It seems like anyone who writes about music or film on their blog is obligated to compile some year end best-of lists. So today I’m kicking mine off with a look back at some of my favorite films from the last year. My music list is still being worked on and should be ready to roll next week. So for now, here are the best films I saw in 2007.
This film makes it on the list almost solely because it is Transformers. I loved the show and the toys as a kid and was very excited to see the franchise finally get the big screen treatment. I was disappointed when I heard that Michael “Storyline Optional/Explosions Mandatory” Bay as directing it, but encouraged that Spielberg was involved creatively. I remember seeing it in the theater and being a little annoyed by the tired gags and dialog, but the bot showdown at the end was very well done.
I’m interested to see where they take the franchise from here. I hope to see less of the high school romance angle and more fleshed out robot personalities.
The creators of the demented Adult Swim show successfully expanded the 12 minute episode motif into a feature film. Being a fan of the show, I was totally on board with the completely nonsensical nature of the “storyline”.
Besides being the only movie that I walked out of with a sore face from laughing, this film also has the distinction of having probably the best poster ever.
I didn’t catch this one in the theater, but Netflixed it shortly after its DVD release. This film is based on the true unsolved killings in the Bay Area during the late 1960’s. At the time, the killer sent cryptic coded messages to the local papers and tormented the public with his threats of more murders.
The film itself was well constructed and exceptionally acted. The pacing was deliberate and smart. This is a very intelligent thriller that is probably not for everyone, but those who see it will remember it. Similar to my #7 pick…
Breach is another film based on a true story. This one revolves around a junior FBI agent assigned to investigate a possible intelligence leak from inside the agency. The suspected culprit is Robert Hanssen, a fiercely private and extremely harsh FBI veteran who puts the young agent through the ringer.
Knowing that this too is based in reality makes the film powerful, but the real power is in Chris Cooper’s performance as Hanssen. The man is portrayed as a loyal Catholic family man by day and a man of questionable loyalty by night. It causes the viewer to ponder whether anyone is capable of complete loyalty and why this man fell from grace.
Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost reunite for the follow up to Shaun of the Dead, a story about a big city cop reassigned to a perfect, small town. Pegg is spot on with his fanatical devotion to the law and Frost balance him out by portraying a dim cop who worships action movies.
The stellar supporting cast give this film the perfect touches of comedy and the final 30 minutes of the film are so over the top you can’t help but laugh through the splatter.
The conclusion to the Bourne trilogy lived up to the high standard set by the first two installments. Matt Damon’s stone cold portrayal of an assassin working his way back to his corrupt handlers is still fresh.
I think the real strength of the Bourne trilogy is the consistency of vision. They film makers never compromise the rules they have laid out for the character. The film never turns into a thoughtless “shoot ’em up” gut-fest, instead they focus on inner workings of Jason Bourne and his desire to right the wrongs of his former life. It’s a refreshing take on the genre.
Pixar (and Brad Bird) score another hit animated film by focusing on a strong story rather than cheap laughs. The story of a rat who can cook and a human who can’t doesn’t seem like a winner on paper, but it works surprisingly well. The message that shines through at the end is simple and resonant.
Anyone who skipped out on this one because it is animated is missing one of the best films of the year. This is not just a kids movie, it definitely targets adults.
Oh, and for future reference, Pixar films are always worth the ticket price.
I caught this film just last week at an advance screening at the Lagoon Theater. The hype for Juno is growing by the day and all of it is justified. This is an amazing little film. In a year of films that dealt with unwanted pregnancies (Knocked Up, Waitress, etc.), this one is by far the best. Ellen Page shines brightly as the titular character who finds herself pregnant in highschool and decides to give the baby up for adoption.
The supporting cast includes Jason Bateman and Michael Cera of Arrested Development fame and both are great in their characters. But the real star of this film is never seen on screen, her name is Diablo Cody and she’s the screenwriter. Cody is from Minneapolis and her script is one of the smartest, snappiest, funniest I’ve heard in awhile. The fiesty dialog (deliver perfectly by the cast) will stick in your mind for days.
Anderson delivers yet another gem of a film, this one revolving around three brothers on a journey of spiritual discovery and personal reconciliation. Anderson downsizes the cast from his last two outings and focuses on digging deep into the relationship between these brothers.
The script is vintage Anderson with its laugh-out-loud one liners alongside pregnant pauses. The three stars embody their characters perfectly and play off each other with abandon.
Also in typical Anderson-style, the comedic elements are slowly stripped away towards the end and the characters are made to face their personal demons and deal with them. This film is no exception as the themes of death and leaving the past behind come to the forefront. It is without a doubt Anderson’s darkest and probably most powerful film yet.
If you’ve chatted with me about film at all this year, you should know that I loved this film. Becky and I saw it at the Heights Theater a few months back and haven’t stopped talking about it since. A second viewing at the Riverview solidified this film as my favorite of the year.
The story of a lonely, broken hearted busker in Dublin meeting a sweet single mother and making music together is lovely. The fact that Carney filmed this on a budget of $160,000 shows through in the almost improvised scenes shot with handheld cameras, and when combined with the fact that the two leads are played by real life musicians makes this film seem very real.
The strength of the film for me is obviously the music, which is performed so perfectly and passionately; but the charm of the film is in the nuanced performances and the subtle things like stolen glances and flirtation. It’s the chemistry between the leads that makes the film unforgettable. I’m sure Becky and I will be talking about this one for a long time.
So there you go, my favorite films of the year. I feel like it’s been a great year for film. So great in fact that I have a list of films that I haven’t had a chance to see yet that may creep into this list at some point (although I’m fairly confident my top three will remain so seated). Here are some films I’ve missed so far that I hope to see soon:
- 28 Weeks Later
- Mr. Brooks
- Eastern Promises
- Across the Universe
- The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
- Into the Wild
- Michael Clayton
- Gone Baby Gone
- Dan In Real Life
- No Country for Old Men
- I’m Not There
- Charlie Wilson’s War
- There Will Be Blood
- Sweeny Todd
- Lars and the Real Girl
- The Diving Bell and The Butterfly
Anyone seen any of these? Which should I make a priority?
And finally, looking ahead to 2008, here are some films that I’m excited to see:
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
- Star Trek
- Prince Caspian
- The Dark Knight
- Be Kind, Rewind
- Get Smart
- The X-Files 2
- Where the Wild Things Are
- James Bond 22
- The Time Traveler’s Wife
- Synecdoche, New York
Whew! I think that about does it for this monstrous post. Thanks for reading! Look for my music list to go live sometime next week!