Everyone else is doing these year-end lists, so I figure I'll jump on the bandwagon and throw my two cents in before it gets too far into '08. Keep in mind, these were my personal favorite films of the year, not necessarily what I thought were the BEST films of the year (although many of them fall into that same category).
Director: DJ Caruso
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, David Morse
This was the coming out party for LaBeouf, the movie that showed us he can actually act (not that playing a "slacker" is much of a stretch for him, but still). I really enjoyed this movie, way more than I probably should have. The suspense was great, the acting was exactly what it needed to be, and it was a respectful - yet updated - homage to Hitchcock's Rear Window. I still haven't seen any of DJ Caruso's other films, but I'm looking forward to his upcoming projects (Eagle Eye, Y: The Last Man).
9. Live Free or Die Hard/Transformers
Director: Len Wiseman/Michael Bay, respectively
Starring: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, and more
I cheated a little bit because these are technically two different movies, although I see them as one since they were the two big summer movies of the year. The acting here was kind of suspect, but it made up for it with big time action that was exactly what we paid for. I've still never seen as much debris in a movie as I did in Transformers (with no explanation of how they rebuilt an entire city or a mention of how many innocent people must have been killed in that final battle), and I kind of hope that we see John McClane smash through onto the big screen again soon. If they waited this long between sequels and LFoDH was still good, then why NOT do another one? Count me in.
8. The Bourne Ultimatum
Director: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Matt Damon
I will drive out to Hollywood and stab someone in the neck with a pencil if they make another one of these films. The trilogy is near-perfect as it is, capped off by the best film in the franchise, The Bourne Ultimatum. There are rumblings that they are going to make another one, which would completely undercut the brilliance of the third movie. Damon was awesome, both in ass-kicking and the overall complexity he brought to the role. This was MUCH better than The Bourne Supremacy.
7. Resurrecting The Champ
Director: Rod Lurie
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Josh Hartnett
This was one of those movies that no one saw and no one talks about. I loved pretty much everything about it. The acting was the best I've ever seen from Samuel L., and Hartnett wasn't bad either. It was one of the best "journalism" movies I've ever seen, second only to Shattered Glass, which was phenomenal. I'm really surprised that Samuel L. Jackson didn't get any award nominations for his performance.
6. Into the Wild
Director: Sean Penn
Starring: Emile Hirsch
A really gorgeous film, both visually and topically. A 22-year-old burns all his belongings and takes off, hoping to make it to Alaska. Sean Penn was surprisingly adept behind the camera, and Hirsch (future Speed Racer!) was incredible in front of it.
5. No Country For Old Men
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring: Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones
This one tops most of the real film critics' lists out there, and for good reason. If you don't look at it as a metaphorical tale in which Bardem is Death/Evil, Brolin is Man/Good, and Tommy Lee Jones is Society trying to make sense of it all, then you'll probably hate this film. It doesn't move too quickly and the ending is questioned by many, but after a little reflection I realized it was the only true way it could have ended, and that makes the movie much better off because of it.
4. 3:10 To Yuma
Director: James Mangold
Starring: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Ben Foster
Westerns made a comeback in 2007, thanks in part to this excellent piece of filmmaking. The performances were great, the script was perfect, and the execution was all I could have hoped for. One of the best westerns I've ever seen.
3. Gone Baby Gone
Director: Ben Affleck
Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan
Ben Affleck's directorial debut was stunning on multiple levels. For one, it was good to see that he can actually make a decent movie. This was definitely one of the best dramas of the year.
Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: Ellen Page, Michael Cera
The first attempt from screenwriter Diablo Cody promises good things for her in the future. Ellen Page and Michael Cera were perfectly cast, Reitman's directing was spot-on, and the movie managed to be funny and heartwarming at the same time.
1. Wristcutters: A Love Story
Director: Goran Dukic
Starring: Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon
The best independent movie I've laid eyes on. I don't know more than two people who have seen this, and they were in the same theater with me when I saw it. The most metaphorical film on this list (aside from No Country), but maybe that's why I liked it so much. I've never seen anything like it. By far my favorite movie of the year.
Honorable Mentions: The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, 300, I Am Legend, Air Guitar Nation, 1408, Casino Royale, Blood Diamond
Until next time...