Lloyd Hammett guides us through his favourite year in film
One of the most gifted directors that has ever graced cinema finally landed his Academy Award for best picture in 2006. After five times being snubbed at the podium for, Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990), Gangs of New York (2002) and The Aviator (2004) Martin Scorsese finally won with The Departed. The Boston crime film was a remake of the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs (2002), about the simultaneous deploying of a spy in the police force and the gang of organized crime. With an outstanding cast of Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Sheen to deliver this twisting action thriller it is a gangster film to rival that of Goodfellas.
The complexity of The Departed was only rivaled by that of The Prestige, where Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale pit their wits against each other. The two actors play rival magicians who look to brilliance and then deceit to overcome one another as the greatest magician. Christopher Nolan directs a film, following that of Memento (2000) that plays with the mind, bringing doubts to yourself and the characters. Nolan shows his genius in establishing and executing these elaborate plots that turn you upside down.
The long awaited reboot of Britain’s favourite agent 007 in Casino Royale finally landed with the weight of the nation on Daniel Craig’s shoulders to deliver. Full of action, girls and martinis the film did not disappoint long-term fans of the franchise with Mads Mikkelsen playing the perfect nemesis. It was the start of a new Bond franchise that has labeled Daniel Craig as the best Bond ever, I’m sure Brosnan, Moore and Connery will have something to say about that though.
Other great films in 2006 come in the brutality of the Spartans in 300 and the eye opening Blood Diamond highlighting the diamond trade. 300 is the historical (sort of) war epic of King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and his Spartan warriors against the almighty Persian army. Blood Diamond was the hard-hitting film headed by the brilliant Leonardo DiCaprio on the atrocious diamond trade in South Africa during the Sierra Leone Civil War 1996-2001.
2006 doesn’t stop there with the dark fantasy Pan’s Labyrinth that provoked our imagination and Little Miss Sunshine the charming comedy-drama of a family’s journey across the country. It is a year that even affirmed Will Smith’s Ali (2001) was not a fluke and that he was a top actor with the emotional The Pursuit of Happyness co-starring his son Jaden Smith.
It was a great year of film, how could it not be, it brought us Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat after all.