Wednesday, January 23, 2008

2007: Movies!

I've been meaning to write something up about my favorite movies of 2007, and the deadline for the AV Club's film poll is as good as an impetus as any. So here we go:

My favorite movies of 2007

Of course, I have to offer the disclaimer that this is my opinion, and I'm not trying to assert that these are the best movies or anything. Hey, it's all subjective, right? Anyway, I'll offer number 10-20 without comment, and give a blurb about the top ten. Okay? Oh, and links lead to my review (or brief comment, in some cases) of the film. Plus, I'm feeling kind of iffy about #20 here, thinking there's probably something else I could plug into that spot, but I always like to point out decent animated movies in this age of crappy CGI lame-joke-fests (fucking Shrek), and that one was pretty good. Especially in 3-D. Oh, and I should also mention that there are a few that I haven't seen, including Atonement, Charlie Wilson's War, Sicko, Gone Baby Gone, Michael Clayton, and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. So who knows, this list could change in the future at some point, but hopefully not too much.

20. Meet the Robinsons
19. Ratatouille
18. Superbad
17. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
16. Knocked Up
15. The Lookout
14. Brand Upon the Brain!
13. Eastern Promises
12. Sweeny Todd
11. Black Book

10. Black Snake Moan

Samuel L. Jackson as a blues musician is enough to make for a good movie, but this one was a really nice character piece, with Jackson chaining Christina Ricci to his radiator in order to cure her of her whorish ways. There's a good concept for a movie. It kind of died at the box office, but I dug it, so I recommend checking it out.

9. Rescue Dawn

I just saw this one, Werner Herzog's first narrative feature in a long time, and it was pretty great. Beautiful jungle imagery, and Christial Bale turned in a surprisingly charming performance, considering he usually sticks to creepy, intense guys. And Steve Zahn wasn't bad either, in a serious performance quite different from his usual goof-offery. But it's still an amazing true story about a guy escaping from a Vietnam POW camp. Check it out if you haven't seen it.

8. Away From Her

Man, I don't know if I would normally go for a movie about a couple being torn apart by Alzheimer's, but this was an arresting, horribly sad story, with a great performance by Julie Christie. It's hard to sit through, but worth the effort.

7. Grindhouse

I liked the Death Proof half of this double feature better than Planet Terror, but together they made for one of the most enjoyable movie experiences of the year, complete with fake trailers and other fun stuff. Sure, it was kind of a goof on old exploitation movies, but Tarantino's half aspired for more than just replication, making for a really good movie in itself, and Rodriguez went hilariously over the top with his half. It's all good.

6. There Will Be Blood

Hey, that Daniel Day Lewis is pretty good, am I right? I liked this one, although I wasn't sure what to make of it at first. But after thinking about it and reading various commentary, I just couldn't get it out of my head. Man, it's one hell of a performance, and an incredible story. That Paul Thomas Anderson is going places.

5. Once

It's a simple, moving picture about making music and forming relationships, but it's one of the most charming movies of the year, with some incredible scenes of music being played. It's short and sweet, and I'm sure tears found their ways to my eyes more than once (crap, that wasn't supposed to be a pun. Sorry).

4. Sunshine

I love a good cerebral sci-fi movie, and this one was pretty incredible, full of amazing sights and sounds, and a tense plot about the fate of humanity. Danny Boyle is one of those directors that seems to come up with crazy new ideas with every movie he does, and he kept that streak going here. There's some great stuff here, like subliminal flashes of the results of murderous insanity, characters floating through the depths of space with no protection, and frantic, claustrophopic chases through the cramped ship. Super cool; I dug it.

3. Paprika

I'm always excited when a new Satoshi Kon movie comes out, and he sure delivered with this one, a mindfuck of epic proportions full of amazing visuals and mindbending ideas. I still can't get some of the imagery out of my head, like the bad guy plunging his hand into the girls body or the guy straining to get through the wall separating him from her dream world (or whatever was going on there). Awesome.

2. No Country for Old Men

I don't even know what to say about this one, except it's fucking great. The Coen brothers are probably my favorite filmmakers, and they showed why here, delivering a tense, exciting movie full of amazing moments and incredible performances. Javier Bardem was a scary dude (that voice!), and I'd be happy if Tommy Lee Jones just kept doing "old cowboy" roles like he did here and in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. It's good to see they can still do some great stuff even when they're adapting previous material instead of originating it.

1. The Darjeeling Limited

Seems like this wasn't as popular with most people as it was with me, since I don't think I've seen it on any top ten lists, but I don't think there was a movie I liked better in 2007. Maybe I'm just a Wes Anderson fanboy, but I found this to be enjoyable and moving, full of his usual quirks and some great visuals. For me, the centerpiece of the film is that funeral scene, an amazingly emotional moment that pulls the main characters out of their self-absorbed, touristy attempt at a spiritual journey and gives them some of the catharsis they were looking for. It's a beautiful moment in a beautiful film.

So I think that's everything. I might write something up about the Oscar nominations, like I did last year, but I'll probably wait until closer to the ceremony. Okay, more comics stuff soon, I hope.


  1. Eastern Promises
    No Country for Old Men
    Sweeney Todd
    American Gangster
    Across the Universe
    Black Snake Moan
    The Lookout
    In the Valley of Elah

  2. Thanks, VOE! You might want to post those over on Geoff's site too; there's more of a "community" over there. Looks like you and I are in agreement on a lot of these (it's good to see Black Snake Moan on somebody else's list!), and I did like Juno and Across the Universe, but I ranked the other 20 movies ahead of them. I haven't seen American Gangster or In the Valley of Elah, but I suppose I could check them out. Especially the former; it looks interesting.

  3. I hardly saw any movies this year, so generally speaking I have no idea whether I agree with your rankings ...


    I totally agree about The Darjeeling Limited. Thought it was absolutely fantastic. Definitely my #1 as well.

  4. Hey, cool, someone agrees with me on that one! Besides my wife, at least...

  5. Man, I haven't seen The Darjeeling Limited and I'm really regretting it (I like all of Wes Anderson's other Flicks)

    My Top 7 would be something like

    1)There Will Be Blood
    2)The Assassination of Jesse James
    4)No Country
    5)This Is England
    6)The Orphanage

    Honorable Mention: The Host

    Movies I need to watch

    The Diving Bell & The Butterfly
    King of Kong
    Lake of Fire
    Away from Her

  6. I'm not much for watching movies in the theatre either, I just go to see the movies where lots of shit blows up.

    However, I did see Juno and American Gangster, and they were two excellent films. I think Denzel should always be in the discussion for greatest actor of our time. He's so powerful.

    Also, Matt, you'll be pleased to know I'm buying yet another book due to your praise. Nana. I didn't post in the comment section of that post because I didn't want to stumble on whatever the major spoiler was.

  7. Eric: Ooh, I also need to see This is England, Persepolis, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I wouldn't mind watching The Orphanage, The King of Kong, and Lake of Fire either. And I liked The Host, but it didn't quite make it into my top 20.

    Kenney: I actually prefer movies in the theater, whether they're explodey or not. Sure, the big, loud ones definitely help, but I just like seeing the images writ large like that. Oh, and I'm glad you're picking up Nana; it's really good. And it's good that you avoided the spoiler; you'll want to be surprised by it (even though it's not till 8 volumes in).

  8. I tried to watch Darjeeling Limited THREE times and the farthest I got was to the 35-minute point. Bland, boring, and I wish Owen Wilson would either try acting or put his film career to an end.