Brevity saw a lot of movies released in 2006. How many?
Free sneak previews (42): Something New, Failure to Launch, She's the Man, Take the Lead, Ice Age: The Meltdown, Thank You for Smoking, Scary Movie 4, Hoot, American Dreamz, Akeelah and the Bee, Stick It, Mission: Impossible III, Just My Luck, Over the Hedge, The Break-Up, Peaceful Warrior, Little Man, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, John Tucker Must Die, World Trade Center, The Illusionist, Invincible, Little Miss Sunshine, Idlewild, Everyone's Hero, Flyboys, All the King's Men, School for Scoundrels, Employee of the Month, Marie Antoinette, Running with Scissors, Catch a Fire, The Fountain, Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, Unaccompanied Minors, Charlotte's Web, The Pursuit of Happyness, We Are Marshall, Rocky Balboa, Dreamgirls, The Painted Veil, Letters from Iwo Jima
Saw in first-run theater (12): Inside Man, X-Men: The Last Stand, Superman Returns, An Inconvenient Truth, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Beerfest, Hollywoodland, The Prestige, Babel, Casino Royale, Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj, Night at the Museum (IMAX)
Saw in second-run theater: (none)
Watched on DVD for free (23): Hoodwinked!, Tristan + Isolde, Date Movie, The Pink Panther, Annapolis, V for Vendetta, Rang de Basanti, The Sentinel, RV, Krrish, Cars, Goal! The Dream Begins, The Da Vinci Code, Accepted, How to Eat Fried Worms, The Ant Bully, The Last Kiss, The Devil Wears Prada, Idiocracy, Brick, The Notorious Bettie Page, Flags of our Fathers, The Departed
You can tell how sharply my viewing habits have changed since last year; obviously, I've become more immersed in the advanced screening subculture, and more savvy in reserving DVD titles from the library ages in advance. (Even if I wanted to see something at the nearby second-run theater, I knew I could wait a month or less to see it on DVD for free.)
I thought I would take this opportunity to use the same irreverent categories I used in 2005, and add a few more.
Best Example of My Alienation from Younger Audiences: None. I didn't see the equivalent of a Sin City this year. (I thought V for Vendetta would apply, but it was more articulate and less fanboy-pleasing.) Could be a matter of personal choice -- I skipped sneak previews in the horror genre -- or the recognition that a lot of teen-oriented fare smacked of unhip adult influence.
The "Watch Your Back, Dakota Fanning" Award: I was tempted to give this to Elle Fanning again, but she doesn't do a whole lot in Babel. So I have to give it to Little Miss Sunshine's Abigail Breslin, who seems like a well-adjusted kid with no immediate plans to do adult dramas and direct.
Thank Your Stunt Coordinator Award: Casino Royale, for that awesome foot chase in the first act. A perfect example of why going back to basics was the right decision. Daniel Craig was better than I thought he would be, but I can't see him grow into a more polished Bond.
Style over Substance Award: Brick. I chose this one to prove a point: you can make an overly stylized film without flashy visuals. There's not much going on in this neo-noir, and almost nothing is explained until the end, so you're forced to trust the filmmaker's approach. The actors are game in trying to emulate the mood and dialogue of the 1940s, and some are better at it than others. I bought the style, but ultimately I didn't feel rewarded.
Substance over Style Award: Thank You for Smoking. It delivers the intended satire without any unnecessary directorial tricks. Honorable mention to the low-frills Akeelah and the Bee.
Best Line Delivery: It's no contest. Jonah Hill in Accepted: "Ask me about my wiener!" The hot dog costume, the breaking voice, and whatever the hell he's doing with his hand.
Most Difficult Film to Like/Defend: Idlewild. Critics hated it and audiences avoided it, but it really wasn't so bad. There was a nice mix of newcomer and veteran talent, and if ever there was a modern musical act that was cinema-ready, it's OutKast. It's a film experiment that doesn't quite work, but who am I to blame the filmmakers for trying?
Most High-Concept Premise: Idiocracy. Without a doubt, the scariest view of the future ever captured on film. I'd much rather see the terminators and replicants take over.
Best Eye Candy for Men: Elizabeth Banks in Invincible. Fresh-faced, witty, and a football fan.
Best Eye Candy for Women: Hugh Jackman in The Fountain. Works three different looks (burly conquistador, wintry doctor, bald in pajamas) and remains curiously pretty.
Honorary Brevity Award: Little Miss Sunshine. That is one jam-packed 100-minute movie, but so carefully written that it takes its time when necessary. Everything you could possibly want in a family comedy, and then they add the pageant. Marvelous.