Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ranking Every Film in 2007 1-44: Part I

Here's a series I'm starting where I look at a year (Boxofficemojo and idbm provide yearly lists. It provides a good measure on your movie-viewing habits) and every film I've seen in that year and rank them. 2007 was possibly my most prolific year as a movie watcher at 43 1/2 films due to the fact that I was working a strenuous job at a crowded movie theater and would regularly plop into a movie after working a long shift. It was also a spectacularly awful and disappointing year overcrowded with sequels that failed to deliver (the tail-end of the three biggest moneymaking trilogies of the decade-Spiderman, Shrek, and Pirates all landed with a resounding thud), a slew of ambitious war films that were quickly forgotten (anyone remember The Kingdom? The Kite Runner? Can you tell the difference between Redacted or Rendition?), the sudden emergence of Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow as kings of a new brand of schlubby comedy, an overpopulation of Office cast members in films and a mistaken belief in the range of Michael Cera. I'm going to have a little fun with the credits so bear with me.
So here we go:

  1. 3:10 to Yuma dir. James Mangold, starring Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Ben Foster, Alan Tudyk, Gretchen "Where I" Mol, Logan "Before he was America's favorite indie goth kid" Lerman-It was just a remake, but I thought the dialogue was Shakespearean, the acting was top-notch and the action was raw and authentic in a way that few films in this CGI Age are. 
  2. Lars and the Real Girl, starring Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul "I couldn't cut the mustard on Parks and Rec" Schneider, Patricia "redheads can act too" Clarkson, Kelli "Never heard of her before but had to look her up because she's awesome" Garner-In seven words or less: Entirely original in concept, sweet, unconventional, inspiring.
  3. There Will be Blood, dir. Paul T. Anderson (middle initial included because coincidentally one of the worst directors in Hollywood also has that name), starring Daniel "Super Annoying  Method Man" Day-Lewis, Paul Dano-I only saw about 60% of this film but could recognize its originality and perfection. The film's soundscape and visual detail are both striking. 
  4. Michael Clayton, directed and written by Tony Gileroy, starring George "I'm an attention whore, want to hear more about my Italian Villa?" Clooney, Tilda "Ice queen" Stinton, Tom "That vaguely British guy" Wilkinson, Sydney "Also a famous director" Pollock-Well-deserving of a best picture nomination. A complex tightly-paced thriller that makes tackling corporate corruption seem sexy and exciting. The film was topical and asked questions to which there were no easy answers.
  5. Sicko dir. Michael Moore, I generally don't find the movies to be the best way to expose myself to non-fiction, thus, I tend to judge them by entertainment value. Michael Moore has that in spades and he also (for lack of a better word [seriously, thesaurus, you're giving me nothing here]) arouses passion from his audience. 
  6. The Great Debaters dir. Denzel Washington, starring Denzel Washington, Forrest "Hot off his Oscar win" Whitaker, and (I'm not kidding here) Denzel "If Forrest and Denzel had a love child" Whitaker, Nate Parker, Jurnee Smollett-Bell-Without even knowing the history behind the story, you can tell there's a little Disneyesque truth stretching to fit the neatly told story arc of an underdog beating the odds (i.e. Did they debate Harvard? nope, just USC). Still, I found the film delicate and nuanced with an unusually strong performance from Forrest Whitaker and the film's delving into the civil rights movement, feminism on a college campus and the intellectual struggle of undergraduate life all resonated for me.
  7. Darjeeling Limited dir. Wes Anderson, written by Wes Anderson and Roman "I can never remember how many p's and l's go in that last name and have to look it up , uggh!" Coppola starring Owen "This was made right after his suicide attempt" Wilson, Adrian "Won an Oscar, Kissed Halle Berry, Haven't Done Much Since" Brody, Jason "The Nerdy Guy from Rushmore" Schwartzman, Anjelica Huston, Amara Karan, cameo by Bill Murray-I happen to think it's as profound and enjoyable of a film as the rest ofWes Anderson's output  and I challenge you to watch this film as if you've never seen his other films and tell me that the originality of Anderson's vision doesn't strike you here too.
  8. Hairspray dir. Adam Shankman, starring Nikki "Lived on the same street as my cousins" Blonsky, John "Channeling his Inner Woman" Travolta, Christopher "No, seriously, the guy can act, dance and sing" Walken, Zac "American Teendom's Favorite Boytoy circa 2006" Efron, James "The Guy From X-Men Who's Not as Popular as Wolverine"  Marsden, Queen Latifah, Amanda Byrnes, Brittany Snow, Michelle "Seriously? I thought she was dead" Pfeiffer, Allison Janey, Elijah Kelley-An absolutely excellent piece of ensemble work with swinging music. I wanted to gag when they called the group of teens the "Nicest Kids in Town" but at least they were self-conscious enough to call Marsden's character "Corny Collins."
  9. Junodir. Jason Reitman, written by Diablo "Ex-stripper" Cody, starring Ellen "Too short to be considered hot?" Page, Michael "One-Note" Cera, Jason "Justine's Brother" Bateman, Jennifer Garner, JK "The Deadpan King" Simmons, Allison Janney, Olivia "Damn you and your complicated last name" Thirlby-If you were around in 2007, you would be convinced that Diablo Cody was the second coming of the messiah for screenwriters. She's not all that, but Juno is a sharply acerbic, regionally specific, and bitingly funny script. 
  10. Lions for Lambs, dir. Robert Redford, starring Tom Cruise, Meryl "I lost to Catherine Zeta-Jones at the Oscars" Streep, Robert Redford, Derek Luke, Michael Pena, and Andrew "Before he was famous" Garfield-It wasn't a very cinematic film as it took place in three mostly static locations in real time. It rates so highly with me because I found it thought-provoking and one of the few pieces of art I was exposed to that had something original to say about the war in Iraq and said it well. 
  11. Charlie Wilson's War dir. Mike "Did you know he was once known as a comedian?" Nichols, starring Tom "Everyman" Hanks, Julia "Not as good as her brother" Roberts, Amy Adams, Philip "Damn you, I can never remember how many l's are in your name and always have to look it up" Seymour Hoffman, a cameo by Emily Blunt who does little other than stand on a balcony with her clothes off-If you go back in time to 2007, you'll see that this film had a lot of pre-release buzz and was touted as an Oscar contender. It didn't quite live up to that, but it was an interesting take on the American political hero and even the American dream. The apologetically sleazy congressman got a piece of legislation through that saved lives in Afghanistan. In the second piece of irony, it would lead to the Taliban, but who's counting? There was a definite sense of fun to the film. 
  12. King of California, starring Michael Douglas, Evan "Definitely not a dude" Rachel Wood-Just watched this yesterday (which is what got me thinking about 2007). The deadbeat dad is a tired convention but not many movies are focused so solely on a father-daughter dynamic. There wasn't a separate plot with a love interest or any conclusion for the character other than her resolution of her feelings toward her dad. 
  13. Bee Movieproduced by Jerry Seinfeld, starring Jerry Seinfeld, Matthew Broderick, Renee Zellweger, Patrick Warburton, Chris Rock, cameo by Ray Liotta-I might be alone but I don't think it was such a bad start for Seinfeld's foray into animation. The bee-on-human sexual undertones made me a little uncomfortable, but I thought the jokes were sharp as was the overall comic plot. It harkened to the days of Pixar's first films like Monster's Inc. and Toy Story that were permeated by an adventurous attitude of fully exploring the comic possibilities of a familiar-yet-foreign world. 
  14. Spiderman 3, dir. Sam Raimi, starring Tobey "Who will always look 23" MaGuire, Kirsten Dunst, Bryce "My sister met her at summer camp once!" Dallas Howard, J.K. Simmons, Rosemary Harris, Topher "Amazing" Grace, Thomas Haden "Get me to the" Church "On time", Cliff "Won an Oscar in 1968" Robertson-We're only on #14 and getting to the films I wouldn't enthusiastically recommend. I never found Spiderman as colorful as some of the other superhero series with its obvious symbolism: The girl next door is literally the girl who lived next door, and James Franco is so broody and blatant he virtually was walking around with a "Future token villain" name tag. Then again, the Spiderman series showed it could have fun with stock characters. J.K. Simmons's newspaper editor was also very much a stock stereotype, but he was undeniably entertaining. So while the Spiderman series is flawed on the whole, the third installment was able to both have fun within its rigidly thought-out universe AND end in an emotionally satisfying coda. 
  15. Elizabeth The Golden Age, dir. by Shepac Kapur, starring Cate Blanchett, Clive "Handsome" Owen, Geoffrey Rush, Samantha Morton, Abbie Cornish, Jordi "My name requires not one but two spanish accent marks" Molla-This film is insanely high in terms of historic attention to detail. Even if it isn't and it turns out that the production team's research department was completely wrong about everything, it wouldn't matter because the atmosphere of the film felt so real and was so mesmerizing. The film is a more subtle than dynamic study of politics, war, sexual repression, idolatry (the kind where you look up to a person rather than the religious kind), and class. Look closely, it's all there. 
  16. Eastern Promises, dir. by David Cronenberg, starring Naomi Watts, Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Cassel A thriller intense enough that I can literally remember my heart beating from watching this movie 4 1/2 years ago. Something I can't remember years later is the plot which is what makes for a memorable thriller. I'm also not giving the film too many points for its most memorable set piece: A nude knife fight scene in a spa's steam room which felt a little self-indulgent to me. Still, it's kind of a weak year, so it's up in 16. Plus Naomi Watts always kills it. 
  17. Waitress, starring Keri "Felicity Forever" Russell, Nathan "King of the Comic Con Geeks" Fillion-A charming story with a nuanced performance by Russell that echoed the depressed housewife performance by Jennifer Anniston in "Good Girl."
  18. Knocked Up, dir. Judd Appatow, starring Seth Rogen, Leslie "I'm sleeping with the director but I can act too damnit" Mann, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Jonah "Cameoing in every movie I can" Hill, Kristen Wiig, Bill "Don't be a Player" Hader, Craig Robinson and nearly everyone from the Office and SNL in cameo roles-I tend to find Apatow a little overrated and think he's produced as many duds as he has genuinely enjoyable films. His films often are raunchy just for the sake of being raunchy and contain plots that meander off course. Knocked Up, however, was enjoyable on all levels and its winding plot was one of its biggest strengths. Hard to buy Seth Rogen as a suitable romantic match for Katherine Heigl but, then again, I'm not the first one to point that out. 
  19. Across the Universe, dir. Julie Taymor, starring Jim Sturgess, Evan "Again, not a dude, see the middle name" Rachel Wood-Some of the appeal of the film depends on how much of a Beatlemaniac you are, and some of it depends on the beauty of the visuals and vocals. While the visuals and musical numbers are stunning and the efforts to encapsulate the entirety of the 60's within a few characters is admirable, most of the film's main characters (I'd be content never seeing another film with Sturgess in it) are bland and uninspiring. Some are expys of famous people with none of the charisma. Taken as a series of disparate scenes (like Fantasia), the film is highly enjoyable.
  20. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead dir. Sidney Lumet, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan "Handsome" Hawke, Amy Ryan, Marisa Tomei, Albert Finney-This film barely registers with me five years later. The premise is excellent, the ending was powerful, and it's always a delight to see Albert Finney in a film, but something about it didn't resonate that well
  21. Bourne Ultimatum, dir. Paul Greengrass, starring Matt Damon, Joan "Amazing in  Pleasantville" Allen, Julia "What the heck is she doing here?" Stiles, David Strathairn-The Bourne series has never been interesting to me as anything beyond a series of well-executed action scenes. Why do I care about this character? Despite Damon's general awesomeness as both a leading and character actor, there just isn't enough pathos (yeah, I used a fancy word, deal with it) behind Jason Bourne to make a series. But then again, that action was hard to discount. Like Spiderman 3, Bourne Ultimatum ended on a high note with an emotionally satisfying conclusion. 
  22. Blades of Glory starring Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Will Arnett, Jenna "From the Office" Fischer, Jon Heder, Craig T. Nelson By no means, a memorable or ambitious film but one that was pleasant, funny, and delivered at its level of ambition. 

No comments: