29 January 2008

top ten for 2007

the more i go along, the more i think about these lists in terms of what will last. for better or for worse, i want to rank what will remain and stand the test of time -- which movies people will remember and quote and use as inspiration, and, maybe most importantly, excitedly recommend to a friend.

that said, this was an unusually good year for movies, so there are many movies that i liked but didn't feel i could include because, as much as they were well-done, i don't think they will be remembered like the above. some that come to mind include: "atonement" (which i have very mixed feelings about, "before the devil knows you're dead", "lars and the real girl", "michael clayton", and "gone baby gone".

and now, my list, unordered:

"no country for old men" - a really good book, and now a really fantastic movie. i like most everything the coen brothers do and admire the way they work, and i'm glad to see them strike gold again. too much to say here, just see it and be awed.

"there will be blood" - anyone who knows me knows that i am a complete and utter nut for paul thomas anderson. he managed to merge his love of classic hollywood cinema with his desire to expand the filmmaker's palette. he got another (perhaps the best ever?) incredible performance from daniel day lewis, and was able to marry his idiosycrasies with a story about America in a way that truly resonates. again, too much to say here, just go see this fucking thing and watch in wonder as a born filmmaker does his thing.

"sweeney todd" - johnny depp never gives a bad performance, even when he's singing. helena bonham carter has a hell of a lot of fun. tim burton continues to design the fuck out of his films, but always in service of the characters and the story. goth kids get a new film to watch repeatedly. sondheim breaths a sigh of relief.

"ratatouille" - probably the best pixar movie ever, and that's saying something. it is about the nature of being an artist, and it does it in a sneaky way without resorting to the cliches of making the artist out to be an asshole. plus, it is a love letter to paris for people who might normally turn their nose up.

"once" - beautiful songs, beautiful love story, beautiful dublin scenery, beautiful use of digital cameras, beautiful avoidance of cliches, beautiful.

"knocked up" - how great is it that we are once again getting comedies that are both funny and edgy and don't make us feel stupid and bad about ourselves for laughing? some great observational moments as well, particularly in regards to paul rudd and leslie mann's characters.

"zodiac" - film craftsmanship at its finest. fincher does the story with style and with restraint, focusing on the details and the unsexy detective work that makes men obsessed. this film is being overlooked.

"sicko" - the focus of this film is the corrupt american health care system, and it is brilliant in that it focuses not on those who don't have coverage, but on those that do have coverage and still get fucked. michael moore is much maligned, but still so relevant.

"away from her" - so many suprising moments in a movie that could have easily turned into a hallmark hall of fame flick: julie christie putting the dishes in the freezer, the nurse correcting the husband's assumptions, a goth girl's simple statement: "i should be so lucky." a love letter to marriage, a great debut.

"hannah takes the stairs" - i know joe swanberg, and i like what he's up to. this movie is strong in its focus on one character and her personal summer of love and heartbreak. i know a lot of girl's like this, and greta gerwig gets it right. this is cinema at its most-realistic, warts (or blue boobs) and all.

bonus list! top 3 movie experiences this year:

"killer of sheep" at the music box - if you don't know anything about this movie, let me brief you: it was started in the early 70's as a student film by charles burnett, finished in 1977, and taken off the market due to music rights problems, even though it was put in the national film registry. the music rights must have cleared, because we finally got a release and it was fucking worth it. this is a portrait of lower-class ghetto life infused with an aching humanity and a startling sense of humor. and to see it this summer at chicago's finest theatre with a cool girl was more than i could ask for.

"spartacus" at the cineramadome at the arclight - this is once of those crazy events that you remember for a long time. afi put together a series of films in september, right when i happened to be in los angeles. aj and i saw "spartacus", with kirk douglas introducing the film and explaining how it almost single-handledly broke the blacklist due to his insistence on including dalton trumbo. the movie is fantastic, the theatre is remarkable, and i got to meet one of the best working filmmakers, david gordon green, in the popcorn line.

"eastern college" - i wrote and directed a feature-length film this year, and it was fucking incredible. this is what i want to do forever and ever and ever.


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