Personal top 20 films of 2007.
My own personal top 20 films for movies released and/or made in the year 2007.
There are maybe 5-10 films that don't quite make the cut (you can ask me which ones...if I remember), but it was a great year for films.
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No Country for Old Men 2007, R)
There Will Be Blood 2007, R)
Juno 2007, PG-13)
Ratatouille 2007, G)
Directed by: Brad Bird. Starring: Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano, Peter O'Toole. << "Although each of the world's countries would like to dispute this fact, we French know the truth: The best food in the world is made in France. The best food in France is made in Paris. And the best food in Paris, some say, is made by Chef Auguste Gusteau. Gusteau's restuarant is the toast of Paris, booked five months in advance." >> Every time Pixar releases a film, it's a miracle. In a world where the common man watches shit films, its great to know that a rare gem is giving them something great...and us others are bowing at there feet for putting a foot in the right direction. Pixar has always been on the right path and they cross every line with each new film...Ratatouille is a defining film. The film follows a rat named Remy, he is not like other rats, he doesn't rummage through garbage and eat anything he can find; he is different. He has a keen sense of smell for fine foods and he knows what ingredients are needed to make fine cuisine. He admires the finest chef in town, Gusteau and when he hears of his tragic death, fate leads him to the restaurant and to a bumbling idiot Linguini, who is hired as the garbage boy in the restaurant. When Linguini messes with the soup, Remy takes it upon himself to get into the kitchen and fix it, but when he is caught out and Linguini is to dispose of the rat, he realizes Remy understands everything he says and that he is the one who can cook. From there, they create a plan to make Remy cook without being noticed as a rat. I really had fun writing that brief synopsis, because the plot is always everything I ask for in film...originality. I hate to pinpoint people, seeing as the entire Pixar team are genius and they all add there touch to each film, but Brad Bird is the main man here. The craftsmanship on the film is masterful; Brad has written a script so well polished that it proves to be some of the best material written by Pixar so far. He mixes in so many ingredients with such skill, such likable three-dimensional characters, brilliant timing in its humor, both witty and slapstick and strong dialogue that adds depth to the characters. Any slightly predictable or sentimental moments are never finished badly and they choose how to create them wisely. The animation is as three dimensional as its characters, it is some of the best I have seen and it just keeps getting better and better. There is such exquisite detail on every character, every scenery shot and every prop. The human characters look they did in The Incredibles, but the incredible detail on there emotions and facial movements make them so much more. The cinematography is outstanding, they have captured every angle and corner of Paris perfectly with such beautiful color and imagery and it sends chills down your spine. The voice acting, as always in a Pixar film, is exceptional. Everyone provides a soul to these characters with skill...I personally think the Academy should nominated an actor here for there work on this film...and that actor is Peter O'Toole, who voices the critic Anton Ego with such depth and understanding for this lost cause...it's quite astounding. I could go on with this film and I know it would deserve it, I certainly took my time writing this review and even then, I don't feel I have given it justice. One of Pixars finest films to date, and in my top 10 best films of 2007.
Atonement 2007, R)
Away from Her 2006, PG-13)
Directed by: Sarah Polley. Starring: Julie Christie, Olypmia Dukakis, Gordon Pinsent. <<"I'd like to make love, and then I'd like you to go. Because I need to stay here and if you make it hard for me, I may cry so hard I'll never stop.">> The story introduces us to elderly married couple Fiona and Grant, of 44 years, who are still very much in love since they day they got married. Fiona has Alzheimer's and is slowly deteriorating away at such a young age, it has come to the point that they must send her to a nursing home. There, she is left for 30 days to adjust away from Grant (or as such, the other way around) and when he goes to visit, he must deal with the pain of what she has come to and the strange affection Fiona has built with another male patient. No words of mine can describe the sheer beauty and brilliance of this film, a film deserving of Oscars, that I hope this time next year, the film will be recognized by a wider audience. The strongest element of this film is most certainly Sarah Polley, a young actress of 28 years old doing her first directional/writing feature debut and she is wise beyond her years. She has created a poetic masterpiece that is so pure and so well developed, the dialogue is amazingly strong and thoughtful, she injects such humanity and heart into every element of this picture that she seems to finally be a light in dark Hollywood. Julie Christie has only ever been a name to me, being the age that I am, I don't think I have had the pleasure of seeing her films to see why her name is praised so much...now I can see why. She delivers one of the most heartwarming, heartbreaking, powerfully poetic performances in many years, she shows such great range and her experience shines through on screen, if she doesn't win the Oscar next year, then it will be a disgrace. The supporting cast is also very strong, from the humorous ex-sports caster and cheeky elderly woman, to the simple roles of silence from the patients, but the standout is Gordon Pinset. Another actor I wish I had seen along time ago. He has a very tricky role that requires a lot of depth,control and most of all, believability...and he hits it right on the head. Its all in his eyes and his face, he shows wisdom in his years, his face appears very detailed to show a hard life, his eyes have so much love and loss in them, that he steals every scene he is in. Unforgettable, poetic, deep, moving, thoughtful, heartwarming, heartbreaking...no words of mine can do this film any justice, it needs to be seen and loved. A masterpiece.
Waitress 2007, PG-13)
The Lookout 2007, R)
Directed by: Scott Frank. Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Isla Fisher, Carla Gugino, Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode. << "My old man used to say to me, probably the only thing we ever really agreed on, was that whoever has the money has the power. You might wanna jot that down in your book. It's something you're gonna need to remember." >> The story follows Chris, he pretty much has everything, a wealthy family, great friends, a beautiful girlfriend and he is a top athlete...but when a fatal car accident changes the lives of those in it, everything changes. Not only does Chris have to live with the damage he has caused, but he also has a brain injury which effects him from remembering things for long periods of time. Now, with a completely different lifestyle, he takes a simple job as a janitor at a bank, which causes a chain of events to lead him to ultimately get caught up in a planned heist. 'They don't make films like they used to'. You will probably hear that from many people and I have to agree with them wholeheartedly (for the most part). Hollywood has turned into a problem child, the one you can't fix and a majority of movies made in modern society are an insult to what films should be...The Lookout is the opposite and reminds us that brilliance is out there. Scott Frank has always been a brilliant writer, from Minority Report, the best film of 2002 to some classic heist/mob related films (Get Shorty, Out of Sight), this is Scott as his personal best. At first glance, it may appear like a heist film, it isn't. For a good 80% of the film, it is a character drama, a very rich and realistic study on how changes in life can really effect you. Everything is so well written...thoughtful, brilliantly executed and quite emotional...and the extremely likable characters help that. But what drama we are shown is also balanced with thrills and the surefire intensity works brilliantly as well. Scott Frank makes his directional debut here and although its not necessarily a doorway from a unique visionary, Scott knows what he is doing, he knows the story and his characters well and how to bring out the best in them, with great range and executing every element perfectly...and with a great little noir touch. The performances are what you would hope for. Although some actors are a little underused in the background, it doesn't ruin anything. Jeff Daniels is strangely cast as a blind man but with his deft control and as always, brilliant acting, he delivers. Joseph Gordon-Levitt still isn't known to the public just yet, mainly because he has done many independent films...but they are missing out. Not only does he inhabit the role to a tee, but he shows a rare range for his characters differences throughout the film and he is mesmerizing because of it...he will go a long way. This is what film making is all about, when the mainstream audience require big action flicks to satisfy there little minds, films like this slip through unseen. A brilliantly smart and rich character study full of intensity, care and emotion and with some of the most likable characters you can have, a surprisingly rich score from the always pleasing James Newton Howard, a brilliant directional debut by Scott Frank and another strong performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, The Lookout is like a little masterpiece, to remind us that great films can still be made, you just have to look.
Zodiac 2007, R)
La Vie en Rose (La Mome) 2007, PG-13)
Directed by: Oliver Dahan. Starring: Marion Cotillard, Gérard Depardieu, Clotilde Courau. "The most astonishing immersion of one performer into the body and soul of another ever encountered on film." Those of you who have seen and reviewed the film, no doubt put this snippet of a review on there's, so don't mind me being a bit repetitive, but I have reason too. Sure, Marion Cotillard is masterful here (that word still doesn't cut it) and I'll cover that soon, but many don't also realize the brilliance of the film itself. The story follows Edith Piaf, as you may already know. We are shown her troubled childhood, from her abandonment as a young girl to her life in the circus, to her instant success in her 20's. From there, not only did she have her ups and downs with her career, she had her problems with alcohol and drugs, her battle with rheumatism and her deal with love, all leading to her early death. Oliver Dahan deserves a round of applause. Not only has he created a respectable biography underneath a masterful performance, he has created a technically outstanding film. His screenplay does suffer a little from being a little too short and cutting past some small aspects of Edith's life, but it is otherwise full of a brilliant understanding of this mysterious women and done with such emotion and depth. His direction is impeccable, he chooses some wise shots and the perfect camera styles and setups for each emotion being radiated off the screen...and with some of the very best editing I have seen in years, there are many key montages and shots that blend together so well with such respect and meaning (the sequence of Edith's loss and then suddenly walking onto stage to sing), if you don't notice these, then you are missing out. The soundtrack couldn't be done any other way. I half expected a top composer to come in and create his own score for the film but it would have not worked. The score consists of Edith Piaf and that's it...and with the perfect placement and the right songs for many key scenes, it really adds the emotion and intensity to the film that the songs hold already by themselves. The performances...first, to be nice, all of the smaller performances by many spanning over the decades of the film are great, with not a bad egg in amongst them all, they are all outshone and slightly forgotten. Marion Cotillard has done brilliance beyond imagination. I could certainly be clichéd and say that she deserves the Oscar, which she is bound to win, but its more than that. This performance deserves a whole new category...at the end of the day, it isn't acting...its channeling. From the cute shyness of her early years, to her emotional struggles in her 30's, to her quirkiness in her late years, Marion Cotillard IS Edith Piaf. From her look over the decades, to her movements, right down to the persona of the role, Marion is brilliant, outstanding, masterful...no words of mine can sum it up. 'Hall of Fame' really does call her name. At a solid 140 minute running time, La Vie En Rose could have been a lot to take in, but with the brilliant structure, the outstanding editing, the respectable, thoughtful and technically brilliant direction...and the best performance in decades, La Vie En Rose is an engrossing, respectful and truly is the perfect Edith Piaf biography. Up there with some of the best films of the year.
28 Weeks Later... 2007, R)
Directed by: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. Starring: Catherine McCormack, Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Imogen Poots. Wow......that word keeps coming to mind after I saw this film....and I only finished watching it a few hours ago. In the past few decades, there have been many films that either reinvent a genre, or continue it and keep it consistant and fresh, like in my 'Sunshine' review, I mentioned that 2001: A Space Odyssey was the Sci-Fi film of the 60's, Alien and Aliens was the 80's and Sunshine was for the new decade.......Now with Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Alien and Aliens........comes 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later.....if you haven't clicked onto what I mean yet....as much as I hate to say it....this is a superior film to the original. This time around, Danny Boyle and Alex Garland step out of there positions and give someone new a shot, which at the end of the day, may have been a bad choice, but they took Executive Producers positions to make sure this movie doesn't get ruined and they did search well and found someone amazing.....Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. He is reasonably new to many, his last feature film was a Spanish film named 'Intacto' (which I haven't yet had the pleasure of seeing) and that received great praise and I can see why. 28 Weeks Later takes place....well 28 Weeks after Britain is infected with the Rage virus, American troops have landed and are there to rebuild the civilisation. As you may guess, something does go wrong and the virus is unleashed unexpectedly. We are introduced to a new set characters, all realistic and we follow there story and struggles through the film. What is kept in this film from the first is the humanity of the characters and the nicely created situations that they have to face....what is added is more developed and consistant characters and we feel for them more. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo was an amazing choice for this film, he understands the material well and never, ever delves away from the vision and into cliche....if you were to take the direction of Danny Boyle, mix it with Peter Jacksons earlier work and also add something new, refreshing and exciting, you have Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. He keeps the pace going and never slows down for too long, he manages to stay consistent with his characters and never lets them be bogged down by anything else, his gritty vision is extremely impressive and he never fails to explore his camera work and bring us something different.....and not to mention he amps up the gore to please any gorehounds out there. The cinematography is amazingly well done and adds a nice layer of dark atmosphere....and what I was really impressed by was how controlled the 'scares' were. Now for people who know me, they know that the majority of the time I hate these cheap talentless 'jump scares' they use in hollywood movies to get people scared....it is amateurish and cliched and should only ever be used sparingly in a film as long as the tension is high and only used to help once or twice to get the audiences attention for the real genuine scares to follow....this film appears like it might rely on these 'cheap jump scares', maybe....but they are nicely placed, layered in tension and completely unexpected...as well as the horror coming from the choices the characters have to make, the amazing vision behind it all adds some extremely creepy scenes to the mix as well. The prosthetic effects as well as the addition of CGI was amazing and it certainly will make the gorehounds happy. The acting is top notch, with Rose Byrne giving the cast a run for there money and showing amazing potential as a new actress, she has only recently been in 'Sunshine' but her performance here is great and she fits perfectly into her role. Robert Carlyle proves once again how consistant he is and works the many layers of his characters extremely well....and we are also introduced to 2 new talents with alot of potential....Mackintosh Muggleton and Imogen Poots. And to finish off my very long review, I can't forget to mention another extremely amazing and memorable score. Overall...I hate to say it, especially when I love the original, but this film is one of those rare sequels that are superior to the original, the film is more consistent with its characters, the acting is top notch, the direction is amazing and unique and drenched in atmosphere and he produces some extremely memorable sequences (one in particular involves the infected and a helicopter....whatever you may think it would look like, I bet you will be wrong). One of the best films of the year (and I have seen films in the 100's already).
Sunshine 2007, R)
Directed by: Danny Boyle
The Lives of Others 2006, R)
Michael Clayton 2007, R)
The Bourne Ultimatum 2007, PG-13)
Knocked Up 2007, R)
Directed by: Judd Apatow.Starring: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann. << "Marriage is like a tense, unfunny version of Everybody Loves Raymond, only it doesn't last 22 minutes. It lasts forever." >> The story follows a young stoner without a job and a women on the verge of a career breakthrough, but through one unexpected night, they meet in a bar, get very drunk and have sex...8 weeks later, she finds out she is pregnant. From the writer/director of The 40 Year Old Virgin, I did go into this with great expectations, but never expected Judd Apatow to exceed his debut film...boy was I wrong. This is everything I ask for in a film...now saying that makes me sound a little hypocritical as there are so many films out there, all different styles, all aiming for different things...but what I mean in terms of film is a story with depth, sophistication and pure enjoyment. Judd Apatow has grown tremendously as a filmmaker since his debut, The 40 Year Old Virgin. In terms of comedy, it is outstanding. The dialogue takes from every angle of pregnancy, partying, marriage, relationships, love, parenting, even drugs (and even some references to film) and hits the nail on the head with its very consistent, witty humor that had me in hysterics through the entire film...and then on the other hand we have amazingly likable characters, developed ideas, a brilliant understanding of relationships and how they are never perfect and the film has real heart. The cast is very strong, Seth Rogen proves to be a pretty decent front man, but doesn't compare to Steve Carrell (but the on screen time with Paul Rudd is brilliant, the chemistry between them two is great). Katherine Heigl surprised me with quite a shining performance, although it's hard to see the chemistry between her and Seth Rogen (thankfully the characters are so well developed, we don't see it), she puts in a very focused performance. This is everything a comedy should be and everything a film should be underneath. The subject matter will turn some people away and the dialogue will not be for everyone, but its never exploitation, the dialogue is meaningful, the humor is consistent and hilarious, the characters are likable, the structure is perfect and Judd's understanding of the many elements he aims for makes this film so much more. An outstanding mature comedy with heart and depth.
Snow Cake 2006, G)
Directed by: Marc Evans. Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Carrie-Anne Moss, Emily Hampshire. "Yesterday, he took my hands and danced with me. Every time, he does something new...how ever small, it's a brilliant feeling. I wish everyone could get to know someone like my little brother, he makes you look at things in a brand new way. Some people say that James won't ever do the things I do, but it doesn't matter, he'll just do different things. I love my little brother so much and one day I know he'll tell me he loves me to." The story follows a man named Alex, a man with a past and with such sadness. On his travels through Ontario to see an 'old friend', he stops of at a truck stop and is approached by a very vibrant young girl asking for a ride home. An tragic car accident occurs killing Vivienne instantly and Alex believes it is the best thing to travel to her hometown and meet her mother. Alex soon finds out that Vivienne's mother is highly autistic with her own way of living and he soon becomes attached with not only her, but the very 'friendly' neighbor. Angela Pell, first time screenwriter (and someone who has an autistic son herself) has really written a fantastic script. I think it really is one of the more difficult ideas to bring to film, especially when you want to do it right. Although it may have points aimed at pushing the sentimentality onto the audience, nothing is forced. Beautifully rich in character, unexpectedly witty and dry and carrying a warm and gentle heart at the core, it is not only a very good showcase of sub-character for what we all see as 'normal' people and the reminder for us to not forget to stop in life and find out who we truly are, but a very real and insightful look into autism. Not only does it not display autistic people as 'idiots', or even as outcasts, we are shown there own personal way of life and living and there completely unconventional way of dealing with the emotional and loss around every corner. Marc Evan's is a name I had seen before on a lot of low budget films that attempt to be 'mainstream', but I think he has really set a name for himself after this film...something more fitting in the independent scene. In style, he is quite limited, which might seem like a bad thing, but every simple choice he makes adds another level of genuinty to the story. From the sweetly poetic focuses on the simple things, to the right doses of genuine intensity and emotion...and the step-backs to let the actors shine, Marc really shows craftsmanship in something so simple. The performances are astonishing. Sigourney Weaver has always proved to be an essence on screen to beat, especially playing strong-willed characters, but this time around, she goes for something a little bit more challenging...playing an autistic woman. She delivers astonishingly well with her near pitch-perfect profoundness of the complexities of her characters mind, its a role screaming for an Oscar, but its unlikely she will get recognized. Carrie-Anne Moss works well on the little she is given but shows great presence and Emily Hampshire is so sweet and full of charisma. Even with a dozen strong performances, none stand close to Alan Rickman. He is the standout here and delivers one of his deepest and more fitting roles of his career. His typical dry and tone perfect humor is a brilliant match for the wit of the film and not only that, but he inhabits the roles underlying sadness and intricate layers and its really a showcase for his amazing talent. I think I have said everything I have wanted to say, there's no need to write a closing statement on my opinion.
Hot Fuzz 2006, R)
Hairspray 2007, PG)
Directed by: Adam Shankman. Starring: John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Nikki Blonsky. << "I think I've kind of been in a bubble...thinking that fairness was gonna just happen. It's not. People like me are gonna have to get up off their fathers' laps and go out and fight for it." >> This review will not compare to the original Hairspray, as I have not seen it. I honestly didn't know what to expect, I had heard many excellent reviews and I thought it would be more along the lines of Dreamgirls where it is no story and all glamor...its much more then that. Adam Shankman has created an really great piece of entertainment...the director of the atrocious 'The Pacifier', I never saw it coming, he has just shown he is worth something when he is in his comfort zone. He choreographed each dance sequence professionally and injected his direction with a whole lot of fun. The pacing is fast, exhilarating and full of life and when the entire production gets behind him and has fun too, he has certainly impressed me and critics. The screenplay by Leslie Dixon is really great, with some amazing songs written by Marc Shaiman, I'll admit that it is light fluffy material overall, but there is a real topic underneath it all that they tackle. As it is also a great throwback to the 60's and full of so much life, the controversial topic of race and discrimination is covered without offending anyone nor becoming to controversial...and although this has been done many times before, it is handled right here and it shows us that we are not different because of of our skin color, or even our size, it hands us this nicely without force. The acting ensemble is large and full of large talent and performances, John Travolta tackles a difficult role and does so brilliantly and with great style and control, he proves he still has it when he is in the right role. I could go on with the amazing cast (especially the young cast who outshine the adults) but the one I want to mention is newcomer, Nikki Blonsky, who shows great attitude and flair in her first role. Amazing set design, brilliant costume designs, exhilarating dance sequences, I could go on, but to finish up, the film surprised me. Exhilarating, hilarious, sharp, witty, fast-paced, dazzling...its so much fun, it keeps in mind everything a summer film should be, to entertain and have fun while your doing it. My theater clapped and I can see why.