A Pictorial History of the Movies: 2006 – Children of Men
2006 is by far one of the weakest years for the purposes of this list. Nothing defined it.
The top ten movies were: Dead Man’s Chest, Night a the Museum, Cars, X-Men: The Last Stand, The Da Vinci Code, Superman Returns, Happy Feet, Ice Age: The Meltdown, Casino Royale and The Pursuit of Happyness.
Of all of those, Casino Royale is the only one that can make a case for it. Because it rebooted Bond and was a great movie that gave a hurting franchise new life. But did it define 2006? Maybe on a later list, but for the first one? I can’t call that a slam dunk.
Then you look at all the other movies that came out this year. Here’s what I have that can remotely be considered a choice: Borat, Children of Men, The Departed, (I’d say An Inconvenient Truth, but that would be way too cynical a choice. Plus I hate documentaries and it’s not even a good choice) Little Miss Sunshine, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Snakes on a Plane. (And the only reason that’s there is for the joke.) There are a few more I’d like to consider (like, say, Idiocracy), but I can’t in good conscience consider them choices right now. Maybe in fifteen years. But now, I can’t. Not enough time has passed.
2006 was not a very good year for definable films. And we’re not even a decade out, so it’s hard to even gauge the time factor. So, when that’s the case, just choose the one you think is going to hold up as the best achievement in film from that year. And to me, that movie is Children of Men.
I love The Departed, but that just doesn’t feel like the right choice. And Borat was a big cultural movie for a while in 2006, but didn’t have any lasting impact. It’s certainly not the film of the year. Little Miss Sunshine has had no lasting impact at all. Pan’s Labyrinth is nice, but no.
So I’m just gonna go with Children of Men, because I truly feel it’s the film that’s going to have the most lasting impact of 2006 and be the film that, in 35 years, we go, “Man, that was a masterpiece and went completely overlooked at the time.” We’re kind of doing that now. (Not as much as we’re doing it with Speed Racer, another unheralded masterpiece, but I digress.)
The brilliant thing this movie does is never explain why people can’t have children anymore. We just know women stopped being capable of having children, and the world is in chaos. Hope is lost. And Cuaron himself has said he hates giving people explanations. This is a direct quote: “There’s a kind of cinema I detest, which is a cinema that is about exposition and explanations … It’s become now what I call a medium for lazy readers … Cinema is a hostage of narrative. And I’m very good at narrative as a hostage of cinema.” That quote alone is reason enough why this movie should be here. Because I say it all the time. Fuck exposition.
It’s astounding to me that this movie didn’t get more love when it was released. It appeared on a lot of top ten lists, and was well-received and all, but it just felt like it came and went and no one really took notice. (Like Prisoners, last year.)
Only now are people starting to come back and go, “You know… that movie is actually a masterpiece.” Which is why I chose it. It’s the only movie I can see from the alternatives that can actually mean something as the choice from 2006 in 20 years.
So I guess we’ll end this like the film ends. It’s entirely up to you to think if this is a good choice or not.