Living in Austin makes it challenging to create a year-end Top Ten list. I feel like I ought to have until February to finalize the list, because a lot of acclaimed movies from 2006 won't be released in this town until early next year. Plus, I am still catching up on movies that did get an Austin release before the end of the year -- for example, I didn't get to see The Queen until Wednesday night. I know I've missed some very good movies that might show up on a later list (I am dying to see Sleeping Dogs Lie, for example). And on the flip side, I've seen some excellent movies this year that were technically released in 2005, like The Squid and the Whale, but didn't arrive in Austin until 2006. Throwing film festivals into the mix means that I've seen some wonderful films that won't be released until 2007, or that have no distributor yet and may not see theatrical release at all. It's strange how "2006" can seem like such a fluid term when you're a film critic who lives outside of New York/Los Angeles.

So this Top Ten list is charmingly inconsistent as to release dates. Let's not worry about that. The list is in alphabetical order, although I will mention which movie was my particular favorite ...