Friday, December 28, 2007

My 10 best movies of the year

You'll find one instance of doubling up here, but in a good year, why be stingy? I saw some truly memorable films toward the end of 2007, and had a stimulating enough time at the movies to make me forget the year's plentiful supply of junk.

My Ten:

1. "No Country For Old Men." Try as I might I can't make a case for any other movie. Spare and beautifully made, Joel and Ethan Coen's movie delivers a mythic dose of the American dark side. Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem all excelled.

2. "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." Julian Schnabel takes us inside the mind of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the former editor of Elle magazine who at age 45 suffered a massive stroke and was "locked" inside his paralyzed body. The filmmaking ranges from realistic to lyrical, and Schanbel achieves the near-impossible: He's made a movie about a man who can't move.

3. "Persepolis." Yes, it's animated, but director Marjane Satrapi's big-screen adaptation of her graphic novel tells an unforgettable autobiographical story about the way in which the director grew up in Iran and ultimately fled the country that bridled her spirit.

4. "There Will Be Blood." Paul Thomas Anderson's latest -- with a bravura performance by Daniel Day-Lewis -- is too strange and haunting to ignore, a sparse diatribe about the perils of capitalistic greed and religious hypocrisy. In short, another movie about the American dark side.

5. "4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days." Cristian Mungiu's look at the plight of a young woman trying to obtain an abortion in Romania during the 1980s is harrowing and revealing. Mungiu's movie probably won't open in most of the country until 2008.

6. "Michael Clayton." Of all the mainstream movies I saw in 2007, I enjoyed none more than "Michael Clayton," a thriller starring George Clooney as a lawyer who cleans up other people's messes.

7. "Zodiac." David Fincher's recounting of the story of the Zodiac killings was meticulously detailed and ultimately compelling, a great depiction of the way cops and the media work."

8. "Away From Her" and "The Savages." Two movies that deal with dementia. In "Away From Her," Julie Christie plays a woman inflicted with Alzheimer's. In "The Savages," Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney turn into the Spencer Tracy and Kathrine Hepburn of the extended adolescent set. They play siblings who put their aging father (Philip Bosco) in a nursing home.

9. "This is England." Director Shane Meadows tells a hard-boiled story about growing up Punk in England during the 1980s. It didn't spend much time in theaters, so look for it on DVD.

10. "Juno." Teen movies don't get much better, and this one featured a terrific performance from Ellen Page as the title character in a comedy about teen pregnancy. Sharply written by newcomer Diablo Cody, the movie has wit, heart and a welcome willingness to shatter stereotypes.

Honorable mentions, "Once," "Eastern Promises" and "Charlie Wilson's War."

No comments: