Sunday, January 13, 2008

Top Ten Films of 2007

It was a year of greatness. It was also a year of surprisingly mainstream nihilism. While I liked some of it ("No Country for Old Men" and "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" were both very well-crafted) and I hated some of it (PT Anderson's "There Will Be Blood" was a bleak disappointment), the films that ended up on this list seem to live at the other end of the spectrum. The happy end. These are the movies I enjoyed the most this year.

1. Juno
A sweet, funny movie full of warmth, with characters of increasing depth. Featuring sharp writing and winning performances by Ellen Page and the entire ensemble cast, Juno is life-affirming without being cloying. One of the best movies of this, or any other year.

2. Paris Je T'aime
A collection of 18 short films by some of the best directors in the world, including The Coen Brothers, Alexander Payne, Gus Van Sant and Tom Tykwer, and featuring an amazing cast, including Juliette Binoche, Steve Buscemi, Gena Rowlands, Elijah Wood and Emily Mortimer. Sure, some of the shorts are better than others (several are brilliant and one is a complete disaster), but they only last six minutes each, and they add up to something magical. One of my favorite theatrical experiences in years. Just watching the trailer makes me cry now.

3. Knocked Up
Hilarious from start to finish, but with far more heart then these kind of movies usually have. Sharply says lots of uncomfortably true things about marriage and relationships. Judd Apatow has proven to be Hollywood's King Midas, and this year was particularly good to him. This movie works equally well as entertainment and character study, and holds up well to repeat viewing. Go Judd!

4. Grindhouse
Two great films from two of our greatest directors. Tarantino and Rodriguez put together an amazing theatrical experience. A joyous, blood-soaked excursion through 70's-era splatter films. I'm so upset to hear that they're only releasing the two films separately on DVD, and that the incredible experience I had in the theater will not be duplicated at home. Boo.

5. Superbad
Judd strikes again! Somehow, even funnier than Knocked Up, with hysterical performances from Jonah Hill and the dependable Michael Cera. And in true Judd fashion, there's a lot of heart underneath the constant barrage of jokes, making this teenage gross-out film fun for everyone.

6. Once
A reinvention of the movie musical. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova star as singer/songwriters and in reality, they wrote and performed all the songs for the film. Sure, some people may find it a bit slow, but for those with patience, this is a rewarding and emotional film with an unforgettable soundtrack.

7. The Host
South Korea's biggest hit of all time, The Host is a quirky little monster movie with something to say. Truly different than anything we could/would ever make in the US. Scary, funny, sad and clever, and filled with great special effects. Seek this one out.

8. Michael Clayton
A challenging, mature thriller featuring a riveting lead performance by George Clooney. Eschewing shots of adrenaline, the movie is fueled by tension and layered characters. Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson are both heartbreaking in juicy roles. I was sad when this one ended.

9. Hairspray/Enchanted/Sweeney Todd - tie
2007 was a good year for the movie musical, and these three films were all great examples of why I love this genre. "Hairspray" cast its optimistic glow on the 50's and was a sugary sweet re-imagining of John Waters' classic. "Enchanted" was far more fun than it ever should have been, due in great part to Amy Adams charismatic performance in the lead role. And "Sweeney Todd" proved that musicals can be dark, gory thrill rides, too.

10. Waitress
Let's get this straight: I'm not a fan of Keri Russell. In fact, I usually can't stand her. But she was lovely in this sweet little slice of arthouse film. It was written by Adrienne Shelly, who was actually murdered in her apartment in NY only six months before the film's release. It's a shame she isn't around to enjoy the acclaim she's deservedly receiving. Waitress is beautifully photographed, fun and a gentle romantic-comedy for these hard times we're living in. And it will make you hungry for pie.

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  1. mike s,
    i read ur blog everyday and it always makes me laugh.
    thanks for being the light in my crappy day

  2. These movies definately are great.

    Juno is my number one too ;)

  3. this movie review could not have come at a better time, I have to write a movie review for Disturbia for English class and you seem to have a feel for reviews and the other fact that you use some great words that i can incorporate in my review haha. I like your movie choices, Superbad was one hell of a funny movie, i've yet to see Knocked up and Juno but they are on my list of things to watch.
    Have a good day Mike

  4. What - no Atonement? Not everyone's cup of tea I suppose but for me it was the film of the year based at least in part on the fact that it made me cry like no film has ever done. I've never left the cinema sobbing before, but it made me think quite a bit, and from a writer's perspective even moreso.

  5. I agree, Juno was fantastic. It was really cool to see Candice oon the big screen, too, even if only for a short time.

  6. anonymous 1: my pleasure.

    anonymous 2: so glad to hear about the good timing.

    chy: I'm pretty sure Atonement would've made my list but I actually didn't get to see it. Still hoping to. I'm all for leaving the cinema sobbing.

    aly: Yeah, we all cheered for Candice when we watched it on the bus.