Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Film Babble Blog Top 10 Movies Of 2007

I’ve hesitated making a list of the best of what has been an exceptionally good year because there are still many potential candidates that I haven’t seen yet – THE SAVAGES, GONE BABY GONE, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES..., PERSOPOLIS, and THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY among them. I should be able to see those all fairly soon but then, come on, there will always be 2007 films that I haven’t seen out there.

So here's my Top Ten:

1. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (Dir. Joel & Ethan Coen)

The Coen Brothers frighteningly faithful adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel is undoubtedly an immediate classic. I'll refrain from Oscar predictions but there's no way this goes home with nothing from the pathetic press conference that the Academy Awards ceremony is threatening to be. With incredible cinematography by Roger Deakins and great performances by Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and especially as evil incarnate - Javier Bardem. Read my original review here.

2. THERE WILL BE BLOOD (Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)

An uncharacteristic film for PTA and another based on a literary work (Upton Sinclair's "Oil") this is a mesmerizing masterpiece with a showstopping performance by Daniel Day Lewis as an evil Oil baron. That this and the Coen Bros. are meeting in the same desert area where both films were shot (the West Texas town of Marfa) for a Best Picture Oscar showdown makes it sadder that for this competition there may be no show. My original review here.

3. I’M NOT THERE (Dir. Todd Haynes)

It was wonderful that Cate Blanchett won a Golden Globe and got a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role as Jude Quinn - one of 6 personifications of Bob Dylan (the others being Richard Gere, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Ben Whishaw, and Marcus Carl Franklin), because she was the one that really nailed it. Roger Ebert wrote that Julie Taymor's Beatles musical ACROSS THE UNIVERSE was "possibly the year's most divisive film" but I think this divided movie goers to a greater extreme. 

I heard some of the most angered comments I've ever heard about a movie in my theater's lobby and there were many screenings that had multiple walk-outs. To me though these folk had the same moronic heckling mentality of those who booed when Bob went electric back in '65-'66. This is a movie as far ahead of its time as its subject: the Fellini, Godard, Altman, Pekinpah, and Pennebaker visual riffing throughout will take decades to fully absorb as well the context of the classic music presented - cue "Positively 4th Street". Read more in my original review here. 

4. ZODIAC (Dir. David Fincher)

An unjustly overlooked new-fangled stylized, though with old-school ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN tactics, serial killer period piece procedural - which I know makes it sound either too scary or too boring (or both), but damnit this is a knock-out of a movie. Fincher utilizes every bit of info available about the original late '60s to '70s case about the Zodiac killer through his baffling coded killings to the sporadic nature of his possible identity, through the incompetent technology of the time and the mislaid evidence because of separate investigations. 

So fascinating, it will take a few more viewings to fully appreciate how fascinating it is - and I haven't even seen the Director's Cut! With passionate performances by Jake Gyllenhall, Robert Downey Jr., Chloë Sevigny and Mark Ruffalo. Read my original review here. 

5. 3:10 TO YUMA (Dir. James Mangold)

In this remake of the 1957 film based on the Elmore Leonard short story set in the 1880's, Christian Bale is a down on his luck handicapped farmer who takes on the job of transporting evil yet poetic outlaw Russell Crowe across dangerous terrain to the scheduled train of the title. An amazing sense of pacing plus the ace performances of the principals help this transcend the "revitalizing the Western" brand it's been stupidly stamped with. A stately yet grandly entertaining movie with an extremely satisfying ending. Read my original review here. 

6. AWAY FROM HER (Dir. Sarah Polly)

Julie Christie is going to be hard to beat for Best Actress this year because her portrayal of a woman suffering from Alzheimer's is as heartbreaking as it gets. Gordon Pinsent is understated and affecting as her estranged husband - lost to her mentally and helpless as she is institutionalized. He's sadly confined to the sidelines as she falls in love with a fellow patient played by Michael Murphy. My review (based on the DVD) is here. 

7. RATATOUILLE (Dir. Brad Byrd)

Flawless animation enhanced by an ace script with embellishment by star Patton Oswalt (he voices the rat) makes this story about a Parisian rodent that happens to be a master chef as tasty a dish as one could salivate for in the proud Pixar present. My original review - of course it's right here. 


Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke are brothers who plot to rob the jewelry store owned by their parents. Tragedy ensues - some hilarity too but it's of the cringe-variety. Read my review here. 

9. THE SIMPSONS MOVIE (Dir. David Silverman)

Some may think that it's funny that in this year of worthy candidates that my choice of this big screen version of one of the 20 year old TV cartoon family’s adventures, but as Homer says “I’ll teach you to laugh at something that’s funny!” This is definitely here because of personal bias but isn't that what these lists are all about? Original review - here. 

10. MICHAEL CLAYTON (Dir. Tony Gilroy)

A surprisingly non glossy legal thriller with a downbeat but nuanced George Clooney. Didn't really pack 'em in but got respectable business and critical notices. Despite enjoying and obviously thinking it's one of the year's best, I was surprised it got a Best Picture Nomination - I really thought INTO THE WILD would get it. Since this is the superior picture I'm happy to be wrong.

Also nice to see Tom Wilkinson getting a nomination for his intense turn as Clooney's deranged but righteous key witness. My review? Oh yeah, it's here.


The ones that didn't quite make the Top Ten grade but were still good, sometimes great flicks - click on the title (except for ACROSS THE UNIVERSE which links to its IMDb entry) for my original review. 

NO END IN SIGHT (Dir. Charles Ferguson) 

HOT FUZZ (Dir. Edgar Wright) 

ATONEMENT (Dir. Joe Wright) 

BREACH (Dir. Billy Ray) 

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE (Dir. Julie Taymor) 

SiCKO (Dir. Michael Moore) 

THE HOAX (Dir. Lasse Hallström) 

2 DAYS IN PARIS (Dir. Julie Delphy) 

AMERICAN GANGSTER (Dir. Ridley Scott) 

SUPERBAD (Dir. Greg Mattola) So that's it for now - I may revise this at some point but I'm thinking it would be better to let it stand.

This post is dedicated to Heath Ledger (April 4th, 1979 - January 22nd, 2008). He, of course, was one of the Bobs (pictured above) in my #3 Film of the year, and I enjoyed his performances in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, THE BROTHERS GRIMM, and MONSTER'S BALL (those are the only ones of his I've seen so far). 

As I write this many pundits on cable are pontificating on the cause of his death exaggerating every tiny detail of what should be his private life. 

I prefer to just look at the work he left behind. His role as the Joker in the upcoming Batman sequel THE DARK KNIGHT is surely going to be the most anticipated role of 2008. 

R.I.P. Heath Ledger.

More later...


Anonymous said...

Heath is by default best actor of 2007

Anil Usumezbas said...

It makes me so happy to see No Country for Old Men at #1. It definitely tops my list for 2007 as well (though I still didn't get myself to write it).

The rest are also great films, all of which I have seen except Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. But I'm sure you would have added Persepolis and Diving Bell and the Butterfly if you had seen them.