I agree with Andy Horbal's blame of the list-mania, but I'd like to argue against "capsule summary" that simplify the opinion in few words as a year-end reminder. I'd rather post a bare list that functions as a mere barometer and can be compared with others. It shows how the year was perceived differently by critics, or how distribution was limited. A neutral assessment of the warmest recommendations.
Only 10 titles on my list got an official distribution in France, and most of the time a narrow exposition. Only 4 French films, truly original and inspired (one of them is made by a japanese director). 4 debut feature-length directors. 3 Documentaries.
But these are challenging films more interesting than the "commercial auteurs". I think they are exemplary formaly and thematically, to which I give more credit than the comfortable mannerism of older auteurs doing what they master within the safe codes of the genre. I think they deserve more support from critics and cinephiles, and should inspire future cinema to be more creative.
20 films, roughly in preferential order :
- Our Daily Bread (2005/Nikolaus Geyrhalter/Autriche) DOC
- Fantasma (2006/Lisandro Alonso/Argentine)
- Lights in the dusk (2006/Aki Kaurismäki/Finlande)
- Climates (2006/Nuri Bilge Ceylan/Turkey)
- Dans Paris (2006/Christophe Honoré/France)
- Drawing Restraint 9 (2005/Matthew Barney/USA)
- Ten Canoes (2006/Rolf de Heer/Peter/Australie)
- Juventude em Marcha / Colossal Youth (Pedro Costa/Portugal)
- Hamaca paraguaya (2006/Paz Encina/Paraguay) Debut
- La science des rêves (2006/Michel Gondry/France)
- Into Great Silence (2006/Gröning/Germany) DOC Debut
- Là-bas (2006/Chantal Akerman/Belgique) DOC
- Sommer '04 (2006/Krohmer/Allemagne)
- Flandres (2006/Bruno Dumont/France)
- Un couple parfait (2005/Nobuhiro Suwa/France)
- 12h08 East of Bucarest (2006/Corneliu Porumboiu/Romanie) Debut
- Sangre (2006/amat Escalante/Mexique) Debut
- Zemastan / It's Winter (2006/Rafi Pitts/Iran)
- Sehnsucht (2006/Valeska Grisebach/Autriche)
- Drama/Mex (2006/Gerardo Naranjo/Mexique)
Special Mentions : Bamako (2006/Sissako/Mali); Volver (2006/Almodovar/Spain) ; Klimt (2006/Ruiz/France); Conversations with Other Women (2005/Canosa/UK); To Get To Heaven First You Have To Die (2006/Usmonov/Tadjikistan); Coeurs (2006/Resnais/France); Renaissance (2006/Volckman/France); La Tourneuse de pages (2006/Dercourt/France); Requiem (2006/Schmid/Germany); 4h30 (2005/Royston Tan/Singapour); Anche Libero va bene (2006/Stuart/Italy); La Raison du Plus Faible (2006/Belvaux/Belgium); Tristram Shandy (2005/Winterbottom/UK); Two Thirty 7 (2006/Thalluri/Australia); Paprika (2006/Kon/Japan); Bubble (2006/Soderbergh/USA)
On my list last year : Lazarescu; The Sun; L'Enfant; Three Times; Battle in Heaven; Manderlay...
Major unseen potential nominees : Inland Empire; Still Life + Dong; Syndromes and a Century; I Don't Want to Sleep Alone; Woman on the Beach; Iraq in Fragments; Oxhide; The Power of Nightmares; Rescue Dawn; White Diamond; The Boss of It All; Half Nelson...