Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2007 Movies in Review

I watch a lot of movies - many, many more than once. And every year, I keep track of the new (to me) movies that I see. This past year I watched 114 new movies. That's an average of 2 per week. So when I went to compile my list of the best movies of 2007, I was a little surprised to find that I couldn't come up with 10 "best" movies. I have 5 that I think will stand the test of time. And another 5 that I thought worth noting. I must preface this by saying that I have not seen what many consider to be the best film of the year - No Country for Old Men. Nor have I seen Juno - which is getting praise from many different circles of friends. So without further ado, here is my list of the Best movies of 2007

5. Zodiac (David Fincher) Based on Robert Graysmiths books about the Zodiac killer, this is a fine thriller. Fine performances all around especially from Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Ruffalo. The film is well paced, taut, tense and everything a thriller should be.

4. Sweeney Todd (Tim Burton) I loved this film version of the finest Stephen Sondheim musical. There were elements from the stage that I missed, but overall, a good job from beginning to end.

3. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik) I've said it before and I'll say it again, this is a beautiful movie from start to finish. Loved the look, the sound, the feel, the maturity of this movie. Don't miss it.

2. Rattatoille (Brad Bird) Pixar just gets better and better. And this is IMHO one of the best. The story is great, the rats are wonderful and the Proustian moment when Anton Ego tastes the simple Rattatoille meal - classic.

1. The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck) Technically, this film is from 2006, but I saw it in Feb '07, just before the Oscars. It was the best film I saw all year and the only one I think will truly stand the test of time. Ulrich Muhe's performance is among the great film performances of all time. So sad that we in the West discovered him only to lose him too soon.

Honorable mentions - for first time efforts, swan songs, and a return to the things you do best.

Once - the musical that took the movie world by storm. It's still playing around Portland in small houses. When it opened, it was only on one screen in the whole city.

Gone Baby Gone - Ben Affleck's directorial debut shows his strengths and weaknesses. I look forward to more from him.

Into the Wild - Sean Penn obviously loved his subject and his scenery, but I just couldn't get behind the young man at the center of the story.

Waitress - Adrienne Shelly's sweet love story was everything you want a good pie to be. Sweet but not too sweet. Light and fluffy - not too filling. With a perfect crust to hold it all together.

Black Book - Paul Verhoeven returns to his homeland and the people he knows best. I found much to like in this film. But overall, it left me feeling empty and longing for a hero.

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