Top Ten 2007 Films
Submitted by lbangs on Fri, 03/16/2007 - 10:46
- 1) Into the Wild
- 2) There Will Be Blood
- 3) 28 Weeks Later - When people scan my top ten lists for this decade, one of the films that gets the blankest stares and most questions is Intacto, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s debut film. I was eagerly anticipating his next film until I learned it was going to be 28 Weeks Later. Why the disappointment? Because most horror films are rather awful, and all sequels to horror films are horrible. I struggle and fail to think of a single exception to that rule. Until now. This is an amazing film, far superior to its predecessor, and one of the best horror films ever created. It never lets you relax, never even lets you figure out exactly what sort of film you’re dealing with. When you think you see where everything is going, you’re knocked flat. Those plot and tone twists, however, never stop this from being a truly frightening film. This isn’t just a scary film, it is a horror film, and moments here are some of the most horrifying scenes caught on a fictional film. It admirably picks up the stray strands left by the first part and twists them into an entirely unique tapestry of terror, and even more impressively, every experiment works. The entire affair is so fresh, it can afford not to draw too much attention to its own originality, allowing the viewer to stay focused solely on the main characters and their plight. Those characters are brought to life and, often, convincing death by a terrific cast. Robert Carlyle gives the sort of sterling performance he always dishes out, and all of America’s wannabe teeny boppers can hang it up, because Imogen Poots is not only perhaps the most beautiful teenager ever to hit the silver screen, she can actually act also! There are themes and subtexts galore to ponder here, but you’ll have to do it after the film, because while the projector is running, you will only be able to focus on what you’re watching. This is one of the greatest horror films we’ve yet to see. Fresnadillo has arrived, fulfilling every bit of the promise he extended with Intacto. I can’t wait to see this again.
- 4) I'm Not There
- 5) 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
- 6) Chop Shop
- 7) The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
- 8) Zodiac - Fincher has made some good movies, but this is his finest yet. Taking his time (all three hours of it) to tell several stories and juggle multiple moods, he drops nothing and dazzled continuously. Immediately, he flashes a Paramount Pictures’ logo from the seventies. To his immense credit, this doesn’t play as an attempt to capture that decade’s vibe; this seems like a film straight out of that creative decade. Scenes inside the newspaper office would’ve seem at home in All the President’s Men, the bar scenes have that faded smoky feel you’d expect thirty years ago, minutes are used solely to flesh out characters, and gee, Robert Downey Jr. even looks like Pacino’s Serpico for a good part of the movie. The brilliant quality here, the fact that lifts this film well above impressive era recreation, is that all this is just window-dressing for the Fincher’s finest display of audience manipulation to date. He is known for his eye (and ear, as the soundtrack here attests) for detail, but while that could take over the film in a horrible trainspotting accident, it merely serves as support for the real action. This movie has movements, effortlessly driving the audience from horror and suspense to police and newsmen procedural to psychological excavation and character examination. The transitions are seamless, and no one style overshadows the others. The cast is a dream. The names here are not quite as loaded as those in The Departed, but this ensemble packs every bit as powerful a shot. I’m avoiding a few specific sections that wowed me because I try to keep this silly review fairly spoiler-free, but trust me - I’m just scratching the surface of what makes this film so terrific. With Zodiac, Fincher delivers the finest film of his career, his masterpiece, and, as of early March, the best movie of this young year.
- 9) No Country for Old Men
- 10) Persepolis
- Honorable Mentions
- The Visitor
- Paranoid Park
- Eastern Promises
- Knocked Up - I don't know if you've noticed it lately, but we are in the worst dry stretch of cinematic comedy in the history of film. We make some great epics and some fine independent dramas, but we lose at the laughs. We are so awful, people even believe Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler are hilarious, and they obviously are not (Have you seen the godawful preview for I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry?). The studios cannot conjure up a Tootsie or a Bringing Up Baby with all the money and screenwriters in the world. What’s up? I do not think there is a simple answer, although one theory I play with is that, somewhere in the mid-90s, comedy decided to focus at getting us to laugh at strange things. You can mark the decline in the Coen brothers’ career from the point they gave up crafting intriguing characters and stories and settled for getting us to laugh at strange folks, especially people with accents. Done well, this approach can make some funny stuff, but it easily lapses into laziness. The freak show comes to town, and few people bother to do much more than parade oddities about and expect the easy audience to howl. This marked a sea change from the 80s, when we often laughed at characters we realized were strange and were Us. We related as we laughed. We empathized as we chuckled. The comedy brought drama along for the wild ride. Enter Judd Apatow, a man born in 1967 and raised on the late-70s and 80s comedies. Sure, he is still young enough to be influenced by the nothing-sacred bombshells dropped by the Farrelly brothers, but he is wise enough to mix that in with the more character-driven insightful approach of yesteryear. I don’t know if this quite qualifies as genius, but the man managed one of the finest television shows ever (Freaks & Geeks) and scored one of the few good recent comedies (The 40 Year Old Virgin). He continues working his method with his second film, Knocked Up, and the results are frankly perhaps the best comedy this decade. No, the idea isn’t particularly original, but the way it is handled is. No gross detail is spared, but that honesty goes far beyond gynecological close-ups and extends to a invigorating lack of clichés that extends even to the directing style. The acting is quite natural, building people we recognize rather than circus sideshows desperate for easy guffaws, the writing writes the people as if they were, er, people, and emotions are milked with the humor from the unexpected pregnancy. No wonder Tulsa World’s Michael Smith didn’t like this film! He has no clue what to do with anything that is fresh and unbound by strict genre conventions, and this isn’t nearly neat and tidy enough with traditional tone to satisfy his limited taste. Luckily, the American public seems a little savvier.
- Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
I confess I am horribly behind on writing reviews... Sorry!