2007 was a wonderful year to be a movie lover. I fell in love with a lot of flicks. Some I did so unwillingly. Some I started out just respecting, but over time I just couldn't shake them. It's unusual for me to fall in love with so many films. I could fill a top ten or fifteen easily any year with films I simply respected or really enjoyed. But this year it was a good old-fashioned love orgy. Before I go on, however, I should note that I was never able to see There Will Be Blood by the time of this entry. With that not-so-little footnote, here we go:
It's the movies that stay with me for days and then weeks and then months on end that end up in my top spot. Last year it was The Fountain. This year it's Zodiac. On the surface it's a serial killer film by way of All the President's Men. But it becomes more than just a police or journalistic procedural when all is said and done. David Fincher's film seeps into your brain, and while you may not become as obsessed and lost as Jake Gyllenhaal's Robert Graysmith, you get a taste of it. My only obsession is with this film which I've watched a good six times now.
My favorite screenplay this year has to be the one by She Who Must Not Be Named. Despite the hype of this movie, and maybe even because of it, I'm shocked it made it so high on my list. But Juno isn't just clever; it finds emotional beats that aren't covered in syrup. Instead, they come across as happy surprises; it's very fluid. This is my favorite cast and comedy of the year. Everyone chips in: there are zero slackers. Ellen Page continues to wow me.
It's a damn shame nobody saw this movie. And it's an even bigger shame that the studio decided to just dump all over it, and barely give it a chance. Casey Affleck and Brad Pitt turn in performances they will be proud of at the end of their tenure. Writer-director Andrew Dominik tells this story with a sort of quiet confidence. It doesn't sprint to the end, it sort of glides. It is a worthy and original entry to the western genre, focusing on celebrity idolatry gone awry.
Tony Gilroy's fascinating, well-scripted thriller is also an actor's showcase for George Clooney (subtle, moody but ticking), Tilda Swinton, Sydney Pollack and the great Tom Wilkinson. This is a low-key, dark but absorbing movie that finally, gracefully explodes in a showdown between two of the actors I mentioned above. It's one of the best scenes you're likely to see all year and it's earned. Gilroy has written two thrillers that I count amongst the very best I've seen. This is one. The other was The Bourne Supremacy (yeah, the second one). He's on a roll.
Joel and Ethan Coen's thriller is a return to some Blood Simple-type seriousness. It begins as a moral study under the guise of a suspense thriller, but by the end I think it has turned into something else. The much talked-about ending has infuriated some, elated others. It certainly threw me for a loop, but like any good movie it grows on you, stirs the old noggin and gets you thinking. It's one of the most suspenseful art films ever made. Please give Javier Bardem the Oscar.
6. Sweeney Todd
I know people that think every time Tim Burton touches something it turns to gold. I know others that hate anything with his name on it. I'm not in either of those camps. And having said that, I would love to see Tim Burton and this movie gets loads of Academy nominations this year. This anti-musical was a perfect pairing for Burton and Johnny Depp, not to mention the terrific Helena Bonham Carter. The music is sensational and I've found myself humming a couple of the tunes in the days that followed. Thankfully, without a blade.
I don't know how many times I've watched this movie on DVD already. Five? Six? A hundred? But I can't get sick of it. I love good movies about cooking and Ratatouille is just about as good as it gets. There is a great story here mixed with sharp wit, amazing animation and very good voice work by the cast. It's totally lovable.
Joe Wright's excellent wartime tale of a love shattered apart by a child's lie begins with innocence and ends in regret. It is the type of movie that would normally be in my top five if there weren't so much love to spread around. Still, I expect this movie to be adorned with nominations. Certainly Saoirse Ronan should be recognized with an Oscar nod. The film's first 45 minutes and final sledgehammer ten are as good as any this year.
When I saw American Gangster many moons ago I figured it would certainly be in my top five for the year. Ridley Scott's film is so well made and executed and the story is so incredible I didn't see the likelihood of it falling. But here it is, barely making my top ten. This is not a bad thing; this should be celebrated.
10. Black Snake Moan
I know, I know. This is going to raise eyebrows. We can't take him seriously! But hey, I don't even take myself seriously. And the fact remains that Craig Brewer's sophomore effort after Hustle & Flow is one of my favorite movies of the year. Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci are so very good here. They're two lost souls who need curing and a way back, and it's the music of the blues and each other that help get them there.
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Dre writes three times a week for Film.com. Email him!