The Best Film of 2006 Comes From….1969

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By: Greg Mitchell

With the end of the year at hand, everyone is compiling Top Ten lists, ranging from entertainment scandals to worst examples of media bias. On Sunday, three New York Times critics weigh in with their lists of the best films of 2006. They don’t agree on the top of the top, but I find myself right with Manohla Dargis (for a change) in her choice of “Army of Shadows” — which was actually made in 1969.

If you’ve never heard of it, don’t feel bad. This masterpiece by great director Jean-Pierre Melville — based partly on his own experience in the French Resistance — was hit by critics in his native land and never released here until now, which has made it eligible for many critics’ Top Ten lists (where it is often found).

It’s only been released in a few cities here so far but may yet arrive near you in the future — and surely on DVD soon.

The headline on the Dargis story on Sunday sums it up best: “Not for the Faint of Heart or Lazy of Thought.” It’s an unsparing look at a band of anti-Nazi fighters who, in the end, also turn on one of their own. It stars, among others, Lino Ventura and Simone Signoret.

For the record, here is my top ten. Fire away — or, even better, send us your own and we will review what we get next week (send to

One note: I did not see some of the year-end films (but by reputation they are almost all clunkers or near-misses).

My top ten (for now):

“Army of Shadows”

“United 93”


“The Last King of Scotland”


“Half Nelson”

“Little Children”

“Letters from Iwo Jima”

“Little Miss Sunshine”

“Thank You for Smoking”

TV movie: “Prime Suspect,” “Bleak House”

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