Happy New Year, denizens of the internet! The holiday season is over, unhappy workers are returning to their nasty offices, and I’m cleaning the house. But, before I get into the rest of it, here is an absurdly long list that has missed off a million things either because we’ve not seen certain films that stand a good chance of getting on here (Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood, Tekkon Kinkreet, Rescue Dawn, etc.), and because I’m forgetful. There was a supporting actor performance this year that I loved but I can’t remember who it was now. That’s as annoying as later remembering that I wanted to give music of the year shout-outs to Tenacious D’s Master Exploder (song of the decade) and Steven Seagal’s album Mojo Priest (not the hilarious hubristic disaster people expected it to be; I actually quite like it).
Anyway, here is as complete a list as I can make. Note that the worst film winner is not yet decided. Over the next few days I intend to decide who should win this coveted prize with a Worst Film of 2007 Face/Off special! So stay tuned. Also, I’m hoping that at some point Canyon will include her best and worsts of the year. I’m not 100% sure what her list will look like, though I get the feeling it will be fairly different. I look forward to reading it.
Favourite movies of the year:
1=: Zodiac – A perfect movie about an obsessive quest made by an obsessive perfectionist.
1=: Ratatouille – A perfect movie about a perfectionist and the obsessive quest for perfection.
2: The Bourne Ultimatum – Like being beaten up by a film. But in a good way. Best threequel ever, best action film of the decade.
3: Black Book – Moral quagmires, betrayal, sex, death, twists, violence, blonde women being mistreated by the world but keeping their dignity even when doused in shit. Hitchcock would have loved it.
4: Once – My favourite romantic movie in ooooh, aeons. Lovely soundtrack too.
5: The Darjeeling Limited – Wes Anderson triumphs again! Yeah, I said it.
6: Grindhouse – Sorry to say it, but only the full version gives you the full effect. Fuck you, Weinsteins.
7: Exiled – Johnnie To’s gangster masterpiece. The most unpredictable film of the year (other than I’m Not There, but who knows what the hell Todd Haynes was thinking with that).
8: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – Possibly the best ensemble cast of the year, certainly the best photographed. Hypnotic brilliance.
9: Paprika – A feast for the eyes, and featuring a heroine that I want to see return in a billion sequels.
10: The King of Kong – Best documentary I’ve seen since the magnificent Capturing the Friedmans. No other documentary I’ve seen has made me so angry and so overjoyed. Who’d have thought real life could be this interesting?
Honourable honourable mentions (there were a lot of good films out this year):
Gone Baby Gone
Black Snake Moan
Honourable honourable honourable mentions (I mean, seriously, a lot):
The Lives of Others
Charlie Wilson’s War
Favourite movies released in the US in 2006 but then released in the UK in 2007 and were good enough to get a mention here anyway:
The Fountain, Curse of the Golden Flower
Movies that are not getting included because I need to see them a couple more times before I know whether I was crazy about them or not:
No Country For Old Men, I’m Not There
Movie that I didn’t want to like because the director is an asshole but damn it’s a lot of fun:
To be decided between I Know Who Killed Me and D-War (Runners-up: Bubble Fiction Boom or Bust, Spider-Man 3, Southland Tales, The Reaping, Next)
Most pointless movie:
Chris Cooper – Breach / Casey Affleck – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Gone Baby Gone (Runner-up: Will Smith – I Am Legend, Kurt Russell – Death Proof, Viggo Mortenson – Eastern Promises)
Best supporting actor:
John Carroll Lynch – Zodiac (Runner-up: Chris Evans – Sunshine / Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Sam Rockwell – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang – Exiled) (ETA: OMG how could I forget! James Marsden’s hilarious performance in Enchanted! Easily the best thing about the movie.)
Best Supporting Actress:
Robin Wright Penn – Beowulf (Runner-up: Marcia Gay Harden – The Mist, Amara Karan – The Darjeeling Limited, Sairse Ronan – Atonement)
Most entertaining performance in a bad movie:
Nicholas Cage – Ghost Rider
Patrick Dempsey – Enchanted (Runner-up: Jason Behr – D-War)
Lindsay Lohan – I Know Who Killed Me (Runner-up: Amanda Brooks – D-War, Claire Danes – Stardust)
Remy the Rat – Ratatouille (Runner-up: Rachel Stein – Black Book, Paprika – Paprika, McLovin – Superbad, King Leonidas – 300)
Ghost Rider – Ghost Rider (Runner-up: Elizabeth Swann – Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Ethan Kendrick – D-War, “Jack” – D-War)
Thomas Gabriel – Die Hard 4.0 (Runner-up: Venom – Spider-Man 3, Doctor Doom – Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Evil General – D-War)
Biggest badass of the year:
Zoe Bell – Death Proof
Brad Bird – Ratatouille (Runner up: Paul Greengrass – The Bourne Ultimatum, David Fincher – Zodiac)
To be decided between Chris Sivertson – I Know Who Killed Me and Hyung-Rae Shim – D-War) (Runner-up: Mark Steven Johnson – Ghost Rider, Richard Kelly – Southland Tales, Lee Tamahori – Next)
“Stop perving, Grandad!” director of the year:
Mike Nichols – Charlie Wilson’s War. We get it, Mike, Charlie Wilson was a big perv, but that doesn’t excuse the leering shots of boobs and butts, nor does it even begin to explain why you cast Emily Blunt and then made her sit around in next to no clothes for five minutes and then not have her appear for the rest of the film. (Runner-up: Michael Bay – Tranformers. Megan Fox is not that hot, so please stop staring at her oiled midriff, kthx)
Roger Deakins – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and No Country For Old Men (Runner-up: Harris Savides – Zodiac, Robert Yeoman – The Darjeeling Limited)
Best sound design:
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Runner-up: I Am Legend, Tranformers)
Best visual effects:
Transformers (Runner-up: The Fountain, Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End)
Most improved director:
Danny Boyle – Sunshine. I’ve always been frustrated by the lionisation of Boyle, whose movies feature pretty shots and no overall coherence or concept of how one shot has to link into another (Michael Bay gets accused of this yet I think he’s much better at creating a whole movie than Boyle, and yes, I know that is considered heresy. Whatever!). Sunshine is the first film where he gets it totally right. The whole movie is an perfectly sustained audio-visual assault. He can be proud of it.
Runner-up: Len Wiseman – Die Hard 4.0. I’ve found Wiseman to be a hack with a bland visual style and little imagination, but even though Die Hard 4.0 shared the same monochrome look of his vampire movies, the action scenes featured some wonderfully imaginative moments, not counting the Jurassic Park 2 rip-off with the car in the elevator shaft. I was very pleasantly surprised. Still got a shit villain, though. Did Hans Gruber have no more brothers?
Most precipitous drop in directorial ability:
Sam Raimi – Spider-Man 3. Jaredan maintains Raimi purposely sabotaged the movie as a screw-you to Sony for making him include Venom, and I can’t argue with him. I can’t believe someone as talented and conscientious as Raimi could poop out something as dreadful as this. Let’s hope he improves soon, as he’s still top of the list of directors capable of pulling off The Hobbit.
Disappointment of the year:
Spider-Man 3 (Runner-up: Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End, Eastern Promises)
Most overrated film of the year:
Atonement. Stately, respectable, well-crafted, pretty. It’s all of those. It’s also empty, features some really dodgy acting, and makes no sense until the final twist comes into play. Then it’s all very affecting, but for an hour, the movie is filled with head-scratchers and logical leaps. (Runner-up: 28 Weeks Later)
Most underrated film of the year:
Hot Fuzz. Has none of the respectable cachet of Atonement, but is possibly the most carefully crafted British film in decades. Repeat viewings unearth a wealth of detail and beautiful structure. If only critics loved Point Break and the films of Michael Bay the way they should, they would have appreciated its genius. (Runner-up: Curse of the Golden Flower)
Best comic adaptation of the year:
300. I don’t even like it that much, but the competition (Spider-Man 3, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider) is pitiful. Persepolis is almost certainly going to be better, even though Marjane Satrapi is not really a comic writer/artist, more like a writer who draws the odd picture.
The Brothers Affleck prove to a sceptical world that they are awesome, to the massive happiness of myself.
Best comeback of the year:
Best action scene of the year:
Jason Bourne vs. Desh – The Bourne Ultimatum (Runner-up: Autobots and humanity vs. Decepticons vs. a city – Transformers, motoring ladies vs. Stuntman Mike – Death Proof, Viggo’s genitalia vs. hitmen – Eastern Promises)
Best non-action scene of the year:
Anton Ego eats a meal – Ratatouille (Runner-up: Cops interrogate John Carroll Lynch – Zodiac, every conversation between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in Hot Fuzz)
Best musical moment of the year:
Marketa Irglova sings on her way back home – Once (Runner-up: Samuel L. Jackson sings Stack-O-Lee to a writhing sweaty mass of people – Black Snake Moan, Justin Timberlake lipsynchs to All These Things That I’ve Done by The Killers – Southland Tales)
Most WTF ending of the year:
The Mist – I cannot spoil it, and am still not sure whether I liked it or not, but I will say this: once seen, never ever forgotten.
Most bullshit death of the year:
Jazz going out like a punk in Transformers. Okay, so Megatron is five times taller, but still, that was not acceptable. (Runner-up: the various “tragic” moments at the end of Spider-Man 3)
Most wasted actors of the year:
Chow Yun Fat – Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End (Runner-up: Emily Blunt – Charlie Wilson’s War, Thomas Haden Church – Spider-Man 3)
Biggest jerks of the Year:
The Weinsteins’ decision to block the international release of Grindhouse may have been borne of their fears of financial ruin, but the dismissive attitude they have towards international audiences, and the lack of understanding they have of the movie itself (individually hardly anyone likes the films, but together they are perfect entertainment) is notable. Just remember, next time they push for a film to win an Oscar with their bully tactics, it’s got nothing to do with championing the film. They’re only in it for themselves.
Best screw-you of the year:
Canyon’s Mostly Redundant End-of-Year List
Though you might have caught on that Admiral Neck is very fond of end-of-year list-making, I myself am not. I do love reading other people’s lists, I have to admit, and I appreciate the opportunity to step back, think about the year as a whole, and organize your thoughts. The problem for me is that I often don’t feel there are ten movies made every year that I will remember and really love as time goes on (the same goes with books and music and tv shows — most years will produce maybe three or four of each). With most movies I enjoy in a given year, “Oh yeah, that’s a good movie” is the first thought that springs to mind when I think about them later — not “Wow, what a haunting, life-changing masterpiece that was.”
I get that it’s probably the same for everybody, but I feel wrong memorializing merely good movies in a top-ten list when they probably won’t matter much to me in the long run. I guess this is kind of unfair to the very good movies I leave off, but it’s my list and I’ll do what I want. Also, Admiral Neck and I have very similar tastes, so I mostly have the same movies on as he does, and I liked all the other movies he mentioned mostly as much as he did (except The Darjeeling Limited, because I have been burned by Wes Anderson too many times and refused to see what was by all accounts another dollhouse whimsy-fest). Okay, enough clearing-of-throat preamble: my seven favorite movies of the year (I could stretch this to ten, but I feel a bit wrong doing it, so I won’t).
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford — One of the most gorgeous movies I’ve ever seen (the visuals in the train-robbery scene will stay with me a long time); the comparisons to Terrence Malick are apt, but this film is no rip-off (as if that would even be a bad thing). The narration was moving and elegiac and wonderfully literary, the pace was perfect, many scenes were incredibly haunting (especially the fantastic ending), and Casey Affleck needs awards shoved between his tiny Chiclet teeth immediately.
Ratatouille -- I adore The Iron Giant but was disappointed with The Incredibles (apparently I was the only person on earth who was), but this movie had Admiral Neck and I sobbing like little babies. I would have cried more if we hadn’t been in public. Gorgeous animation, wonderfully funny, with a turn by Peter O’Toole that made me choke up over a discourse on the role of critics. That’s some writin’, Brad Bird! And damn you, by the way, for making me cry more at your movies than even one of Joss Whedon’s.
Zodiac — Another one that stayed with me for weeks afterward. A meta-comment on obsession that was scary, funny, thought-provoking, and ended perfectly.
(Note: All three of the movies above are what I’d consider the haunting-masterpiece variety.)
I Am Legend — Yeah, I said it. I think the movie was very unfairly derided as being a typical Will Smith flashy blockbuster, a sci-fi FX-extravaganza with no brain and no heart. (And it almost was — Admiral Neck got hold of the original script, and it’s absolutely terrible, and the kind of movie you can imagine would have been perfect for Michael Bay [he was previously attached to direct].) Instead, it’s a quiet, thoughtful, incredibly moving meditation on isolation and loneliness, and the main character’s slow descent into madness. I don’t often agree with Salon’s Stephanie Zacharek (though I love reading her reviews), but I think she was mostly on the mark about this one. I don’t agree with the complaint I’ve often heard about the ending — I think it flows very well with what came before, and while I think the God stuff and the very end were missteps, those aren’t the moments that stayed with me. The shots of a deserted New York are incredible, the action set-pieces are brilliant, and I haven’t been able to get some scenes out of my mind since I saw it. There might have even been more sobbing during this than during Ratatouille (though I blame Admiral Neck for being a big crier himself and dragging me down with him).
Once — My favorite musical of the year (though who knows if Sweeney Todd would have bested it; that doesn’t come out here till January, thanks distributors!!!!!). Wonderful performances, beautiful songs — I went on about it earlier this year so won’t belabor it, but it was absolutely lovely.
3:10 to Yuma — The second-best Western of the year — perhaps a bit too neatly wrapped up at the end, but that’s kind of what I liked about the ending, that even though Russell Crowe’s actions are seemingly out of character, they make perfect sense in the context of the movie. I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone but me, but I loved the symmetry of it.
Grindhouse — Planet Terror was a perfect spoof — mocking grindhouse movies with hilarious accuracy but incredibly clever in its own right. Death Proof wasn’t a grindhouse spoof by any stretch of the imagination — it was more of a Tarantino movie badly filmed and scratched up — but it was brilliant in its own right (people moaned about it, but would they really want two back-to-back straight spoofs?).
Black Book — Straight up Verhoevenly goodness. In Dutch!
Best Coen brothers movie I’ve seen, but which still left me a bit cold: No Country for Old Men
Movie I thought I’d hate and, much to Admiral Neck’s gloating joy, I really, really liked: The Bourne Ultimatum
Favorite bad movie: Ghost Rider, mostly because of the weird character quirks Nicolas Cage adds to his performance
Biggest disappointment: Eastern Promises (I loved History of Violence and consider it one of those elusive masterpieces, so it was a huge disappointment to find that this barely felt like a movie)
Movies I liked but am a bit ashamed to admit to: Music and Lyrics, Hairspray, Transformers (and potentially Dan in Real Life, as it’s supposed to be a lot better than the mawkish trailer makes it seem)
Movies that would probably be on my list if they came out in the UK in %#$($# December like they should have: Walk Hard, There Will Be Blood, Juno, Sweeney Todd, Into the Wild, Away From Her, National Treasure 2: Book of Seeeeeecrets, No End in Sight