) comment over the movie. They have a natural rapport, and they filled the commentary with lots of great stories and conversation. This is a great movie, and this DVD commentary makes it worth owning.
  • Favorite Male Acting: Pierce Brosnan (The Matador)
  • Favorite Female Acting: Patricia Clarkson (Miracle)
  • Favorite Soundtrack: "Invincible"
  • Not So Good: "The General's Daughter" (book was exponentially better); "Thief"
  • Finally Glad I Watched: "Thank You For Smoking", "Invincible", "The Big Lebowski", "A History of Violence"

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