Friday, December 21, 2007

Lists of the Year - Part 1

Well, it's that time of year when people make their "Best of" Lists. And there are few things I enjoy more upon this earth than lists. This is the only time of year when I get to bust out my list obsession and no one thinks it's (too) weird. So here I go...

Best Movies I Saw in 2007

Not all of these came out in 2007, but that is why God invented Netflixx.

1. Children of Men
One of the most amazing and powerful films I've seen in quite some time. Clive Owen is not only smoldering as is his norm, but gives a wonderfully affecting performance as a gradually transformed man. Michael Caine steals the show, though. A very moving look at a possible dystopian future.

2. Half Nelson
Ryan Gosling is in my top five of actors, and this movie is the main reason why. The elements are all there for this to be another Stand and Deliver/Freedom Writers/etc.: white young teacher tries to teach in poor, Black New York City middle school, overcomes obstacles to lead his students to achievement. But Gosling's turn as a drug-addicted teacher whose student catches him in the act, and the way their relationship plays out, is filled with nuance and surprise. A lovely and unsentimental film.

3. Knocked Up
Judd Apatow is clearly the man. And despite the fact that he writes his male characters so much more fully and sympathetically than his female characters, I still LOVED this movie. The relationship between Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd's characters is really the heart of this film, but of course Kathryn Heigl and Seth Rogen are excellent. And Seth's gang of stoner/porn-loving friends are a hilarious sidebar.

4. Waitress
Cuteness to the max, yet not cloying. A little modern fairy tale full of whimsy, kind of the cinematic equivalent of Pushing Daisies.

5. Pan's Labyrinth
A terrifying adults-only children's story that is astonishing in its creativity and visual effects. That this movie wasn't up for best film last year is somewhat of a travesty.

6. Jesus Camp
A wonderfully fair documentary profiling a fundamentalist Church camp in Kansas (I think) that trains little soldiers for Christ. It is very scary without feeling exploitative.

7. Casino Royale
Best Bond movie in a long time. Daniel Craig is exquisite in this role, and Eva Green really grew on me. This film makes me very excited to see what the future holds for the Bond franchise.

8. SuperBad
Not quite as enjoyable as Knocked Up, and far more crude, but still an excellent film. Michael Cera has perfected the art of awkward, comic sweetness. The ultimate 14 year-old boy film. Uh, in the good way, even if you're a 30-something female.

9. Notes on a Scandal
Two masterminds of the theatrical arts - Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench - face off in a film chock full of tension and bewilderment. The Phillip Glass score is almost too much at times, but it is a great 3rd main character in the movie.

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