As 2006 draws to a close and 2007 beckons, it's time for some instant nostalgia. So here's our gift to you, dear readers: The Indys, the first of what we hope will become an annual film awards feature here at the Independent.
It's our collection of the year's best (and sometimes worst) happenings in cinema. So, without further ado, the winners:
Best Performance: Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson
The 26-year-old Gosling's haunting performance as Dan Dunne, a crack-addicted history teacher trying to make the world a better place, is worthy of every award and accolade bestowed.
Most Over-the-Top Villain (tie): Jack Nicholson in The Departed and Kevin Spacey in Superman Returns
These guys should never work together. There's not a screen big enough for both of them.
Best Unknown Cast (three-way tie): Apocalypto, Shortbus and United 93
A lack of "name" actors didn't hurt these great films. Actually, it might have helped.
Best Donkey Show: Clerks II
We're gonna refrain from comment here. Send all letters to Kevin Smith in New Jersey.
Best Birthing Scene: Apocalypto
Dalia Hernandez gives an underwater birth as another child sits on her shoulders.
Best Child Performance (tie): Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine; Ivana Baquero, Pan's Labyrinth
Adorable and talented.
The "Easy There, Buddy" Award: James Franco
Following his supporting role in the Spider-Man cash cow, Franco stepped up to play the leading man, only to watch his films Annapolis and Flyboys flop.
Most Underrated Actor: Anthony Mackie
Explosive performances in Half Nelson and We Are Marshall showed some serious potential. Keep an eye out for his upcoming Jesse Owens biopic.
Worst Accent: Leonardo DiCaprio
Take your pick of The Departed or Blood Diamond.
Great But Too Late: Toby Jones as Truman Capote in Infamous
Philip Seymour Hoffman won last year's Oscar for his affecting portrayal of Truman Capote, but the diminutive English actor Toby Jones captured the author's antics better.
Best Heterosexual Kiss: Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson in Little Children
Oh, the joys of extramarital affairs.
Best Homosexual Kiss: Toby Jones and Daniel Craig in Infamous
James Bond swings both ways, apparently. As a lonely prisoner, the new Bond has a heavy make-out scene with Jones' Capote.
Best Breakup (tie): Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston
In The Break-Up and in real life!
Worst Breakup: Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga
The tandem behind Babel, who also collaborated on Amores Perros and 21 Grams, apparently had an argument and will no longer enjoy a working relationship together. It's a pity.
Best Trend: Ensemble casts
Perhaps taking a cue from Crash, some of the year's best films both big (Babel, Bobby, The Departed) and small (Little Miss Sunshine, Little Children) featured a half-dozen truly impressive performances. This trend is one we welcome with open arms: Hey, we go to the movies to watch movie stars, right?
Worst Trend (tie): Inspirational football movies and remakes
Rousing and heartfelt though they might be, football flicks are on the fast track to becoming predictable, sappy clichs (Invincible, Gridiron Gang, We Are Marshall). Oh, and stop with the remakes already. Didn't we learn anything from Poseidon and The Wicker Man? That said ...
Best Remake: The Departed
Fans of Martin Scorsese's Boston-based crime thriller should check out its Hong Kong predecessor, Infernal Affairs, as well as its prequel and sequel.
Best Collaboration: Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese
After the impressive trifecta of Gangs of New York, The Aviator and The Departed, is there any doubt Leo and Marty make the best team in the biz? See, we're on a first-name basis with them!
Best Chick Flick: The Devil Wears Prada
Marketing be damned when you've got delicious performances from Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci.
Biggest Disappointment: The Da Vinci Code
How Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman and Tom Hanks messed up Dan Brown's pulse-pounding novel is baffling.
Best Animated Film: Monster House
The Steven Spielberg-Robert Zemeckis project wins by a motion-captured hair ahead of Over the Hedge.
Worst Animated Film: A Scanner Darkly
Richard Linklater's drawn-on-top-of-film flick was boring, pretentious and head-scratching everything an animated film shouldn't be.
Best Movie about Gamers: Grandma's Boy
And how about that masturbation scene! Seriously, it was frighteningly realistic.
Best Companion Piece: Letters from Iwo Jima
As patriotic as the overcooked Flags of Our Fathers was, Clint Eastwood's real masterpiece this year is this profoundly moving, impressively acted companion piece that effectively illustrates how war affects more than just the "heroes."
Best Soundtrack: The Devil and Daniel Johnston
Johnston's teenage garage recordings drew comparisons to The Beatles. He provides most of the music for this Sundance-winning documentary about his life as a prodigious musical wunderkind whose schizophrenia led to a tragic downfall.
Best Franchise Reboot: The James Bond/007 series
No slight to Brandon Routh, who did his best to fill some super-sized shoes in Superman Returns, but Daniel Craig took the James Bond franchise to a new level with his ferocious performance in Casino Royale.
Funniest Movie (tie): Borat and Jackass Number Two
Who knew largely improvised comedies could be so hilarious not to mention successful?
Biggest Embarrassment: The Black Dahlia
Brian De Palma wasted the opportunity to create a memorable mystery out of Hollywood's most famous unsolved murder by casting a lot of hot young name-actors, like Josh Hartnett and Scarlett Johansson, who turned out to be completely wrong for their roles.
Best Screenwriting: Peter Morgan
Morgan penned The Queen and co-wrote The Last King of Scotland. How's that for a royally good year? (And how's that for a terrible pun?)
Best Cinematography (tie): Emmanuel Lubezki for Children of Men; Matthew Libatique for The Fountain
Both of these cinematographers presented fascinating and distinctly different visions of the future.
Worst "Good" Movies (three-way tie): A Good Year, The Good Shepherd and The Good German
Good doesn't always mean "good." More often than not, it translated into an apathetic "eh" in 2006.
Best Movie Not Playing at a Theater Near You: Farewell Bender
Find it and watch it ... if you can.