Saturday, January 13, 2007

Now this part of the review is what I like to call “The Surprises of 2006” a lot of these films came out of nowhere to be huge Indy hits or huge box office hits. Now there are some films on this list that I did not like but I decided to look at the whole picture and give you a realistic look at the top 20 surprises of 2006.

20.Little Miss Sunshine

I really had no interest in seeing the film until I saw that it would be playing in Korea. I watched it and it’s just a little film that told a very funny story. Greg Kinnear and Steve Carell do a wonderful job with this film.

19. The Wind That Shakes The Barley (PIFF)

With a last name of McStay and being able to trace it back to Belfast, Ireland. I was quite interested in seeing this film. It tells about Ireland becoming a nation and the civil war that followed it. It has a real sad ending.


This is the type of film that needs to been seen on a huge screen or with friends in a DVD room. The Oscar buzz is for Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson for their excellent work in this film. Eddie nails this role and reminds me why I have always liked him as an actor.

17.Farce of the Penguins

I had the opportunity to see this one and I was laughing throughout the entire movie. It is a mocumentary about “The March of the Penguins” but in this film we get Samuel L. Jackson as the narrator and the comedy starts from there.


To be honest I have usually liked Ben Affleck as an actor, so when I heard that he was going to be playing George Reeves in this film, it took me a little by surprise. He was going to play the man, who played “Superman” in the 1950’s TV Show. It has won Ben a Volpi Cup for best actor at the Venice Film Festival and a Golden Globe Nomination. It really covers no new ground but still a nice film.

15.Eight Below

Well every now and then I do like the “Lassie” formula in movies and this one worked for me. I really liked Paul Walkers’ role in this film. See it with the little ones. The kids will like this film more than the adults ever will.


Once again Mel Gibson gives us a look at another era and time and tells a very interesting story about one man’s survival for him and his family. We will never know how the negative publicity this year hurt this film. Please give this film 1 look and I think that you might actually like it.

13.Glory Road

As a child, I grew up in El Paso, Texas, where the majority of this film takes place at. So when, I lived there, I would always hear the story of the 1965-66 Miners and how they used 5 black players and won the NCAA Basketball championship. I was happy to see the film and I was finally able to see the story that I had heard since my childhood on the big screen.

The 9th Company (PIFF)

I am listing this as a 2006 film for 2 reasons, 1. It was shown at the PIFF this year and 2. It is Russia’s official Oscar Nomination for, “Best Foreign Film of the Year.” My Russian film history had only included the silent “The Battleship Potemkin’ but after seeing this one, it has made me want to see more films from Russia this year.

11.The City of Violence (PIFF)
My Review

When I first saw the preview for this film, it looked like a bad Tarantino rip-off, but something inside me told me to give this film a chance, and I am so glad that I did. This film had a great story and a great plot and one very messed-up ending. Rent it when you get the chance.

10.The Pursuit of Happyness
My Review

Now with Will Smith either I love the film (Hitch, ID4) or I have really hated it (Ali, Bagger Vance) this one falls into the class that I loved it. It told a story how a man who only had his son managed to become a stock broker.

9.Happy Feet
My Review

Now to be honest, this film just left me very flat. It looks like I am in the minority on this one. Parents have stated to me that their children loved the music and all of the penguins. See it in English when you can.

8. The Last King of Scotland
My Review

Once again, another film that I flat out did not like, and once again people who saw this are telling me that I am wrong. The huge Oscar Buzz is for Forrest Whitaker for his portrayal of Idi Amin.

7.Baruto No Gakuen

It was a little Japanese film that I saw when I had to get my E-2 visa. It tells about how German P.O.W.’s were treated by Japan at the outbreak of WW1. It told a good story and it had a great plot.

My Review

I had heard that this was a small, good film. I had no idea that it was also a great film. What a story it told and, sad to say, I believed it. What a plot from start to the absolute finish.

5.Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
My Review

I REALLY HATED THIS FILM WHEN I DID THE ABOVE REVIEW FOR IT. I then took a look at the numbers and how many people laughed at this film. It has a small budget and made a huge return for 20th Century Fox. Either you will hate this film or you are going to LOL when it finally arrives in Korea in 2007.

4.Night at the Museum
My Review

Now this was the surprise pick for me but Ben Stiller’s last staring films in the USA have done very well. I listed this film near the top because of what this film has done in the limited foreign markets so far. In South Korea (At time of writing) has broken 4 million tickets sold and is now the all time USA comedy here in Korea. It seems to be translating well in varied markets.

3.Casino Royale
My Review

Now this was going to be either a huge hit or a major disaster. It happens when a new James Bond is selected. I had my doubt about the new Bond, Daniel Craig, but after seeing it, they made the right choice.

2.The Devil Wears Prada.

I did not like the film but that sure did not stop allot of people from seeing it this summer and around the world. It just seemed to connect with allot of different people for allot of different reasons.

Now this leaves me with a huge problem, I have 2 films left and I flat out could not decide which the bigger surprise of the year was for me. So the “Flynnie” for the Surprise film of the year 2006 goes to.

1.Tie. The Host and Pan’s Labyrinth PIFF for “The Host”)
The Host
Pan’s Labyrinth

(The Host review)

In a way both films talk about freedom and to beware of outside influences in your country. The Host has set the Korean Box office record this year with over 13 million tickets sold and was shown at an all time record 640 screens here in Korea. They both also tell a huge story of love and what will due to protect it. They both tell of what a family actually is. Please see both of these fine films when you get the chance.

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