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: 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
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.
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.
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)
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?
- Apocalypto (yes, really!)
- 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
Coming up in a day or two: The 9 Worst Movies I saw in 2007!