About 2007…

So it’s halfway through January, and best of 2007 lists are like so three weeks ago. But, being that I am not a professional critic who gets to see movies for free and in advance, I gave myself some extra time to catch up a bit before tackling my first ever very own Top Ten Best Movies of the Year list. I still haven’t managed to see everything I wanted to though: something comes up every time I try to go to Atonement, and as much as I’m dying to see Persepolis, it isn’t showing in Seattle. So, with that disclaimer, here’s my Top Ten list. Which, by the way, has twelve movies on it. This ain’t Canada, I don’t need to use no damn metric system!

12. Black Snake Moan

Craig Brewer’s movie is dark and bizarre, occasionally bordering on the surreal. As Samuel L. Jackson’s broken-down old bluesman tries to force redemption upon Christina Ricci’s town harlot by, among other things, chaining her to a radiator, the movie explores issues of race and sex in the small town South without trying to wrap everything up in a bow by the end. Interesting story, great acting.

11. Talk To Me

Don Cheadle can do pretty much anything, can’t he? He’s marvelous as Petey Greene, an ex-con who talks his way into a job as a DJ on a D.C. radio station in the 1960s. Chiwetel Ejiofor is also completely lovable as Petey’s foil-turned-friend, the station’s program director. Bonus points to this one for being one of three movies on this list directed by a woman (Kasi Lemmons; her most famous film is probably Eve’s Bayou. This one should help her get more high-profile projects).

10. The Bourne Ultimatum

Pleeeeease let there be a fourth Bourne movie, please please please! These are by far the best action movies being made right now. Forget jumping taxis into helicopters and such, just give me Bourne beating the crap out of someone with whatever happens to be nearby. This is also the best one so far, which is shocking given how most movie franchises get a bit worse with every entry.

9. Hot Fuzz

Just so, so funny. As with Shaun of the Dead, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright made a movie that simultaneously mocks a genre and serves as a legitimate entry in that genre. The action scenes here are often more exciting than those in the movies being made fun of, while also being freaking hilarious. How do they do it?

8. Away From Her

A small, heartbreaking, perfectly acted movie about what happens to a couple when the wife is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Julie Christie will surely get an Oscar nomination for her work, but unfortunately I’m hearing no such buzz for the equally stunning Gordon Pinsent. This is the first feature-length movie written and directed by the young Canadian actress Sarah Polley, which is hard to believe, as it is so accomplished.

7. Waitress

The late Adrienne Shelley would have had a remarkable career ahead of her if she could have kept making movies as charming as this. It is a wistful sort-of fairy tale, a portrait of a woman trapped in a life she wants to escape by a lack of money and an unplanned pregnancy. The ball she’d like to attend is a pie-making contest, Prince Charming is her married OB-GYN, but neither of these elements factor in the storyline in quite the traditional fashion. Keri Russell is splendid in the title role, crucially balancing the quirkiness of the supporting cast with her down to earth performance.

6. Superbad

Clearly the funniest movie of the year, and obviously star-making for each of the three teens we follow on their wild and craaaazy night. This is how to be vulgar and sweet at the same time, and create characters the audience will care about even when they’re acting like assholes. Every teen movie from now until the end of time will have to live up to Superbad.

5. Juno

And while they’re at it, those teen-movie-makers will have to consider what Juno has done for the genre as well. Most importantly, made it clear that it’s okay to give some of that quirky, hip, intentionally funny dialogue to a girl. Keep it coming, Hollywood.

4. Zodiac

There are no shoot-outs or car chases in this cop movie. When the detectives believe they are face to face with their killer, they are interviewing him calmly at his place of work. They could be insurance investigators asking about a fender bender. Amazing, then, that the urgency of the plot is consistent, even through all of this authentic-feeling meticulousness. A closing scene of two men doing nothing but staring at each other in a hardware store is more tense than the reading of the verdict at a courtroom trial would have been. For this, Zodiac is unique among serial killer movies, and superb.

3. Ratatouille

I hate the Best Animated Film category at the Oscars. I know that the idea is to be able to showcase the medium, but it seems to imply that animated movies are somehow less than live action ones. Ratatouille is so full of great characters, great comedy, and touching moments that it absolutely deserves the shot at a Best Picture nomination that it will never get.

2. No Country For Old Men

As I said when I initially wrote about this movie, there is nothing about it that I would change. It comes the closest to perfection of any movie I saw from 2007, and I hope that it wins Best Picture. But I just had to place it at number two…

1. Sweeney Todd

…because there is a difference between recognizing the greatest feat of filmmaking in a year, and recognizing your favorite movie of the year. I cannot say that Sweeney Todd is perfect, though there are certainly sequences in it that are close. I can say that of all the fine films on this list, I predict it to be the one that I will watch over and over and over again. What better reason to rank it my number one? Sweeney Todd, I fricking love you.

2007 is dead, long live 2007! Tell me your own favorites in the comments, or why you agree or disagree with mine.


4 Responses to “About 2007…”

  1. 1 Tom W January 16, 2008 at 12:25 am

    The Waitress didn’t do it for me. I wanted to like it, I just didn’t.

    Haven’t seen several of the movies still, but I like your list. No Country is number one for me though.

  2. 2 patty January 16, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    my friend lauren saw atonement. she said the movie made her want to die.

  3. 3 celeberrimous January 17, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    I’ve been a little sad about how many people have told me they didn’t get what’s so great about Waitress (not just guys, either). It’s a delightful journey full of pie and Andy Griffith! I’m a sucker for whimsy, I guess.

  4. 4 Aaron January 21, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    I have to say, though it does have some stiff competition, don’t count out Ratatouille just yet. I do believe that in Disney’s great years Beauty and the Beast was nominated for Best Picture (1991). Ratatouille got some amazing reviews and was the most positively rated film on rotten tomatoes in 2007. I sure am rooting for the Academy to give it the credit it deserves and at least nominate it.

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