Here it is, my long awaited Top 10 Movies of 2007 list (and by “long awaited”, I’m referring to myself, as I’m not sure anyone else has been waiting for this). This is later then I usually prefer to post this list (on the principle that the later you get into the year, the less people care about the previous year), but since I added a movie to this list over the weekend, I’m glad I waited. As of right now, I’ve seen 65 different 2007 movies (for the complete list, click here), including pretty much everything I think would contend for this list. Notable movies I haven’t seen yet that could’ve contended for the list include Persepolis, Lust, Caution, and The Darjeeling Limited, but I’m really happy with the way my list looks right now, as it’s been an extremely good year for movies. As it is, I had to push some really good movies off my honourable mentions list, so I better post this before more might have to go. To give you an idea of how I felt about this year, everything on list, including honourable mentions, rated 4 stars out of 5 or higher. So if you feel like you haven’t seen a lot of good movies this year, you should give some these a try.
Honourable Mentions: Atonement, No End in Sight, Into the Wild, I’m Not There, Eastern Promises
10. Hot Fuzz – I’ll kick this list off with a bang, with one of the most complete entertainment experiences of the year. The beauty of Hot Fuzz is that not only is it a hilarious satire at a time when spoof movies represent the absolute worst in theatrical offerings, but it’s also one of the best action movies of the year. The team of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost lovingly skewer the action genre, then proceed to borrow its best elements to deliver an action packed finale worthy of the genre.
Review pull quote: “Honestly, you could wait all summer for scenes as action-packed as the climax of this film, and we’ll be lucky if anything as funny comes along.”
9. Gone Baby Gone – Hey, I didn’t think Ben Affleck had it in him either. When I first heard about his directorial debut, starring his brother Casey, it barely registered with me, to the degree that I didn’t even bother putting it on my to-see list. Then I saw some previews and read some reviews and decided to give it a shot, and was duly impressed. An intriguing, confident, complex thriller that deals in murky moral ambiguities while still delivering some genuine pop, Gone Baby Gone is all the things that Michael Clayton is hyped for being, only much better.
Review pull quote: “Ben Affleck’s directorial debut is a smart, mature, engaging thriller filled with strong performances throughout the cast. It’s the sort of smart, adult fare that should be championed, but instead has largely been ignored, perhaps still part of the penance Affleck must suffer for ever having appeared in a J. Lo music video.”
8. Knocked Up – One of my favourite movies of the year, and it falls all the way to number eight. That’s how good a year 2007 was at the movies. There’s been some backlash against the movie of late, as 2007 wound up being the year of unplanned pregnancies in the movies, so I re-watched last night to see how it holds up. I’m pleased to say that it holds up really well, and is the best unplanned pregnancy comedy I’ve seen this year. While it is true that the male characters are given all the best bits in the movie, I don’t fault it for that, given that’s it’s a male-centred comedy. The female characters aren’t disrespected in the film (in fact, I find that Leslie Mann‘s character is given one of the better arcs), they just aren’t as funny (although, Kristen Wiig is very funny in it). Compare that to the way male characters in Waitress are portrayed, and I think Knocked Up does really well for itself.
Review pull quote: “I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this movie. It provided both belly laughs and genuinely touching moments. ”
7. There Will Be Blood – Of all the movies on this list, this is the only one I wanted to like more than I did. This happens every year with a critically-acclaimed, late December limited release that gets sent out to all the critics for purposes of year end lists, so it can get hyped as the best movie of the year even though most viewers won’t get to see it until mid-January. In that time, I inevitably start building the movie up in my head as the possible best movie of the year, and when it isn’t, I’m a little disappointed. Which isn’t to say that There Will Be Blood isn’t an amazing movie, because it is. Daniel Day-Lewis‘s inspired performance combined with Paul Thomas Anderson‘s masterful use of tension combine to create one of the best movies of the year. But for whatever reason, I didn’t quite love it as much as I assumed I would.
Review pull quote: “A thoroughly accomplished effort of quiet power, PT Anderson’s loose adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s Oil! is a success, powered by Day-Lewis’ performance and Anderson’s meticulous direction.”
6. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – This is the aforementioned late edition to the list, with me narrowly avoiding my now-annual tradition of invalidating my list almost immediately after posting it. I was ready to start posting this list before I saw the movie, because I figured that it would be at best a really well made art movie that I’d appreciate, but not love enough to knock something off my top ten. Or maybe a honourable mention that basically tied all the other HMs. Instead, it turns out that The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was the most emotionally affecting movie I saw all year, investing me in a way I really didn’t expect.
Review pull quote: “The tone of Bauby’s story and Harwood’s script is more uplifting than depressing, servicing as a quiet triumph of the human spirit without ever devolving into simplistic, maudlin sentiment.”
5. Ratatouille – This middle bunch of movies on this list could all reasonably be interchanged and it would still accurately represent my opinion of them. But, of the top five, none holds a special place in my heart as does Ratatouille, the absolute most delightful movie of the year. It gets better every time I see it, and because it belongs to a genre that encourages rewatching (if for no other reason than to serve as an electronic babysitter) it’s the movie I’m most comfortable with calling an instant classic.
Review pull quote: “With Ratatouille, Pixar once again proves that they are the industry leader when it comes to animated movies. I adored this movie and am pleased that they’re back to doing what they do best: telling original stories with original characters.”
4. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – This was one of the bravest studio offering to come along in some time. Not in the sense that it’s a movie with shocking, controversial material, but in the sense that Warner Bros put out a $30 million dollar star vehicle that had no chance of reaching a large audience. Even more than that, it’s such an unassuming masterpiece that it didn’t have much chance at grabbing awards either (which tend to go to flashier pictures). Of course, I’m not sure Warner Bros was aware that it would end up like that when they greenlit it, but kudos to Andrew Dominik for resisting commercial pressures to create a classic movie. He’ll have to take this fourth place finish on some dude’s blog as conciliation.
Review pull quote: “Its deliberate pace is a strength rather than a weakness, leading to a thoughtful, poetic film that somehow both invokes and deconstructs the mythology of the western outlaw.”
3. Zodiac – I know it doesn’t seem like it, but movies released in March were still 2007 releases. It seems self-evident, but the awards-giving bodies don’t seem to realise it. At least, that’s the only explanation I can think of for why David Fincher‘s masterful examination of obsession has been completely ignored. Ah well, not being appreciated the year they come out is a theme for Fincher’s movies, so why should this be any different?
Review pull quote: “Zodiac is a visually compelling, grippingly detailed film with scenes that made me jump, others that made my skin crawl, and others that left me in awe.”
2. No Country for Old Men – The front runner for best picture honours very well might be the best picture of the year. The Oscars wouldn’t do something so crazy as to actually get it right this year, would they? If I had time to see this again (instead of, you know, using that time to watch a bunch of other movies), it’s possible that it might’ve been my number one movie. I had a problem with the ending the first time around (so I suppose if it could also move down were I to watch it again), but until that point I was completely blown away. I look forward to seeing it again to more fully develop my opinion of it.
Review pull quote: “I really can’t state enough how powerful the suspense is throughout this movie. I’d say things like “edge of your seat” or “pulse-pounding” if they weren’t such hoary movie reviewer clichés.”
1. The Bourne Ultimatum – I suggested this might be the best movie of the year when it came out, and now I’m ready to call it. Not only did it blow me away from beginning to end (both times I saw it in theatre), but it also provided the greatest contrast amongst other films in its genre. In a summer of disappointing threequels and dumbed down blockbusters, Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon came along to prove that it was possible to be great and exciting, and to maintain and build upon the expectations of earlier films. In a year where Hollywood released 17 big budget sequels, and 6 out of the 7 biggest moneymakers were sequels (the seventh was based on fucking toys), it was damn near heroic to release one that didn’t immediately make me feel like I should be reading more books or something.
Review pull quote: “The best part of The Bourne Ultimatum is that it provides a recent example that proves the lie that action blockbusters need be mindless popcorn fun to be entertaining.”