Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Films of the year

First, the pseudo-advert and the biggest 'awwww' of the year...

Next, the trailer...

And on to the main feature!

I haven’t watched that many films this year, partly because London cinemas are more expensive (although the one near my bro’s place is certainly value-for-money: fairly cheap for a very pleasant environment, and even better, not overly crowded!), but also because my two movie kakis are no longer in this country. :( As with the books, I’ll simply list them as far as I can remember. Some are technically older releases which I caught on DVD.

Babel was nominated for an Oscar earlier this year and I really enjoyed it. It intertwines three narratives set in the Americas, Africa and Japan respectively, exploring the consequences of our actions, cultural prejudice and the importance of family. I know quite a few think it overwrought though. Hot Fuzz is my favourite comedy of the year, certainly one of my overall favourites of 2007. Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright team together again in this hilarious story of a cop whose record is so good that he gets assigned to a sleepy English village so that the others don’t look so bad. I also absolutely loved Sunshine, the sci-fi flick from Danny Boyle about the dying sun, even if recent revelations (to me) regarding Alex Garland’s screenplay put a new spin on my interpretation of the movie. The Curse of the Golden Flower wasn’t bad, although the kaleidoscope of colours and the intricate politics of the imperial Chinese court is a potent combination guaranteed to make your head spin. The Lives of Others can lay claim to being the best film of the year, as it follows the cat-and-mouse game between an East German secret agent and the dissenters of the Communist regime, culminating in powerful sacrifices having to be made on both sides. The Painted Veil is an adaptation of a Somerset Maugham book, regarding the healing of a fractured marriage of a young English couple set (mostly) in 1920s China. It’s great to see a positive portrayal of marriage on the big screen.

Amazing Grace is a good biopic of William Wilberforce, considering that I thought it could easily have been very dull. Spiderman 3’s pacing may have been a little off, but is still a great summer movie. I’ve written a sort of reflection-cum-review elsewhere on this blog...Transformers is exactly what you’d expect, mindless entertainment. Story? What story? It’s all about the robots baby. Little Miss Sunshine was the quirky indie hit of 2006, a story that ostensibly is about the hilarious attempt to get the youngest daughter, Olivia, of a rather dysfunctional family to a beauty pageant on time but is really about family sticking together, no matter how messed up we are. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is huge fun, although knowing the book definitely helps. The Simpsons Movie feels just like an extended TV special, which is fine as long as you’re a Simpsons fan. Gags aplenty. I admit it, I watched High School Musical! Another well-written romantic comedy was the Korean film Two Hundred Pounds Beauty. It’s both intelligent and funny! I also caught the London International Animation Festival this year, which featured a collection of animation shorts. I remember enjoying Recto Verso in particular.

Little Children is one of the best “dysfunction bubbling underneath perfect suburban life” films I’ve seen. My in-depth review is here. Darren Aranofsky is acknowledged as one of the more talented directors working in America today, but The Fountain is just terrible. It’s overly melodramatic and contrived. Thankfully, the movie I watched after that was the magnificent Ratatouille, which continues Pixar’s winning streak. I say it has a longshot for an Oscar Best Pic nomination. This is one not to be missed. Once is a sweet slice-of-life tale of a friendship between a budding street musician and a Czech immigrant, backed by an excellent soundtrack. Fracture is a courtroom thriller with an overly cocky Ryan Gosling battling Anthony Hopkin’s cunning. The performances of both lift the movie out of B-grade territory.
That’s it, I think. I feel like I missed out on quite a lot. Having not watched the second instalments of either Pirates of the Carribean or the Bourne franchise, I naturally didn't watch Part 3. I did watch both Shreks but decided the underwhelming reviews meant that it was time to put Shrek 3 to bed. Some of the films I’ve heard raved about include the Romanian film 4 Months, 3 Weeks & Two Days, No Country for Old Men (not yet released in the UK), The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, the harrowing documentary Darfur Now, Michael Clayton, Knocked Up (well, my brother thought it was intelligently written and the reviews seem to agree), Rescue Dawn, Zodiac and This is England.

Ghibli also had a film out this year by Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Tales of Earthsea, but that has gotten a mixed reception. The Golden Compass has gotten more bad reviews than good, and I don’t mean from Christian outlets with agendas! American Gangster is apparently solid but nothing more. Ditto for Atonement. Lion for Lambs too talky and more suited for the theatre than the cinema, concludes the vast majority of reviewers. The Devil Came on Horseback is another much-needed Darfur documentary. The Assassination of Jesse James is meant to be pretty good and solidifies the comeback of the Western, although it’s also very long.

Some of the films I’m looking forward to watching include indie favourite (and also favourably reviewed) Juno, Lars and the Real Girl and Enchanted, which, although it supposedly suffers from a lacklustre ending, is meant to be Disney gently poking fun at itself.

Roll the credits...

Paste Magazine’s best films of 2007
Top rated films according to Rotten Tomatoes
Awards Daily best films of 2007
Roger Ebert, when he finally gets round to choosing it
Christianity Today Movies Top Films, not yet out

What were your top/favourite films of the year?

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