Feb 2008 22

2007 was a fantastic year for film and filled with a number of movies worth investing your time to at least see. To be able to see all those movies though means that I had to wait as long as possible to write this 07 Year in review so I could see as many films as I possibly could before assessing last years crop of films. My goal is to always get this thing done by the Oscars since that is the unofficial end of the 07 year as all the awards have been handed out and its time to begin looking forward to New Year as March begins with some of the first real contenders for potential to end up in one of these lists. But enough talking and lets get on to this list, which is probably way to long, but I feel like all the movie’s I am endorsing are totally worth watching and you should at least consider trying out some time; either in theaters or on video.

First, I need to mention some follow ups to my 06 list last year for those that read it.

1) I left Casino Royale off, and I don’t know why, definitely should have been somewhere in the middle of that list, and for that I apologize.

2) Perfume: The Story of a Murderer – I missed this last year and it is a damn shame. It is absolutely phenomenal and a movie I can not recommend enough. It is endlessly creative and full of drama, suspense, and humor with one of the better premises for a film I have seen a while. This would have easily made it in my Top 10 last year and maybe this year as well; rent it.

3) The Lives of Others-This Oscar winner last year for best foreign film was on best of lists for 06 as well as 07 lists, so I don’t know where to put it. So I am putting it here. Definitely check this great little thriller out that is about the moral obligations of a Stasi in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Just a wonderful piece of cinema not to be missed.

Okay, moving on…

Honorable Mentions, movies I enjoyed a lot but didn’t quite make the cut (listed alphabetically) Beowulf, Black Book, Black Snake Moan, Knocked Up, Live Free, or Die Hard, Rocket Science, Sicko, Sunshine, Superbad, The Lookout, The Mist, The Orphanage, TMNT, Transformers, Waitress

And to the list!

31) Ocean’s Thirteen-The gang returned for the final foray into the heist films and it was an entertaining success. Clooney, Pitt, Damon, and company are having a blast while never taking its self too seriously and just having fun. Props to Casey Affleck for his awesome sub-plot involving the liberating of a Mexican dice plant; classic!

30) The Savages-Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman star as siblings dealing with having to put their dad in a nursing home. An interesting look at geriatric life and the affect it can have on a family. The film delivers touching moments mixed with some great humor.

29) 3:10 to Yuma-One of two good westerns might spurn resurgence in the genre. Russell Crowe plays a great likable bad guy and Christian Bale is stellar as always as rancher with something to prove. The movie is quick and full of action with Ben Foster turning in an awesome role as Crowe’s right hand man.

28) Paris, je t’aime-This short film collection lets a ton of great directors give us their interpretation of love in Paris and it works extremely well for most of the run time. The film is dotted with American stars and full of creativity and originality while remaining continually fresh as we move from one story to another. This film has something for everyone.

27) Atonement-This Oscar nominee is wonderful for the first hour then loses its way before regaining its step in the end. The music, production, and acting are all top notch and contains one of the best extended takes in recent memory. This will probably be better on subsequent viewings but is very solid, even with a couple big gripes, as is.

26) Diving Bell and the Butterfly-Julian Schnabel created an original and brilliant film based off the extraordinary real life story of Jean-Dominique Bauby. A camera has rarely been used so well to immerse you in the experience of a man and make you feel and go through everything that he experiences. Outside a bit of dragging at then end this would have been higher.

25) The Hunting Party-This little seen gem is a funny and adventurous look at the real life story of a group of journalist that attempted to find the most wanted war criminal in Bosnia. Full of twists, turns, and all at a break neck pace, Richard Gere, Terrence Howard, and Jesse Eisenberg all do fantastic work on this “true?” story.

24) Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street-Johnny Depp and Tim Burton reteam for a fantastic adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical. Filled with death, blood, and humor this film is dark but has characters with heart through out. Helena Bonham Carter is fantastic as the scheming Mrs. Lovett, with great singing work by the younger cast as well.

23) 300-Zack Snyder’s testosterone soaked Spartan fable is told with incredible style and action making Frank Miller adaptations two for two. Gerard Butler makes a star turning role and Snyder biggest achievement with this is getting to finally make The Watchmen. This is an absolute must for action fans and one of the most re-watchable films of 07.

22) I’m Not There-If any movie on this list will move up significantly with time, it is this. It is a biopic of Bob Dylan, portrayed by six different actors and has no real structure whatsoever. A great ambitious picture that jumps around so effortlessly among the six manifestations of Dylan that it takes a while to get comfortable with what it’s doing. But once you do it is beautiful and next to impossible to soak everything in on one viewing; can’t wait to see this again.

21) Persepolis-One of two animated films on my list, this adaptation by Marjane Satrapi is an adaptation of her own graphic novel of the same name and is wonderful look at a part of the world little of us know a lot about. We see the evolution of politics in Iran through the eyes of a maturing rebellious Iranian girl, Marji, and the effects it had on her people and family. Full of life and sadness, it’s the humorous spin she is able to create on the proceedings that make this film so worthwhile.

20) Margot at the Wedding-Noah Baumbach’s follow up to the Squid and the Whale is a dark and bizarre film. It is extremely funny at times, completely outrageous in its emotions and story telling devices, and excellent work by all of the actors involved. The film is a window into these characters lives and it allows us glimpses into the messes that these characters have endured through; not for everyone, but I enjoyed it.

19) Zodiac-David Fincher’s latest is a procedural masterpiece that is an amazingly detailed and accurate reproduction of the events surrounding the Zodiac murders in San Francisco. With great work by the trio of leads in the film Fincher tacks another winner onto a very full shelf of accomplishments. One part horror, one part mystery, and one part history lesson; this movie pulls you in and never let’s go.

18) The Darjeeling Limited-Wes Anderson’s latest film is a great picture that gives us a tour of India while we follow three brothers who are trying to find there estranged mother. The three siblings are like man-boys and act somewhat childish on a number of occasions. The film is constantly funny and fits right into Wes Anderson’s world, so if you weren’t a fan before don’t expect that to change with this film.

17) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix-The latest and greatest of the Harry Potter films, it is dark, adult, and one hell of a picture. Watching these kids and story grow is a treat even when you know the outcome from reading the books. A solid adaptation and a gripping movie they were able to stream line the mammoth book. David Yates does a lot for this film and let’s hope he continues his success with this year’s Half Blood Prince.

16) American Gangster-A film with nothing to complain about, just didn’t have that spark to it to send it higher up on the list. Every thing is done really well, the long runtime moves by with ease, Crowe and Washington are fantastic, something was just missing though; I don’t know what it is. This film is one of the most re-watchable of the year though, and will be remembered in the public eye more than a number of the other films on this list.

15) Gone Baby Gone-Ben Affleck makes a spectacular directorial debut while cementing his brother as a legitimate and capable actor. The story revolving around the search for a kidnapped girl takes a bunch of twists and turns and features an amazing turn by Amy Ryan as a drugged out mother. She is so good you forget that she is an actor and totally buy into her role. Don’t miss this one with a great ending that will leave you talking.

14) Into the Wild-This could easily end up higher up on the list since I have only seen it once, but it is a beautiful and inspiring piece of cinema. Some people might have a problem with Emile Hirsch’s character, “Supertramp,” but you can’t deny his adventure as amazing and something none of us would ever have the nerves to do. Sean Penn also makes you wish he directed more films as well after seeing this one; just great stuff.

13) No Country for Old Men-4/5 of this movie is a 10 and the other 1/5 is still a 9 something, but it is just so frustrating and off putting that I have no idea where to put this film. I could easily sit down and watch this movie a number of times, and I am sure that final 1/5 of the film will continue to grow on me, but I really just have no idea where I would finally let this film rest on this list so I am leaving it here. Just know, you should definitely see this, regardless of how frustrating the film can get.

12) Juno-A great comedy and my favorite female performance of the year came from the star Ellen Page. The movie had some great laughs mixed with a touching story that works well throughout its runtime. The language barrier (not vulgar, just different) will make it hard for some people to enjoy this one and I am really interested to see how it stands the test of time. But as it stands it’s an entertaining film with a great performance.

11) Eastern Promises-Viggo Mortensen is so good in this film that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. The best fight scene in any film in a while is just brutal and will be burned into your memory. Match this with terrific pacing, great little twists, and a story that always leaves you a hair off balance, you won’t find many more solid all around films this year.

10) There Will Be Blood-Like No Country, this one is a 10 for much of its runtime and then takes a turn that you just don’t expect and really keeps you off guard where it’s going. The ending to this film is insane and outside a minor misstep in the later part of this film this one will not leave your brain. This film haunts your memories and makes you want to see it again anytime you see an ad or hear some of Johnny Greenwood phenomenal score. Definitely has a chance to shoot up over time, and oh yeah Daniel Day Lewis is fucking amazing.

9) 2 Days in Paris-A film that came out of nowhere, this great little indie flick by Julie Delpy is so true and real that she captures the heart of a relationship on screen. Adam Goldberg is astonishing in this and it’s a crime that he isn’t a bigger comedy star. He has some of the best lines in any movie this year, ‘fascist vagina,’ and Delpy acts and directs this film with a unique style that you can’t help but fall for. Do yourself a favor and head to the rental store to find this because it is a great picture that should not be missed as it has been by so many.

8) King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters-Who knew a documentary about Donkey Kong, could be so amazing. Steve Wiebe is our hero as he tries to break the all time record on Donkey Kong held by one of the oddest and most scheming individuals I have ever seen, Billy Mitchell. This man has to be seen to believe as well as all of his cronies and other interesting characters in this world of competitive gaming. The story will make you root for Wiebe and let you into a world you never thought could even exist. A fantastic film that proves you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, trust me, and just give it a chance.

7) Bourne Ultimatum-A gripping, edge of your seat thrill ride that concludes possibly the best trilogy of the last 25 years. This movie is an intense roller coaster that never lets go while still offering intrigue and plot to an existing story that has taken a number of twists and turns along its way. The train station scene is so subtle, inventive, and exciting it does so much more for action films then some of the grandest set pieces found in the likes of Transformers or Pirates. This was the summer movie that could easily hold its own in any movie season.

6) Control-Anton Corbijn makes his feature debut breaking out from his fantastic music videos to create the best straight forward biopic from the recent trend of these pictures. Sam Riley stars as the doomed lead singer of Joy Division, Ian Curtis, as we follow him as he forms the fore mentioned van and deals with life, love, and the circumstances that led him to his death. If this would have been made by a major director and star it would be up for Academy Awards and very well might have won some. Seek this out in June when it hits video.

5) Grindhouse-Hands down the most fun I have ever had in a movie theater, it was an experience many of you sadly didn’t take. Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez both direct exploitation films of their own for this double feature pieced together by faux trailers for films just as over the top and crazy. Planet Terror opens the film and is Rodriguez’s fun B-Movie that sends up of zombie films. It’s gross, funny, and very self aware of what it is and relishes in it. Death Proof on the other hand is not so much a send up as it is Tarantino trying to make the best film the genre has ever seen. Kurt Russell is fantastic as Stuntman Mike and the car chase at the end of his film is heart stopping/breathtaking and ends on the absolute perfect note. Unfortunately there is no way to view this film the way it should be, so lets hope it eventually finds its way onto video or as part of a midnight movie series.

4) Ratatouille-Brad Bird is a genius and one of the top 5 directors working today. How did he make a film about a rat that cooks so incredibly fantastic, funny, and tender; I am still in disbelief. Remy loves to cook and finds his opportunity in Linguini as they form an absurd partnership that we buy into whole heartedly because the film is that good. Oh and you can’t forget another fantastic score by Michael Giacchino. This is another masterpiece by Bird and deserves a spot right under The Incredibles as fantastic pieces of cinema.

3) Michael Clayton-George Clooney stars in this great and classic film by Tony Gilroy that engages you from the get go. It never takes the viewers intelligence for granted and moves along at a fantastic pace. Tom Wilkinson is amazing in this film commanding the screen every time he’s on it and convincing us that even though everyone thinks he is crazy we think he might be right. Clooney and Tilda Swinton also turn in fantastic work on this film that works beautifully from start to finish, just an absolute complete picture.

2) Once-Rent this now, you will not at all be disappointed. This little Irish film about music and the connection it can have on two people is just phenomenal. It gets into your heart and won’t leave, but that’s ok because you don’t want it to. The songs by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová will just stay with you and force you to go out and buy the soundtrack, which is one of the best CD’s released in a while by my books. The film is simple, straight forward, and just lets you watch these people make music. This one also houses one of the most spine tingling scenes in a movie all year at just how perfect it is. So please, do whatever you can to find this and watch it as it is just simply wonderful.

1) The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford-The film is as long as the title, but that doesn’t stop it from being the most mesmerizing film of the year. I was enthralled with this film and couldn’t shake my concentration on it. Brad Pitt does some of his best work but is over shadowed by the amazing Casey Affleck who delivers Robert Ford with such subtlety and creepiness it is one performance that is not to be missed. The film is beautifully shot by Roger Deakins and tells a heartbreaking story of one of the legends of American History. Deliberately paced but constantly engaging this film is a fantastic character study with a great cast that I can’t wait to revisit over and over again as time passes on.

And that’s it, hope you all enjoyed it and maybe learned about some films you might not have been aware of, check out below for my list from last year, just for fun since to see how those stand up a year later. I will also be back with Oscar picks shortly.


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