Friday, January 2, 2009

Favorite Movies Released in 2007

    Hello all,
    Well, I missed last year, mostly because all the movies weren't that good in 2006. Except for The Prestige which I absolutely loved, I can't really think of a movie in 2006 that is worth watching.

    2007 on the other hand is an entirely different animal. I saw a lot of movies this year (thanks to the magic of Netflix and my new beautiful 46" LCD screen) some have been good, and some have been less than good. Some critics loved that I didn't get (300), some critics hated that I loved (Across the Universe)..

    Even with all the movies I did see, I know I missed some that could possibly be on this list. These include Juno, and Southland Tales (which I did read the Graphic Novel which is the prequel to the movie and can't wait until it comes out on DVD to see).

    That said, here are my favorite movies of 2007:

    1) It's always hard to pick your favorite movie of the year, because there are so many different types of movies out there. I mean, do you pick a comedy that made you laugh the hardest, or the movie you expected to stink and you really enjoyed, or just movies you walked out and you had a smile across your face the entire time. This year, I've chosen as my #1 pick of the year to be the movie that has stuck in my head and has popped in there in some fashion every day since I've seen it. That movie is There Will Be Blood. People complain that there is no 'story'. This story has been told many times before. It's the fictional rise to power of someone and how they got there. Who they used, how they played the game. This movie is the same to me as Scarface which while flawed is a very good movie. Daniel Plainview will go down as one of the greatest film characters ever, and the film has 2 of the single best lines of the year. But a story is just 1 aspect of the entire movie. And the reason There Will be Blood actually wins for me is because of the rest of the movie, not just the story. Mostly, the music. Granted, Jonny Greenwood can almost do no wrong in my ears, but this score was all over the place, it kept you on edge and was almost like another character. This is the 2nd film score that I have on my ipod, and I have listened to it a lot since I downloaded it (Jurassic park is the other-- what can I say, it's John Williams' most undervalued score.) The acting by the entire cast was perfect, with each character having his moment to shine (I can't get Eli's Exorcision out of my head). Lastly, I've been a fan of PT Anderson since the first 10 minutes of Hard Eight, and he's only lost me on Punch Drunk Love. He got me back here, and can't wait for his next outing.

    2) Grindhouse - Was this movie perfect? No. Was this movie even good? Maybe. Was this the most fun I had in the theater in a long time? Yes! Now, a few months ago, Aubrey's 2 cousins came over with a disc of all bad B-movie trailers from the 60, 70s and 80s, and we watched about 4 hours of these. It was awesome, but this may mean I was already pre-disposed to liking this movie. I was the audience they were hoping for when they made it. I went to see Grindhouse a cold April afternoon. I spent almost 4 hours sitting in a seat watching this movie and it felt like an hour. Even when a baby started crying in my theater I just said to myself "Just like a typical Grindhouse experience" and my smile grew wider. Each movie on their own are just OK. I've seen Planet Terror before. I've seen it when it was called Slither, when it was The Blob and when it was Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Does any of that matter? No. All of those movies are classic and so was this. Planet Terror was disgusting, but so much fun. Some have asked me, "How does Rose McGowan shoot the gun attached to her leg?" My answer: Who cares, it was so much fun. Then there were the trailers. Just all out awesomeness-- especially Thanksgiving. I would watch Thanksgiving-as long as that voice-over was part of the film. The ending film Death Proof had its flaws too, but Tarantino really brought it home with the best car chase I've ever seen on film. Overall, the parts that were bad, I say were bad on purpose, and even if I'm wrong, it's a good case as any. I loved this movie, and I loved the experience of watching this movie in a theater.

    3) Knocked up/Superbad - I was going to just put Knocked up on here, and not even include Superbad at all. Knocked up was the better movie in my mind. It was funny while also having that realness that also made it scary. I was going to just leave it there, but then I saw Superbad and realize that it is a prequel to Knocked up. The fat kid is kind of the high school version of Seth Rogan's character in Knocked up. The kid from Arrested Development would grow up to become Marshall from How I Met Your Mother's Character, and McLovin would grow up to become the guy that didn't shave his face throughout Arrested Development (they were also the best characters in their respective movies, which solidifies the connection to me). So if Superbad is a prequel to Knocked up, and they came out in the same year, I'm calling them the same movie. Superbad even had the 70s/early 80s retro credits to prove, that this film is older than Knocked up which takes place in today's day and age. Now, I know all of this is not true. I just thought it was a worth-while argument and now I can put both films as 1 on my list and have it justified.--- at least in my own head. Also- Paul Rudd can do no wrong.

    4) Beowolf - I almost didn't see Beowolf at all. I thought it was going to be cheesy animation and I expected it to be a way to cash in on the success for 300 which I was bored by after 3 minutes. Then people saw Beowolf and said it was good and the 3D animation was awesome. I wrote in I think my 2004 best of movies about how they needed to make 3D movies, because I was sure the technology was there, but I had not seen any. So I went to see Beowolf when I should have been studying for a final. I walked in, and was given glasses. The movie started and after about 5 minutes of really good, witty dialogue I said 'oh yeah, Neil Gaiman wrote this-- I've read virtually everything this guy has written and loved it. American Gods is one of the best novels of the 2000s, and Sandman is the my favorite comic book of all time. Roger Avery also wrote this. He wrote Pulp Fiction and my #1 film of 2002 Rules of Attraction. And Robert Zemekis directed this-- sure he's a Stephen Spielberg clone, but at least he tries to clone one of the best. And wait, Beowolf is really well written, with witty jokes and double entendres. And the animation and story is really good. Wow.. I love this movie. Why did I not see this on opening day again?' --- Two hours later, the lights went on in the theater and I drove home wearing my 3D glasses, hoping the drive would look as cool as the movie (it didn't). This movie was great, and not enough people gave it the credit it deserved.

    5) No Country for Old Men - The Coens can really do no wrong. This movie was technically perfect. The acting was great, this could have been a silent film that's how well it was done. Javier Bardem owned his role and I've been a fan of Josh Brolin since he was a Goonie. I had some problems with this film which is why it isn't higher on the list. Some of the problems I had was the film's fault (major action happening off screen), some was my fault (the fact that I dazed out near the end while Tommy Lee was speaking and didn't understand what he was talking about, hence I missed the entire point of the movie), but besides that, I just love watching the Coen brothers do what they do 2nd best. The best thing they do is put on screen really weird, quirky characters and make them play in a sandbox that straddles the line between making sense and not like they did in Lebowski, O Brother and Barton Fink. What they do 2nd best is this type of Neo-Western Noir like they did in Blood Simple, here and (kind of) in Millers Crossing. At least they're not doing anymore Intolerable Cruelties (For now).

    6) Stardust - What? Neil Gaiman wrote the story this is based on too? Well, this movie started and I was skeptical. I netflixed it and about quarter of the way through, I was still skeptical. Then the movie just got better and better. The tone of this movie reminded me of A Princess Bride. They don't make movies like the Princess Bride anymore (although 2 movies that almost made my top 10 - The Last Mimzy, and Bridge to Terebithia were great fantasies as well) but Stardust was just like it. It had a great cast and they all delivered. Robert Deniro especially had one of the best characters performances. His first scene, I thought he was acting terrible and 'phoning it in' in his next scene I understood why his acting was so bad in the first scene. And Michelle Pfeiffer, my first love, was great as the wicked witch. Just take my word on this one, if you like fantasy, this one is worth watching.

    7) King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters - I just saw this last week, and before this I was going to put Sicko here as my obligatory documentary film. But then I saw King of Kong and it was so much better then Sicko. Sure Sicko was 'important' and it made me want to move to Canada or even Cuba, but King of Kong was more. It made me want to go to an arcade and play Donkey Kong for hours on end. It made me upset that I was not born about 10 years earlier and was a teenager in the mid 80s going to my arcade and wowing people with my skills (I'm a pretty good Pac-Man player, but I'm not even in the same ballpark as these guys). I love nostalgic video games, and I've even gotten more into video games this year with my purchase of the Wii. On Wii, I now play Mike Tyson's Punch Out (I still can't beat him!) and Super Mario Brothers, and I often played Pac Man while watching football games this year, so I might be the audience of this movie. But the story of 1 guy who has had a pretty crappy life, but damn- he can play Donkey Kong was great. I found myself rooting for him to break 1,000,000 points. I need to get to a kill screen in a video game myself. I mean I watched this movie on Sunday, and on Monday, I turned on Super Mario Galaxy and played until I finally beat those last 3 impossible levels. When I beat the game, what happened? I had credits and now I get the "pleasure" of being able to play it again as Luigi. I like the simplicity of 'you got to this level, well now we're going to kill you. It's kind of like life. This movie was great. And I hope there are continuous updates, cause I really got to like Scott Weibe while watching this.

    8) Across the Universe - I really expected to hate this movie. It seemed pretentious: Look how clever we are. Let's make a movie using only Beatles songs, and name the main characters Jude and Lucy. And you know what? It was pretentious. But, that doesn't matter. What matters is this movie solidified again how great the Beatles are. The first rock and roll band is still the best. The music is timeless and perfect. From the simple 3 chord structure of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (reimagined as the plight of a closeted lesbian in high school hoping for her chance at the head cheerleader who is dating the quarterback of the football team) to the weirdness of Mr. Kite (sung by the immensely talented Eddie Izard). The film perfectly cast Bono as a Ken Kesey character and teamed him up with my favorite band from 2005 The Secret Machines to create an awesome version of an awesome song: I am the Walrus. The plot of the film is generic. We've seen it in Forest Gump and every 60s related film, but the use of the music and the way they took some of the quirks of the songs and put them perfectly in the film (Jude-y Jude-y Jude-y Jude-y!). But really this movie was about how the Beatles in their 7 years together are the perfect soundtrack in (at least what the movies have showed me to be) the most important decade of America.

    9) Ratatouille - Pixar is a great company, but on top of the Brad Bird is probably one of the top 5 film-makers around today. Although nothing will probably every beat the Incredibles, his storytelling ability ranks up there with the greats, and I'm including Spielberg (after all Iron Giant is basically an ET clone) on this list. Ratatouille wasn't his best, but this heartwarming tale of a cooking rat in Paris was a cute little story with a solid beginning middle and end. You don't get that from many movies today, at least not many that are packaged as perfectly as this. Add in the perfect digital animation, and you have a movie that deserves to be in anyone's top ten list for 2007.

    10) Charlie Wilson's War - This goes on my personal list because I had not gone to a theater in quite some time. New Years day, my friend Jed called me up and asked if I wanted to see this. I didn't. I thought it a generic political film. But I wanted to see Jed, so I went. Being in that theater reminded me why I loved going to the movies again. If I netflixed this movie, it would have been good, and I would have gone about my day, but seeing it in a theater made it that much better. Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and the great Phillip Seymour Hoffman are all great here. The dialog is sharp, and witty like Aaron Sorkin always is. It's directed by an old-school great director. This movie had the right Pedigree and I loved the two hours I spent watching it. But not only that, this movie got me to love going to the movies again. This is something that I had been starting to feel was becoming obsolete, and anything that can put that magic back into the movies deserves a spot on my top 10.

Other quick notables .. (other movies I saw that I wanted to at least mention something about in no order)
- Zodiac - I love David Fincher. Something was lost on me here. It was good, but I think I missed something, I'll need another go some day

- Black Snake Moan- The director understands the marriage of music and film. He proved it in Hustle & Flow, and he proved it here. This movie got me to listen to the blues for 2 solid weeks from Eric Clapton to BB King. And Christina Ricci is hot 5-head and all.

- Bridge to Terebithia - I saw this movie on a plane during the craziest turbulence of my life. It made it even more fun. Another great fantasy picture that has a strange left turn near the end.

- The Last Mimzy - Another fun fantasy film, that is worth your time. It reminds you of the goodness of being a child
- Spider-man 3 - This had potential, but it wasn't good. It should have been edited better, or turned into 2 movies. Or get rid of Sandman. Everything felt rushed, and I'm upset. And since watching Spider-Man 2, I've read Amazing Spider-man 1-500. I must say after doing that, Kirstin Dunst was cast terribly and the character assesment was way off. Dallas Howard as Gwen was great, but her character was more Mary Jane and Mary Jane acted more Gwen-- but that's just nerd griping. This movie wasn't that good.

- Eastern Promises - I had to watch the scene this movie has become famous for through my fingers. It was that difficult to watch, and that awesome.

- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix- My favorite of the books, was done very well. The Harry Potter movies like the books and good, solid fun.
- Rescue Dawn- Christian Bale is amazing. I hope he gets an Oscar for the Dark Knight next year.. I can't wait for this movie

- Die Hard 4, Transformers, 28 Weeks Later - All really good action movies. Turn your mind off, and enjoy.

This list is subject to be updated and changed by me, once I have seen any/all of the following movies: Sunshine, the Simpsons Movie, Assassination of Jesse James, Into the Wild, Darjeeling Limited, The Mist, Juno, The Bucket List, Sweeney Todd, Atonement, The Lives of Others (on dvd queue), Romance and Cigarettes, Breach, The Lookout, Southland Tales, Eagle vs. Shark, Bourne Ultimatum, Inland Empire, The Kite Runner, Apocalypto, Shoot 'Em Up.

Thank you for anyone that indulged me to the point of reading this list.

No comments: