That’s How You Know!…It Was a Great Year: 2007 Cinema in Review

From the get-go, 2007 was shaping up to be a great year. Sure, there were the usual first quarter stinkers such as Norbit and Wild Hogs, but even those months gave us some movies that remained in people’s minds. These were movies like Breach, Black Snake Moan, Grindhouse, Zodiac, Bridge to Terabithia, 300, and Hot Fuzz. It is unusual to see these many good movies during those few months.

Then there were the summer movies. Transformers was better than we could expect from a Michael Bay movie. Pirates of Caribbean: At World’s End was a ton of fun. The Bourne Ultimatum wrapped up the trilogy and was the franchise’s finest hour. Pixar blew us away, again, with Ratatouille. The Simpsons came to theaters with a hilarious adventure. Hairspray pleased audiences and became one of the biggest musicals ever (no pun intended). And there was the Judd Appatow one-two puch of Knocked Up and Superbad.

Also, during this summer, a ton of great independent films were released and actually found an audience. The biggest of them being Away from Her, La Vie en Rose, Waitress, and Once.

And finally Oscar season came around, bringing even more great films, too many to mention right here. But that sealed the deal, and 2007 became one of the best years of the decade for moviegoers,

Here is what stood out for me in 2007:

Also-Rans

Planet Terror by Robert Rodriguez It delivered everything that a zombie movie featuring a go-go dancer with a machinegun leg should deliver. A ton of fun.

In The Valley of Elah by Paul Haggis Haggis’ politics are not very subtle, but the story and Tommy Lee Jones’ performance makes this a powerful experience.

Deathproof by Quentin Tarantino Just as fun as the other Grindhouse feature, but made better by Tarantino’s dialogue. And that car chase in the end is pure bliss.

28 Weeks Later by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo Equally great but grander in scale than its predecessor. Had some of the scariest moments of any film I’ve ever seen.

Transformers by Michael Bay Bay was the perfect choice for this movie as he was the only one that could deliver on the action needed by this. One of the greatest theatrical experiences of my life.

Knocked Up by Judd Appatow Despite the (great) humor, this is Appatow’s most mature movie yet. A tad overrated though

Superbad by Greg Mottola Also overrated, but a ton of fun

I’m Not There by Todd Haynes A very unique and interesting look into what Bob Dylan stands for.

300 by Zack Snyder Not as great as the average American youth would have you believe (duh), but it is still a ton of fun, and it is extremely well crafted.

Juno by Jason Reitman The dialogue may annoy most people, but I love it. And the actors to the best they can to make it seem real. I love this movie.

Honorable Mentions

Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe Upon release it divided those who saw it. Some thought of it as a disgrace to the Beetles. Others, like me, loved it for the passion behind it, the mostly great arrangements of the songs, and the incredible production values. One of those movies that I can watch over and over and never get tired

Sidney Lumet’ Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead A very stylish thriller from a man who you would think wouldn’t have it in him to make a stylish thriller at his age. Lumet does a great job as the director, and Phillip Seymore Hoffman gives his best performance. What more could you ask for.

Paul Greengrass’ The Bourne Ultimatum Easily the best Bourne movie. It transcends the action-movie genre to become an thrilling drama with some great set pieces. Matt Damon gives the best performance of his career with this character, so it is great to see him send it off with a great best entry in the trilogy.

Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited While this is not my favorite of his (that would be Fantastic Mr. Fox) this is the one that hits home the most. The interactions between the siblings here are scarily close to real life, and the movie is overall very enjoyable. Owen Wilson’s best performance can be found here.

Kevin Lima’s Enchanted This would have been in my top 10 of the year if they had not opted for a “traditional” ending. However, Everything that leads up to that is fantastic. This spoof of princess movies is clever, hilarious, and has a tremendous cast, with Amy Adams being the stand-out by giving the best female performance of the year.

Adam Shankman’s Hairspray Who would have thought that Shankman had it in him to make a good movie? I sure didn’t (and it seems it will remain his only good movie). For this musical he decided to avoid the flashy, MTV editing that musicals this decade have had, and he got a fantastic cast to fill every part in this oh so enjoyable movie.

Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz Edgar Wright is a genius. That is all.

Frank Darabont’s The Mist Monters plague our nightmares, but the truth is that there is nothing scarier than people. This movie, rather than focusin on the monster, is all about how people react when put in the middle of a horrific situation.  I was on the edge of my seat all throughout, and that ending just floored me.

David Silverman’s The Simpsons Movie “The Simpsons” finally made it to the big screen with a return to form for these beloved characters. Like the show in its heyday, it is hilarious, clever, has some incredible satire, and unmatched quirk.  Plus, it is endlessly rewatchable.

David Fincher’s Zodiac Fincher doing what he does best: creating a moody thiller with unparallel tension.

Top 10

 

10. Bridge to Terabithia

Directed by Gabor Csupo

I wasn’t expecting a movie as affecting as this when I watched the commercials for this. It isn’t a fantasy movie like Harry Potter  but it is a very mature children’s movie about the power of friendship, the imagination, as well as loss and the people that get us through those hard times. AnnaSophia Robb and Josh Hutcherson give incredible performances that make the movie what it is. But I must also give credit to director Gabor Csupo for not making just another Disney movie with a sun-drenched color palette with a not-so-subtle message.

9. Michael Clayton

Directed by Tony Gilroy

There have been many movies about corporate corruption, but this is not quite like that. It is told through the eye of a “fixer” for a law firm, who as you might expect is not the wholesome person in the world. The plot is fantastic, Tony Gilroy’s direction is tight and suspensful, and the performances from George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, and Tom Wilkinson are fantastic. And the ending is fantastic.

 

8. Persepolis / Ratatouille

Directed by Marjane Satrapi & Vicent Paronnaud/ Brad Bird

These two animated movies are completely different but I love them equally.

Persepolis is a very funny but mature story about the revolution in Iran during the 1980s as told through the eyes of a little girl. The animation, though not quite as polished as a Disney movie is beautiful and appropriate for the story. And did I mention that it is really funny? Sure, it does have its dramatic moments, but the light moments overwhelm the drama, and that is what made it some charming.

 

Ratatouille meanwhile is not quite as important as Persepolis, but it is a delight. The animation is beautiful, and it just might be the most beautiful animated movie in terms of aesthetic. Storywise, it is not groundbreaking, but the setting and the character make it feel original. And Michael Giacchino’s score is just beautiful. Both movies are fantastic and among the finest that animation has ever offered.

 

7. Away From Her/ Waitress

Directed by Sarah Polley/ Adrienne Shelly

Like other movies in my other tie, these are completely different. They also represent complete opposites in the lives of their directors.

Away from Her is Sarah Polley’s directorial debut, the best debut in the decade actually. She handles the tough plot with such grace that you would think that it was directed by someone with more expertise in the directing department. Also, her script, for which she got an Oscar nomination complement her work as a director so well. Julie Christie, Gordon Pinset, and Olympia Dukakis give some of the very best performances of the year.

 

Waitress meanwhile was Adrienne Shelly’s last movie movie before her untimely death. And it is such a nice swan song. The story, despite the harsh themes, is pleasing and fun. The script clever, and her direction puts us in a rahter fantastical place on of the United States. Keri Russell proves that she has what it takes to be a great actress and a movie star, Any Griffith is a delight to watch, and Nathan Fillion continues to be one of the most charming and underrated actors ever.

 

6. Atonement

Directed by Joe Wright

On the surface it seems like your usual british drama about rich people not finding love. And while for the most part you would be right, as the movie progresses, and with the fantastic endin, you realize that it really isn’t. Sure, from the basic plot that is all you get. But it is much more deeper than that. It is about regret, love that will never be, and probably wasn’t meant to be, and ultimately doing anything you can to fix your mistakes, even if it is too late. And it is told meticulously by Joe Wright, his crew, and the amazing cast.

 

5. Once

Directed by John Carney

A basic boy-meets-girl story elevated to great heights by the music and the performances. Besides this being a love story, it’s pretty much just about two people in similar circumstances getting together to make beautiful music. They each have their problems, and they know that they can’t really be together, but that does not stop them from doing what they do best. If only Hollywood could make a movie as earnest and lovely as this…

4. There Will Be Blood

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

A slow pace, beautiful cinematography, a haunting score, one of the greatest performances of all time. All of this can be found in Paul Thomas Anderson’s hypnotic masterpiece. This was the first PT Anderson movie I had ever seen, and I saw it in an unusually packed theater in a huge screen (and that never happens to these types of movies where I live). And from the first nearly-silent scenes I was hooked. It was love at first sight.

3. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Directed by Andrew Dominik

This I didn’t see in theaters, but I so wish I had. Like There Will Be Blood, this is a haunting, slow paced, and gorgeous movie. Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck give career-topping performances, and Roger Deakin’s cinematography is the best of the decade. I hope that one day we get to see Andrew Dominik’s definitive cut, but meanwhile, this masterpiece will do.

2. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Directed by Tim Burton

Now a days, it seems that for every Big Fish, Tim Burton will deliver two other movies ranging from mediocre (Corpse Bride) to good, but not great (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). After those two movies, he went on to do this musical, and it was a match made in heaven. Tim Burton’s eye for the macabre combined with Stephen Sodenheim’s music, with his usual suspects acting. And thankfully, he delivered.

1. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Directed by Julian Schnabel

I blind-bought this when it came out on DVD. I knew about the movie, but I didn’t really know what to expect. By the end, I was blown away. This was unlike any movie I had ever seen. Even now I can’t come up with words to describe how I felt like watching it. It simply is a perfect movie. One that I appreciate more now after recent family events. You have to watch it to understand how I feel about it.

Superlatives

Best Director

1. Julian Schnable, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

2. Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

3. Andrew Dominik, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

4. Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood

5. Sarah Polley, Away From Her

Best Actor

1. Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

2. Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

3. Phillip Seymore Hoffman, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

4. Gordon Pinset, Away From Her

5. Brad Pitt, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Best Actress

1. Amy Adams, Enchanted

2. Keri Russell, Waitress

3. Julie Christie, Away From Her

4. Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose

5. Ellen Page, Juno

Best Supporting Actor

1. Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

2. Any Griffith, Waitress

3. Max Von Sydow, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

4. Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild

5. Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton

Best Supporting Actress

1. Cate Blanchette, I’m Not There

2. Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone

3. Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

4. Catherine Keener, Into the Wild

5. Romola Garai, Atonement

Best Original Screenplay

1. Ratatouille, Brad Bird

2. Waitress, Adrienne Shelly

3. Once, John Carney

4. Michael Clayton, Tony Gilroy

5. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Kelly  Masterson

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Ronald Harwood

2. Away From Her, Sarah Polley

3. Atonement, Christopher Hampton

4. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud

5. The Simpsons Movie, James L. Brooks, et al.

Best Cinematography

1. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Roger Deakins

2. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Janusz Kaminski

3. Atonement, Seamus McGarvey

4. Across the Universe, Bruno Delbonnel

5. There Will Be Blood, Robert Elswit.

Best Costume Design

1. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

2. Atonement

3. Across the Universe

4. La Vie en Rose

5. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Best Art Direction

1. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

2. Across the Universe

3. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert For

4. Atonement

5. The Golden Compass

Best Visual Effects

1. Transformers

2. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

3. Zodiac

4. The Golden Compass

5. Evan Almighty

Best Makeup

1. La Vie en Rose

2. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

3. Norbit

4. Planet Terror

5. 28 Weeks Later

Best Sound

1. Transformers

2. The Bourne Ultimatum

3. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

4. There Will Be Blood

5. 300

Best Original Score

1. Atonement, Dario Marianelli

2. Ratatouille, Michael Giacchino

3. Sunshine, John Murphy

4. There Will Be Blood, Johnny Greenwood

5. The Simpsons Movie, Hans Zimmer

Best Original Song

1. “Falling Slowly” from Once

2. “Le Festin” from Ratatouille

3. “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted

4. “The Hill” from Once

5. “When Your Mind’s Made Up” from Once

Best Animated Feature

1. Persepolis

1. Ratatouille

3. The Simpsons Movie

4. Meet the Robinsons

5. Surf’s Up

Best Foreign Language Film

1. Persepolis

2. The Lives of Others

3. The Host

4. Paris, Je t’aime

5. La Vie en Rose

Other Categories

Most Original

Across the Universe

Biggest Surprise

Bridge to Terabithia

Biggest Disappointment

I Am Legend

Best Scene

The monster’s first attack in The Host

Most Overrated

Into the Wild

Most Underrated

Hot Rod

Most Wasted Potential

I Am Legend

Worst Movies of the Year

1. Ghost Rider Oh Nick, will you just give it up. Focus on the dramas.

2. I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry Offensive

3. Norbit Probably cost Eddie Murphy his well deserved Oscar. Such a shame.

4. Shrek the Third Crap

5. Shoot’em Up Bigger crap

6. Shooter Boring

7. TMNT Why?

8. Into the Wild Despicable

9. Wild Hogs Lame humor is lame. I heard someone on the radio say that Marisa Tomei deserved and Oscar for this. I was like “WTF?”

10. Bee Movie At one point I liked Jerry Seinfeld’s humor. This movie made me hate it.

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