I may have seen the best movie of 2006 on Friday. I mean there are plenty of caveats above and beyond the "may" in that first sentence: The best movie of 2006 in my opinion, of course, and frankly I want to watch the movie again on a big screen before I decide. Of course, the fact I want to watch it again is interesting. The fact that it has me cross-referencing and re-contemplating half the rest of the year's films, from United 93 to Pan's Labyrinth is also interesting. I'm not being coy by not naming the film -- I just, again, want to be sure. I mean, I was insanely fired up over the trailer for The Good German, and that didn't exactly work out. (More details about that on Wednesday, in my The Good German review. ) But if I've seen a trend in this year's films, it's that many of them are what for a lack of a better term I'll call fables -- evocative and heartfelt dream-like tales that are long on imagination and vision but short on rigorous story. Some of the more impressive films I saw all year were fables in that way -- Brick; Pan's Labyrinth; The Lives of Others; Lights in the Dusk and, yes, the film I saw on Friday -- they may not be coherent narratives (or, rather, they may not be conventionally coherent narratives) but something in them sticks to your heart and dreams and head in a rare way. The movie I saw on Friday is ugly, harsh and wrenching; there's something mutedly hopeful in it, like slow strings coming through harsh bass notes. Yet at the same time, as the credits roll, there's no guarantee those strings will be ultimately be heard instead of the blank silence of death. And that's what makes this time of year exciting for a film critic -- although, really, it's what happens every time the lights go down and you sit hopeful in the darkness: Maybe you'll see something worth talking about and re-assessing. Maybe you'll see something worth thinking about. Worth feeling for.

What's the best movie you've seen all year? And seen any good fables lately?

J.