2007 Ten Best Movies

nocountry2It seems like only a couple of years ago we were arguing the relative merits of No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood and the other films of 2007, a strong year in the movie datebook. No Country is the Coen brothers’ razor-sharp realization of Cormac McCarthy terrain, and the kickoff of a cycle (Burn After Reading and A Serious Man included) in which they bend and slice the idea of what a “story” comprises – a cycle that not only cuts out certain traditional scenes and moments we are accustomed to seeing in our stories, but questions why it is we need to tell those stories in the first place.

There Will Be Blood is Paul Thomas Anderson’s wildly ambitious, tonally crazed piece of American secret history. Where the Coens use a diamond drill, Anderson breaks the soil with a bulldozer; the results are heady, risky, and exciting in a particular way. That both movies take the form of modern Westerns makes them even more interesting in the American film canon. The ten best movies of 2007:

1. No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen)

2. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)

3. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik)

4. Grindhouse (Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez)

5. Margot at the Wedding (Noah Baumbach)

6. Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg)

7. Zodiac (David Fincher)

8. Lady Chatterley (Pascale Ferran)

9. Into the Wild (Sean Penn)

10. Once (John Carney)

Couple of personal choices there at the end of the list; could’ve gone with a deserving crew of harder-boiled items crowded around the ten: Ben Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone, Paul Greengrass’s Bourne Ultimatum, Tony Gilroy’s Michael Clayton, and Johnnie To’s Exiled. Other movies came close, partly because I think they are undervalued or misunderstood: the much-derided Spider-Man 3, which is actually the most nuttily Raimi-esque of that trilogy; Beowulf, in which Zemeckis does exhilarating things with 3D; and Black Snake Moan, Craig Brewer’s Southern gothic drive-in offering.

Eastern Promises is a compact Cronenberg film that seems already forgotten but is a rather amazing movie. Lady Chatterley is a very unusual take on a literary classic/scandal, completely frank and undecorated in its approach, going exactly to the point it needs to go and then simply stopping. Into the Wild, while not perfect, gives an ideal vehicle for Sean Penn’s 21st-century Beat sensibility to express itself, and it fits into the year’s fascinating survey of Americana. Speaking of which, The Assassination of Jesse James etc. might be the most haunting film of 2007, a lyrical bit of melancholy that is enlivened, not embalmed, by its mythic style. Well done, Team USA.

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5 Responses

  1. Good list.

    I haven’t seen every movie from that year which I want, including There Will Be Blood, but here’s my current top 10.

    10. Sicko
    9. Ratatouille
    8. Superbad
    7. I’m Not There
    6. In the Shadow of the Moon
    5. Once
    4. Lars and the Real Girl
    3. Michael Clayton
    2. Hot Fuzz
    1. Atonement

  2. Grindhouse in the #4 spot? Please explain.

    • Not high enough? I think Grindhouse is a gas. Planet Terror is just okay, but the Tarantino part is eerie in the way it conjures up that era’s movies (although it also goes way, way beyond them).

      • Hmmm. I haven’t seen it since it hit theaters… I guess I’ll have to give it another shot. Come to think of it, there has been a serious lack of Michael Biehn in my life lately.

  3. All well and good to praise QT’s Death Proof, but surely a citation of Grindhouse requires no validation beyond … “Machete”! I am currently toying with naming that one of my 22 favorite screen things of the decade in Steadycam’s forthcoming Catch-22 feature.

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