21 February 2008
  2007 top 10

so, it has really been a great year for movies, especially after the past two kind of down years. (remember when crash won best pic in 2006? there was like nothing out that year). there are at least four or five movies that really should have been in this list, that i just couldn't quite fit in. but here's what i've managed to come up with. (and no, i didn't include high school musical 2. . . although maybe i should have. hm.)

10. the lookout. . . i don't know who joseph gordon levitt's manager is, but she should really be given an enthusiastic high five or something. every movie he does is always so fantastic. of all the young male actors, levitt is definitely my favorite. i think the lookout just represents how young hollywood can actually make movies that don't suck (take that lindsay lohan). it is a really intelligent movie, well written, great acting. i can't wait to see what levitt does next.

9. in the valley of elah. . . just as joseph gordon levitt can't seem to make a movie i don't like, paul haggis hasn't yet disappointed me with any of the movies he has written either. i actually didn't expect to like this, but it is really fantastic. haggis' writing is so subtle and nuanced here. there's no clint eastwood or oliver stone-esque dramatic braggadocio here (not that there isn't room for that sometimes). it is just a sad, lonely story with no easy solutions presented in the end. and to top it off, the miracle is that charlize theron didn't bother me nearly as much as she usually does (even though she still sucks).

8. there will be blood. . . i sort of go back and forth on this one. when i first saw it i thought it may have been a little over the top, but the more i think about it, the more it grows on me. obviously daniel day lewis is amazing, even though his performance is a little reminiscent of bill the butcher. the cinematography is really interesting, and the landscapes are definitely beautiful. but i think that the real reason that this movie is one of the year's best is that p.t. anderson made so many risky, gutsy decisions with both the script and his direction. even though the product isn't flawless i respect his work.

7. sweeney todd. . . tim burton is a strange strange man but that's why i love him. this movie is no doubt like nothing you have ever seen. amazingly, i think this movie is even gorier and more violent than no country, and that's an accomplishment. what i love about burton is that he can tell a whole story using just his art direction. i would have probably loved this movie if there had been no music or even no actors at all-- just watching the scenery. but that doesn't mean i didn't love the music too and depp and bonham carter are fantastic. (i wouldn't want to eat their pies though).

6. american gangster. . . see, this is why 2007 was such a great year at the movies. no doubt american gangster was a much better movie than the departed and it didn't even make the best pic list this year. all of the problems i had with the departed were erased here by ridley scott. most notably, this movie really tackles the structural problems at the heart of nyc's drug and organized crime problems, and attempts to engage not only with the glamour of the whole thing, but also with all the tragic aspects. i was so fascinated with the complexity of this story. Scott manages to tie up organized crime, race, poverty, gender, the Vietnam War, drugs, police corruption, media and religion.

5. 3:10 to yuma. . . i really love westerns, and nobody is happier than me that 2007 marked a brief renaissance for them. 3:10 to yuma marks the year's best example of the genre. i think some people were irritated with or confused by the ending, but if it had ended any other way it would have been out of step with the western genre. men in these movies don't always make the most rational decisions. it is about masculinity, family honor, promises and revenge. so what if christian bale risks his life for perhaps specious reasoning. in a fictional outlaw-town in southern arizona, it makes perfect sense.

4. atonement. . . this was definitely the acting movie of the year. keira knightley, james mcavoy, saorsie ronan, romola garai and vanessa redgrave all deserve to be nominated. and then there is the amazing cinematography. the sweeping scene of dunkirk is just awesome. this movie just made me want to scream out at the screen so many times. everyone just makes one mistake after another. i hate that feeling of seeing everyone decend into tragic circumstances, and there's nothing i can do but watch. at the very least, seeing knightley in her green dress made up for it a little.

3. hairspray. . . yeah it was a little too cleaned up from the john waters original for my taste, but who gives a care. how much fun was watching this movie? john and i only own about three or four truly happy movies in our 400+ collection, but this one is at the top of the list (sorry emperor's new groove). john travolta is just hilarious in the divine role, and this was the best performance by michelle pfeiffer in her comeback year. but even though this is a fun, silly, happy movie, it is also just plain good.

2. into the wild. . . krakauer's into the wild is one of my all time favorite books, which would generally mean that these movie would suck big time, but to my surprise it didn't. i actually think sean penn added something to the story. he really emphasized the complicated nature of christopher mcandless' journey, when it would have been so easy to paint him as some sort of thoreau or kerouac character, wise beyond his years. what he ended up showing us was a lonely, conflicted character, confused about a lot of things, learning along the way but also resistant to learning. i think that this movie is one that isn't for everyone. it is really difficult to watch at times. but if you can overcome how overwhelmingly sad it is, i think you can really get a lot out of this.

1. persepolis. . . i wasn't surprised that i liked this movie, but i was surprised by how much i liked it. i am really not a fan of animated movies (especially after hearing lars von trier expound on how shallow they are in the five obstructions) but the animation here is so gorgeous, you just get lost in it. the story itself is set forth much like a comic strip, so there are bits and pieces here and there and a lot left out. the result is that the viewer is challenged to sort of engage with persepolis in a way that you are almost never able to do with movies. i still have a ton of questions after watching this movie, but i think that is why i liked it so much. it is intricate and challenging and just a good movie to watch and talk about for hours afterwards.
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