2007 was a great year for movies and a tough one for making lists. A few quick caveats before unveiling my own attempt. There were a lot of very good films last year; if your favorite rates lower than expected (or even not at all), it’s not necessarily because I disliked it, but merely because I liked something else better. Also, I didn’t see every film that came out, so if an expected entrant doesn’t show up, it’s possibly because I didn’t see it. Though it was technically released in the
1. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
A minority vote, but I found it to be the most evocative, elegiac Western since Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West.
The Coen brothers’ first true adaptation, and one hopes it is not the last. Cormac McCarthy’s fierce, philosophical novel helps tether their dizzying gifts.
A perfect pairing of director and subject: Famously meticulous David Fincher tackles the police (and media) procedural as a study in obsession.
The morally agonizing conclusion does as much to elevate this film as There Will Be Blood’s ending does to bring it down.
A genuine work of cinematic art, though after the bravura first half--in which director Julian Schnabel conjures the world of a paralyzed writer composing his memoirs entirely by blinking his left eye--it never quite finds a second act.
An intricate clockwork of malice and error that ticks slowly toward utter destruction.
A sharp, well-scripted legal thriller that boasts one of the most emotionally satisfying payoff scenes in memory.
Honorable Mentions (alphabetical): Away From Her, The Bourne Ultimatum, Charlie Wilson’s War, Enchanted, Grindhouse: Death Proof, Eastern Promises, Knocked Up, Ratatouille, The Savages, Superbad, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Talk to Me
Worst Movie (morally appalling category):
The Brave One. The fact that its right-wing glorification of vigilantism is cloaked in liberal piety and self-actualization only makes it doubly noxious.
Worst Movie (morally appalling category):
Redacted. De Palma makes another metaphor-movie in which
Worst Movie (profoundly irritating category):
The Hottest State. Ethan Hawke is a perfectly adequate actor when he’s not playing himself. But this self-directed adaptation of his own autobiographical novel suggests that, offscreen, he’s an intolerably self-absorbed jackass.
Revolver. The mutant offspring of Guy Ritchie’s lad-flick affinities and Madonna’s Kabbalic concerns, its goofy moral is that your own ego--and not the guy holding a large gun in your face--is the only real enemy.
Gone Baby Gone
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
How Not to Adapt a Novel to the Big Screen:
The Golden Compass
Tommy Lee Jones (No Country for Old Men)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson’s War, The Savages, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead)
“[Balls of Fury] seems to exist mainly so that some critic might say: If you see just one table tennis martial arts parody this year, make it ‘Balls of Fury.’ I’m afraid I can’t go that far.”—A. O. Scott
Best Line by an Actor:
“Many, many people did not watch Arrested Development, but the few who did are handing out some nice jobs in
Cate Blanchett (I’m Not There)
Most Underrated Bob Dylan Impersonation:
John C. Reilly (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story)
Most Gruesome Throat Slashing:
Runner-up (tie): Sweeney Todd, Sweeney Todd, Sweeney Todd, Sweeney Todd, and Sweeney Todd
Timothy Olyphant’s robotic turn as “Agent 47” in Hitman
Best Human-Videogame Hybrid:
Angelina Jolie’s digitally disrobed demon-mother in Beowulf
The Bourne Ultimatum
The More-is-Less Action Movie Award:
The Warfare Is Not the Slightest Bit Homoerotic Award:
The It’s Fun to Be Naked Award:
The …Except When Guys Are Trying to Knife You In the Sauna Award:
Neurotic Siblings Whom I’d Nonetheless Welcome Into My Family:
Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney (The Savages)
Neurotic Siblings With Whom I’d Try to Avoid Traveling:
Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman (The Darjeeling Limited)
Neurotic Siblings Whom I’d Subject to Restraining Orders:
Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh (Margot at the Wedding)
Movie Star Whose Weak Singing Voice is Nonetheless Used to Admirable Effect:
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
The Paul Newman Award for Looking Better at 66 than You Will Ever Look a Day in Your Life:
Julie Christie (Away from Her)
The Sofia Coppola Award for Being a Pretty Darn Good Director Even if I Got the
Jason Reitman (Juno), Jake Kasdan (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story)
The Woody Allen Award for No, Seriously Being Able to Attract Women This Far Out of My League:
Seth Rogen (Knocked Up)
The Roger Federer Award for Being So Much Better than Anyone Else It’s Like I’m Playing a Different Sport:
Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)