- United 93. The most astonishing, moving, sad, awful, grand, human, imagined recreation of the flight that ended in a Pennsylvania field on 9/11. Brilliant.
- Casino Royale: vigorous, invigorating, reinvigorating the genre. And as a sideline observation, I want to buy yardage of all the damasky backgrounds in the title sequence with which to quilt. Sometimes, your eye just notices...
- Brokeback Mountain: the restraint held more courage and sadness than more obvious choices would have done, while the delicate, evocative music from a South American did the same.
- 49Up: because this documentary series only gathers power each seven years, and I'm grateful for all the participants who had no say in their place in film history and whose lives illuminate our times and give reasons to reflect on our own lives.
- Ten Canoes: whoever was brave enough to fund a film entirely spoken in Aboriginal dialect is, I hope, basking in due praise. Rolf de Heer and his Aboriginal collaborators gave us a wonderfully entertaining and engaging film to enjoy.
- The Queen: begin with a clever script, engage a cast worth watching and then throw Helen Mirren a challenge she meets with resoundingly brilliant thought and grace.
- Gallipoli: I wonder how many war documentaries there are in which you can show both sides, as this one did the Turks and the Allies in World War I? The one heartbreaking visual story of photographs, archival footage and recreations was made with two narrations, one in Turkish, one in English, by a Turkish film-maker. The voices (many using words from original documents, letters, diaries) spoke from both sides of the war in the same way: fighting for country, for national goals and honour, longing for home and family, dreading the outcome. They faced, and respected, each other across the boundaries and barrier of patriotism, and more than anything the film shows the common humanity which makes us question why the crude and often ineffective tool of war is used at all.
I saw fluff and fun too, this year - the Meringue Movie has its time and place and is not to be sneezed at. But these are the films which will stay with me after 2006, because they gave me new ways of seeing or showed me a way into other worlds or perhaps because I cannot shake them from my memory, should I so wish (I don't).