The Best of the "Best of" Lists

As an annual tradition it's up there with New Year's resolutions and champagne corks -- those retrospective "Best of the Year" lists. You see them in magazines, newspapers and websites everywhere: The Best Films of 2007 . . . This Year's Top 10 Action Scenes . . . 2007's Top Five (usually smart-ass) Reasons to Love/Hate Hollywood . . . the whole gamut of the best, the worst, the raves and the faves.

We love those lists. The thing is, there are so many of them. Between the professional critics in the A-list venues and the semi-pros and amateurs everywhere else, making a "Best of" list devoted to just the other "Best of" lists would be a crazy-making experience.

But didn't 2007 end up becoming an exceptionally strong year for movies? So we can't let the year end without giving it a try.

We've located some "Best of" lists that we like a lot. To separate the bodacious from the banal, to seek those that aspire to be more discerning and literate -- cinematically as well as grammatically -- than your average MySpace blog, the criteria for "we like a lot" status were simple: movie smarts + writing chops. The links below take you to year-end reflections from movie-lovers...

a.) ...who know what they're talking about, meaning that their knowledge, experience and fresh insights about this year's movies -- not just the obvious titles covered in People magazine -- raise the bar above the "this rules/that blows" level; and

b.) ...whose writing doesn't suck. Let's face it, online movie sites are as common as floor popcorn at the mall cineplex, and most are about that distinctive and flavorful. Everyone has opinions, but not everyone can write with the craft and panache needed to make reading those opinions, especially when they don't snap-lock like Legos with your own, worthwhile and enjoyable.

The links are in no particular ranking. Just click to read some of the best "Year's Best" coverage of releases that range from ubiquitously hyped in-your-face titles to many obscure gems worth looking for.

Which lists best match up with yours? Which wind you up into a "WTF?" frenzy? Where do popular favorites such as Juno, Once and Superbad rank? Where does Pixar's Ratatouille stand alongside Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood? What of Zodiac, Michael Clayton, Atonement or Waitress? Or outliers such as Lars and the Real Girl, I'm Not There and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford? How about the late arrivals Eastern Promises, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Persepolis? Who is Apichatpong Weerasethakul and what's all this fuss about Syndromes of a Century?

How many lists give the No. 1 spot to the Coen brothers' No Country for Old Men, and how many give it to the Romanian film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes but won't open wide until January after its short Oscar-qualifying run in Los Angeles?

Above all, which lists remind you of all the good movies you can still catch out there?

Then in the comments section, share some list links of your own, or post your own list. We love to know what you think.

Roger EbertRoger Ebert's "year's ten best films and other shenanigans":

"It was a time of wonders," says Ebert, still among our clearest and most respected film critics. "An autumn of miracles, one of the best years in recent movie history." Even when you disagree with him, you always understand where he's coming from.

Time magazine's Top 10 Movies from Richard Corliss and Richard Schickel:

As part of Time's "50 Top 10 Lists of 2007" series, two of our best (and often critically antipodal) movie hounds offer their personal selections. They don't see eye to eye on everything, but they do agree that this was a good year for Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Four from The New York Times: The Gray Lady has offered us top-rate film journalism for as long as there have been films to journal about. This year we get A.O. Scott's "Stopping at 10 Just Seems Wrong" (he's right), Manohla Dargis's "A List, to Start the Conversation" (it does), Caryn James's "Surprising Films and Performances of 2007" (they were), and Stephen Holden's "Top 10 movies of 2007 in order of preference" in a piece he titles "Films That Look Death in the Eye" (they do?).

Across town at the New York Sun, Grady Hendrix thinks on "the best 10 movies that came and went before anyone had a chance to see them," while Nicolas Rapold calls his No. 1 choice, Day Night Day Night, a "perfectly constructed time bomb of a movie," and S. James Snyder mixes things up with his "alternative to the year-end box-office roundup ... my top four movie moments of the year." Looking ahead, Steve Dollar's