It was a pretty good year for films. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest was a box office treasure along with Cars, Happy Feet, Night at the Museum, The Pursuit of Happyness, Superman Returns, and X-Men: The Last Stand.
Russell Crowe (A Good Year) found he was no longer a box office draw while several films missed their box office targets with audiences including: American Dreamz, Annapolis, Ant Bully, Everybody’s Hero, Freedomland, Hoot, Just My Luck, Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny, Ultraviolet, Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj, and The Wicker Man.
Steven Soderbergh’s quality film Bubble was largely ignored, but foreshadowed the way movies might be simultaneously released on satellite television, home video, and in theaters in the future.
Monster House and A Scanner Darkly took amazing new strides in animation while The Devil Wears Prada and Dreamgirls provided strong female roles.
Audiences made surprise box office hits out of Barnyard and Borat while documentaries including An Inconvenient Truth and Who Killed the Electric Car? bolstered the genre even more as popularity boomed even more on home video.
You also might want to catch some underrated film out on home video like End of the Spear, Flyboys, Lady in the Water, and The Proposition while avoiding disappointing formula flicks like The Break-Up, Click, The DaVinci Code, and Firewall.
Akeela and the Bee – Newcomer Keke Palmer holds her own with the talented Laurence Fishborne and Angela Bassett. Written and directed by Doug Atchison.
Casino Royale – Daniel Craig proved harsh critics wrong as this “blond Bond” took the reigns in a memorable 007 origin adventure.
The Departed – Megawatt star power and an amazing plot (based on the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs) could finally get an elusive Oscar statue for director Martin Scorsese.
Flags of Our Fathers – Clint Eastwood creates a World War II masterpiece bookended by his Letters to Iwo Jima.
Fearless – Jet Li shows amazing presence and, of course, martial arts skills in this emotional film that hopefully gets an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.
Inside Man – Spike Lee makes an unpredictable bank robbing hit without sacrificing quality with stars Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Christopher Plummer and Jodie Foster.
Little Miss Sunshine – Quirky road trip film has an amazing real-life impact, strong cast and surprising poignancy. The young Abigail Breslin becomes a star.
Rocky Balboa – Real life drama and Stallone’s persona come out a winner in this final installment, which redeems the series from the previous disappointment Rocky V.
United 93 – This gripping recount of the events surrounding the September 11th tragedies in 2001 amazes audiences in the hands of British director Paul Greengrass.
V For Vendetta – Natalie Portman’s great acting shines especially with a strong plot. Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith from the Matrix films) anchors the film as “V” in a role where he’s only recognized by his voice.
Basic Instinct 2 – Sharon Stone worked hard for a big payday, but her vampy Catherine Tramell can’t save a pointless movie without a purpose.
Crossover – You know the plot is thin when the title focuses on one basketball move.
Date Movie – Another group of comedy clips and spoofs poorly pieced together with hairline yarn.
Doogal – Tinkering with this British animated canine adventure (originally titled The Magical Roundabout) made the film go from fair to worst.
Let’s Go to Prison – Weak premises, ugly stereotypes played for laughs… no need to say more.
Little Man – Another weak comedy concept movie from the Wayan brothers.
Material Girls – The Duff sisters can’t act or connect with audiences in this debacle.
Phat Girlz – Again weakly written female roles riddled with tiring stereotypes sift through a formulaic plot.
Snakes on a Plane – Samuel L. Jackson commands, curses and contests with slippery serpents in a campy thriller.
Zoom – Tim Allen, Courtney Cox-Arquette and Chevy Chase try to whip up some superhero magic but fail.
The following year-end gems opened in a few big cities before the end of the year to qualify for the Academy Awards. These quality releases go wider in the winter months, so look for them – Children of Men, Curse of the Golden Dragon, Letters From Iwo Jima, and Miss Potter.