The Several Best Films of 2007

So I write my top ten list for Metro, I pare it down to the absolute bone so it’s just a few words over the recommended limit, and then they slash it down even further.

It’s a Top Six in the Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton editions; in Ottawa, it’s a Top Five. They didn’t even put the full piece online.

I believe the only appropriate response is a long, sad sigh. But because you’re special and you came to the source, you get the missing four titles right here! So, in what’s left of an alphabetical order:

Turning Animation Up to ElevenJust three years after making the magnificent action-adventure “The Incredibles”, Pixar and writer-director Brad Bird went and topped it with the splendid Ratatouille, a computer-generated marvel about a rat who dreams of being the greatest chef in Paris, and the hapless human puppet he employs to make that dream come true. Yes, it’s gorgeous and funny and heartwarming and brilliantly conceived. But it’s also a celebration of the creative impulse that dares to understand the function of the critic in art. How can my people not love it?

We're just looking for Oscar's green room ...It’s only her second film, but The Savages declares writer-director Tamara Jenkins to be one of the most compassionate and incisive voices working in American cinema. Her ground-level look at a pair of underdeveloped siblings struggling to deal with their elderly father’s worsening health – and everything else in their intellectually overcomplicated lives – is sad and wry and funny and heartbreaking, and provides a more lucid commentary on the sorry state of American health care than Michael Moore could ever hope to offer. Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman should make more movies together.

My lack of future's so bright ...Remember when science-fiction movies dared to pose complex philosophical questions instead of just watching robots knock each other down? Danny Boyle does, and that’s why his Sunshine is such a compelling trip; on the surface, it’s a simple adventure movie about an international space mission to save all life on Earth by rekindling our dying sun, but underneath it’s a powerful allegory for the essential human search for meaning and purpose in a big, empty universe. Also, it’s visually stunning in a way few films dare to be these days; if there’s any movie that deserved to be seen on a massive screen this year, it was this one.

Yes, we're both very hotA masterpiece of classical storytelling and powerfully conceived performances, James Gray’s cop drama We Own the Night opened and closed virtually unnoticed this fall, while film-festival audiences were busy ascribing those very same values to Sidney Lumet’s “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”. That’s a shame; I’d hold up Gray’s wrenching study of one conflicted man’s struggle to hold up the family values he detests against the phony Greek tragedy of Lumet’s latest underachievement any day of the week.

What else? “The Orphanage” opened in Toronto, and while some critics — including Chris — admire its stately pacing and deliberate low-key creepiness, I’m going to have to agree with John here; it’s an entirely respectable and competent film that isn’t half as dynamic or enthralling as other films in its chosen genre, and therefore feels like a disappointment.

In fairness, though, you can’t really build a marketing campaign around “If you loved ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ and ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ … well, why not just watch either of those again? They’re awesome!” But still.

3 thoughts on “The Several Best Films of 2007”

  1. I do not think you understood Eyes Wide Shut. It is not about sex – it is about power. Every one of Kubrick’s movies got mixed revues. Let me ask you this, how many times have you watched it? Spielberg watched The Shining thirty times before he appreciated it.

  2. @ Nick – I’ve seen “Eyes Wide Shut” three times now. That’s plenty. And I have a hard time believing your Spielberg story; he’s a pretty busy guy, you know …

  3. I just went to see The Savages based solely on the picture of Laura Linney & Philip Seymour Hoffman together in the ad. Didn’t know a thing about the film but I figured anything starring the two of them had to be worth watching. Now I’m in awe of not only both of them (of course!!) but Tamara Jenkins. I can’t wait to see what she does next and yes, Laura Linny & Philip Seymour Hoffman most definitely should make other movies together!

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