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

BLADE RUNNER: THE FINAL CUT
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

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

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.


Juno

JUNO
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

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
The Coen Broth­ers toss nar­ra­tive con­ven­tion out the win­dow — no, wrong cliché. 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

EL ORFANATO (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)


Ratatouille

RATATOUILLE
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

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: www.elizabeththegoldenage.net

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: www.sonypictures.com/movies/acrosstheuniverse

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