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My Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2007

25 Oct

Ah, 2007. Here’s a strong candidate for my favorite film year of the 00s. A ridiculously large amount of great films arrived this year, leading to a really wonderful selection on this list. The #10 on this list could beat the crap out of most other #10s of the decade.

I normally don’t do honorable mentions, but I really do need to give a shout-out to Persepolis, a lovely animated autobiographical film about a girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. It was originally on this list, and I had its entry written up and everything. But just last week, I discovered the film that ended up on #9 here, and thus Persepolis got bumped off. Very sad. If you haven’t seen it, you really ought to.

As usual, this is 2007 strictly as listed by IMDB. Also, this is a list of my favorite films of the year, and nothing more.

10 – NOTHING IS PRIVATE (TOWELHEAD, Alan Ball)

“See, the mark of intelligence, Gail, is having the capacity of holding two conflicting ideas in your head at one time.”

This is a film I found great, yet I have little desire to revisit it anytime soon. It’s a rough watch likely to make you squirm, about a young teenage girl who has lived her whole life with her American mother in New York but is now sent to Texas to stay with her Lebanese dad. The culture clash mixes with her sexual awakening to create an uncomfortable (in a good way) story, and director Alan Ball (who wrote American Beauty) wisely sprinkles it with some black humor to make it go down easier. Summer Bishil is effective in the lead, but it’s the supporting turns by Aaron Eckhart, Peter Macdissi and Toni Collette that leave real lasting impressions.

9 – TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE (Alex Gibney)

“If you weren’t a terrorist when you came here, you sure would be when you leave.”

A horrifying documentary on the torture and interrogation techniques used by the US during the War on Terror. But it goes beyond mere shock effects and investigates what made people carry them out and why and how they were put in place. Not a pleasant watch, but an important film. Michael Moore wishes he could make me dislike the Bush administration as much as this movie did.

8 – GONE BABY GONE (Ben Affleck)

“I couldn’t stop running it over and over and over in my mind. The vague and distant suspicion that we never understood what happened that night. What our role was.”

Why can’t more crime dramas be like this one? A smart and entertaining yarn in which two Boston detectives (Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan) try to track down a missing child, Gone Baby Gone offers twists and turns a-plenty leading up to tricky situations where the viewer is forced to determine whether doing the right thing is always the right thing to do or not. Wonderfully cast from top to bottom, and Ben Affleck brings a memorable view of the city to the screen in his directorial debut.

7 – SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET (Tim Burton)

“And I will get him back even as he gloats; In the meantime I’ll practice on less honorable throats.”

Tim Burton has never been one to hold back on the visual aspects of his films, but Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street might be his most extravagant movie yet. Along with his art and set directors, he paints up a picture of mid-19th century London bathing in dark gothic shadows. The result is quite gorgeous and fits in well with the grim (yet funny) tale of a barber’s hunt for bloody revenge. A violent musical with plenty of nice songs, and Helena Bonham Carter steals the show as pie baker Mrs. Lovett.

6 – EAGLE VS SHARK (Taika Waititi)

“It’s time to pay the piper. He’s gonna reap what he sowed, and it sure ain’t corn. Or wheat.”

Quirky New Zealand comedy that draws obvious inspiration from Napoleon Dynamite. This one’s much warmer, funnier and better, though. As minsanthrope Jarrod and mousy Lily (Jemaine Clement and Loren Horsley) navigate their new relationship amidst Samoan bullies of the past, dysfunctional family gatherings and incompetent hacker friends, we’re treated to lots of smiles and laughs.

5 – BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA (Gabor Csupo)

“Just close your eyes, but keep your mind wide open.”

This is the kind of children’s movie I’d have very fond memories of had it arrived some 15 years earlier. But it’s not just a film for the youngsters. Its frank look at a variety of childhood subjects (problems with fitting in, bullying, crushes on teachers, family issues) and its refusal to dumb things down for its audience makes this one carry weight for anyone who remembers their childhood years. It also packs a real emotional punch. AnnaSophia Robb is radiant. Also has one of the most misleading trailers in recent history.

4 – SUPERBAD (Greg Mottola)

“You know when you hear girls say ‘Ah man, I was so shit-faced last night, I shouldn’t have fucked that guy?’ We could be that mistake!”

I don’t recall any movie ever making me laugh as hard as this one did when I first saw it. Maybe too juvenile and crude for some, but it hit just the right note for me. What’s impressive is how slyly the film makes me care for its lead characters (even Jonah Hill‘s asshole Seth) amidst all the jokes, to the point where the thoughtful ending feels well-earned rather than shoe-horned in. More than most Judd Apatow productions, this one I can easily see stand the test of time.

3 – THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY (LE SCAPHANDRE ET LE PAPILLON, Julian Schnabel)

“Other than my eye, two things aren’t paralyzed: my imagination and my memory.”

Of many good decisions made by director Julian Schnabel for this reality-based film, perhaps the wisest is to show the first half entirely from the point-of-view of its paralyzed protagonist. Mathieu Amalric plays Elle editior Jean-Dominique Bauby who after a stroke finds himself stuck with locked-in syndrome, fully concious but unable to move anything but one eyelid. Since we see what he sees, we share his claustrophic and frustrating experience. And when we eventually move outside his body, the effect of actually seeing him is all the more striking. A wonderfully realized film.

2 – JUNO (Jason Reitman)

“You better pay for that pee-stick when you’re done with it. Don’t think it’s yours just because you marked it with your urine!”

Smart, funny, joyful and with an endless capacity for causing detractors to spew bile on it. What more could one want in a film? I love every second of Juno, and a lot of it has to do with the flawless ensemble: Ellen Page, J.K. Simmons, Allison Janney, Michael Cera, Olivia Thirlby, Jason Bateman and (especially) Jennifer Garner. Everyone is spot-on here, and Jason Reitman further cements his talent for bringing forth the best in his actors.

1 – LARS AND THE REAL GIRL (Craig Gillespie)

“What we call mental illness isn’t always just an illness. It can be a communication; it can be a way to work something out.”

Because sometimes it’s just so damn nice to see a film free from cynicism, that instead focuses on the goodness that people are capable of. Ryan Gosling is spellbinding as Lars, a kind but painfully introverted man who falls in love with a sex doll and believes it to be a real person. At the behest of his psychologist (the great Patricia Clarkson), the townspeople play along with his delusion. Despite the risky premise, there are no cheap laughs to be had here. Only heart, sincerity and warmth.

What was you favorite films of 2007? What do you think of the movies on this list?

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23 Comments

Posted by on 25 October, 2011 in Lists, Top 10 of a year

 

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23 responses to “My Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2007

  1. Tyler

    25 October, 2011 at 08:07

    Great list! Good to see one of the best Kiwi films here, EAGLE VS. SHARK, and the rest of the list I also applaud. I’d really like to see LARS AND THE REAL GIRL, which I’ve never been sure about but am now certain I’d like to see.

     
    • Emil

      25 October, 2011 at 08:32

      Thank you! Definitely try to check out Lars and the Real Girl. A wonderful and unique film. Gosling is always great, but this is his best performance in my book.

       
  2. Scott Lawlor

    25 October, 2011 at 10:36

    I love….and i mean LOVE that Lars is sitting proudly at Number 1. Such an amazing film, even with Gosling blinking in morse code!!

     
    • Emil

      25 October, 2011 at 11:25

      Hahaha, I haven’t noticed the blinking before. I’ll have to keep my eyes out for that next time I see it. :)

       
  3. Movies - Noir

    25 October, 2011 at 11:00

    Always a treat to see your lists. This is one I can’t say I agree with, but at the same time there are a lot of them I haven’t seen so that certainly has a lot to do with it. I’ve only seen four from the list…

    Nothing Is Private – Never heard of it before, but surely one I’m adding to my need-to-check-out-list.

    Taxi to the Dark Side – It won an Oscar for best documentary, so I knew about this one, but haven’t seen it. I can understand if it’s a powerful viewing, but since I don’t watch many documentaries, we’ll see if I get around watching this one.

    Gone Baby Gone – I did see it and wasn’t too impressed. However, this is a movie I want to re-visit as I saw it at the Stockholm Filmfestival and there have been other movies I’ve had to re-watch because I just wasn’t in the right mood. If I’m not mistaken, it takes a turn after 2/3 of the movie or something like that where I didn’t like what happened. But to be honest, I don’t remember much from it so I really need to have another look.

    Sweeney Todd – Haven’t seen it and it doesn’t feel like my kind of movie. And since I usually don’t like much of Tim Burton, I better stay away from this one.

    Eagle vs. Shark – Another one I haven’t seen, but I’ve always thought this was a comic-book type of movie. I didn’t really enjoy Napoleon Dynamite that you mention, so if it’s that kind of movie I’m not too sure about it. But I know a lot of people enjoy it so I might just give it a shot.

    Bridge to Terabithia – I’ve heard of it, but didn’t know much more about it. So if you don’t have memories from your childhood, is it still worth seeing ? ;)

    Superbad – Hmm, seems like there’s a ton of movies like this, at least one or two of them come out every year. I haven’t seen this one though, but I feel it’s “just another one” that I wouldn’t like.

    The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – Good performances all round, but the movie never got to me. Can’t put my finger on it, but I know it’s well liked by most.

    Juno – I have a hard time with young people acting well above their age and Ellen Page does that. It’s a kind of movie that shows that young people know best and it just doesn’t sit well with me. I guess I’m just too old fashioned. Not a bad movie though, just not my cup of tea.

    Lars and the Real Girl – Ah, the only one that made my list, but it’s a good one. I agree with everything you wrote about this one. Ryan Gosling is superb and it’s really a heartfelt experience and not just a silly comedy that many think it is. It was at #8 on my list, but could easily move into the top 5.

    For those interested, here’s my top 10 of 2007 (and some others that didn’t make it).

     
    • Emil

      25 October, 2011 at 11:42

      Yeah, that 2/3 thing you mention about Gone Bay Gone threw me off-guard as well. “And now for something completely different”, sort of. It took a rewatch for me to see how well it fits in with what has happened to that point, and how well it ties into the film’s overall structure. It’s a bold move, and I think it pays off greatly.

      You’re right: if you don’t like Tim Burton, you’re going to hate Sweeney Todd, most likely. Burton tends to be a mixed bag for me, but it’s rare that he makes a film I hate (the mess that is Mars Attacks is the only one that comes to mind right now). But Sweeney is distilled Tim Burton essence, so you’d probably be better off staying away from it. :)

      Eagle vs Shark might be worth a watch anyway, because like you, I really didn’t like Napoleon Dynamite either. Eagle sort of takes Napoleon Dynamite and fixes all its problems. But I think we’ve established by now that I’m more keen on comedies in general than you are. :P

      Well, I certainly wasn’t a child in 2007, so yeah, Bridge to Terabithia is still great regardless of any nostalgia factor.

      I don’t think Superbad will be your cup of tea, no.

      I think you’re being too unkind to Juno, though. “Young people knows best” is way too oversimplified. If anything, for a movie about a teenager, this one trie sto buck that trend more than most with its very sympathetic parents. Sure, the Bateman and Garner couple comes off as far more insecure than Juno, but there are contrasts everywhere: just because Juno is confident and smart (or at least tries her best to project that image) doesn’t mean that everyone is. Cera’s character seems to be heading the way of Bateman’s as he grows up. Some teenagers DO have a better capacity for making judgments and decisions than some adults. Not all of them, but some. This film does a great job at showing both sides of the coin.

      But since you concede that it’s not a bad film, just not your cup of tea, I can’t disagree too much. We all have our opinions, and you’re certainly not the only one on this planet who has problems with Juno. :)

       
      • Movies - Noir

        25 October, 2011 at 12:03

        I’ve decided to give Gone Baby Gone another shot, I might just watch it today so I’ll let you know when I’ve seen it again ;)

        I haven’t disliked everything Tim Burton has done, but most of the time I just think the whole fantasy world of his isn’t my thing.

        I do like comedies, for sure, but most of the time I enjoy more adult comedies rather than the teen-comedies that I feel are 90% of the comedies that do come out each year. But I’ll try and give Eagle vs. Shark a chance.

        If I happen to run across Superbad, I’ll have a look though…

        Maybe I’m a bit anti-Juno, I know. But like I said, I don’t think it’s a bad movie (I gave it 3/5). It’s mainly the Juno character that I’m not too keen on, but that makes the whole movie suffer…

         
        • Emil

          25 October, 2011 at 16:52

          True. If I hate the main character in a film and it’s clear that I’m supposed to sympathize with him, the whole movie definitely suffers. Oh well. I like Juno, both the film and the character.

           
  4. Jessica

    26 October, 2011 at 11:45

    Of those movies I’ve only seen Juno and The Diving Bell…. I loved both and they would definitely be included on my own top 10 list. Considering The Diving Bell I have a bit of mixed feelings though after learning about some of the circumstances around the movie. Apparently it’s wrongly accusing his gf of letting him down, while showing his ex-wife in an advantagous light, while the truth is more like the opposite. But the ex-wife had a lot of influence on the script… I was so sad learning about this.

    Some other great movies from 2007 I come to think of are: Into the Wild, No Country for Old Men, Darjeeling Limited and Cassandra’s Dream. Those would definitely be on my list.

    I really need to see Lars and the real girl!

     
    • Emil

      26 October, 2011 at 12:10

      Yeah, I’ve read that about Diving Bell’s inaccuracies too. I don’t really care whether a filmmaker alters real events as long as it makes sense for the movie. In this case, it really only seems like an effort for the ex-wife to make herself look better. It’s a shame, but luckily, it doesn’t really affect the story of the movie a whole lot. You still have one of his women who’s kind, and one who isn’t. He still “loses” one of them due to his condition, so to speak.

      I liked both Into the Wild and No Country for Old Men, and I suspect I’ll like them even better if I give them a rewatch. Into the Wild in particular was a very pleasant film to watch. Darjeeling Limited, on the other hand, really wasn’t my cup of tea. I have yet to really fall for Wes Anderson’s brand of humor. It did lead to the wonderful short film Hotel Chevalier though, so at least it has that going for it. Cassandra’s Dream I don’t think I’ve even heard of, but I’m still willing to give any Woody Allen film a shot. It’s been added to my rental list. Thanks for the tip!

      And yes, you definitely need to watch Lars and the Real Girl. It is absolutely wonderful.

       
      • Movies - Noir

        26 October, 2011 at 12:35

        I agree with Jessica on Into the Wild and especially No Country for Old Men (#1 on my list). The Darjeeling Limited did have something about it that I liked (watched it twice), but never reached it’s full potential, imho. And I agree with Emil, Wes Anderson’s humor doesn’t really “get to me”. Cassandra’s Dream isn’t bad, but far from Woody’s better movies, pretty average in my opinion.

         
        • Jessica

          26 October, 2011 at 14:31

          I watched Rushmore and I agree about the humor in that one – I didn’t get it at all. But I remember liking Darjeeling Limited a lot, even though I to be honest don’t remember quite a lot of it.

          Cassandra’s Dream is a bit depressing but I liked it. Woody Allen has such a high average standard that pretty much anything he makes will end up on my top 10 list of the year.

           
          • Movies - Noir

            26 October, 2011 at 15:22

            I’ve seen all of Wes Anderson’s movies (except for Life Aquatic) and I never dislike his movies, but neither do I love any of them. The one I did like the most when I first saw it was The Royal Tenenbaums. Not sure I’d like it as much a second time around though. I didn’t love that one either to be honest, haha. The Darjeeling Limited is hard not to like, but it lacks something for me to really like it.

            I agree that Cassandra’s Dream is one of Woody’s darker movies (at least the last couple of years). I also agree that he usually has something I like about his movies, but again, they seldom reach their full potential.

             
  5. Nostra

    27 October, 2011 at 07:55

    Some great choices! Loved The Diving Bell and Butterfly, which I only saw recently. Still there are some movies on this list I have not seen yet, but reading your description really want to check out now.

     
    • Emil

      27 October, 2011 at 09:26

      Thank you! I hope you’ll enjoy whatever you end up seeing. :)

       
  6. Jandy

    1 November, 2011 at 20:03

    I, too, think 2007 is one of the best movie years in recent memory, but even though I like all the films on your list that I’ve seen, my top 10 is almost totally different. :) I guess that’s why it’s such a good year – so many great ones to choose from.

    My Top Ten, according to Flickchart:

    1. No Country for Old Men
    2. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
    3. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (our one commonality!)
    4. Hot Fuzz
    5. Planet Terror
    6. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
    7. Black Snake Moan (possibly overranked, but I do like it)
    8. Away from Her
    9. My Winnipeg
    10. Ratatouille

    Juno is at #11, Gone Baby Gone at #12, Sweeney Todd at #36, Lars and the Real Girl at #48, Superbad at #52, and the rest I haven’t seen. I know those lower ones are probably not ranked quite correctly – already noticed a few more down there that are WHOA wrong.

     
    • Emil

      1 November, 2011 at 23:54

      As much as I love Flickchart, there’s no way I’d trust it with compiling an accurate list like this. I’ve gotten a bit infrequent with my general rankings on there lately (most of the time I just go there to sort a newly-seen film into its place). Even if I were to look at my top 50 films of a year on there, there’s still a chance that a freak straggler of a masterpiece has been left behind somewhere. So for these lists I mostly just check on a rating site for what films I’ve given high marks, and then work from there.

      I’ve seen six of the films on your list and already intend to see the other four (Assassination, Away, Winnipeg and Ratatouille) at some point. Of the ones I’ve seen, I like most of them. Hot Fuzz and Black Snake Moan in particular are films that might well have made my top 10 in a weaker year. And this is yet another reminder that I really owe No Country For Old Men a rewatch at some point. I thought it was good when I first saw it, and I’ve yet to experience a Coens movie getting worse the second time around. The opposite is far more likely.

      The only one of yours I didn’t care much for is Planet Terror, which mostly failed to entertain me. Just not my cup of tea.

       
      • Jandy

        2 November, 2011 at 07:20

        I’ve actually been going through Flickchart recently and ranking by year to make top ten lists for my blog, so 2007 is pretty accurate. It’s not exact because after a few hundred rankings the ones that needed to move relative to each other never came up together. But it’s close.

        Assassination is one that could easily be #1 in any other year; love that film. And I can easily see how people wouldn’t care for Planet Terror, but I love that film. It’s my idea of big stupid fun.

         
        • Emil

          2 November, 2011 at 09:39

          I’ve thought of doing that too, but I’m a bit worried about the dreaded “unnatural clustering” that’s likely to occur. My current method works well enough, I feel.

          Assassination certainly has plenty of supporters, and I know I should see it and that I probably won’t hate it. I just have an aversion to westerns that make it feel like a chore to sit down and watch one. I ended up liking the recent True Grit, for instance, but it took a lot of willpower to convince myself to see it. That shouldn’t have to be the case for a Coens film. I have my biases, I guess.

          I can sympathize with big stupid fun. My eventual 2006 list will likely attest to that. :)

           
  7. Hannah Megill

    6 November, 2011 at 07:41

    It warms my heart every time someone mentions love for Lars and the Real Girl. It’s just such a wonderful movie.

     
    • Emil

      6 November, 2011 at 10:59

      It definitely is. Gosling’s performance ranks among the best of the decade in my book.

       

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