A brief note to the dwindling readership:


For several years now, I've compiled my year-end top ten list by considering as eligible any film commercially released in the U.S. in the year in question, as well as films which, at year's end, had no commercial distribution but had world-premiered during the calendar year. This policy has produced some wonky results, and since U.S. distribution patterns are only going to get weirder / worse, I have decided that in the future, I will adhere strictly to films' world-premiere date, regardless of U.S. release.


This will accomplish a number of things. For one, I will be less inclined to attempt to compensate for living in the relatively cinema-deprived city of Syracuse by trying to track down all manner of commercial releases on home video and/or screeners. For another, it will provide a more accurate picture of the year in film, and my repsonse to it. Hopefully, this will also mean I can wrap up my list in early January rather than what I have been doing, which is pushing February, when the real world has moved on.


Inevitably I will catch up with films well after their initial world premiere date, but that dilemma, I think, can maybe best be served by the ongoing top ten lists provided here. Or, maybe in time I'll go the Mike D'Angelo route, with two top tens, one for each category. I don't know, but I have several months to work out the 2007 problem. For now, I offer the two-list solution, with films that will be released in 2007 reinstated in the first list. After that, the list you've been dealing with for lo these many months.


Also, sorry, no real commentary this year, except to say (a) this was a bad year for major Hollywood releases (duh); (b) a number of films this year -- Babel, Fast Food Nation, The Fountain -- seemed to pick up where D.W. Griffith left off, which is scary; and (c) overall 2006 was an off-year for experimental cinema, although I cannot claim to have seen close to everything. Oh, and my list requires one major proviso -- I still haven't seen Inland Empire. Shit.


2006 TOP TEN (by world premiere date; an altogether better list, actually) [revised April 2008]


1. Song and Solitude (Nathaniel Dorsky, U.S.) [s]


2. Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako, Mali / France / U.S.)


3. Still Life (Jia Zhang-ke, China) [v]


4. Colossal Youth (Pedro Costa, Portugal / France)


5. Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand / France / Austria)


6. Capitalism: Child Labor (Ken Jacobs, U.S.) [v/s]


7. The Free Will (Matthias Glasner, Germany)


8. A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater, U.S.)


9. Mukhsin (Yasmin Ahmad, Malaysia)


10. Europa 2005, 27 Octobre (Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, Italy) [v/s]


(bumped) 11. Quixotic / Honor de cavalleria (Albert Serra, Spain)


(bumped) 12. Exiled (Johnnie To, Hong Kong / China)


(bumped) 13. The Host (Bong Joon-ho, South Korea)


(bumped) 14. Climates (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey / France)


(bumped) 15. 14th Arrondissement [segment from "Paris, je t'aime"] (Alexander Payne, U.S. / France) [s]


(bumped) 16. Inside Man (Spike Lee, U.S.)


(bumped) 17. Everyday Bad Dream (Fred Worden, U.S.) [v/s]


and, just for good measure, how about a baker's dozen of unranked runners-up?


Deja Vu (Tony Scott, U.S.)

Film for Invisible Ink case no. 71: Base-Plus-Fog (David Gatten, U.S.) [s]

In Between Days (So Yong Kim, U.S.) [v]

Indigènes [Days of Glory] (Rachid Bouchareb, France / Morocco / Algeria / Belgium)

Interkosmos (Jim Finn, U.S.) [v]

The Last Communist (Amir Muhammad, Malaysia) [v]

Longing (Valeska Grisebach, Germany)

Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, U.S.)

The Prestige (Christopher Nolan, U.K. / U.S.)

Summer '04 (Stefan Krohmer, Germany)

This, and This (Vincent Grenier, U.S.) [v/s]

Volver (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain)

When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (Spike Lee, U.S.) [v]


2006 TOP TEN (including earlier films commercially released in 2006)


1. Song and Solitude (Nathaniel Dorsky, U.S.) [s]


2. Still Life (Jia Zhang-ke, China) [v]


3. Colossal Youth (Pedro Costa, Portugal / France)


4. A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater, U.S.)


5. The Case of the Grinning Cat (Chris Marker, France) [v/m]


6. Climates (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey / France)


7. Inside Man (Spike Lee, U.S.)


8. The Proposition (John Hillcoat, Australia / U.K.)


9. I Am A Sex Addict (Caveh Zahedi, U.S.) [v]


10. Kekexili: Mountain Patrol (Lu Chuan, China)