PRINT December 2006


Amy Taubin


1 Army of Shadows (Jean-Pierre Melville) Made in 1968 but never before released in the United States, this austere, tragic thriller about a French Resistance cell is Melville’s masterpiece.

2 Southland Tales (Richard Kelly) A sprawling piece of pop surrealism about the End Days in Los Angeles, unfurled with tenderness and pizzazz by the director of Donnie Darko, it may never again be seen in the two-and-a-half-hour version shown at Cannes.

3 Inland Empire (David Lynch) If Richard Kelly finds his brand of surrealism surfing the digiscape, David Lynch burrows deep into the rabbit hole of his own unconscious for a similarly hallucinatory but darker and dirtier vision of Hollywood hell.

4 When the Levees Broke (Spike Lee) Subtitled A Requiem in Four Acts, Lee’s Hurricane Katrina documentary is at once epic and intimate, analytic and emotive. Made for HBO and already released on DVD, it deserves to be seen on the big screen.

5 Shoot the Messenger (Ngozi Onwurah) The collaboration of three black, British talents—director Onwurah, writer Sharon Foster, and actor David Oyelowo—pays off in a fearless, flamboyantly theatrical social satire about black identity and self-hatred.

6 Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt) A fragile, exquisitely detailed journey-into-nature film about what we’ve lost.

7 The Host (Bong Joon-ho) Anti-American allegories abound in Korea’s biggest boxoffice and critical success. A giant, peopleeating, mutant tadpole wreaks havoc in Seoul’s working-class (read: expendable) neighborhoods.

8 Ideas of Order in Cinque Terre (Ken Kobland; 2005) and Liberté et Patrie (Jean-Luc Godard and Anne-Marie Miéville; 2002) Two ravishingly beautiful short films shot and distributed digitally, both of which made their New York debuts this year (at the Tribeca and New York film festivals, respectively).

9 Mutual Recognition (Andrew Bujalski) Bujalski’s second feature is as precisely tuned to the speech, manners, and mores of his post-BA, middle-class peers as was his 2002 debut, Funny Ha Ha.

10 Fast Food Nation (Richard Linklater) Adapted from Eric Schlosser’s investigative best seller, this is the most confrontational, populist, politically necessary American fiction film of the year.

A contributing editor of Film Comment and Sight & Sound, Amy Taubin is the author of Taxi Driver (BFI, 2000).