Finally! I got to see Pan's Labyrinth. What a phenomenal film! Definitely lived up to all the praise it has been getting. Between the stunning visuals of Ofelia's fantasy world and the gruesome realities of Franco's Spain, the gothic fairy tale care of Guillermo del Toro is definitely one of the finest cinema moments all year. This movie has raw power. The performances in this film are spectacular. Ivana Baquero, who plays the 12-year old Ofelia not only drives the emotions of the entire movie, her innocence and love of her mother and brother show us the glimmer of hope in such a dark, dank time in history. Doug Jones, who plays the mythical faun, dons some of the most amazingly realistic makeup work (garunteed to win the Oscar for that category.) Here is a film that proves that very little CGI can make all the difference. If this were a George Lucas film, Pan would have looked like Jar Jar Binks. Yes the fairies are CGI and yes some of the other creatures have moments where they are CGI, but overall the movie is great set design, great costumes and great make-up. Now, where some fantasy films get lost in the visuals and turn out to be nothing more than just a festival for the eyes, Pan's Labyrinth is a festival for the emotions and for the mind. The themes of brutality vs. innocence and fantasy vs. reality are well fleshed out in the story. It's a flawless film. I believe this should clean up most of the awards that it was nominated for, at least it should if the Academy knows what they are doing.
So after viewing this, there are really only two must see films that I missed from 2006 that are no longer in theaters (The Prestige and Science of Sleep.) I am going to try to see Babel and Letters From Iwa Jima ASAP. The other important movies I missed will make my list whence I see them on DVD. This should be in the next few weeks.