This Week's PCR|
"The Best of 2007"
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Pirates. Ogres. Spidermen. Spiderpigs. By mid 2007 it looked like the popcorn movie was going to rule the year at the cinema. Then, thankfully, came fall. By the end of the year you couldn’t go into your local multiplex and not find a great piece of entertainment. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Each year I worry if I’ll be able to find ten movies I really loved, only to have to do some hard thought out subtracting to get the list to the prerequisite ten. With the exception of one film on the list, they are all currently playing in theatres or are available on DVD. In no set order, with the exception of the first, the ten best films of 2007 were:
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN: It’s amazing how some filmmakers can make everything seem so easy. Even with such films as “Raising Arizona,” “Miller’s Crossing” and “Fargo” on their resumes, brothers Joel and Ethan Coen can still knock the wind out of you if you’re not careful. A tale of three very different men and $2 million dollars in stolen drug money, this is movie making at its finest. And may I be among the first to welcome Josh Brolin to the “A” list.
GONE BABY GONE: In the decade since Ben Affleck and Matt Damon won an Oscar for their “Good Will Hunting” screenplay, both have spent all of their time in front of the camera. Adapting Denis Lehane’s best selling novel, and sitting in the director’s chair, Affleck has produced the best first feature by an actor turned director since George Clooney turned out “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.” A tight thriller with a star making performance by Ben’s little brother, Casey.
KNOCKED UP: In the year of the outrageous comedy, “Knocked Up” stands highest. What makes it great is that for every outrageous moment there is a true emotional one to balance the story. Like “Superbad” and “Walk Hard: The Story of Dewey Cox,” “Knocked Up” showed that comedy can be pretty.
THE SIMPSON’S MOVIE: In the early 1980s it was business as usual for a popular animated series to pop up as a cheaply made movie to make a few bucks in the summer. Everything from the Smurfs to Rainbow Brite to My Little Pony got the big screen treatment. Then came “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut,” and the rules changed. Thankfully, the makers of “The Simpson’s Movie” followed those rules, taking everything that makes the weekly series so good and presenting it 40 foot high. Now if I could only talk my fiance’ into letting me have a pet pig!
SICKO: The first of two documentaries on the list. Michael Moore’s look at the health care system most Americans have to deal with was both outrageously funny and tragically sad. The behind the scenes workings of this industry, and the hoops many Americans have to jump through just to prolong their lives, are truly eye opening. Yes, Moore has been accused of sometimes spinning the truth his way, but it is no less heartbreaking to see that suspected terrorists being kept at Guantanamo in Cuba get treated better then rescue workers from 9/11.
SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET: Is there another actor alive that takes as many chances as Johnny Depp? Like Kazan and Brando or Scorsese and DeNiro, Depp and director Tim Burton were surely created with the intention that they would work together. For their sixth collaboration they have created not only a great musical but a film that would stand alone sans singing.
IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON: Documentary number two. And, in a bit of a coincidence, the second documentary that includes Richard Nixon, though in a much better light then in “Sicko.” If you’ve ever seen the footage of Neal Armstrong walking on the moon and wondered “wow, how’d they do that,” this is the movie for you. From the earliest days of space travel, spanning the original Mercury astronauts, the tragic Apollo 1 fire and, finally, the moment on July 20, 1969 when Armstrong took that “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
THERE WILL BE BLOOD: As someone that has associated his life with movies for more then 30 years, I’ve been very fortunate to have compiled a short list of film makers that I consider true geniuses. Even as a teenager I knew the difference between a “Dirty Harry” film and “Bronco Billy” or “Honkytonk Man.” Sure, they all starred and were directed by Clint Eastwood, but you could tell in the smaller films that Eastwood knew his way behind the camera. That it took him almost 20 years to win the first of two directing Oscars is one of those sad Hollywood tales. The aforementioned Coen brothers are on my list. A few years ago I added the most recent name to it, Paul Thomas Anderson. With films like “Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia” and “Punch Drunk Love,” Anderson created one great film after another. Add to that list “There Will Be Blood,” an adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s novel “Oil,” featuring an amazing performance by Daniel Day-Lewis. In fact, let me go on the record now and declare Daniel Day-Lewis the winner of the next Best Actor Oscar. This film does not open wide until mid-January so you’ll have to trust me here and wait for my review!
BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD: Another film maker on my list is Sidney Lumet. He’s been there since 1976’s “Network.” 30 years later, at the age of 83, he continues to amaze with this film that puts the “family” in family drama. Philip Seymour Hoffman leads an outstanding cast in a tale of love, greed and betrayal.
EASTERN PROMISES: In the 1980s, director David Cronenberg was known for quirky films like “Videodrome” and “Scanners.” In 1986 he created a horror classic with “The Fly” and then turned Jeremy Irons into evil twins in 1988s “Dead Ringers.” He had a series of misses in the 1990s, working mostly in his native Canada. Then, two years ago, he delivered “A History of Violence,” a story of one man hiding from his past. This year he has given us an inside look at the Russian mob with “Eastern Promises.” Like “History,” this film features a brilliant performance by Viggo Mortensen and a taut story that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Yes, every year I have one film that, to paraphrase Sally Field, I really, really love. This year that film is “Grindhouse.” Maybe it’s because I spent so many years working all night shows at the local bijou or that I can still remember the look and sound of film that is so worn and scratched you would keep your fingers crossed that it wouldn’t break in the projector. But mostly it’s because it was the wildest three hours I spent in a darkened theatre this year!
This week's movie review of "The Best of 2007" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith. All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2008, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.