There are a number of rituals associated with the bringing in of a new year. There are resolutions, there's coming back to work and routine after a long break, there's thinking ahead to what's to come and reflecting on what's passed...
...but for me, the most important new year's event is the second-week internet search for the best movies of the passed year. Not the Oscar nominations, mind you, but the amalgam lists that put together all the ratings of the top hundred critics. The movies are ranked according to the number of mentions received, as well as their placements within each critic-list. The result is a list -- a super-list, if you will -- that covers every genre, every taste, every level of fame and obscurity, and a near-perfect success rate.
Well, maybe it's somewhat less than near-perfect, but for every listed dud (say, Primer, or, heaven forbid, the travesty known as The Brown Bunny), there's four or five more that are wonderful, and you wouldn't discover otherwise. Walk on Water, Mirrormask, The Squid and The Whale, Happy Endings, Millions, Hustle & Flow, Me and You and Everyone We Know, Godzilla: Final Wars, and Mondovino were all brilliant, underrated and largely unnoticed gems that I would have passed over without the sage intervention of former years' lists.
And, as of now, I have another 232 movies comprising 2006's finest to add to my "To See" list. (Luckily, I've already taken away the four we've actually already seen... only 228 more to go!)
Then again, given how busy this year will be, perhaps I'll exercise discretion and maybe NOT see Final Destination 3...? ;-)