Kevin O'Reilly's 2006 Cinema Round Up

You needn't panic. You'll read no long, moany rant from me this year since it's not been a bad year at all. In fact 2006 has been so rich in good films that I've made a top twenty list instead of a top ten and even that didn't have room for high quality titles like Walk The Line, Casino Royale, Over The Hedge, Jarhead, Brokeback Mountain, Harsh Times, Syriana, Inside Man, Mission: Impossible III and The Squid And The Whale.

All are well worth your attention, but here are my top twenty films of the year, plus further lists of the worst, the most disappointing, the most pleasant surprises, the most obscure gems and the box office hits.

You can find some of our other contributors' lists here.

Happy New Year to all of our readers.

RIP Mr Dresden and the Orange film board.

My top 10 films of the year

1. United 93

Paul Greengrass's recreation of 9/11 is the hardest hitting film of the year. It's not an easy film to watch but you'll be glad you did. Deflecting all accusations of arriving too early and cashing in on tragedy, it uses hyper-realistic, almost documentary technique to recreate the experiences of the people involved (as much as that's possible) and it makes them real for the audience without any hint of Hollywood bullshit. It's both a genuinely moving tribute and a shatteringly brilliant piece of film-making.

Full review here

2. Borat

Sacha Baron Cohen messed up the Ali G movie but he more than makes up for it with this raw and hysterically funny piece of satire in which his second-best-known character rampages around America, innocently upsetting the natives by breaking every civilised taboo imaginable. I think I laughed more at Borat than at all the other comedies I saw in 2006 put together.

Full review here

3. Munich

Steven Spielberg's dark journey into the soul of an assassin is both a riveting spy thriller and the most thought-provoking film of the year. It's about the Israelis and Palestinians but it could just as easily be about India and Pakistan or Northern Ireland or a hundred other human conflicts as it cuts right to the heart of how and why nations keep hatreds alive.

Full review here

4. Good Night And Good Luck

George Clooney's second film as director takes aim at McCarthyism, at politicians who try to use their powers to silence dissent and at craven media corporations that give in to them. It's a spellbinding drama, beautifully shot in black and white and its superb script makes scenes of men talking seem more exciting than just about any expensive action sequence. A towering performance by David Strathairn may have been the year's best.

Full review here

5. Stranger Than Fiction

Clever, funny and deeply touching, Marc Forster's trip into Charlie Kaufman territory provided us with the feel-good film of the year. It's the strange tale of a man who discovers his life is being written by a neurotic author who always kills her male leads. Perfectly cast in the lead, Will Ferrell proves he can do much more than broad comedy, while Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Emma Thompson provide sterling support.

Full review here

6. The Queen

A wildly ambitious true-life drama that hits its targets and succeeds in humanising that most inscrutable of public figures, Queen Elizabeth. It even makes her something of a heroine. Set during the orgy of national grief following Princess Diana's death, Stephen Frears' film pits the stubbornly traditional monarch, who refuses to break protocol, against the public, the press and the craven, image-obsessed Tony Blair. Helen Mirren's superb performance is the icing on the cake.

Full review here

7. Cars

Pixar's eye-poppingly beautiful salute to the American automobile was the best animated film of the year and the most easily likeable movie. As computer animation becomes a more and more common sight in multiplexes (there seem to be two released every school holiday and half term!), leave it to John Lasseter to show the upstarts how it's done.

Full review here

8. Flags Of Our Fathers

The first of Clint Eastwood's two movies about the Battle of Iwo Jima, the one telling the American story, this is a complex and powerful meditation on the reality of war, its effect on men and its relation to the neat and tidy image put out by the propaganda machine. If, as is said, Eastwood's second film telling the Japanese story, Letters From Iwo Jima is even better, then roll on February 2007.

Full review here

9. Little Miss Sunshine

Here's a real charmer. A simple road trip comedy about a dysfunctional family, it could have been another RV yet instead it's one of the best films ever made about what it means to be a family. The film's soft-hearted but the humour is razor-sharp. And it does for Steve Carell what Stranger Than Fiction does for his Anchorman pal Will Ferrell: reveal him as a fine dramatic actor as well as a great comedian.

Full review here

10. The Devil Wears Prada

Okay, so mainstream Hollywood hasn't forgotten how to make classic comedies. This smart, witty satire on the fashion industry is a total delight, thanks in large part to Meryl Streep's knockout performance as the boss from hell. This is entertainment at its purest.

Full review here


And 11 to 20

11. District 13

None of the year's big budget action films, not even Mission: Impossible III and Casino Royale, came close to the adrenaline rush provided by this short, unpretentious, lightning-paced French thrill-fest produced by Luc Besson and directed by first-timer Pierre Morel. Impressed by the free-running chase sequence in the new Bond film? This will knock your socks off.

Full review here

12. Hostel

I've grown weary of all the cynical, charnel house sado-horrors Hollywood's dished up in the wake of Saw's success. I'm not looking forward to any more Saws, Hills Have Eyes or Texas Chainsaw Massacres. Credit where it's due however: Eli Roth's grisly variation on Eurotrip has the nasty edge that most of the others lack. It's horrifying rather than just nauseating. The last half an hour is armrest-gripping stuff.

13. Happy Feet

A sweet and heart-warming animated comedy from Australia about singing, dancing penguins, of all things... and it's from the director of Mad Max! Don't be put off though. The visuals are truly astonishing and there's some great voice work from Robin Williams, Brittany Murphy and others.

Full review here

14. Little Children

Audiences stayed away from this superb drama looking at the dark side of small-town America. They missed terrific performances by Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, Jennifer Connelly, Noah Emmerich and Jackie Earle Haley among others, plus excellent writing and confident direction by Todd Field. His earlier film, In The Bedroom left me a little cold but this one didn't, at least up until the ending that ties everything up too neatly.

15. The Matador

Pierce Brosnan may have been dropped as James Bond but he hasn't let it stop him. His performance in The Matador, as a lonely, seedy hitman, builds on his promising work in The Tailor Of Panama and proves he's one of the most interesting big stars around. Ditto Greg Kinnear, who is impressive in both this and Little Miss Sunshine and really ought to be getting more recognition.

Full review here

16. Pierrepoint

A fascinating British drama about the life of hangman Albert Pierrepoint, this was originally made for television but it received a well deserved theatrical release. Timothy Spall is exceptional in the title role.

Full review here

17. Thank You For Smoking

Ivan Reitman's son Jason made a splendid debut with this sharp, intelligent and very funny satire on Washington tobacco lobbyists. Star Aaron Eckhart is perfect as a shrewd political player who'll say anything he's paid to say. This is also an interesting and surprisingly balanced contribution to the overheated smoking debate.

Full review here

18. The Departed

Martin Scorsese's remake of the Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs isn't quite the masterpiece some have claimed it to be - it's a lot more black and white than Scorsese's earlier gangster films and in some ways it's inferior to the Hong Kong original - but it's unquestionably a class act and one of the best blockbusters of the year. Leonardo DiCaprio is quite superb.

Full review here

19. Clerks II

Kevin Smith's belated follow-up to Clerks had some of us cringing when he announced it but, bless him, he delivered a worthy sequel that's almost as funny and as poignant as his 1994 debut. It's good to see Dante and Randall again! Samantha Fox's eighties hit "Naughty Girls Need Love Too" will never sound the same again.

Full review here

20. The Prestige

Christopher Nolan's tale of two feuding magicians, starring superhero actors Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale is basically a Victorian Usual Suspects, with twist upon twist upon twist but it's done so well that you'll enjoy being made a fool of.

Full review here


My 10 worst films

1. Ultraviolet

Everything that's wrong with modern action films helpfully condensed into one movie. A shameless rip-off of every other movie ever made about a hot babe kicking ass in a sci-fi setting, with a terrible script, bad direction, a weak cast and atrocious CGI effects... and if that wasn't enough, it's edited to the point of incoherence for a PG-13 rating.

Full review here

2. Date Movie

Please make them stop bringing out these spoof films. Airplane! was funny, Hot Shots! less so and Scary Movie just about amusing. Date Movie has roughly as many laughs as the Saddam Hussein execution video. It's just a string of scenes copied from movies which are in all cases funnier than this one. The worst thing about it is that it made enough money to inspire a follow-up, Epic Movie, which is coming in February.

Full review here

3. Imagine Me And You

Just when you thought last year's The Wedding Date was as dull as transatlantic rom-coms could get, this lesbian twist on the genre comes along and proves otherwise. Aside from not being funny - at all - it fails to work up the slightest bit of chemistry between its two lovebirds. If they don't seem to know what they see in each other, how are we supposed to care?

4. Just Friends

Sadists might enjoy this slapstick comedy, in which most of the humour comes from the lead character getting hurt. Fans of the wonderful Anna Faris might also want to give it a glance when it comes on TV - her performance as an Ashlee Simpson-ish rock star does raise a few smiles. Everyone else should take note that this is from the same man who gave the world The Sweetest Thing. Nuff said.

5. Deck The Halls

A terrible, Christmas-themed comedy about two obnoxious neighbours feuding for no real reason. Stay at home and watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation again instead.

Full review here

6. Breaking And Entering

I'm not much of a liberal but I don't mind liberal messages in movies when they at least touch base with reality. Little Children and The Woodsman for instance ask for more understanding towards paedophiles but they don't try to pretend these men aren't sick, dangerous predators. The makers understand that to do otherwise would be to insult their victims. Anthony Minghella's woolly-left tract however tries to make out that burglars are good-natured teenage boys who only rob people because their poor, asylum-seeking single mums don't have time to guide them properly. Yes, Anthony, whatever you say. This film may make you want to start buying the Daily Mail just to annoy the people who made it.

7. Get Rich Or Die Tryin'

Hip hop star 50 Cent was shot nine times, don't you know, and here he recreates his turbulent life in an "autobiopic" obviously inspired by the success of his producer Eminem's 8 Mile. Except 8 Mile was an entertaining movie and Eminem had a genuine screen presence. This is a lifeless parade of "gangstaz n da hood" clichés and 50 Cent should stick to showing off his muscles in music videos. Jim Sheridan, what on earth were you thinking when you signed on to direct this?

8. The Weather Man

Between Pirates Of The Caribbean episodes, Gore Verbinski made this phenomenally boring and depressing "comedy" which forces us to spend two hours in the company of an utterly miserable Nicolas Cage. If you sat through The Weather Man, The Wicker Man and World Trade Center, you have a right to be a lot more miserable than the rich, ungrateful knob-end Cage plays in this.

9. Stormbreaker

A completely dreadful action movie which tries to bridge the gap between straight, James Bond-style thrillers and kids' adventures like Spy Kids, with decidedly poor results. Mickey Rourke, unwisely cast as a camp villain (is anyone less camp than Mickey Rourke?), seems determined to end his career revival as quickly as possible.

Full review here

10. The bad horror film of your choice

I could have made up this worst ten list entirely from horror movies but I wanted a bit more variety. So, to complete the ten, please make your own choice from: An American Haunting, Black Christmas, The Fog, The Grudge 2, The Omen, Pulse, Reeker, Silent Hill, Stay Alive and When A Stranger Calls. All of them are horrific in the wrong sense of the word.


10 little gems you probably missed

1. Transamerica

This is a formulaic road movie in some ways but it works because its characters are so original and sympathetic. Felicity Huffman from TV's Desperate Housewives plays a still-male, pre-op transexual who is about to have his remaining bit of maleness lopped off when he learns he has a teenage son and the boy is selling himself on the streets of New York. He picks the kid up from jail and the two bond while experiencing cross-country adventures like characters in road movies always do. The film hinges on Huffman's performance, which is both wonderful and very brave - how many actresses would play a transexual man?

2. North Country

Niki Caro (Whale Rider)'s film about the first sexual harassment suit in America is very much a Hollywood take on the subject - wildly inaccurate and manipulative as hell - but it's an extremely effective piece of rabble-rousing. Charlize Theron is quite superb, proving that Monster was no fluke.

3. The Squid And The Whale

A sharp, funny and sometimes shocking film about the effect on two children of their parents' divorce. Their parents, both New York intellectuals, are played by Jeff Daniels, who's brilliant as a hilariously self-absorbed author, and the always-great Laura Linney as the wife who's now eclipsing him. The title refers to a pair of exhibits at a New York museum.

4. Shopgirl

Good films containing Steve Martin are becoming sadly rare but this bittersweet romantic comedy he adapted from his own novel is definitely among his better work. Claire Danes plays the title shop assistant who is courted by rich, older man Martin and by socially inept Jason Schwartzman. All three stars are excellent. The comic highlight is Danes and Schwartzman's first date, which is explosively funny.

5. Junebug

A smart US independent film about a sophisticated, big city art dealer coming to stay with her new fiancé's small-town conservative family. You might think it's going to be about sneering at the rednecks but no, anything but. This is a very thoughtful and humane drama. Amy Adams has been quite rightly acclaimed for her supporting performance but none of the cast can be faulted.

6. Idlewild

Yes, this is the Outkast movie, featuring music by the hip hop crew who gave us Hey Ya and starring two of its members, André Benjamin and Big Boi. They play entertainers at a black speakeasy in segregated, gang-ruled, prohibition America. The story's predictable but the film's an absolute marvel to look at and listen to. It also features another strong turn by Terrence Howard as a very nasty mobster.

7. Akeelah And The Bee

Barely released in Britain, this is a very charming tale of a young, black girl from a bad part of LA who discovers she has a gift for spelling and is persuaded to compete in a national "spelling bee". Laurence Fishburne plays her tutor. American spelling bees have become a popular topic for films since the documentary Spellbound was a hit in 2003. Another recent movie on the subject was Bee Season, which starred Richard Gere as the Jewish father (yes, you read that correctly) of another spelling genius. That one was not only miscast but rather dull and it was livened up only by a furious woman walking out of the screening I attended and shouting at the usher, "This film's about Jews! What about the Palestinians?" Akeelah however is well worth tracking down on DVD.

8. Twelve And Holding

From the writer and director of the impressive L.I.E., which was about the platonic relationship between a teenage boy and a paedophile, here's another uncomfortable but worthwhile film about the uglier side of childhood. It details the effect of the accidental death of a twelve-year-old boy on his brother and two of his friends. Disturbing in places but definitely worth seeing if you like independent drama.

9. Something New

Another unusual and intelligent look at black America, this starred Sanaa Lathan as a middle class, black businesswoman who develops feelings for her white landscape gardener (Simon Baker) but is held back by her prejudices and fears of what her family and friends would say. As a rom-com, it's only okay (like many rom-coms, it tells us exactly why one party loves the other but not vice versa - why is Baker so forgiving?) but as a film about the divisions between black and white America, it's funny and incisive.

10. Down In The Valley

Edward Norton, Evan Rachel Wood and David Morse are all terrific in this dark tale of a self-styled, modern-day cowboy who charms a teenage girl into his bed and then slowly reveals how disturbed he really is. It's not perfect but of the several films tackling the subject of underage girls' sexuality this year (see also The King, Hard Candy, Pretty Persuasion), Down In The Valley was the one that rang truest.


10 disappointments

1. Lady In The Water

I've defended M Night Shyamalan's work for years. I loved The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs, I enjoyed his earlier Wide Awake and I even liked The Village. Sorry Night, but even I can't find many good things to say about this pretentious claptrap in which a mythical water nymph turns up in the swimming pool of a cheap apartment complex. Shyamalan's previous films had a seductive effect on the viewer but this one is so silly and ridiculously convoluted, it's impossible to get pulled in. Kudos though to star Paul Giamatti who does terrific work under the circumstances.

Full review here

2. Miami Vice

Michael Mann's a great director but he has a weakness for self-conscious moodiness - for having his characters pose against a sunset, staring meaningfully at the horizon. Miami Vice, the TV series Mann produced back in the eighties had a lot of that. Crockett and Tubbs' love interests and friends were constantly getting killed or jailed so the stars could stare moodily into a Miami sunset, while Phil Collins sang on the soundtrack. It's a fun show though, especially for eighties nostalgics, and where Miami Vice, the film goes wrong is to take this fluff about sexy, sports-car driving cops as seriously as Heat or The Insider. The result is like Lethal Weapon done as an art film. Mann's exquisite direction and some fine action scenes can only do so much to redeem it.

Full review here

3. The Black Dahlia

Brian De Palma and James Ellroy's dark, noirish novel seemed like a match made in heaven but unfortunately clumsy screenwriter Josh Friedman got in the way. Friedman's adaptation tries to cram four hundred pages worth of subplots and minor characters into a two hour film and the result is an unwieldy mess. To fit everything in, he resorts to what is surely the greatest amount of plot exposition ever spoken aloud in a major film. To make matters worse, stars Josh Hartnett and Scarlett Johansson are very poor choices indeed. Hopefully Joe Carnahan's White Jazz will be better.

4. Superman Returns

Unexciting, over-reverent and heinously miscast, Bryan Singer's attempt to bring back the Man of Steel is a failure. The effects are good but, with the exception of the early airliner rescue, there's surprisingly little action and nothing like the spectacle Richard Donner and Richard Lester served up in the earlier films. Brandon Routh doesn't fill Christopher Reeve's shoes and neither do Kate Bosworth and Kevin Spacey fill Margot Kidder and Gene Hackman's. The biggest problem of all is how seriously Singer takes the material. Donner and Lester brought great humour to Superman without making fun of him or camping it up. Superman Returns is a glum film, violent in places and altogether lacking in fun.

Full review here

5. Marie Antoinette

It was always going to be tough following Lost In Translation but Sofia Coppola's arty biopic of the doomed French queen would be a disappointment even if it wasn't coming straight after that masterpiece. It seems like an attempt by Coppola to do Terrence Malick. Now I'm not a huge fan of Malick but I can appreciate his films for their visual mastery. The New World (which, astonishingly, played for about 2 weeks in London while Marie Antoinette lasted months) is at once amazing to look at and colossally hard to get involved with - Malick's a cineaste's director if ever there was one. Coppola isn't on the same level and while Malick had a genuinely interesting perspective on the story of John Smith and Pocahontas, Coppola just seems to want to take her camera around Versailles and show us Marie Antoinette's shoes.

Full review here

6. Romance And Cigarettes

There have been three Hollywood musicals out in the last year or so. The Producers made it onto last year's disappointments list. Rent was better - it had decent songs for a start - but it also gave the impression that it probably worked much better on the stage. Then there was John Turturro's attempt at a downbeat, blue collar variation on Everyone Says I Love You and Moulin Rouge, ie: a musical made out of popular songs, with a cast not known for their singing. The problem isn't so much the cast, the story or the songs, just that they don't really compliment each other or add up to very much. A special Nanny Knows Best award goes to whichever tit insisted all posters for the film on the London Underground had to have Kate Winslet's cigarette censored.

7. A Scanner Darkly

Hollywood's favourite science fiction writer, Philip K Dick has been brought to the screen by many different directors, Ridley Scott, Paul Verhoeven and Steven Spielberg being the most prominent. Usually his books are turned into big budget action movies so Richard Linklater's approach is at least original - he's made a low-key, low-budget drama and animated it using the same technique he used for Waking Life - filming the actors live and then animating the footage. The film looks great but sadly Linklater seems less interested in Dick's story of police state paranoia than in filming long scenes of uninteresting druggies yakking and bickering. In Waking Life, the conversations were fascinating. A Scanner Darkly just made me want to get away from these people.

8. World Trade Center

While United 93 defied everybody's expectations about a Hollywood 9/11 movie, World Trade Center was exactly the mawkish tearjerker we all predicted. Okay, to be fair it's not a tasteless travesty - it's not Pearl Harbor in other words - but it has nothing useful to say about the tragedy or anything else and it's pretty dull to boot.

Full review here

9. A Good Year

Six years after their triumph with Gladiator, Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott teamed up again to utterly destroy a potentially charming comedy about a ruthless city trader humanised by the French vineyard he inherits. Sure, it's a clichéed piece of fluff but Hugh Grant and Richard Curtis could have done it to a turn. Scott however is just not cut out to direct light comedy and Crowe doesn't know how to play a funny bastard. Still, it looks very nice.

Full review here

10. Brick

It's been said that Brick works better on a second viewing so I'll give it another chance at some point in the future. Certainly, lots of reviewers praised this high school film noir, in which modern teenagers talk like characters from Raymond Chandler. I found the concept alienating - it kept me at a distance and it got in the way of the film's depiction of troubled, suburban adolescents. Larry Clark's naturalistic Bully told a similar story of young, middle class lowlifes much more effectively.

10 pleasant surprises and guilty pleasures

1. Deja Vu

After the numbing exercise in style over content that was Domino, Tony Scott gets back together with Crimson Tide star Denzel Washington and producer Jerry Bruckheimer for a simpler, less hyperactive and far more entertaining thrill-ride.

Full review here

2. My Super Ex-Girlfriend

This superhero comedy was dismissed by critics and a flop at the box office but I found it funnier than most of the year's hit comedies. It takes a much sharper look at relationship break-ups than a certain Vince Vaughn / Jennifer Aniston smash and the script has a real wit to it.

Full review here

3. Night At The Museum

From the trailers, this looked like a vacuous kiddie special effects comedy but lo and behold, it's one of the best blockbusters of the year - well written and hilariously performed as well as technically outstanding.

Full review here

4. DOA: Dead Or Alive

Pleasures don't get much guiltier than this blend of Enter The Dragon, Charlie's Angels and Maxim magazine. Three extremely hot babes - Jaime Pressly, Devon Aoki and Holly Valance - strip down to their skimpies and do a lot of slow-motion martial arts fighting. That's about it but credit director Cory Yuen (The Transporter) for making it fun enough that you can convince your other half you're not watching it just to ogle the stars... honest!

5. Severance

The director of the under-rated Creep serves up a bizarre blend of seventies British sitcom humour and modern sado-horror - it's Are You Being Served meets Hostel. Amazingly, it works. Based on this and The Business, Danny Dyer deserves to be a bigger star.

Full review here

6. Tristan And Isolde

In this age of slick, comic book action movies, director Kevin Reynolds (Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, The Count Of Monte Cristo) appears to have dedicated his career to keeping the traditional swashbuckler alive. Good for him. This story of romance, treachery and sword-fighting in ancient Britain suffers a little from a miscast James Franco in the lead but it's a stirring enough adventure. Trivia: this is the film Ridley Scott was originally going to direct after The Duellists but dropped after seeing Star Wars to make Alien instead. He and his brother Tony produced.

7. Running Scared

Now here's one messed-up film! What might have been a simple thriller about a criminal (Paul Walker) trying to retrieve a missing gun manages to incorporate truly vicious violence, a pair of paedophiles, a killer pimp, a John Wayne obsessed, child-beating Russian gangster, sex on top of a washing machine and a scene in which the hero is nearly killed by repeated hits with an ice hockey puck. Shame about the final twist, which makes nonsense of the whole plot, but it's worth seeing if you have a taste for black comedy and a strong stomach. Walker, not exactly known for the quality of his films, made three good ones this year - Flags Of Our Fathers, Running Scared and the perfectly decent family movie, Eight Below.

8. Crank

This nearly outdoes Running Scared for all-out kinkiness and amorality. It's an adrenaline-charged action thriller about a hitman (Jason Statham) who's been injected with a poison which will kill him but which he can slow down by keeping his heart pumping. Again, it's not for the squeamish but if you like your action fast and hard-edged, give it a try.

Full review here

9. The Guardian

A more old-fashioned Hollywood entertainment. Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner take the Richard Gere and Louis Gossett Jr roles in this coastguard reworking of the reliable military training formula. Director Andrew Davis puts it over with enough conviction and entertainment value to make you forget how often you've seen it done before and just enjoy it.

Full review here

10. Final Destination 3

With more spectacular gore and less pretentious, metaphysical waffling than its predecessors, the third installment is the most fun so far. You'll not want to go anywhere near a tanning machine after seeing it.

Full review here

Top 10 at the box office

1. Casino Royale

James Bond is back and, a couple of gripes aside, his return really did breathe fresh life into the series. Daniel Craig is an excellent 007 and the back to basics, Bond Begins approach gives the agent his edge back. The script, co-written by Paul Haggis, is the smartest and most sophisticated writing Bond has had since Connery's heyday, while director Martin Campbell is back on fine form after a few dodgy Hollywood efforts. Those gripes: the big action scenes, while splendidly done, don't fit the main body of the film, which is a surprisingly faithful adaptation of Fleming's 1953 novel (this is the first Bond to bear any real resemblance to Fleming's work since On Her Majesty's Secret Service). The chases and property destruction seem like meat thrown to the crowd who came expecting Die Another Day. And the first half of the film owes a little too much to other spy franchises like The Bourne Identity, Mission: Impossible and, especially, TV's 24. It just seems wrong for James Bond to be chasing terrorists around airports and calling the staff at CTU, I mean British Intelligence for help. That's Jack Bauer's job and even 007 doesn't want to step on Jack Bauer's toes.

2. Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

More of the same, only bigger, louder and making less sense. And it doesn't even have an ending. You have to come back in May for Pirates III to find out how it all turns out. Still, this was the biggest blockbuster of the summer by a long way so obviously a lot of people feel differently.

Full review here

3. The Da Vinci Code

I don't care how much money it made, this is still drivel. Tom Hanks chases around France and Britain trying to unlock clues to a historic mystery, much like Nicolas Cage in National Treasure and Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, only those films are entertaining. This is deathly dull, except when Ian McKellen is livening it up. It all leads to a conspiracy so absurd that it's actually convinced a lot of people there might be something to it.

Full review here

4. Ice Age: The Meltdown

It would be easy to dismiss this as a bland sequel to an okay animated film for kids (and so it is) but Ice Age 2 made more than twice as much money as anything else that came out in the spring - three times as much as the biggest grown-up blockbusters of the period, Walk The Line and Brokeback Mountain. It also sold a lot of merchandise. And unless adults start going back to the cinema, this is the direction in which movies are headed. This year saw a record amount of computer-animated films released, each of them with their own toys, books, happy meals and multi-format video games.

5. Borat

See my top 10 films of the year.

6. Happy Feet

See my second ten favourite films.

7. X-Men: The Last Stand

Many fans of Bryan Singer's first two X-Men films were unimpressed with Brett Ratner's third installment but I liked it. There isn't a lot to it but it delivers solid action, there are some real surprises and it's certainly much more entertaining than Singer's Superman film.

Full review here

8. The Holiday

In case you've been getting Richard Curtis withdrawal symptoms, here are two transatlantic rom-coms for the price of one, with Jude Law romancing Cameron Diaz in Surrey (a picturesque village of course, not Croydon!) and Kate Winslet falling for Jack Black in Los Angeles. The LA story works best, thanks to very nice performances by Winslet, Black and old pro Eli Wallach, and this part is worth sitting through the tiresome Diaz / Law stuff.

Full review here

9. Superman Returns

See under disappointments.

10. Mission: Impossible III

Everyone's been a bit harsh on Tom Cruise if you ask me. Is he that much weirder than any other celebrity? His third Mission: Impossible film is arguably the best of the bunch, with superb action, courtesy of Alias creator JJ Abrams and Philip Seymour Hoffman making a great villain. It didn't deserve its disappointing box office. Put your feelings about its star aside and check it out on DVD.

Full review here

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