Tag Archives: Best Of Lists

Best of 2007; or, Yay More Lists!

Well, it’s that time of year. And while most critics seem to be bemoaning to one degree or another the expectation that they compile year-end top ten lists, I still relish list-making, even though any list I might make is going to woefully incomplete. This year I saw 182 movies, which is roughly double my normal average. Not having a job is a big help. ;) And enough of them were released this year for me to be comfortable making a Top Ten of 2007 list. It’s still incomplete, but hey. It’s a fair working list, I think. After the released-in-2007 list are a bunch of more subjective I-watched-in-2007 lists of both films and books.

Top Ten 2007

(A few of the top 2007 films I actually saw early in January before I posted this. I thought it prudent to include them here, but they don’t appear in my favorites-that-I-watched-in-2007 list because, well, I didn’t watch them in 2007).

Links lead to my original review or reaction post; I tried to get anchors to work in the reaction posts so that the link would take you straight to the relevant part of the post, but I was unsuccessful. Sorry.

No Country for Old Men – The Coen brothers are back, and as good as ever, blending creepy atmosphere and dark humor perfectly.
Once – I almost put this on top, simply because I love it so much, but NCFOM deserves to be number one.
Juno – Clever, snarky, human, and Ellen Page being brilliant.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – A film of great beauty and sensitivity that I never wanted to end.
Eastern Promises – Not as edgy as Cronenberg often is, but an extremely solid crime film nonetheless.
Hot Fuzz – Probably the most enjoyable film of the year; part action, part comedy, all pop-culture-referential, and pretty much all perfect.
Away from Her – Simple and perfectly acted and directed drama; Julie Christie is quietly sensational as a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
3:10 to Yuma – One of the first westerns I’ve seen recently to successfully use and update the genre conventions.
Ratatouille – Not Pixar’s best, but that’s hardly an insult; the added bonus of a Parisian setting had me at go.
Waitress – The sweetest film of the year has enough sarcastic bite in the script to keep it from going completely off the rails into sentimentality. My major faux pas of the year, apparently, was forgetting to include Waitress in my monthly recaps.

Honorable Mentions

Atonement – Extremely faithful adaptation; well-done, but also more literary than cinematic except for a few virtuosic steadicam shots.
Paris, je t’aime – Not all the short films in this compendium are good, but many of them are excellent, and how could I not love 18 films about Paris?
Enchanted – Amy Adams (and James Marsden) elevate this from what could have been pure cheese to a delightful fantasy/comedy.
Zodiac – Hits a sweet spot between serial killer thriller and ambiguous character study.
The Darjeeling Limited – Doesn’t reach the dizzying heights of The Royal Tenenbaums, but still an evocative, entertaining Wes Anderson-esque road film.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – A bit on the gory side, but beautifully shot, acted, and yes, even sung. Macabre is the word.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – The Harry Potter series keeps getting better; great supporting work gives this one an extra edge.
The Lookout – This little crime film must have gone under a lot of radars, because it deserved more attention than it got.
The Bourne Ultimatum – Another solid entry in the already solid Bourne series, proving that action franchises can be both exciting and smart.
Paprika – Dreams and reality start to mix with potentially world-ending results in this visually inventive anime film. I *heart* reality-blurring stories.
Avenue Montaigne – Unassuming and enjoyable little French film of interlocking relationships in the vicinity of the Parisian concert hall.
Across the Universe – The melding of Beatles music with a 1960s love story/political scene doesn’t completely work, but much of it is lovely.

Haven’t Seen

Films which have been on lots of critics lists or are otherwise notable, and thus might be on my lists somewhere, but I haven’t seen yet.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Persepolis, I’m Not There, There Will Be Blood, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days, This is England, Rescue Dawn, Lars and the Real Girl, Margot at the Wedding, Sunshine

edit 5/5/08The Diving Bell and the Butterfly has moved up to second place, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days is in 4th, but constantly threatens to move up to second or third, The Assassination of Jesse James is now 6th, and Lars and the Real Girl and Sunshine are in the low twenties. I hated There Will Be Blood, so it’s down at #32. Sorry.

After the jump, my favorite films I watched all year, regardless of release date, as well as favorite books I read.

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New Project: Watching the Film Blogger’s 100

I wanted to catch up on the recap posts before I started this new film-watching project. I don’t really know why, because they’re mostly unrelated. But ah well. Goals don’t have to have extrinsic meaning to be useful. Anyway, now I have caught up, so here’s my project. A few months ago, I linked to a list of 100 favorite non-English language films chosen by lots of film bloggers, coordinated by Edward Copeland. Now, this list isn’t definitive, and several people in the comments have mentioned films that do seem to me like they should’ve been on it. Still, I’ve only seen about half of the films on the list, so I figure it’s as good a place to start giving some direction to my viewing as anywhere else.

So I’m going to watch it. All of it. Even the ones I’ve seen before, because these are the sort of films that richly reward rewatching (try saying that three times fast–without sounding like you haven’t learned to pronounce your “r”s yet), and several of them I saw when I probably lacked the maturity and cinematic knowledge to really get them. Then I’m going to post a review of each one, telling my preconceptions, my original reaction if I’ve seen it before, initial post-watching thoughts, and then my thoughts after a few days of thinking about it. There are multiple reasons for this way of going about it; I want to see how my reactions have changed over the years on films I’ve seen before, I want to see the differences between gut reactions and reflective ones (although a few days may not be long enough), and I want to see how preconceptions play into my reactions. These are things that are always in my mind when I watch and write about film, but I want to make them explicit. For the recaps, my usual procedure is to write a sentence or two right after I see a movie, then refer back to that when I write the recap; sometimes, depending on how long the entire recap takes to write, I go through three or four mental drafts, sometimes drastically changing my entire evaluation of the film–but the final recap is an amalgamation. I want to see what it looks like if I keep the drafts separate. This is as much a writing exercise for me–encouraged by the rhetoric and composition class I’m taking right now, no doubt–as anything else, but maybe someone else will find the process interesting as well.

The biggest question is, can I keep it up for 100 films, which will likely take me multiple years to get through? My previous track record with projects like this would suggest no, but hey. Best way to fail is to never start, right? I’ll keep a list of films and review links here.

Since I’m going in reverse order, the first film up is The Cranes are Flying, which I’ve had from Netflix for like three weeks, waiting until I was ready to embark. I watched it last night, so I’ll probably finish up the post about it tomorrow. The only exceptions to the list order will be when reverse-watching the list places series films out of order (I’ll decide how to do those when I get to them–if I’ve already seen them, I may stick with list order rather than film order) or if the film isn’t easily obtained; several of the films on the list are out of print or have never been released on DVD. I’ll try to get them, but there are sure to be some that I can’t.

(Filmbo/Eric, I know you mentioned you didn’t agree with a lot of the list; do you disagree with what’s included or the order? Or both? I’m just curious.)

Quick Note…

I am not skipping Music Monday this week; it’s just going to be late on account of the presentation I’m writing for tomorrow. Hopefully there shall be musics up tomorrow sometime.

Also, on the subject of movie list responses to AFI’s new Top 100, Eddie Copeland’s got a great one. He doesn’t follow AFI’s rules, though, and includes a generous helping of foreign film. Which is a good thing. I think I’ll do that sometime, but it’s going to be difficult and not as good as his, because I haven’t seen nearly as many films as he has. Ah well. Something to aim for, right?

Also also, on the subject of things that make me laugh, Book-A-Minute is awesome. A friend mentioned it to me right at the start of class this morning, so of course I looked it up, and it was all I could do not to bust out laughing as class started. “When even the Cliff’s Notes are too long…” I just wish they had more of them.

AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies — 2007 Edition

The American Film Institute released an updated version of their 100 Years…100 Movies list of greatest American movies. Apparently they’re going to do that every ten years. I only saw the tail end of the special last night–did any one else catch it? I think I saw the top fifteen or twenty.

The new list is here in pdf form; and the 1997 list is here in pdf. The new list helpfully shows what position each film was in ten years ago, and how much it has changed its position. As far as new films on the list, there are 23, mostly in second half of the list. Still, out of 100 films, that’s quite a turnover–and interestingly, most of the new additions are not films made in the last ten years, but older ones. Apparently AFI felt they had almost a quarter of the films wrong last time. ;) Some of the replacements are good, I think, but others not so much. The worst thing is that I was 86% through the first list, and I’m only 82% through the new one. :(

Films added for the 2007 list:

Films removed for the 2007 list:

After the jump, my version of the Top 100 American Films. They’re unranked, though, because I tried to rank them, and I got incredibly frustrated.

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Rewriting the Oscars

Kristin Thompson gives her picks for Oscars from 1928 to now.

Rethinking the Oscars is a favorite pastime every year about this time, and Thompson’s got a lot of really good alternates. It’s interesting to note that most of her picks (up until recent years, anyway) are from directors who were either “rediscovered” by French critics of the New Wave (Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, John Ford, Anthony Mann, Samuel Fuller) or came out of the New Wave tradition (Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, sort of Michelangelo Antonioni), or are genre films (musicals, films noirs, westerns, thrillers), which the Academy traditionally hates and were resurrected by the New Wave critics. It just goes to show what a watershed period the New Wave was in film history. In other words, many of the films she chooses would never have been considered by the Academy, because genre films and the directors who directed them (Hitchcock and thrillers, Ford and westerns, Fuller and crime films, etc.) weren’t considered prestigious enough for the Academy. You can also see the Hollywood/foreign film disconnect, as many of her choices are from France, Italy, Japan, etc.

Anyway. I was going to post my own list, but I actually think she’s got it pretty well covered. I might keep Mrs. Miniver over The Magnificent Ambersons (but I would really need to rewatch the latter before committing to that), Casablanca, West Side Story (though she’s probably right…I just LOVE WSS), Chariots of Fire (again, because I LOVE it), Schindler’s List (Groundhog Day? Really? I like Groundhog Day, but not vs. Schindler’s List), and American Beauty. A lot of the 1970s and 1980s ones I can’t comment on, not having seen either the winning film or her alternatives. I might also keep Lawrence of Arabia because it’s gorgeous, but I have to admit that Jules et Jim is pretty excellent. I’d need a rewatch on Liberty Valance.

In addition to being a good alternative Oscar list, it’s also (obviously) a really good list for building film literacy. I’m going to go add the ones I haven’t seen to my Netflix queue. (Speaking of Netflix queues, if any of y’all have Netflix accounts, let’s be friends! faithx5 AT gmail DOT com is my associated e-mail address.)