The 8 Best Movies I Saw in 2007

Why only 8? Because I’m a philistine and haven’t yet seen many of 2007’s most acclaimed films (look for a post on that subject later). So here they are, in alphabetical order, and isn’t it a happy coincidence Blade Runner starts with a “B”:

Blade Runner

It may be a bit of a stretch to include Blade Runner here, but a new cut released in theaters during 2007 ought to count, and hey, it’s my damn list. The classic has been eye-poppingly restored and is now finally definitive after a long history of compromised releases. But with Ridley Scott slinging spoilers around in interviews, and some new plot clarifications made to the film itself, it’s a pity to lose some of the wonderfully maddening ambiguity fans have cherished for decades. “Deckard might be and probably is a replicant” is a lot more intriguing than “Deckard is definitely a replicant and always has been.” But Blade Runner is still one of the most timeless, gorgeous, and influential movies ever made.

The Darjeeling Limited

Not just my new favorite Wes Anderson film, but also a new favorite overall. I understand that Anderson’s mannered style is not everyone’s cup of darjeeling (sorry), and that he may seem to be simply repeating himself in both style and content. But I found The Darjeeling Limited hilarious and genuinely moving, even though I’m an only child and often can’t really sympathize with sibling stories.

Hot Fuzz

A hysterically funny mashup of all the best & worst action movies ever made (but mostly The Wild Bunch and, why not, The Wicker Man), that also somehow manages to be charming and even a little heartwarming. OK, you might ask, but why does this deserve a spot on a “Best Of” list? One of the entries on my forthcoming “Worst Of” list will illustrate how badly this project could have gone off the rails.


It’s got it all, homeskillet: cracking good dialogue, casting perfection, and a good heart. All the social conservatives that cried victory when “Hollywood” released a movie in which a young woman does not have an abortion missed the greater miracle: here’s a movie with believably rich characters of all ages, incomes, and genders, and it’s not even about abortion in the first place.

No Country for Old Men

The Coen Brothers toss narrative convention out the window — no, wrong cliche. How about: The Coen Brothers drag narrative convention out into the desert, gut-shoot it, and leave it for dead. Even though I haven’t read the original novel, this is perhaps one of the most novelistic movies I’ve ever seen.

The Orphanage

A modern ghost story with dignity and class, The Orphanage nearly scared this Dork Reporter into a coronary. And it does it all without gore and CG. OK, yes, there is a little of each, but still. (full disclosure: I work for the distribution company, and designed the official movie site)


It’ll be hard to write this paragraph without hyperbole, but Ratatouille is one of the more perfect movies I’ve ever seen, period. I’m hard-pressed to remember any other movie that literally squeezed tears of pure delight out of me, and director Brad Bird is a genius. That’s all I have to say.

There Will Be Blood

Commandingly confident direction, powerfully staged action, political relevance at once clear and unspoken, stunningly intense acting, and a hair-raising score. And if all that isn’t enough, it’s also blessed with the best movie title… maybe ever?

Honorable mentions:

  • Apocalypto (yes, really!)
  • Atonement
  • Beowulf (for Neil Gaiman’s and Roger Avery’s ballsy script, not the flawed animation)
  • Breach (for Chris Cooper’s performance)
  • The Host (comparable to Jaws, and way better than Cloverfield)
  • The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
  • Sunshine

Coming up in a day or two: The 9 Worst Movies I saw in 2007!

The Best, Worst, and Most Unseen Movies of 2007

Followers of The Dork Report (a statistic which I believe can be plotted on an arc approaching zero) may have noticed an accumulation of digital dust this past year. Indeed, this Dork Reporter watched his own blog drop off the first page of Google results for his own name. Who’s feeling lucky?

A new year, another birthday (good gravy I’m old), and my somewhat strong personal reaction to the movie Cloverfield recently moved me to quietly re-inaugurate this poor old thing. I’m in the early stages of hammering the basic baked-in blog template into a new design direction, which I ask readers to please overlook for the time being.

I still saw a lot of movies over the past year that I’d have liked to talk about in these pages. So coming up next are a series of posts that no one asked for and are almost certainly too late anyway: a review of the best (in my opinion) & worst (also, alas, in my opinion) films of 2007 (that I’ve seen, mind you).

Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Elizabeth the Golden Age movie poster


I’ll have to gang up with the general critical consensus around Elizabeth: The Golden Age, best summed up as: Cate Blanchett is astounding, as usual (yawn – the Academy Award nomination was virtually assured before the cameras rolled), but the movie is a disappointing sequel to a powerful original.

Oh, and did I mention that Cate is great? Oh yeah, you don’t need me to say that.

Cate Blanchette in Elizabeth the Golden AgeCate is great; what else is new?

The cinematography is lovely but the editing a little choppy for a timeline that spans so much time. The staging is somewhat less than epic; even large CG set pieces like the Pirates of the Caribbean-style sea battle between the English and Spanish armadas seem under-staffed by background actors. A typical line of dialog, quoting from memory, is the dashing Sir Walter Raleigh killing two cliches with one stone with a humdinger like “We’re only human; we do what we can.”

Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh in Elizabeth the Golden AgeSir Walter Raleigh sails away from the Kraken

Erm, that’s about it. I’ll try to think of something smarter to say about the next one.

Official movie site:

Buy the DVD from Amazon and kick back a few pennies to me.

Across the Universe

Across the Universe movie poster

I believe I’m in the minority opinion here, but I really liked Across the Universe. Already loving the songs of the Beatles and the films of Julie Taymor, perhaps I’m predisposed. Taymor rounds up all the usual suspects from the Lennon & McCartney oeuvre: Lucy, Jude, Maxwell (as in “Silver Hammer”), Jo Jo (from “Get Back”), Sadie, Prudence… even the Blue Meanies from Yellow Submarine kick up their heels as Mr. Kite’s Rockettes. But unless I missed them in the crush, Rocky and Rita didn’t make the cut.

At two plus hours, Across the Universe may in fact be too much of a good thing. The Beatles wrote a great many wonderful love songs, but even these canonical classics can seem a little redundant when strung together in a series, illustrated by Jena Malone & Jim Sturgess swooning over each other over and over.

Jena Malone in Across the UniverseChris Cunningham & Portishead called & asked for their fish tank back

The best sequences are the weirdest, especially the “She’s So Heavy” number which resembles something out of Alan Parker’s cracked Pink Floyd The Wall. But sometimes the interpretations are ruined by being a little too literal; the “Revolution” sequence starts out great with Jude trying to sway a radical revolutionary group away from violent protest (“But when you talk about destruction / Brother you know that you can count me out”), but he predictably points at a portrait of Chairman Mao right on cue.

Across the UniverseShe’s so heavy, indeed

Topped off with cameos by Salma Hayak (times five) and Bono in a rare dramatic role as a sort of Timothy Leary figure (sporting an entertainingly loony American accent modeled, at least to my ears, after Dennis Hoppper), this rumored-to-be-troubled production can be a little overwhelming and redundant, but it’s really something to see.

Official movie site:

Buy the DVD from Amazon and kick back a few pennies to me.