Leah Rozen
December 25, 2006 12:00 PM

THE DEPARTED
Boston proved a good change of venue for that most New York City-centric of directors, Martin Scorsese. This sly thriller about gangsters, cops and betrayal, starring Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio, was his most energized movie in years.

BORAT: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
The most hilarious film of the year managed to be both smart and crude. Plus, we learned that two sweaty naked guys wrestling makes for transcendent comedy.

UNITED 93
This near-documentary re-created what happened aboard United Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, as well as showing the reactions of those on the ground who were tracking the jet. It was harrowing to sit through—but worth it.

LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
A feel-good movie about a dysfunctional family? Seeing was believing in this captivating road-trip comedy. And watching adorable little Abigail Breslin cut loose at the movie’s climax was the icing on the cake.

FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS
Clint Eastwood just keeps directing one great movie after another. This historical drama about four men who helped raise the flag at Iwo Jima during WWII movingly explored what it means to be a hero. Its Japanese-language companion film, Letters from Iwo Jima, was also powerful.

LITTLE CHILDREN

Suburban adultery was never as amusing—or heartbreaking—as in this bittersweet satire about a bored housewife (Kate Winslet) and Mr. Mom (Patrick Wilson) who hit the sheets while their children napped.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD

Director Robert De Niro scored with a richly textured drama about the first two decades of the CIA. In the name of protecting his country, a career officer (Matt Damon) lets down all those closest to him.

THE QUEEN

Helen Mirren ruled in an insightful drama set in the days following Princess Diana’s death in 1997. Her Elizabeth II is slow to realize that a grieving populace demands to see her stiff upper lip tremble.

THE PROPOSITION

The dusty Australian outback was the setting for a violent but compelling western. A tale of brotherly love—and hate—it questioned what constitutes family loyalty and civilized behavior.

VOLVER

As if emitting a natural phosphorescence, Penélope Cruz glowed throughout this bouncy drama by director Pedro Almodóvar. She plays a woman whose dead mom pops up to haunt her.

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