Monday, January 21, 2008

Out 1's Top 10 Films of 2007

Here they are at last! Out 1's First Annual Top 10 Lists. This year we should possibly give them a subtitle of "No Country For Different Opinions" as 3 of the 4 lists have the same #1 film and a certain film ranked 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th on the different lists. The quality of films this year has been much discussed and we have to agree. All we can do is hope for as strong of a year in 2008. If so, the 2000's are shaping up to be one hell of a decade for films.

Honorable Mention (alphabetically): 12:08 East of Bucharest (Corneliu Porumboiu), Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg), Enchanted (Kevin Lima), Into Great Silence (Philip Groning), Lake of Fire (Tony Kaye), Lust, Caution (Ang Lee), Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy), Once (John Carney), Regular Lovers (Phillipe Garrel), Ten
Canoes (Rolf De Heer)

Best experimental film that didn't qualify for the Top 10 since it only had one showing: At Sea (Peter Hutton)

The worst thing that happened this year that should have been the best: The Oprah/Cormac McCarthy interview

10. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Tim Burton)- What’s the deal haters? Queasy about the blood or not, Burton creates such a perfect atmosphere with subtly inspired performances (especially by Bonham Carter) it is easily his (second) best film. Burton, nor Depp, will never top Ed Wood.
9. No Country For Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen)- Maybe I bought into some criticism as this slid down here, but as far as using pure filmmaking technique to maddeningly toy with viewer’s expectations, this is as great as it comes.

8. Zodiac (David Fincher)- Second to #6 for being the successfully variant film of the year.
Mystery, crime drama, character study, period(s) detail...”all over the place” has never been so good. Fincher is some kind of genius to make this so insanely effective.
7. I’m Not There (Todd Haynes)- I couldn’t pay my friends to go see this with me. They are all fools.

6. The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik)- Quite the opposite of #8, this film climbed the most on my list with expanding admiration post-viewing. I loved it when I saw it but Casey Affleck’s incredible performance and the daring storytelling
tactics and pacing that work so perfectly made this unforgettable.
5. 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu)- The entire Academy Awards Foreign Film selection committee should be: a) fired and subsequently tortured by those guys in Hostel 2, b) forced to watch Bratz: The Movie over and over until they die, c) sent as peacekeepers to Darfur (why not?), or, d) very, very ashamed of themselves for overlooking the best foreign language film (submitted to the Academy) of 2007.

4. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)- Although “I drink your milkshake” may already be the most irritatingly quoted line of the year, nothing can take away from the perfection that was this film, especially in the highly debated, transcendentally magnificent ending.
3. Colossal Youth (Pedro Costa)- Totally draining and pretty damn slow paced, but this
poignant, meditative film becomes totally mystical and rewarding beyond comprehension.

2. Southland Tales (Richard Kelly) - A wonderful collision at the end of the world. Brilliant pastiche of post-9/11 anxieties and impending madness that bleeds into hysterical comedy. The Rock is a pimp.
1. Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)- Do you believe in magic?

Honorable Mentions: Knocked Up (Judd Apatow), Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy), Juno (Jason Reitman), Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (Sidney Lumet)
Most Unendurably Boring Artsy Film: Lady Chatterley (Pascale Ferran)

10. Superbad (Greg Mottola)
An exceedingly hilarious and beautifully vulgar depiction of high-school man-boy myth-and-reality, the Apatow produced film hovered above Apatow's Knocked Up as the ultimate comedy of the year.

9. The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew
Dominik)Brazen filmmaking at its finest, Dominik's confident direction is amplified by the gorgeous cinematography of Roger Deakins. The formerly underrated Casey Affleck churns out the most nuances performance of the year.

8. Zodiac (David Fincher)
An infinitely huge step forward from the masturbatory Fight Club, Fincher's masterfully paced
meditation on technology and epistemology is elegant and powerful, a promise of things to come.
7. No End In Sight (Charles Ferguson)
A frustrating, detailed analysis of the bureaucratic inefficiency and political missteps that
pummeled the Iraqi people into a state of anarchy and tragedy.
6. The Wind That Shakes The Barley (Ken Loach)
If you're looking for a dramatic example of the unavoidable problems involved in nation-building, look than further than Ken Loach's heartbreaking, wonderfully intelligent analysis of the formation of the IRA and the impact it had on Irish society. It should be
required viewing for any government official.
5. Ratatouille (Brad Bird)
Like Bird's brilliant film The Incredibles (2004), Ratatouille sets a new standard in animation. Bird helms a lively, dense (yes, I said it) investigation into passion, elitism, and the nature of criticism. Anton Ego's perfectly scripted monologue brought tears to my eyes.

4. Lake of Fire (Tony Kaye)
The most pathetically unseen film of the year, Kaye's stark black-and-white documentary is perhaps the most complete and important cultural document regarding the subject of abortion yet created.
3. Margot at the Wedding (Noah Baumbach)
Baumbach's follow-up to the superior The Squid and the Whale is nearly as emotionally-complex and unnerving. Full of immediacy and imperfect characters, Margot features dazzling performances and a deft script.

2. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Recalling the cinematic bravado of early Martin Scorsese and Robert Altman, PTA's powerful, subtly crescendoing character study is not to be missed. Oh, there's also this actor Daniel Day-Lewis. He's pretty good too.

1. No Country For Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen)
A perfect film.


10. Hairspray (Adam Shenkman)
An exercise in genre that succeeds without need for pop covers, fantasy sequence, or other explanations for the presence of music. That total absence of irony propels this utterly lovable film.
9. Away From Her (Sarah Polley)
Saying Away From Her is about Alzheimer's is about saying Sideways is about wine. Sarah Polley's deeply affectionate adaptation of Alice Munro's short story is a heartbreaker.
8. The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach)
Ken Loach's Palme D'or winner about the ragtag beginnings of decades-long Irish wartime keenly focuses on the conflict's divisive impact on family. A small war film of Private Ryan impact.

7. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Domminick)
A beautifully lensed metawestern featuring the performance of a lifetime by Casey Affleck.

6. Once (John Carney)
The best love stories are the ones that find new ways to tinker with the notion of happily ever after, and this little musical rocked me to my core. "Falling Slowly" is the song of the year.
5. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (Sidney Lumet)
A modern Greek tragedy directed with Tarantino-esque energy by Sidney Lumet. It's hard to believe that Kelly Masterson is a first time screenwriter.

4. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Daniel Day-Lewis gives a towering, thundering performance in P.T. Anderson's epic story of madness and greed. Jonny Greenwood's score is a star unto itself.

3. Eastern Promises (David Cronenburg)
Not as strong as History of Violence, but David Cronenburg's thriller of smothering intensity secures his reputation as a truly visionary filmmaker.2. Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy)
Tony Gilroy's directorial debut is easily the best legal thriller of the last ten years. Special mention is due for the pants-poopingly cathartic ending.

1. No Country For Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen)
The Coens' clear-eyed portrait of dread is equally funny, scary as hell, and expansively sad. Javier Bardem's portrayal of Anton Chigurh - the very diplomat of gathering darkness - has
cemented its place in any future discussions of the screen's best villains.

Preface: There were approximately thirty more titles I wanted to see before making this list, but a deadline’s a deadline. This may (and probably will) be updated in the coming months. Also #2-7 are more or less interchangeable as to their order. This is just what I settled on at the time of composing this list (the same can be said for #10 and a few of the honorable mentions).

Honorable mentions (alphabetically): The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik), Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (Sidney Lumet), I’m Not There (Todd Haynes), Into Great Silence (Philip Gröning), Juno (Jason Reitman), The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck), Margot at the Wedding (Noah Baumach)

Best repertory film: Pierrot le Fou (Jean-Luc Godard)

Most awkward opening shot: Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (Sidney Lumet)

Moviegoer I most wanted strangled: The idiot that kept saying “Show us the gooch!” in reference to Anton Chigurh performing surgery on himself. Are you friggin’ twelve?!

10- Superbad (Greg Mottola) – Those who know my usual taste in movies are probably somewhat disillusioned to see this on my list. “What’s this? A populist comedy?! Where is he going to put Transformers? I think I laughed more during this film than any other film I’ve
seen in the theaters. It’s crass and crude, but Michael Cera is brilliant and the humor is so outrageous and constant that I can’t put this title to the wayside.

9- Atonement (Joe Wright) – Keira Knightley and Joe Wright team up for another fantastic period piece about a young woman looking to amend a wrong she inadvertently made as a child. This film also has the best tracking shot I’ve seen since Van Sant’s Elephant (or possibly even Tarr’s Werckmeister Harmonies).

8- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Tim Burton) – This movie is all over the place. A maniac barber, a cannibalistic chef, a street urchin, and a young couple in love all come together to sing while London eats its own. I’ve never laughed so hard at a child being sentenced to death by hanging.

7- Once (John Carney) – This touching romance/follow-your-dreams film has a lot going for it, most notably one of the best original soundtracks I’ve ever heard. The interaction between the two leads is amazing.

6- The Wind that Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach) – Though the brogue takes a little getting used to, this proves to be quite a powerful film. The execution scenes are devastatingly sad. Truth be told, I teared up twice during this film.

5- Zodiac (David Fincher) – I’ll admit that this film is so massively sprawling and
detail-oriented that I recall very little of what actually happens. However, what I do remember is being in a complete state of paranoia by the time the credits rolled while simultaneously being floored by an amazing movie.

4- Away From Her (Sarah Polley) – This is another of the year’s emotionally draining films. Julie Christie gives an amazing performance as an institutionalized Alzheimer’s patient. And while Christie seems to be the Oscar shoe-in, the complimentary performance of her husband by Gordon Pinsent has been dreadfully under-praised. There’s also some fantastic editing in this film (the “abandonment of the elderly” montage is particularly noteworthy).
3- There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson) – I don’t think that this wunderkind is capable of making a bad movie. Or even an average movie. And though he thins his usually Altman-esque cast down to just a few key players, this film still resonates with the same power and possibly even more intensity than his previous work. PS-Sweet Lord, Daniel Day-Lewis is crazy.

2- Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy) – Despite the notable handicaps of being involved with the scripts of Armageddon and The Cutting Edge, Tony Gilroy proves to be a skilled director. Watching Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton) spiral out of control when Clayton (George Clooney, as if you didn’t know) confronts her is priceless. And the expression on Clooney’s face as he
drives is the closest I’ve seen to a visage of death since Ingmar Bergman started a chess game in 1957.

1- No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen) – This movie is mind-bogglingly good. The countless accolades and critical boners are deserved. The Coen brothers have crafted their most spot-on film since Fargo (though this time the Coens may well take home the best picture statue that eluded them in 1996).


Brandon Colvin said...

I created a point system so we could make a collective top 5 list. A film given a #1 ranking gets 10 pts and a film with a #10 ranking gets 1 pt, etc.

Here's what I came up with as a collective Top 5.

1. There Will Be Blood - 34 pts
2. No Country For Old Men - 33 pts
3. Michael Clayton - 18 pts
4. The Wind That Shakes the Barley/Zodiac (tie) - 13 pts
5. The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford - 12 pts

James Hansen said...

Excellent! I thought about doing something like that but didn't know what system to use. That is cool. I was surprised all you guys had Barley...I like that film a lot. It was the last one that I bumped off my special mention list but it just as easily could have been on there.

Congrats to TWBB!

James Hansen said...

I wonder though on the points...3 of the 4 first places should probably give it the #1, as I was the only one who didn't think it was the best. In forensics rankings, if you get the majority of first place votes then you get the win no matter what. Just some thoughts. I'm really glad you did that list...very interesting.

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize ya'll had a blog. Now I'll be a regular. Excited. Me.

My thoughts:

--Surprised to see Barley on there. Didn't think it looked that good. I'll check it out.

--Also surprised about Jesse James, with such poor reviews out there.

--I forgot about Zodiac, but I'd agree. Great flick.

--I cry as every day passes that I haven't seen There Will Be Blood.

--I agree on the incredible tracking shot in Atonement. It's my favorite shot of the year, and it just follows the amazing long shot at the end of Children of Men for my all time favorite long shot.

--We (Darick and I) left Before the Devil Knows You're Dead very angry we had spent our money, and I had been thrilled to see it. PSH and EH were fantastic, as was that great scene when PSH goes to his drug dealer's place for the first time. Other than that--I say blech.

--I think ya'll underrated Eastern Promises. Yowsah.

--I also feel like Sunshine is notably missing. Though I could be mixing my emotions with the quality of the's in my top three.

You guys are the coolest.

Curly-haired Emily from Webster

Anonymous said...

James: You really screwed over the Coen brothers there. Way to go.

Curly-haired Emily from Webster: Busted. I completely forgot about the Children of Men tracking shot which was also pants-crappingly amazing, if not pants-crappingly amazinger.

Oscar noms are announced tomorrow! Let's see if the Academy agrees with us.

James Hansen said...

I can just see the Academy giving an award to Pedro Costa or Apichatpong one day...or not.

Down with the Coens!

Nostalgia Kinky said...

I'll be posting mine at Moon In The Gutter hopefully later this week...very nice to see so much love for those top three (Blood, Country, Clayton). I have yet to see Barley and Jesse James yet...really great to see everyones list. Extremely interesting...

Anonymous said...

God damn it you guys! The Cutting Edge is a good movie and anyone who says otherwise deserves a swift kick with my toepick! The Cutting Edge 2, however, is a different story...


Anonymous said...

well i just found your blog, and i am glad to know that you guys are making fair movie reviews.

should you have your rating system based on where you placed the movies on you list or as a cumulative total after all you guys do a review?

next i cannot help but to tell who ever wrote the no country review and put at at the top of the list, i think it was Jacob, i don't know if boner is the word you want to use there...

all and all i will keep visiting your guy's site.


James said...

Thanks for the comments, Paul. Please keep coming to the site!

In regard to the rating you mean when we write regular reviews or just this collective top 5? I was a little confused by what you mean...

And Jacob did use the term "critical boners"...he can defend its usage if necessary, but it makes sense more or less to me (although it's maybe a bit necessary...)

Anonymous said...

That's the word I meant to use. "Critical boners" is one of those wonderfully colorful yet dreadfully underused phrases that I'm trying to bring back into the forefront of common vernacular. Another one: "puppy slaughter" (coming soon!).

w. said...

i wouldn't call the scene when lady chatterly and the gamekeeper place flowers on their naked bodies boring. i could have done without the other two hours and forty minutes, but it was hot indeed.