Thursday, January 24, 2008

Favorite 11 Films of 2007

I don't write about films here all too often, since I do enough of that for class, but I'm as big a fan of lists (and There Will Be Blood!) as anyone else on the Internet. I'll probably be M.I.A. from blogging this weekend since I'll be covering the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for UCSB's Daily Nexus, so here's something to argue with/contest while I'm gone.

P.S. - Why yes, I did see Juno.

11) 2 Days in Paris (Julie Delpy)
Please don't confuse this with the similarly titled Paris Hilton, erm... video. Julie Delpy's Parisian film, populated by some of the world's most neurotic people, had me smiling with delight the whole time I was watching it.

10) The Darjeeling Ltd. (Wes Anderson)
I guess people are a little tired of watching Wes Anderson be Wes Anderson, because I haven't seen this film on too many critic's lists, despite the fact that it's on par with his best work.

9) I'm Not There (Todd Haynes)
Though the film has a couple of missteps and uneven points (which I mostly attribute to Richard Gere, fairly or unfairly), Cate Blanchett's performance was more than enough to tip this film over the line. I'm probably not as obsessed with Bob Dylan now as much as I was in high school, but I'm still a huge fan and this film is the perfect reminder of why people find Bob Dylan so fascinating (though people are quite right in saying this film's strategy of employing multiple actors to portray the same individual could be applied to anyone else).

8) Once
I was expecting to see the Irish equivalent of RENT when I saw the ads for this film, but the film's kind of like the anti-RENT.

7) Atonement (Joe Wright)
I'm not typically a fan of the British melodrama, as a genre, but Atonement's more a story about storytelling than Pride and Prejudice II.

6) The Lookout (Scott Frank)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt needs to be handed more roles so he can be appreciated by more people than just critics and teenage girls.

5) No Country for Old Men (The Coen Brothers)
I'm not sure how good I'll be at trying to explain this film. Like everyone else, I left the theater a bit confused by the ending the first time. My parents called me after they saw it (I had recommended it, and they like to see all the nominated films anyway) and kept telling me about how violent it was, and how there was nothing redeeming about it, which is completely untrue. What redeems the film? It's difficult to explain. I plan on writing something about that soon, because I believe the answer to that question is at the heart of what makes this film so great.

4) Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (Sidney Lumet)
Finally, a film where Ethan Hawke tones down the obnoxiousness! The heist-gone-wrong, and the way the film lays it out (un)chronologically, cannot fail to engage. Questions are posed, answered and subsequently replaced by bigger and more frightening questions. And we get to witness Philip Seymour Hoffman's descent into madness.

3) Zodiac (David Fincher)
One doesn't typically expect much from a big-budget, star-filled crime thriller, but this film is so much more than that. The film is a portrait of unending obsession, chronicling the dead-end search for the real-life serial killer and the toll it has on the men involved in the hunt. Fincher's filmic techniques gradually intensify the audience's own feelings of paranoia and nervousness right along with the characters'. How horrifying was that basement scene?!?

2) There Will Be Blood (P.T. Anderson)
I wasn't sure how to react, after seeing this film. The film didn't instantly elate me, and it took some time for the brilliance of the film to fully sink in. This is probably because the film is structured in a way that is so different than the way most films are structured, and ends on such an ambiguous note.

1) The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik)
This little-seen, little-recognized film has to be the best thing I saw all year. Both the critically minded and entertainment-minded can enjoy this film equally, which is something I always take into consideration when watching a film. The performances are indescribably better than you'd imagine (Brad Pitt's a movie star, sure, but I don't know that I ever had supreme faith in his ability to act), and I'm pulling for Casey Affleck to get the Best Supporting Actor award for his role as the titular coward. Also: Roger Deakins has got to be one of the best cinematographers working today (the man also did No Country for Old Men).

Other films I saw worth checking out: Persepolis (more for the amazing animation than the story itself), Margot at the Wedding (completely miserable, with some great performances), 3:10 to Yuma, Stephanie Daley (Amber Tamblyn really is as good as everyone said she was in this film), Interview (I hated it until the end), The Namesake, Grindhouse (well, Tarantino's half was enjoyable) and The Wind That Shakes the Barley (which would probably make my top 10, had I seen it more recently than a year and a half ago). Oh, and if I made a #12, it would be Eastern Promises.


Dan said...

Another nice list. Guess I'll have to check out The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford now. And an affirmation that I don't need to see Juno.

But still not sure I can bring myself to see Atonement since the trailer ruined any potential it had to get my butt in the theater.

How 'bout Michael Clayton? Gonna try it this weekend.

Ginny said...

the trailer for atonement was full-on ridiculous, and my friend who really loves the novel convinced me to see it! in the end, it was worth it.

i still haven't seen michael clayton, but i'm making it a priority since it's the only best picture nominee i haven't seen this year...

Steven Ray Morris said...

You don't like Juno cuz it reminds you too much of yourself ;P

I see you gave some UCSB alumni love here. I wish I could have seen The Lookout when they played it for free.

I want to know what you think of Old Country, because yesss its one of my favorites too this year, but I found it so so so puzzling.

Steven Ray Morris said...

I saw a trailer for Michael Clayton here in Auckland before Sweeney and it looks intense. And Sydney Pollack is in it!

Lshap Productions said...

yay i'm always happy to see once and darjeeling lmt on people's lists!

Ryan Brown said...

I'll have to check out "The Assination..." I didn't realize that 16 Horse Power was on the sound track. I'm impressed. Thanks for the heads up.