2007 might end up being one of my favorite years for movies in recent memory. I can’t recall another year in which so many films touched me in so many profound ways. Maybe I’m just getting more emotional as I age, but I also think filmmakers are responding to our current world with more stories that reach for deep emotional connections.
I had a difficult time narrowing down my top movies of the year. The top few spots were fairly easy, but there were several options for the rest of the list. Ultimately, I chose the movies that will most likely stay with me in the years to come.
The following are my Top 10 Movies of 2007, with notes at the end about those that barely missed the cut and others I have yet to see but have high hopes for.
10. Lars and the Real Girl
Ryan Gosling gives another performance showing exactly why he’s the best young actor in movies. As I’ve written previously on this blog, Lars is a touching portrait at loneliness and how life can be affected by one person, even if it happens to be a sex doll.
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez wrote and directed this double-bill homage to shoddy action/horror flicks of the past, and the mainstream public was grossly underwhelmed. Those who managed to catch the three hours or so of stylized mayhem caught was easily the most inventive movie of the year. Planet Terror‘s military-created zombies brought fun and action, and Death Proof again proved that Tarantino can do no wrong (other than acting).
The book is one of the best things I’ve ever read, and I ended up rather pleased that the movie adaptation is as faithful as it could possibly be. Scenes are brought to vivid life, thanks to director Joe Wright and a fantastic group of actors, including Kiera Knightly, James McAvoy and Saoirse Ronan. A tracking shot along a beach littered with wounded men from the war has already established itself as one of the greatest in cinema history, and the story itself is one for the ages. As the romance builds, the conclusion’s heartfelt honesty will stay with you long after leaving the theater.
Jonah Hill makes me laugh. Every word that comes out of his mouth seems unscripted, making him even funnier as a comedic actor. Combine that with the perfect under-the-breath lines from Michael Cera, who has entertained me since Arrested Development, and you have the makings of my favorite comedy of the year. Sure, it was touching and sweet in parts, but mainly it brought the funny over and over again.
Every character in Juno is utterly believable, and for those who say no one talks like such a hyper-literate, allow me to introduce you to my friends. Pop-culture references litter our verbal landscape, and no topic is too mundane or obscure to mention. As for the movie, it has some of the most wonderful dialogue of the year, with snappy comebacks and tender, heartfelt moments blended into a great story for teens and adults. Ellen Page might very well win the Best Actress Oscar for her titular performance, and, once again, Michael Cera shines.
5. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
I’ve only seen a concert DVD of the stage version, and even it was a bare-bones reproduction of Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece. That was enough for me to crown it as The Greatest Piece of Entertainment of All-Time. The music is the work of a genius, and the lyrics are brilliant. After watching that concert version, a friend and I played producers and cast our dream version of the film. We selected a Tim Burton film starring Johnny Depp. And now, that’s just what we got, and the results are sheer (or is that shear, for the Demon Barber of Fleet Street?) perfection.
I went in not knowing what to expect. I left with tear-stained cheeks. It’s really a pretty simple plot. Boy meets Girl (the characters’ names are never revealed, so the capitalization isn’t a typo), Boy writes music, Girl helps write music, beautiful music (literal and figurative) follows. As the music swells, so does this film. It never settles for the cliché, and the ending is both heartbreaking and uplifting. It’s a tiny miracle of a film.
3. The Darjeeling Limited
Wes Anderson is in the business of making Wes Anderson Movies, and there’s not a damn thing wrong with that. Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson play three brothers traveling across India in an effort to locate their mother. Instead, they find out the true meaning of themselves as individuals and as brothers. It’s pretty much a perfect movie.
I had a hard time picking my favorite film of 2007. The next two films are each perfect in their own way, and I can’t justify putting one ahead of the other. I walked away from both knowing I’d seen true works of art, so I have no choice but to have them share the top spot. (On a related note, 2007 also proved to be a fantastic year to see amazing books adapted into stellar movies. That almost never happens).
1(a). No Country for Old Men
The Coen Bros. know how to make quality films: Blood Simple, Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, Fargo. No Country tops them all. Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bordem, Josh Brolin and Kelly Macdonald give career-defining performances in a script the brothers adapted from the already-brilliant Cormac McCarthy novel. No less than three scenes continue to haunt me more than a month after watching it, and the ending just grows in stature the more I think about it.
1(b). Into the Wild
Jon Krakauer’s book is one of the best things I’ve ever read, and I thought it would damn well be unfilmable. I was wrong. Sean Penn has adapted the book into exactly what it needs to be: a quiet, reflective look at one person’s personal journey as told by a filmmaker also exploring his own growth. Emile Hirsch’s starring role is one of beauty and work in sweet perfection with the supporting performances by Brian Dierker, Catherine Keener and Vince Vaughn. But veteran Hal Holbrook steals the movie with his emotional portrayal at a man hiding his hurt before eventually reaching out and seeking help, all while giving love of his own.
Others that barely missed the cut
Charlie Wilson’s War
Across the Universe
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
Paris, je t’aime
Talk to Me
The Simpsons Movie
Hot Rod (I know you scoff at this, but other than Superbad and Hot Fuzz, this movie made me laugh harder than anything else I saw all year)
Others I have yet to see
There Will Be Blood
The Kite Runner
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford