Dec 23, 2007

Favourite Films of 2007

Film. An exciting medium. I always feel a measure of excitement when a potentially great film is on the horizon. The very thought of going into a darkened cinema and sinking into my chair and being transfixed and transported by the action on the screen is always thrilling to me. Sometimes it is hard to find greatness on the silver screen. You have to wade through endless films purported to "entertain" and nothing else. Sequels and pure silliness. Films made with one aim only; to make money. Thankfully there are still film makers out there seeking to enlighten and bewitch. To make cinema with brains and heart. I decided to compile a list of ten films that moved and shook me in the last 12 months. There are some very exciting films on the horizon as Boxing Day and the New Year beckons, but this list represents those pieces of cinema that stimulated me to a large degree in 2007. Before I begin, the following films were much loved but just missed out. 4 Weeks, 3 Months and 2 Days, Pan's Labyrinth, Noise, Sicko, The Last King of Scotland, Once, Bobby and Michael Clayton.

1. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, directed by Andrew Dominik.
An exquisite and masterful meditation on the price of infamy and the obsession of celebrity. Andrew Dominik's American debut is nearly flawless. Deliberate and directed with great care, he draws amazing performances from Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck as the protagonists in the film. Roger Deakins' cinematography is superb and so is the score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. A film that explicitly eschews the easy path, it explores in great detail and depth the relationships between men living on the very precipice of life. Stunning.

2. Half Nelson, directed by Ryan Fleck.
Ryan Gosling is startlingly good as the inner city high school teacher who reaches out to his teenage students. Thankfully, this powerful and emotional film shuns all cliche and is real to the bone in its depiction of dependency and addiction. Gosling's teacher has his own demons to battle and he handles the character with great warmth and sincerity. Shareeka Epps is also outstanding and the music of Broken Social Scene only adds to the power of the film.

3. Babel, directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu.
Another triumph for the great Innaritu. His films are always full of such heart and intelligence, they can take your breath away. Four stories in one, they are all connected by a tragic shooting in Morocco. Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett are a couple at the centre of the tragedy, started by two Moroccan boys who get careless with a rifle. Meanwhile there is a connection in the desperate life of a Japanese family and a sad outcome in Mexico. All these stories intertwine to present a world of miscommunication and misunderstanding. Should have won Best Picture this year, for sure.

4. The Lives Of Others, directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.
An uncomfortable and unerring glimpse into another world and time. Winner of Best Foreign Language Film, this masterful and superb film is stunningly real and packs a sure emotional punch. Set in East Germany in the 1980s it tells the story of a Stasi agent who spies on the private lives of citizens. When he is ordered to spy on an artistic couple, he finds the job more then he bargained for. An authentic and powerful film that will stay with you for a long time.

5. Into the Wild, directed by Sean Penn.
Sean Penn has done it again. This film is one of the most moving I have seen in a long while. Based on true events, it is many things all at once. Deeply moving, incredibly touching, awe inspiring and thought provoking. Emile Hirsch is a revelation as the young man who turns his back on society to explore the great outdoors. However, Penn's careful hand sees that this film is more then just a mere travelogue. It is about the tangible connection we have with earth and strong ties that bring all humans together. If this film doesn't move you, then I am afraid you have no heart.

6. Zodiac, directed by David Fincher.
A rarity, a Hollywood film with intellect and patience. That is probably due to the always superb direction of David Fincher. The story of the Californian serial killer "Zodiac" could have easily become just another Hollywood thiller with little sustaining power. However this is a superb and taut story of the men who dedicated their lives to capturing "Zodiac". This film is more of a journey then a quick hit. The three leads, Gyllenhaal, Ruffalo and Downey are all superb in evoking the spirit and temperature of the times.

7. Control, directed by Anton Corbijn.
The tragic story of Joy Division's Ian Curtis is handled with great care and attention by Corbijn. The emotions on display are so touching and real that you feel completely devastated by the film's end. Shot in glorious Black and White, each frame is full of great texture and quiet moments of beauty. Sam Riley is totally effective as the tragic Curtis, his performance being crucial to the credibility of the film. The music scenes are also played out with great power and authenticity.

8. This Is England, directed by Shane Meadows.
Another glimpse into the past. This time, 1983 in Thatcherite England. A story of a group of skinheads becomes a powerful and searing story of loyalty and friendship. Young Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) is befriended by a group of skinheads. Their friendly times are split apart by National Front elements that bring the complex issues of race, violence and masculinity into full view. Meadows' handles all these themes with skill and maturity.

9. Away From Her, directed by Sarah Polley.
Sarah Polley's directorial debut reveals a seemingly more mature hand at the helm. She created an emotionally resonant and deeply moving film, that is eternally refreshing in these days of cheap thrills and quick fixes. Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent are superb as a long married couple whose life is torn apart by the intrusion of Alzheimer's disease. A film of true and sincere emotion, the story is delivered with a clear head and a true heart.

10. Letters From Iwo Jima, directed by Clint Eastwood.
The legendary director's companion piece to Flags of our Fathers. That film was good, this was better. The iconic landing on Iwo Jima during World War II is told from the Japanese perspective. At times heart breaking, you get a true sense of the futility of war and that in the end, no one truly wins. Lives are lost and the cost is always too great. A beautiful film to look at, it feels like a genuine account of the tragedy of war.

Some films to look forward to, that are just around the corner-
The Kite Runner
The Darjeeling Limited
No Country For Old Men
I'm Not There
American Gangster
Juno
Sweeney Todd
Jumper
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
There Will Be Blood
The Bucket List
Lust, Caution
August Rush
The Savages

3 Comments:

  • At December 24, 2007 , Blogger Oz said...

    I really have not seen that many movies this year. Other than Control I haven't seen any of the movies on your list (though I did see the Darjeeling Limited a few weeks ago in NYC).

    Another film which I am anticipating is Persepolis which opens in the US on Christmas Day. My cousin has lent me the graphic novels from which it was adapted from so I'll probably have a look at it before I go see it.

     
  • At December 27, 2007 , Anonymous Emmanuel said...

    you must see "eastern promises" by d. cronenberg, almost a master piece. see ya....

     
  • At January 22, 2009 , Anonymous website design nyc said...

    thanks ur information

     

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