Best Picture and Director 2006

1998 through 2007

What are your choices for Best Picture and Director of 2006?

The Departed
Letters from Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen
Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu - Babel
Martin Scorsese - The Departed
Clint Eastwood - Letters from Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears - The Queen
Paul Greengrass - United 93
Total votes: 66

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2006

Postby nightwingnova » Tue Mar 25, 2014 7:32 pm

The Queen was a solid bio pic, but I can't see the love for it. It wasn't deep or creative enough.

I enjoyed Little Miss Sunshine - thought it was fun, but not much more. I accept it as an old-style series of episodes designed to give each character a crisis and a resolution. That would be my one complaint about it - arcane in a non-artistic and no longer commercial structure.

I found The Departed better than the original Chinese version but not the sharp drama touted. In addition, I thought some of the plot developments stretched the imagination.

I enjoyed the drama of Babel even if I felt the attempt to show the interconnecting lives of humanity across the globe was too blunt.

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2006

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:12 pm

Well, I guess I’ve run out of excuses, and now have to try and catch up with all these years that were covered during the heat of Oscar season. It seems a daunting task -- not helped by the fact they’re years we’ve covered in exhaustive detail on this very board – but plunge ahead I must.

Anyone who’s been with the board through the years will not be surprised that, for me, 2006 was about Children of Men first, with everything else at quite a distance. My major dissertation on the film can still be located in the 2000-2007 section; I’ll just say here that the film remains, for me, the great cinematic work of this millennium, and that best picture/director votes would be a no-brainer for me were they an option.

Cuaron’s fellow Amigo Guillermo del Toro also deserved top category nominations for Pan’s Labyrinth, and Greengrass’ film should have qualified under film as well as director (and no doubt would have, in the current system). Apart from that, I don’t see much glaringly absent.

Little Miss Sunshine is, for me, one of the weakest best picture nominees this past decade. People (including family members) view me as curmudgeon for taking this stance, but I find the film utterly lacking in distinction – its visuals are weak/bordering on inept, and the lauded screenplay is, for me, an assemblage of indie clichés knit around a ridiculous premise, with a stupid, pointless ending. That this film actually seemed to be in the neighborhood for a best picture win was staggering, and happily a mirage.

The Queen (which should have won that original screenplay prize hands down) is a nice, tidy film – intelligently worked out, covering a decent amount of ground, but ultimately too small to seem much more than a top-drawer TV movie. Helen Mirren’s performance is quite good, though not quite the second coming her collection of prizes would seem to indicate, and Michael Sheen’s Tony Blair remains the best performance of his career. There’s really not much more to say about the film – which is both to its credit and its ultimate limitation.

Babel was another film I wrote about pretty extensively back in the day. I liked it more than most here (an easy bar to surpass), and found it at least visually interesting throughout – the night-time Tokyo scenes were among the most memorable images of that year. It’s true that Arriaga’s script ladles on the misery, and Inarritu seems too pleased happy to wallow in such details (as he does with the even more miserable Biutiful). But for me the film held conceptual interest, and, while I wouldn’t put it on this list, I don’t find its inclusion any kind of outrage.

The Departed was what it took to get Martin Scorsese his Oscar: a well-written, well-acted, sharply shot crime thriller with enough complexity to make it feel fresh but not so much of the Scorsese fatalism as to make voters turn away. I think it’s plenty of fun, and a very solid piece of work, but I’ve never once felt the urge to watch it again when it’s turned up on TV.

Letters from Iwo Jima is easily the strongest of the best picture nominees – an elegiac look at an empire as it’s breathing its last. There are, thanks to Paul Haggis, moments of obviousness in the script, but they’re overwhelmed by many beautifully observed moments, both small and large, and by Eastwood’s strikingly mournful tone. I may like this the best of all Eastwood’s post-Unforgiven films, and it gets my definite best picture vote.

For best director, though, I go with Paul Greengrass, whose the-bare-facts approach may not have worked for most films, but was the absolute perfect way to film United 93 just a few years after the traumatic day documented. The events of that morning paradoxically gain power from being presented absolutely deadpan – the muttered “Jesus Christ” of the first guy who sees the burning Trade Center tower is exactly as I remember reacting myself, which brought the whole thing back more vividly than I might have imagined. The film’s structure is also remarkable – first jumping around from locale to locale, but finally, relentlessly, homing in on the place we knew it was eventually leading, closing us into the airplane as it reaches its unavoidable fate. Can a movie have action movie tropes and still feel 100% real? United 93 managed that. And, for it, Greengrass rates my best director vote.

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2006

Postby Heksagon » Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:03 am

All right, time to pick this up again.

This was a weak year for releases (at least for the type of films usually get Oscar nominations), and considering that, I feel the Academy did well to nominate Letters from Iwo Jima, The Departed and The Queen, which are amongst the best films of the year. Iwo Jima gets my votes.

The other two nominees are scraping the bottom of the barrel. Babel is a mediocre faux-art film the type of which often gets some good reviews, but rarely any Oscar considerations higher that a screenplay nomination. I don't think that Babel or the mundane Little Miss Sunshine would have gotten anywhere near a Best Picture nomination most years (in the case of the latter, it may be just wishful thinking, as the film was indeed a commercial success and, incredibly, even got a lot of good reviews).

So, this was the year Martin Scorsese finally won an Oscar. I'm fine with that, but The Departed isn't quite Scorsese's best work (and IMHO, not even as good as Infernal Affairs on which it is based) and it isn't the type of film that usually wins Oscars either. I wonder if this film could have won Best Picture if it had been released any other year this decade.

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2006

Postby dws1982 » Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:56 pm

Letters From Iwo Jima and Eastwood. The Departed is a well-made lark (and, along with The Queen, might have gotten my vote in another lineup) but the Eastwood film resonates more deeply.

My top ten:
1. A Lion in the House (Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert) - the movie of the decade, as far as I'm concerned
2. Flags of Our Fathers (Clint Eastwood)
3. L’Enfant (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
4. Letters From Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood)
5. Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (Mark Rothemund)
6. The Black Dahlia (Brian De Palma)
7. Miami Vice (Michael Mann)
8. Fateless (Lajos Koltai)
9. Infamous (Douglas McGrath)
10. Volver (Pedro Almodovar)

Runners-Up: Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Larry Charles), Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron), Clean (Oliver Assayas), Old Joy (Kelly Reichert), Le Petit Lieutenant (Xavier Beauvois), A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman)

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2006

Postby Eric » Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:01 am

In this field, and having fallen deep out of enchantment with Clint Eastwood (outside of the borderline maudit smash success Gran Torino), there's really no other choice but The Departed.

Top 10
01. Inland Empire (David Lynch)
02. Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
03. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron)
04. Miami Vice (Michael Mann)
05. Everything Will Be OK (Don Hertzfeldt)
06. The Case of the Grinning Cat (Chris Marker)
07. Dave Chappelle's Block Party (Michel Gondry)
08. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu)
09. Jackass Number Two (Jeff Tremaine)
10. The Ister (Daniel Ross & David Barison)

Anti-Top 10
01. Little Children (Todd Field)
02. Southland Tales (Richard Kelly)
03. Thank You for Smoking (Jason Reitman)
04. Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris)
05. The Child (Luc & Jean-Pierre Dardenne)
06. The Wicker Man (Neil LaBute)
07. Dreamgirls (Bill Condon)
08. A Good Woman (Mike Barker)
09. SherryBaby (Laurie Collyer)
10. Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro)

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2006

Postby Reza » Fri Jan 10, 2014 2:44 am

Voted for The Departed and Scorsese.

My picks for 2006:

Best Picture
1. Children of Men
2. Pan's Labyrinth
3. The Departed
4. The Queen
5. Volver

The 6th Spot: Letters From Iwo Jima

Best Director
1. Alfonso Cuaron, Children of Men
2. Guillermo del Toro, Pan's Labyrinth
3. Martin Scorsese, The Departed
4. Pedro Almodovar, Volver
5. Stephen Frears, The Queen

The 6th Spot: Clint Eastwood, Letters From Iwo Jima

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2006

Postby Precious Doll » Thu Jan 09, 2014 6:11 am

Voted for The Queen & Clint Eastwood.

Babel most rank as one of the very worst films ever nominated in either category.

My top ten of the year:

1. Borat: Cultural Learning of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Larry Charles)
2. Little Children (Todd Field)
3. Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (Michael Winterbottom)
4. Volver (Pedro Almodovar)
5. The Queen (Stephen Frears)
6. Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood)
7. Private Fears in Public Places (Alain Resnais)
8. Container (Lukas Moodysson)
9. The Host (Joon-ho Bong)
10. 9/11 – The Twin Towers (Nick Read)
Last edited by Precious Doll on Fri Jan 10, 2014 2:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best Picture and Director 2006

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:00 pm

Best Picture and Director of 2006: Children of Men and Alfonso Cuarón. Runners-up: Volver and Pedro Almodóvar.

After that, there wouldn't be any alts I'd be wildly enthusiastic about, but I would have wanted Little Children on the list as well. It had its flaws (notably an ending that didn't really reach much of anything), but I found it a mostly ambitious and compelling work. And, for sheer pleasurable entertainment, I thought The Science of Sleep was a joy -- it wasn't Eternal Sunshine, but I'm not sure why it was greeted with such a shrug.

I would also have advocated for a director/not picture candidate in Brian De Palma. The Black Dahlia had obvious problems, beginning with a script that ended up in gonzo land, to say nothing of the fact that almost every actor (save for Mia Kirshner) was wildly miscast. But...visually it was totally marvelous, not just beautiful-looking, but full of dazzlingly mounted sequences, and I thought it was the director's most impressive work in a long while.

To touch on an omittee that had always been a part of the conversation, I'd view Dreamgirls in about the same way as Cold Mountain. I don't have a problem with its omission -- in this case, I find the original musical to be fairly generic in book and score, problems which weren't solved by the movie version. But overall I found it to be well-mounted by Condon and company, with some very memorable moments, and if one of the frontrunners had to go, I never would have chosen to dump this over...

...Little Miss Nothing, which is an absolute little nothing whose acclaim flabbergasted me all season long. For starters, I thought it was a pretty shoddy piece of filmmaking, with an ugly look and some pretty hideously composed shots. I'm not sure I would have forgiven this under other circumstances, but I might have at least understood the enthusiasm if I thought the movie was flat-out hilarious, as so many people told me it was. But I didn't think it had many laughs either -- scenes like the beauty pageant, with its excruciatingly over-the-top emcee, struck me as so broad I couldn't even begin to take them seriously. And so much of the plot elements felt out of Writing 101 -- take an ugly girl in a beauty pageant, a suicidal gay uncle, and a drug addict grandpa: mix and stir for instant movie! I think this is the second worst Best Picture nominee of the entire decade. Thank god it didn't win.

I didn't dislike any of the other nominees, though I found most of them to be at about the same level. I enjoyed The Queen, mainly because I thought it was interesting to see an account of a historical event that occurred when I was old enough to remember it, but young enough that I wasn't aware of most of the story covered by the film. Helen Mirren was glorious, and Michael Sheen criminally undersung, and I felt the script had both witty humor as well as genuinely sensitive moments -- it provided a very compelling account of how a very public figure had to react to something that should be as private as a tragic family death. But it definitely wasn't the most exciting piece of filmmaking -- Stephen Frears's work is intelligent enough, but pretty visually undistinguished, and as many here said at the time, it felt more like a solid HBO movie than anything bracingly cinematic.

Martin Scorsese's long overdue win was a truly cheer-worthy moment. And certainly a movie like The Departed benefited from the director's incredibly energetic work, in a genre that's totally within his wheelhouse. But, in my opinion, the film wasn't one of the director's career peaks. Which is not to say that it wasn't a fun entertainment, with a clever dual mole concept, a script that ran with the set-up in consistently surprising ways, and the year's most stellar acting ensemble. But at its heart, it was still a lark, and though Scorsese's touch is all over the movie, it's closer to a standard thriller than the one-of-a-kind triumphs for which I've voted for the director in the past. And seeing that I've rewarded Scorsese plenty in this game, I don't feel the need to sentimentalize my vote and pick him here.

United 93 wasn't a movie without limitation -- the you-are-there-in-real-time nature of the film prevented it from exploring many ideas in a full-bodied way. And yet, I have no idea why it engendered such animosity from some people around here. Paul Greengrass mounts the film in an incredibly gripping and detailed manner, and his approach has clear merits. Scenes like the air traffic controllers looking up at the burning tower and reacting with pretty muted concern, or seeing the passengers on board flight 93 slowly coming to realize that their plane has been hijacked, essentially strip the 9/11 tragedy of the overwhelming global, cultural, and political effects that transpired in its aftermath, and present a nightmarish portrait of a disaster that happened little by little. This spareness of approach allows the narrative to proceed in a manner that's all the more frightening for seeming so simple and inevitable. Greengrass doesn't get my Director vote -- as I said, I don't think the movie is necessarily a work of great depth -- but I have no problem with his nomination for such a unique effort.

I know I'm supposed to absolutely despise Babel, but it was another movie where the vitriol directed at it seemed out of proportion to me. I felt, in particular, that the movie was widely criticized for something it wasn't -- well into Oscar season, a friend of mine told me she really wasn't looking forward to seeing another movie about how much people of different races can't get along. And I thought, I don't think that's what Babel is about all. If anything, it seemed to feature a bunch of stories featuring characters of the SAME race/nationality who struggled to communicate with each other, in a way that emphasized the similarities between people across continents, even as their individual struggles brought out clear differences. I do think the movie became a little overwrought near the end -- Alejandro González Iñárritu sure does love to wallow in misery -- but I found the movie to be very ambitious, the work of a director with a strong visual eye and a real feel for narrative momentum. I don't at all view this as Crash: Globe Hopping Edition.

But I think Letters From Iwo Jima is the clear best of the Best Picture nominees. And I say this having not much liked Flags of Our Fathers. The tone of the earlier film seemed off, as if the material cried out for a less sincere, more ironic approach than Eastwood provided. But here, working in a different language even, Eastwood's elegiac tone was just a perfect match for the material. The images in Letters from Iwo Jima are strikingly beautiful -- I still can't believe the movie missed in Cinematography -- but it's got a beautiful story as well, about a group of soldiers persevering for honor and their country even in the face of inevitable defeat. It's just such a delicately handled war film, full of scenes that seem to bear the full of weight of warfare without ever feeling jingoistic. I think it's one of Eastwood's greatest triumphs this decade. So, much as I didn't really want to see Eastwood and his film triumph over Scorsese again, in literal terms, I have to acknowledge Iwo Jima and its director as the best of this bunch.

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2006

Postby mlrg » Wed Jan 08, 2014 5:40 pm

voted for The Departed and Scorsese

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2006

Postby Sabin » Wed Jan 08, 2014 4:14 pm

Terribly worded. I'm at work.

They interviewed the director, cast, and crew of all the nominated films and before commercials you got a brief glimpse into the craft of it. I didn't love Ellen as a host. She was perfectly fine but a bit bland. The creative choices behind the show itself and the choice to showcase filmmaking is getting rapidly lost in an increasing sea of self-congratulation but this one did some great things.
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Re: Best Picture and Director 2006

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:15 pm

I voted for The Departed and Scorsese in the absence of Pan's Labyrinth and The Children of Men and their directors (del Toro; Curaron).

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2006

Postby flipp525 » Wed Jan 08, 2014 2:29 pm

Sabin wrote:Was this really seven years ago? Remember how right the Oscars got involving the films themselves into the ceremony?

Can you explain what you mean by this? It's oddly worded.

The only thing I can recall is the live presentation of the Best Costume Design nominees, if that's what you meant.
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Re: Best Picture and Director 2006

Postby Sabin » Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:07 pm

Was this really seven years ago? Remember how excellent of a job the producers of this show did in showcasing the various aspects of filmmaking? How they interviewed the directors of the films before commercials?

I'm not sure if Babel or Little Miss Sunshine would be my nadir today. Little Miss Sunshine was a mystifyingly unsuccessful road movie that peaked before they got on the road. It has charm to it but what can you say about that? Babel is just not my jam at all. Aesthetically, it has a bit going for it and I'm always weary about dismissing films with artistic aspiration that others have already ganged up on. In retrospect, I'm kind of surprised it staged such a successful awards run. It seems like the kind of film that just doesn't connect. I haven't thought for a second of returning back to this film for a moment. I have no use for United 93 and The Queen is a perfectly enjoyable film that just didn't excite me. It probably doesn't help that I find Peter Morgan incredibly overrated.

At the time, The Departed and Letters from Iwo Jima seemed to me like the best films nominated in quite some time. The following year's double punch of No Country/There Will Be Blood has diminished some of that gratitude but hat's off! I've seen Letters from Iwo Jima once and The Departed countless times. The more I watch The Departed, the more I'm aware that everyone involved is doing a terrific job at making a shallow entertainment with the mildest of efforts into psychological probing. Along with Casino Royale, it was a great summer film released in the autumn, and it deserves to stand in Oscar history just above the middle rung not as merely tossing a bone to Scorsese at long last (at the time, I predicted a Picture/Director split with the former going to Little Miss Sunshine: let this be a lesson! If you predict a split, it will either not happen or be the wrong one!).

I vote popcorn on this one. The Departed & Scorsese.

Best Picture
1. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron)
2. The Lives of Others (Florian von Donnersmarck)
3. The Departed (Martin Scorsese)
4. Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood)
5. Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro)
6. Brick (Rian Johnson)
7. The Prestige (Christopher Nolan)
8. Casino Royale (Martin Campbell)
9. Half Nelson (Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden)
10. Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt)

Best Director
1. Alfonso Cuaron, Children of Men
2. Martin Scorsese, The Departed
3. Florian von Donnersmarck, The Lives of Others
4. Clint Eastwood, Letters from Iwo Jima
5. Guillermo Del Toro, Pan's Labyrinth
Last edited by Sabin on Fri Jan 10, 2014 12:12 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Best Picture and Director 2006

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:16 am

Thanks. I've been busy.

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Best Picture and Director 2006

Postby anonymous1980 » Wed Jan 08, 2014 7:43 am

It's been a while since someone posted a new one.

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