Originally posted on December 31, 2007
Before I get to my best and worst films of the year list, I want to acknowledge two extraordinary men the film community lost in 2007; Ingmar Bergman and Sherman Torgan. On a global scale, Ingmar Bergman was one of our finest international directors and personally, my favorite director. His films explored the human condition and revealed to us that although we are flawed, there is a great beauty within us all. On a local level, Sherman Torgan founded and ran the only full-time film revival house left in Los Angeles, the New Beverly. It is much more than a movie theater to me and thousands of Angelenos, it also serves as our own personal film school, giving us the opportunity to see rare films that are out of print, Hollywood classics, silents, foreign films and recent art house fare. Sherman was passionate about movies and shared this passion by personally booking all the films shown at the theater, creating the calendar and even changing the marquee letters every few nights to reflect the next double bill. His son, Michael has undertaken the monumental task of keeping the theater running and putting together some great programs including a retrospective on Bergman after his death and recently bringing film director, Edgar Wright to the New Bev for almost a month long festival to show us his favorite movies. Thank you, Michael for letting the New Beverly live on and please know that we film lovers out there will continue to support the theater and keep Sherman’s memory alive.
Now on to my best and worst films of the year list! Last year, my new year’s resolution was to not miss out on seeing a first run movie that I wanted to see because I was waiting for a wingman. I accomplished this goal in 2007 by seeing 112 movies in the theater and 24 on DVD. There were a lot of very good movies that came out this year but following is a list of the films I believe were great.
My Top Ten Best Films of the Year
1. THE LOOKOUT
I loved this movie so much that I saw it three times in the theater the first week it came out. The script was so well-written, literary and brilliant that it reminded me of the first time I saw CHINATOWN. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a former high school hockey star that suffers a head injury due to a tragic accident, and is now forced to live a life struggling to remember how to do simple, mundane tasks. He is manipulated into playing a part in a bank heist and things go horribly awry. This movie works on so many levels- it’s a fascinating character study, a taut thriller and a poignant story about loss and redemption. It moved me unlike any other film this year and quite literally of recent years. It’s a modern masterpiece and essential viewing for anyone who loves movies.
2. THERE WILL BE BLOOD
I saw this film last night and it forced me to reevaluate all the other films on my list. Paul Thomas Anderson wrote and directed this sprawling epic that allows us to follow a mad man so cunning, evil and twisted that you’re completely mesmerized by him. There were a lot of great performances this year but not one is even in the same league as Daniel Day-Lewis’ portrayal of an oilman who is driven by much more than greed- something innate fueled by hatred. I always knew Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood was a genius and he delivers a score nothing short of perfection for this film- it becomes its own character, picking you up and shaking you along the way. The last line in this movie is so flawless that it left me literally shaking with childlike glee. THERE WILL BE BLOOD is captivating, invigorating and will no doubt be regarded as an American classic.
3. INTO THE WILD
An idealistic young man leaves the comfort of his home to set out on an adventure to explore the Alaskan wilderness. He meets several people along the way and changes their lives but what he doesn’t realize, until it’s too late, is how much they have each made a mark on him. This is a wonderful true story about the gift of life and how easily it can be taken away by the decisions we make.
The music in this film lifts you a higher place and no matter where you hear it again, you are instantly taken back to this beautiful and heartbreaking world where two soul mates meet but ultimately realize they can not be together.
5. DARJEELING LIMITED
After this film ended, I could have easily sat down and watched it all over again. Wes Anderson brings us a hilarious, witty and fun story about brothers searching for that missing piece of their life on a train journey through India. You feel lucky to take that ride along with them.
6. MICHAEL CLAYTON
An intricate puzzle of a film and when all the pieces are fitted together, it leaves you absolutely floored and impressed. George Clooney, Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson each deliver knock-out performances.
7. WRISTCUTTERS: A LOVE STORY
A sweet, surreal tale about a limbo where people that commit suicide are sent and are forced to live a dreary existence where they can never smile. It’s completely original, inventive, funny and charming.
8. LARS AND THE REAL GIRL
This is the second year in a row a Ryan Gosling film has landed in my top ten. There’s no mistaking his talent and, in this movie, he makes you believe and accept his love for an inanimate doll. Emily Mortimer shines as Lars’ adorable sister-in-law who only wants the best for him. It’s a fairytale of sorts, but also a film for those of us that know how valuable our imaginations can be.
9. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
The Coen brothers create a powerfully suspenseful and violent film. Javier Bardem is amazing as a lethal for hire killer who was born to hunt down his fellow man. Josh Brolin plays the hunted in this exhilarating cat and mouse game.
10. KING OF KONG: A FISTFUL OF QUARTERS
An intriguing and fun documentary about two men competing for the Guinness World Record for the highest Donkey Kong score — a classic good versus evil story that leaves you on the edge of your seat.
Honorable Mentions: ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, GRINDHOUSE, MY BEST FRIEND, RATATOUILLE, BOURNE ULTIMATUM, THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY, 1408, WAITRESS, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, FIRST SNOW
My Top Five Worst Films of the Year
1. FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER
Okay, let me make this plain, this movie could not have possibly sucked any harder. From the very first scene, I hated this movie. The dialogue was groan inducing, the characters had as much depth as cardboard cut-outs and I didn’t know what the hell was going on nor did I care.
2. STEPHANIE DALEY
Heavy-handed, self-important and pretentious. Sounded like it was filmed in a basement and the score was so shrill that it almost made my ears bleed.
3. THE MESSENGERS
This horror film stalled twenty minutes in with its lame dialogue, lack of scares and poor attempt to copy Japanese horror camerawork.
4. HEARTBREAK KID
Mean-spirited but, worst of all, criminally unfunny.
5. PERFECT STRANGER
The plot was all over the place and there were just about 400 twists at the end, none of which made any sense.