It may be almost March, but I felt it was wrong that I never did this. 2007 was a great year for film. Films so diverse that broke new ground, and revived tired genres (thrillers, westerns, comedies). To honor this great year, I now present you with the top 10 films of 2007:
1. There Will Be Blood- Rarely does a film divide audiences like this one did. Some found it a masterpiece, others loathed it, and some were just too weirded out. Me, I thought it was the best film of the year and one that will be talked about for decades to come. The typical rise-and-fall story is turned on its head as Daniel Plainview (incredible Daniel Day-Lewis) is evil and greedy without much cause. He is a prospector who unexpectedly finds oil and becomes rich. Throughout the year he endures a tumultuous relationship with his son and a preacher (Paul Dano). Anderson's film traces the roots of capitalism with themes relevant to the present that can be seen in Dano's wacky preist, which feels like watching the Church Network. Anderson's work is one that the likes of Kubrick would be smiling on today with prolonged silence and hidden irony. Blood is one that will forever stay with you. Without a doubt one of the best film's so far this decade.
2. Superbad- Comedy had a new name this year, and its name was Judd Apatow. He only produced this film, but you can really see his trademarks showing. This is the story of two high schoolers (Cera and Hill) who have been lifelong best friends about to be split apart once college comes around. Perhaps the one thing that keeps them together is how unpopular they are, but they find their last chance to get girls in high school when they get asked to buy alcohol for a popular girl's party. Superbad is a spot on portrayal of the awkwardness of high school that is sometimes so hard to watch because it is so realistic but then again, its impossible to stop watching. Superbad succeeds in the way nobody is made to look like a bad guy and the heroes strifes are just like our own. Mainly, it is a film that explores the meaning of true friendship like it's never been before on film and basically, the angst of being a teenager. Oh, it's also one of the funniest films in years. And I haven't even mentioned McLovin...
3. No Country for Old Men- When I first saw this, I walked out confused and unsure whether I liked this film or not because of its ending. But it does what a great film should do: it never leaves your mind. The Coen Brothers have created one of cinema's darkest thrillers. A hunter (Brolin) stumbles upon $2 million which insites the wrath of deadpan, psychotic assassin Anton Chigurh (Bardem) and an aging sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones). This is the brothers' darkest vision to date but they have not lost their old habits; they pay extra close attention to the culture and layout of the land they are exploring which emphasizes their stories. It works perfectly in No Country, as they search the empty, decaying Texas deserts. The daring decision of no background score is a fascinating one, and Bardem is the scariest killer since Hannibal Lecter. The Coen Brothers rightfully earned their first directing Oscar.
4. Knocked Up- The first Apatow film of the year is a brilliant example of just how far improv can take you. The story of a lazy stoner (Rogen) whose one night stand with a beautiful woman (Heigl) results in pregnancy is utterly convincing and in the end, deeply moving. Along the way, are a series of hilarious pop culture references ranging from Munich to naked Meg Ryan. It's a reflection of our pop-culturally, beauty obsessed culture but most importantly, dirty comedy done right.
5. Grindhouse- Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez united for this two part, 3 hour long film thats a tribute to their youth. One half is a trashy zombie film and the other is a chase film. It immitates, without mocking an underground culture of film the world ignored in theatres. Sadly, you'll never get the full Grindhouse experience because its tragically been split for DVD.
6. Juno- Another part of the comedy revival of 2007. Juno (Page) is a free-spirtied teen who goes too far when she coerces her best friend, Paulie Bleeker (Cera), into having sex with her. Inevitably, she gets pregnant. Instead of abortion, she decides to give it up to adoptive parents. Although criticized recently, Juno is just as good as when I first saw it. The jokes are hilarious, and the story moving. Page steals the film as a girl more mature than most teens who surround her yet still maintains childlike innocence. The soundtrack by the Moldy Peaches becomes a second narrator, giving away hints to the story's theme.
7. Eastern Promises- Mortenesen is spot-on as a Russian Mobster. A nurse (Watts) probs a diary she found from a dead teenager to a ring of prostituion and murder in the underground Russian mafia of London. David Cronenberg's (A History of Violence) second account of the effects of violence is even more effective then the first, pondering what justification could ever be made for violence. The answer: none. Credit also for the shocking violence, including the soon-to-be-famous bathhouse scene (see it, and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.
8. Michael Clayton- A corporate lawyer (Wilkinson) finds a deadly secret about the company he has defended and goes mad. Another corporate "fixer" (Clooney) is the only one who understands his warnings. Clayton is a brilliant thriller, one that echos the 70s and hits you when you're least expected. It also makes you wonder, what makes people do the jobs that they take when they're as bad as Clayton's is? What do you do when you're defending the death's of over 400 people?
9. Persepolis- This brilliant French animated film tells the story of a rebellious teenage girl during the Iranian Revolution who gets away and explores the world as she matures. This is a film about what happens once a child leaves the nest into the harsh world and must learn to fend for themselves. Most importantly: always be proud of who you are and where you come from.
10. Zodiac- David Fincher (Fight Club) explores one of the most terrifying unsolved murder cases in this country's history. In the late 60s into the 80s, cartoonist Robert Greysmith (Gyllenhal) tries to track down the notorious serial killer the Zodiac and becomes obsessed. The film explores the dangers of inescapable obsession and one of Fincher's favorites: the exploitation of the media and people aiming for fame in the wrong way. Because the Zodiac has never been found, the film searches for no answers since there is none. All we see of him is a shadow and possible ideas of his identity. While most directors might've shown his face or tried to find an answer, Fincher makes a wise decision is staying away from that. Although it failed at the box office, Zodiac deserves a second life on DVD so you can all experience one of 2007's most unique tales of mysterious and unspeakable evil.
Other Favorites: The Simpsons Movie, Ratatouille, Darjeeling Limited, 3:10 to Yuma, Sweeney Todd, Sicko, Rescue Dawn