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Top 10 Films of 2007

To be completely honest, we didn't see every movie released in 2007. Nevertheless, our staff saw quite a few good films over the past year, while unfortunately catching a few duds along the way. Because the Oscars and other award shows generally honor dramatic, more serious films with the highest artistic merit, we've decided to both consider those movies (aka "The Best") and those that made us smile, cheer and count down the days 'till their DVD releases (aka "Our Favorites").

3:10 to Yuma

Genre: Western/Drama/Action
Rated: R
Directed by:
James Mangold
Starring: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Ben Foster, Peter Fonda, Gretchen Mol, Logan Lerman
Released by: Lionsgate

2007 was a year that saw new life breathed into the Western genre, and “3:10 to Yuma” was the film that helped set the gears in motion. Who can resist an old-fashioned white hat (Christian Bale’s Dan Evans)/black hat (Russell Crowe’s Ben Wade) showdown—made even more gritty and thrilling by its exploration of the accompanying shades of grey? Every time Crowe explodes in sudden, blank-faced violence or Bale struggles between cowardice and duty, it’s both invigorating and repulsive. This, the relationship between these two men—a churning mixture of hatred and burgeoning respect—is what provides the steam that powers this film all the way through to its thrilling climax.

3:10 to Yuma


Atonement

Atonement

Genre: Drama/Romance
Rated: R
Directed by:
Joe Wright
Starring: Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai, Brenda Blethyn
Released by: Focus Features

“Atonement” is a movie that manages to be both epic and deeply personal. The historic context of the film—World War II; the evacuation of Dunkirk and the London Blitz—has considerable scope, but the story’s emotional core, its essence, hinges on two much smaller things: a class-bridging love story and a young girl’s guilt. The war scenes may be flashier, but it’s the film’s visceral aspects that make it so effective. These insights, coupled with some astounding, deeply poignant performances, will leave only the hardest hearts dry-eyed by the end.


The Bourne Ultimatum

Genre: Action
Rated: PG-13
Directed by:
Paul Greengrass
Starring: Matt Damon, Joan Allen, David Strathairn, Julia Stiles, Scott Glenn, Albert Finney
Released by: Universal Pictures

Paul Greengrass’ camera shakes and the audience’s pulse quakes. This, the third installment in the Bourne series, certainly lends the phrase “edge-of-your-seat” a new meaning. Whether directing films with serious historical and political themes, like “Bloody Sunday” and “United 93,” or helming, well, full-Bourne action extravaganzas, Greengrass brings cinematic intensity to a whole new level. The pace of this third chapter never lets up, even as it twists and turns and throws you for a loop. A true rollercoaster ride, the experience may leave you somewhat nauseated—but undoubtedly exhilarated.

The Bourne Ultimatum


The Darjeeling Limited
The Darjeeling Limited

Genre: Adventure/Comedy/Drama
Rated: R
Directed by:
Wes Anderson
Starring: Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Amara Karan
Released by: Fox Searchlight Pictures

It seems, at times, like an elaborately and richly-staged play, with beautiful, intricately-designed sets, gorgeous costuming and perfectly-chosen props (as so many have said, that luggage!). But director/co-writer Wes Anderson also gives this story of three estranged brothers on a spiritual journey through India a sense of movement, of quiet energy and life, that only cinema—truly innovative and great cinema—can achieve. As the brothers, Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman (who also co-wrote), all give stunning performances that are at once comic and deeply sad. Viewed theatrically or cinematically, this film’s the (real) thing.



Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Genre: Adventure/Drama
Rated: PG-13
Directed by:
David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton, Alan Rickman
Released by: Warner Bros.

From arguably the Harry Potter series’ weakest book comes, incredibly, the best of the films so far. Screenwriter Michael Goldenberg simplifies—and thankfully excises the excessive exposition from—J.K. Rowling’s lengthy fifth tome, while director David Yates doesn’t shy away from the story’s increasingly darker tone. The new additions to the cast shine: Imelda Staunton kills with kindness as the creepy Professor Umbridge, while fan-turned-actress Evanna Lynch brings the perfect dose of otherworldliness to Luna Lovegood. For the first time, a Harry Potter adaptation feels as lively and fresh as his universe did, back when readers first turned the pages of The Sorcerer’s Stone and found themselves tumbling through Platform 9 ¾ and onto the train to Hogwarts.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


Juno

Juno

Genre: Comedy/Drama
Rated: PG-13
Directed by: Jason Reitman
Starring: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Allison Janney, J.K. Simmons

Released by: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Its hipster-ish lingo may feel faux at first, but as this film unfolds and its pregnant protagonist grows bigger, so too do its characters expand in depth and complexity. Written by a former stripper (pen)named Diablo Cody, this film is a rarity in that it explores the good and bad in all its characters, with both humor and remarkable grace. The fact that it’s packed with subtle, sly performances doesn’t hurt, either. J.K. Simmons as the knocked-up Juno’s (Ellen Page) sarcastic but sympathetic father may steal the most scenes, but in this lively, vibrant film, someone else is always on hand to steal ‘em back. Moral but never moralizing, “Juno” transcends the trappings of a small film by being large of heart.


No Country For Old Men

Genre: Crime/Drama/Thriller
Rated: R
Directed by:
Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Kelly Macdonald, Garret Dillahunt, Tess Harper
Released by: Miramax Pictures

Like “3:10 to Yuma,” this is another Western—though one set in the 20th Century—that explores the nature of violence. The Coen Brothers’ adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s 2005 novel is, however, much less straight-forward, much more unsettling, and ultimately, much more powerful. Javier Bardem, as the hitman Anton Chigurh, cuts a swath through the movie, his dark, menacing figure less like that of a man than a supernatural force. In contrast, the more “human” characters seem as wispy and unmoored as the tumbleweeds blowing across the bleak desert landscape. The result is a film with a chilling, apocalyptic feel—a sense of finely-crafted unease that will stay with you long after Chigurh and his cattlegun have faded from sight.

No Country For Old Men


Ratatouille

Ratatouille

Genre: Animation/Comedy
Rated: G
Directed by:
Brad Bird
Starring: Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano, Brian Dennehy, Peter O'Toole, Janeane Garofalo
Released by: Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation

How could we not love “Ratatouille,” the story of a plucky French rat who, inspired by the motto—“Anyone can cook!”—of famous chef Auguste Gusteau, sets off to Paris to make his fortune in the kitchen? This film is a veritable love letter to the power of good food…and it’s funny and cute, to boot. Peter O’Toole is particularly hilarious as the voice of Anton Ego, a cynical food critic out to sink the late Gusteau’s fading empire. But let’s face it: Pixar’s animation team is virtually unstoppable when they step up to the cinematic oven; anything they dish out, we’ll happily devour, and “Ratatouille” is no exception.


The Simpsons Movie

Genre: Animated Comedy
Rated: PG-13
Directed by:
David Silverman
Starring: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Albert Brooks, Joe Mantegna, Harry Shearer
Released by: 20th Century Fox

Of all the films on this list, none was such a long time coming as “The Simpsons Movie.” At the time of the film’s release, the show had been on the air for eighteen seasons, or 400 episodes; the feature’s script had gone through over 100 revisions; and the movie had officially been in production for six years. It would have been all too easy for a project with that much anticipation baked into every frame to disappoint. (D’oh!) But it didn’t. With its suitably gonzo plot, humor both slapstick and sly, and in-jokes galore, Groening & Co. delighted. That they make such hard behind-the-scenes work look effortless onscreen is perhaps the most amazing feat of all.

The Simpsons Movie


Sweeney Todd
Sweeney Todd

Genre: Thriller/Musical
Rated: R
Directed by:
Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Sacha Baron Cohen
Released by: Paramount Pictures

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp’s last live-action team-up, was certainly creepy…but in a bad, Michael-Jackson-on-acid kind of way. This time, though—in their sixth partnership—the devilish duo gets it right. Adapting Stephen Sondheim’s award-winning 1979 musical with bloody abandon, Burton brings to life a dark, desperate London, ably setting the scene for murderous thoughts to fester and this vengeful tale to unfold. It might all be a bit one-note and bleak, however, were it not for Sondheim’s irresistible songs and Helena Bonham Carter’s especially marvelous performance, which adds just the right amount of lovesick pathos to this otherwise grimy, “long pork” pie. It may unsettle the stomach, but it sure does warm the heart.

 

Academy Awards
Top 10 Films of 2013
Top 10 Films of 2012
Top 10 Films of 2011
Top 10 Films of 2010
Top 10 Films of 2009
Top 10 Films of 2008
Top 10 Films of 2006

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