Even at the end of the lamest movie years, this is always too hard. I'm supposed to take a list of over 200 movies and cramp it down into one 10-title list? No way. That's not to say that there were too many films jockeying for position on my "best" list, but hell, I spent a LOT of hours watching all these movies, and I'll be damned if I'm only gonna cover ten of 'em!
Last year I went a little insane and did ten different top ten lists, but I have a little more of a social life this year, so I'm just going to list my favorite films and trash the year's biggest stinkpiles (and then, in a separate post, recap the year in horror). Let's try and generate a little tension by starting at the end. (That's what she said!)
10. Juno, Knocked Up & Waitress -- I hate it when critics put multiple movies in one spot, but I just had to cheat on my number ten, because it's really weird how the three best comedies of the year ... all have to do with pregnant chicks. One movie per slot from here on out, I promise.
9. The Bourne Ultimatum -- The perfect capper to a stellar trilogy. Masterful action, fantastic performances, and an energy that just never lets up.
8. Zodiac -- I went in expecting Silence of the Lambs, but got a fantastic "newspaper" story instead. And even at 160 minutes, I was never bored.
7. Hot Fuzz -- Pegg, Frost and Wright strike again in this wonderfully clever action flick send-up. It took multiple viewings before the flick really clicked with me, but it's easily the funniest movie of the year that doesn't have any pregnant women in it. (Superbad being a close second.)
6. Sweeney Todd -- It's not exactly the sort of musical I'm used to (that Sondheim is pretty weird), but between the stellar leads, the grimly gorgeous look of the piece, and enough gallows humor to fill ten good flicks -- this just might be Tim Burton's best movie yet.
5. No Country for Old Men -- After taking some time away from the crime stuff to do a pair of comedies, the Coens strike back with one of their craftiest films yet. Like all of the Coen's material, it plays just as well (perhaps better) with repeat viewings. And damn that Bardem sure is creepy.
4. This Is England -- Shane Meadows (director of the also-fantastic Dead Man's Shoes) paints a portrait of early '80s England that sure as hell feels like the real thing. Best of all, it's a story about conformity and violence that doesn't adhere to the well-established formula. Damn good stuff.
3. There Will Be Blood -- I still can't believe that something this ... epic came from the guy who did Boogie Nights and Magnolia. Daniel Day Lewis is staggeringly good in the lead role, and the whole damn movie feels like an homage to both Orson Welles and Stanley Kubrick.
2. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead -- Wow. After more than 40 films, the masterful Sidney Lumet can still trade cinematic blows with anyone in town. This one feels a lot like a Coen brothers crime-spiral: A fantastic ensemble embroiled in an absurd crime scenario that just keeps getting worse and worse and worse...
1. The Orphanage -- I'll be doing a separate list for my horror faves, but there's no way I was removing this stellar little ghost story from my #1 spot. This is one of those effortlessly compelling campfire stories that prove SOME people "still make 'em like they used to."
Just missed the cut: Atonement, Eastern Promises, Gone Baby Gone, The King of Kong, My Kid Could Paint That, Persepolis and a bunch of great horror movies I'll get to in a different article.
Which bring us to the WORST of the year. Now, most film critics follow one of two schools of thought when it comes to the WORST lists. You can either A) list the biggest disappointments (movies that might have been OK but definitely should have been a lot better considering the people / resources involved), or B) just haul back and throw rotten tomatoes at the worst of the worst: The cynical sequels, the quick-arriving copycat, the base and moronic, the poorly-made and stupidly written...
I go with option B. Listed below (in no particular order) are the 2007 releases that made me want to kick someone in the neck. Preferably the producers of the film I just watched.
Because I Said So -- That's precisely why you should never see this awful, awful movie: because I said so.
Bratz -- Ugh. You gotta be kidding me. Makes the Olsen Twins look like Jane Austen.
Captivity -- When people were (wrongly) lambasting the Saw and Hostel flicks for being mindless bile, someone was working on the real thing.
Delta Farce -- I mean... It's a national embarrassment is what it is.
Epic Movie -- For the last time: Simply referencing another movie is not comedy. And combining other (good) movies with hip-hop and/or horribly stupid pop-culture references, jesus. Who green-lights this stuff?
Evan Almighty -- I couldn't care less how much the movie cost. It's one of the stupidest and least amusing comedies I've ever seen. And what they did to Steve Carell is simply unforgivable.
The Ex -- There's about a dozen really funny people in this movie. And zero laughs. How the hell does that happen??
Halloween -- Rob Zombie is actually getting worse with each directorial effort. That's kind of impressive.
I Know Who Killed Me -- It's Boxing Helena for a whole new generation of film geeks who treasure awful cinema.
The Invasion -- How this flick could turn out so rotten -- when you've got stellar source material and THREE solid movies to work off of -- I'm just stumped.
Kickin' It Old Skool -- I've see hand-held Bar Mitzvah videos with better acting, stronger production design, and more laughs.
Margot at the Wedding -- Unpleasant people discussing bodily functions and being cruel to each other. Enjoy.
Mr. Woodcock -- What might have made for a half-decent subplot in an American Pie sequel gets its very own feature -- and the results are freakin' awful. And I consider myself a fan of all three leads, but dear lord is this awful.
Norbit -- Disgusting in too many ways to recount.
Happy New Year to all, including the people who are presently hard at work on 2008's best and worst films.