Each year from day one to the end, I maintain a top ten list of the years films. I work surprisingly hard on it, many collective hours spent by the finish. A difficult task, to rank films, but it leads to further time spent analysing the years best movies. By the end, I am usually quite confident in my choices, and this edition is no different. Genre-wise, it was truly the year of the Comedy. Acting-wise, it was truly the year of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who turned in three brilliant performances (something Christian Bale did as well, but not quite at the level of Hoffman). Also a year to remember for film maker Judd Apatow and Canadian buddy writer/actor Seth Rogen. Otherwise memorable for the rise to fame for Canada’s Ellen Page. A wonderful 12 months for a true film lover filled with surprises. Counting down from 10 to 1, here are the best films of 2007…
10. Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead/The Savages (Tie)It was far too difficult to choose between these Phillip Seymour Hoffman driven films. Both equally brilliant and well acted yet completely different. Each film is filled with despair and darkness. The Savages is a little more willing to show optimism however, while Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead refuses to budge. Both must-sees that had to make my list. To really put 2007 in perspective, these two films would have been in my top 5 the last couple years, easily.
9. Into The WildAt turns exhilarating and heartbreaking, the true story Into The Wild is a brilliant character study. Relentlessly gorgeous to watch, Sean Penn does a fantastic job writing and directing this great film. Sprawling across a huge journey with unforgettable characters along the way. Filled with lessons learned, as well as lessons ignored, which leads to devastating consequences.
8. No Country For Old MenThe ultimate suspense film. The Coen Brothers do it again, but this time better. Displaying all the tricks up their sleeve with even more control and intelligence. Probably the best writing of their impressive career. Filled with excellent characters that are perfectly cast (Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem are great). In typical Coen style, the movie is darkly funny and immensely thrilling. This is the Oscar-front runner.
7. Hot FuzzThe only through and through comedy on my list, Hot Fuzz is too hilarious to ignore. Writer/star Simon Pegg along with best friends director/writer David Wright and actor Nick Frost deliver their best effort yet. Previously with their TV show Spaced and cult film Shaun Of The Dead they were already at the top of the comedy world, but this is their masterpiece. A surprisingly interesting plot combined with some memorable action and dozens of laugh out loud jokes, Hot Fuzz is one of the best films this year.
6. Knocked UpIn 2005 The 40-Year Old Virgin shocked audiences by bringing a level of sincerity and heart not usually included in a raunchy comedy. Writer/director/producer Judd Apatow continues that tradition with Knocked Up, which turns down the laughs a little bit and increases the humanity, heart and, yes, even dramatic scenes. On one side, a pitch-perfect comedy, on the other a wonderful tale of unexpected pregnancy and unlikely love.
5. OnceFlying under the radar of North American audiences this year was the Irish film Once. One of the best reviewed movies of the year according to www.rottentomatoes.com, it is difficult not to fall in love with the film and it’s characters. Rare is a film so true to life, let alone a musical. Staggeringly beautiful and heartfelt, with a tremendous ending Hollywood would never have allowed. Oh, and the music is brilliant.
An unusually accurate portrait of high school students thanks to the fact it was written by high-schoolers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Now age 24, they began the script for the film at 13. Filled with non-stop laughs and overwhelming heart, Superbad is a classic.
3. There Will Be Blood
The scariest film of the year comes from an unexpected source. Paul Thomas Anderson provides a bloody good tale of greed. A sprawling, dark epic of madness. Even the score is unsettling. Featuring a stunning show from Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood is incredible.
Ratatouille will unfortunately be overlooked by many movie-goers because it is an animated film marketed for children. A terrible shame indeed. Writer/director Brad Bird continues to single-handedly save American animation from convention and boundaries. His filmography is a short list but masterful (The Iron Giant and The Incredibles were brilliant as well). A Multi-leveled story with fascinating characters and clever, original writing. Ratatouille is among the best animated features ever made.
Perhaps the largest surprise of the year, Juno showed up late in 2007, winning many hearts in the process. Brilliant writing and superb direction. Stunning acting from Micheal Cera, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, J.K. Simmons, and Allison Janney. Featuring a legendary performance from Ellen Page, all the actors bring all the right stuff to their characters. Even the soundtrack is unforgettable, perfectly capturing the spirit of the film. It is hard to compare Juno to other comedies and/or comedy-dramas as its’ serious content brings unprecedented emotional resonance and insight. I really don’t need to defend its’ spot at number one of 2007 because it actually deserves to be discussed in contrast to films of any year before or after it. Nor would I make the statement that it is “the best of it’s kind”, because, simply, it is truly one of a kind.