Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Favorites of the 2000's: 2007

Wristcutters: A Love Story: My favorite film of the year. This is criminally overlooked by the critical community and the occasional moviegoer alike, and it's a crying shame. Featuring a brilliant script by Goran Dukic (he directed as well), along with pitch-perfect performances from Patrick Fugit and Shannyn Sossamon, this movie deals with some heavy material but is ultimately uplifting. I hesitate to use the word "transcendent," but that's how this movie made me feel. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Gone Baby Gone: Ben Affleck's directorial debut was startlingly good, a moody detective story about the kidnapping of a young girl in Boston. Based on the book by "Mystic River" author Dennis Lehane, Affleck creates a unique atmosphere and urges solid work from his younger brother Casey, who plays the lead role. Supporting work from Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Amy Adams, and Michelle Monaghan make this one unforgettable in my eyes. It's not the easiest movie to watch, but I think it's a great film.

3:10 to Yuma: Russell Crowe and Christian Bale are upstaged by Ben Foster, who plays one of the best crazed henchmen in recent memory. Director James Mangold crafts a successful western, one that recalls the genre classic High Noon and racks up the tension thanks to an excellent script. Even though Ben Foster's Charlie Prince is the most memorable character, Crowe and Bale put on an acting clinic: reserved and contemplative at the same time, the two actors never try to outdo each other and they are both fascinating to watch in this film.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters: One of my favorite documentaries, The King of Kong follows a middle school science teacher as he faces off against one of the most memorable nonfiction villains in recent memory: Billy Mitchell, the Donkey Kong world record holder. This is an incredibly entertaining movie even for those who haven't ever played Donkey Kong. If you have even a slight interest in video games and the subculture surrounding their players, this is the doc for you.

No Country For Old Men: The Coen's bleak take on the western genre features enough nihilism for the biggest cynic out there, but Javier Bardem's work as the terrifying Anton Chigurh and Tommy Lee Jones' turn as the one-step-behind Texas sheriff makes this worth watching. The film won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, so I'm obviously not the only one who dug it. The ending may have been unsatisfying to some, but in retrospect it was a stroke of brilliance by the immensely talented Brothers Coen.

There Will Be Blood: Paul Thomas Anderson tackles religion and capitalism in his epic period drama. Nothing more needs to be said about how amazing Daniel Day-Lewis was as Daniel Plainview, and I was psyched when "I'll Drink Your Milkshake" fever swept the nation, albeit for a brief time. I've still only seen this movie once, but even with that one viewing I know it's one of my favorites of 2007. I plan on seeing it again soon to try and decipher some of the more complex messages Anderson embedded, and I'd recommend a second viewing even if you didn't like it the first time around.

The Bourne Ultimatum: I was so disappointed when I heard that Hollywood was interested in a fourth Bourne film, because I think this one is a perfect capstone to a pretty excellent trilogy. Damon embodies the character with just the right amount of emotional distress, and is completely believable in fight scene after fight scene. Paul Greengrass dialed the shaky cam down a little from The Bourne Supremacy (which I disliked because of the nausea induced by the aforementioned camera style) and really let the story take the reins in this installment of the franchise. This was one of the best sequels in a year littered with big screen sequels, and I'm honestly hoping that we never see a Bourne 4 hit theaters.

Likely to see on other people's "Best Of" lists: Juno, American Gangster, I Am Legend, Atonement, Eastern Promises, Rescue Dawn, Sunshine


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