Thursday, December 20, 2007

My Favorite Movies of 2007

This is a very truncated list since I haven't seen many films that likely will be up for award consideration, so maybe a more apt title is "Favorite Movies of 2007 that I Happened to See."

Anyway, in no particular order...

Another gem from Pixar, though not quite in the league of "The Incredibles" or the "Toy Story" films. Still, a merely good Pixar movie is still better than 99.9% of what's released every year. Can Peter O'Toole please be nominated for his deliciously role as Anton Ego? Bonus points for the hilarious short film "Lifted," maybe the funniest five minutes in film this year.

Michael Clayton
This isn't really an "issue" movie, and it isn't really a mystery or thriller, but what I loved about this film is its grim portrait of a man who has lost his way and knows it. The opening scene sets the tone, where Clooney's Michael Clayton is summoned to fix a sticky problem for a powerful client, only he's so weary of being on the wrong side of the morality line he can barely life a finger to "help." Tilda Swinton is fantastic and, most importantly, believable as a woman so terrified of her own ambition that she resorts to horrific actions to protect her career. Maybe the most chillingly realistic villain in film this year.

Yes, the script is often goofy and laughable. Yes, the title might be the answer to the question "How gay is this movie on a scale of 1-10?" (credit SNL). But as Leonidas says to the orator Delios midway through the film, "Tell them a story. Something to get their blood up." That's what 300 did, got your blood up for two straight hours of bloody mayhem. The kind of movie football teams will watch before a big game. And yes, that's a compliment.

Knocked Up
Judd Apatow is the Pixar of live action comedy. He doesn't cast the biggest stars, has a reliable stable/family/freakshow of actors (Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann), he creates simple premises and milks them for all they're worth, and every picture, no matter how dirty, has heart beneath the smut. His movies make stars, a nice change of pace since most actors tend to rely on tabloids over talent to get them noticed. And Kristen Wiig, probably the most consistently funny SNL cast member, nearly steals the show as a subversively underhanded producer. "Oh no, we're not asking you to lose weight. That would be illegal. We just want you to be healthy, by eating less."

No Country for Old Men
A great movie, but I actually wish I'd seen it before reading the book. NCFOM is a perfect example of minimalism at its finest; I don't think there's a single piece of music until the end, and it probably sets the modern movie record for least dialogue per minute. Not knowing who will live after having met Javier Bardem's sociopathic, cattle gun-carrying page boy Anton Chigurh. Not knowing just how quick-witted--or witless--Josh Brolin's Llewelyn Moss can be when put to the test. A story that makes perfect sense because its characters, namely Tommy Lee Jones's Sheriff Bell, can't make sense of the world they inhabit.

Not as "warm" as Knocked Up, but probably the movie I laughed the hardest at all year. Michael Cera takes awkward confidence to new heights, and damned if Jonah Hill didn't play a clone of one of my best friends from high school. Surprisingly one of my favorite characters in the movie is Emma Stone's Jules. Finally we get a popular high school girl who isn't either a volcanic bitch or neurotic mess. Jules is Best line in the movie? "F*ck you bum!"

Gone Baby Gone
I wrote a lengthy review of this movie here. I sincerely hope this isn't forgotten come awards time. I'll just be happy if Amy Ryan gets a nod. 

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