- No Country for Old Men – This perfectly-made Coen Brothers film astonished me with its dusty, Texan look, its wry and sad tone, its shocking violence, and its unresolved ending. If this wins Best Picture, it will be the first time in years (if not ever) that I completely and utterly agree with the Academy.
- The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters – Thirty-something men hold onto the glory of their teenage video-gaming years in this ode to being the best at something… even if it is playing Donkey Kong. This charming documentary is also a hilarious ode to good vs. evil.
- The Host (Gwoemul) – Re-injecting much-needed humor into Asian horror, The Host had me cackling with delight and squealing at its genuine scares.
- Once – I admit, I kinda have a crush on this slight, charming, musical romance. I dare you not to buy the soundtrack after experiencing this love letter to the joy of music.
- Rocket Science – It may not be rocket science to make a comedy, but to make such a funny one full of deadpan one-liners, many uttered by a debate-team stutterer… well, you can’t beat that.
- In the Shadow of the Moon – Speaking of rockets, you’d think there’d be nothing new to say about the Apollo space program, over 35 years in the past. However this doc both managed to portray the surviving astronauts as fellows that you might see at Denny’s, and make your jaw drop at the astounding (some never-before-seen) images from space.
- Nina’s Heavenly Delights – My vote for the spiciest and cutest romance of the year involved Nina and Lisa, who heat things up while preparing for the Best of the West curry competition in Glasgow.
- Outsourced – Sure, part of it was filmed in Seattle, and sure, I related having been laid off four times in the technology industry, but this fish-out-of-water story of a Seattle-based sales manager training Indian replacements for his entire laid-off staff was utterly enjoyable.
- Into the Wild – As rambling as an aimless road-trip, and as frustrating as watching a young person make stupidly risky decisions, Sean Penn’s adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s famous book stuck in my craw. Count me surprised (since I knew the ending in advance) that the film was actually one of the most inspiring of the year.
- Brand Upon the Brain! – With a live score, white-jacketed foley artists tearing at celery stalks, a celebrity narrator, and the mind-boggling singing of a real-live male castratto, Guy Maddin’s experimental silent black-and-white cross-dressing, sci-fi extravaganza was a bonanza for the senses if you were lucky enough to catch it on tour.
Other movies that I liked a lot:
Films that I missed that may have made the cut (or not):
There Will Be Blood, Gone Baby Gone, American Gangster, Michael Clayton, The Kite Runner, Lars and the Real Girl, Lust, Caution, Persepolis, Away From Her, La Vie En Rose
In an upset for a prize that normally would go to an outstanding performance by female mammaries, the 2007 competition was obliterated by the appearance of 300 pairs of well-oiled, well-toned man-breasts in the movie 300. “Spartans!!!”
Evan Almighty, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Guilty, no pleasure:
Transformers. Hated it the first time (I can’t believe I paid for it!), then was trapped on a plane with the film for an unwanted (yet unavoidable) second viewing.
Most creatively shocking scene:
Seeing an eyelid being sewn shut… from the inside in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
Best non-human character:
The specially-equipped barber chair in Sweeney Todd that made a satisfying and horrifying “kaaaa-SHUNK!” sound as it tipped back and let its slit-throated contents slide off and through the conveniently located trap door.
Year of the Dog
I’m Not There, Knocked Up, For the Bible Tells Me So, Grindhouse, Transformers, Rescue Dawn, Zodiac
Movie that could have been great if it didn’t collapse in the last 45 minutes:
Most unintentionally heartbreaking final shot:
Keri Russell’s Waitress walking hand-in-hand with her onscreen daughter, played by director Adrienne Shelly’s own real-life child. Shelly was tragically murdered just before her film premiered to raves at Sundance.
MVPs (aka My new cinematic crushes):
Charlotte Gainsbourg (I’m Not There, The Golden Door), Irrfan Khan (The Namesake, A Mighty Heart)
A scene that made me choke with laughter in a movie I hated:
The dramatic interpretation of John Farnham’s long-lost 80’s hit “You’re the Voice”, that starts ridiculously inspirational, then ends in violence in Hot Rod.
Worst Hair / Best Hair:
Julia Roberts’ ridiculous ‘do in Charlie Wilson’s War made me want to scream and put pins in my eyes every time I saw her, whereas Sasha Baron Cohen’s ridiculous ‘do in Sweeney Todd just made me scream with laughter.
Curious thematic trends:
Cannibalism (intended, or by accident) – Sweeney Todd, Grimm Love, Severance
3-D (with apparently more to come) – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Beowulf
Best examples of seasoned actors making the most of minimal screen time:
Max Von Sydow, who rips your heart out and makes you sob in a mere two scenes in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; and Hal Holbrook, who take Emile Hirsch’s “Alexander Supertramp” under his wing in Into the Wild.
Most fun to be had at the movies in 2007:
So much fun was to be had at the movies this year, that I can’t choose just one:
- Being in the same room as Dead Can Dance’s transfixing goddess Lisa Gerrard at SIFF as she talked about her work scoring films.
- Attending the rollicking world-premiere of Blood on the Flat Track: The Rise of the Rat City Rollergirls with the audience packed with rollergirls and the folks who love them.
- Seeing my pal SheryBobbins dress-up as WWII Olivia Newton-John for the Xanadu Sing-Along… and getting robbed of her rightful first-place prize!
- Wishing I had earplugs for Kinski’s eardrum-shattering live original score to the silent-film classic Berlin: Symphony of a City.
And guess what? All of these awesome events happened at local film festivals… “Praise Be!” to local arts’ organizations gittin’ r’ done!