Friday, January 18, 2008

My Top Ten of 2007

My favorite films are:


Dimension Films has separated the two films, but together Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror and Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof make a wonderous combo. As an homage to B-rated, grindhouse pictures, they tenderly embrace those elements while fully indulging the freedom to be proudly silly. Terror makes for a fun, dumb sci-fi lark-- Marley Shelton and her needles are my favorite part-- while Death is a complete Tarantino mix of smart writing, whip sharp acting (even from stunt performer Zoe Bell), and pure, unadulterated violent glee. With the added fake trailers and fuzzy lines included, Grindhouse is great fun, and a pure celebration of film.


I'm personally shocked to include this film on my top ten list, but I can't deny the power of this particular chapter in the Potter chronicles. It's easily the best of the film series thus far, and director Peter Yates incapulates the magic, but also the terror into ever scene. There's a sense of doom and darkness of the fight of young Harry and the evil Lord Voldemort. Plus the added list of ensemble players grows to the greatest heights yet with Imelda Staunton and Helena Bohman Carter's wicked turns. Staunton in her own right deserves a best supporting actress nomination for her uproarious and delicious takes on Dolores Umbridge.


This twee Molly Shannon comedy has stayed with me since I first saw it back in April of last year. First it was her performance, all staid and restrained that drew me in, than the perverse, yet poignant script from writer\director Mike White that tells the tale of a woman unhinged by the death of her dog, than it was the great ensemble interplay between terrific actors like Laura Dern, Peter Sarsgaard, Regina King, John C. Rielly, and Thomas McCarthy. It's a smaller film, but one that shouldn't be forgotten. The metamorphesis of Shannon's performance alone makes for a killer character study.


After the ill-fated The Life Aquatic I was just hoping for a bit of redemption with The Darjeeling Limited, but what I got was a whopper of an atmospheric tale in Wes Anderson's fifth film. A medatative reflection of three brothers trying to connect on an Indian train after a long estrangement, not only does Anderson's signature auteurian style come through and through, but the ensemble interplay of Owen Wilson (even more poignant after recent event), Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman is cathartic and quite amazing. This is a deeper film than Anderson has even conjured, but still a joyous one in his familiar quirky style.


In a pretty good year for musicals (Sweeney Todd, Hairspray, Enchanted), this one trumped them all on terms of pure passion and magic. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova made a glorious Brief Encounter as an Irish musker and Czech flower girl. Known only as Guy and Girl, they had the chemistry and the music to create something special. It's a small film, but a beautiful one.


Tamara Jenkins's personal dark comedy take on the natural progression of dealing with a parent about to die, she inspired the best in Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney. As sibling trying to grasp the best way to understand the devolving of their estranged, abusive father (a vibrant Philip Bosco), they're interplay is a master class of acting in itself. However it's Linney's movie full and through, her performance her (oddly un-noticed by the critics and guilds that honor the best performances of the year) is deep and frank and funny and sad. Her Wendy Savage is intelligent, but fragile and thing of beauty in the hands of one of the most natural performers in modern cinema. Jenkins's screenplay is a doozy too.


Todd Haynes's loopy, magical mood piece on the many lives of Bob Dylan is probably the most divisive film on this list, but the viseral power and kinetic energy is there in every frame of this personal, wonderfully crafted piece of art. The arresting power of I'm Not There is the obsessive, but passionate way the film honors the legend of Dylan, while poking and proding it. In a way a straight-forward biography would be insufficient to honoring the mystery of this enigma of a man. Cate Blanchett has easily won the best in show awards here, and she handily deserves them for her portrayl of the most iconic portion of this man's life, she seems to giving her soul away. But Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Marcus Carl Franklin, and Ben Whishaw are wonderful here as well.


The most joyous comedy of the year. A surge of young talents converged here (Jason Reitman's inspired direction, Ellen Page's amazing performance, and Diablo Cody's witty and energitic screenplay) and gave "birth" to the most spirited, joyously amusing comedy of the year. What could have been a Lifetime movie of the week is transcended by all of the above, but also the witty, generous interplay of the best ensemble of the year. Each character had their moments, and without any cloying sentimentality, were all lovable.


As serious and relevant a film that has come out in some time, Paul Thomas Anderson's masterwork is pure cinema. Visually stimulating and beautiful with note perfect acting from Daniel Day-Lewis, whose charisma, movie star mojo, and unparalled commitment is unmatched, There Will Be Blood is certainly one of the most important movies of the year, but it's emotionally intensity is strong enough to scar. It's bleak, but masterful, magical in the way it changes opinions of Anderson all together as a filmmaker. Gone is that pretentious So. California glib, instead comes a mature restraint and power.


In the end however, no film made me more in love with the awe power of filmmaking than the Coen Brother's opus of good sheriff's trying to make sense of world decaying and a villian so terrifying he could give Hannibal Lector the frights. The techanical accomplishment of the film is unparalelled, as well as the writing, directing and acting. THE BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR!

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