Best Movies 2007

(1) No Country For Old Men (Joel Coen)

Coen Brothers movies have always had a kind of ambiguity but none more so than in their masterpiece No Country For Old Men. Just like all the movies in my top 3, it is a difficult effort to grasp but one that shows its brilliant colors the more you think about it. The Coens craft a cat and mouse game that is exhilarating and gripping that the films 2 hours fly right by. It helps that the performances are top notch starting with Josh Brolin as Llewlynn Moss and Javier Bardem's Anton Chigurh (pronounced Sugar) a movie villain for the time capsule. The climax featuring a speech from Tommy Lee Jones' Ed Tom Bell is a head scratcher to say the least but the more you look, listen and feel the sheriff's words the more you might find the film's true mystery lingering in his words. Pay attention.

(2) There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)

The first time I saw Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood, I was so overwhelmed that I felt pummeled by the film's images and woozy camerawork. The second time around it was a little better but the third time around I knew this was a masterpiece of the highest order. It's epic running time flashed before my eyes because of the filmmaker's wizardry and Daniel Day Lewis' landmark performance as oil tycoon Daniel Plainview. The film starts off as a piece of silent cinema as our main protagonist pours heart, soul and all his strength to find the oil that will make him the evil human being that he shall become. It is a film about the industrial age but more importantly about family and how Plainview shuns off the orphaned boy he came to take as his son. Flawed but incredible.

(3) Zodiac (David Fincher)

A movie about obsession. A movie about an true unsolved case that lead to obsessions for both the film's characters and us the audience. I wasn't wrong in stating that the three best movies of the year were also frustratingly brilliant depictions of male obsession. Here, Fincher paints a vivid picture of a time and place in 60's San Francisco when the Zodiac killer was looming free with the police not having reasonable idea who it might be. The film gives us clues but they don't necessarily lead to hard proved evidence is any sense of the word. What Fincher is interested in is the atmosphere of dread that was happening in California at the time. He should know it, he was a kid living in the area when the murders happened. He stages the killing scenes based on evidence and witness testimonials. His Zodiac is a movie to keep you up nights.

(4) Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy)

There is nothing that meets the eye in Tony Gilroy's Michael Clayton. Surprise after surprise infuses Gilroy's drama, which is populated by great tuns from George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson and an incredibly evil Tilda Swinton. Clooney tries to find the backstabbing, corrupt happenings of a law firm and the reason why he is a killing target everywhere he goes. It's an electrifying performance but more importantly a compulsively watchable, entertaining film in the same vein as the great political thrillers of the 1970's. Here's a film that can get you mad and entertained at the same time. In other words, old school filmmaking at its finest.

(5) Ratatouille (Brad Bird)

Brad Bird's Ratatouille is a great Pixar movie. It has the charm that Bird has always used in his work (The Incredibles, The Iron Giant, TV's The Simpsons) yet it's also a film that is greatly influenced by Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton in its acrobatic, synchronized set pieces- many of which take place in a restaurant kitchen. The visuals are hallucinary and need to be seen in the biggest screen you can find. Entertaining and highly artistic, here's an animated movie from an animated company that keeps puhing the genre's conventions to its limits and giving us brazenly incredible product.

(6) Before The Devil Knows You're Dead (Sidney Lumet)

Leave it to old school filmmaker Lumet to give us a scathing look at how the ties can bind and -of course- unbind. The violence in this film is unflinching and the characterizations even more so. Ethan Hawke and Phillip Seymour Hoffman's brothers are nothing more than losers trying to find a get rich quick scheme to fit their needs. The heist goes wrong and so does everything else, which 0in true Lumet fashion- does go into very Shakespearean territory. Lumet, 83, hasn't lost his touch for cinematic flair nor has he lost his touch for churning out some great movies. Before The Devil Knows You're Dead is a great movie.

(7) Superbad (Greg Mottola)

Here's a Dazed And Confused for our generation. In Superbad, Mclovin' steals the show and a new cinematic classic character is born. The kids in Superbad just want to get laid. Is that too much to ask? Their adventures -or actually misadventures- to get de-virginized are what makes the movie so damn good. They are losers yet we root for them in all their loser-isness because they are so gullible and, in a way, innocent in the way they look at life. The same can be said of the cops they befriend (played hysterically by Seth Rogen and Bill Hader) a bunch of losers that try to have a little too much fun in the job. The party that climaxes the film is hilarious and the final note touching. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldbeg's screenplay hits all he right notes.

(8) American Gangster (Ridley Scott)

How can a film starring Denzel Washington as the first black gangster, Russell Crowe as the cop that chases him and directed by Ridley Scott turn out to be any bad? This is knockout Hollywood entertainment by professionals that know what they're doing every step of the way. The screenplay might hit familiar territory but there's something incredibly exciting in watching Crowe and Washington playing cat and mouse games with one another and to learn about the biographical accounts of this true to life story of the drug empire Frank Lucas built up in the 1970's. American Gangster will be remembered in time.

(9) The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (Julian Schnabel)

The true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby who suffers a stroke and has to live with an almost totally paralyzed body; only his left eye isn't paralyzed. Despite his handicap he ends up writing an autobiographical book which inspired this move to get made. Julian Schnabel -a talented director- flourishes us with visuals that catch the eye and capture the essence of living out our small, unpredictable lives. Although the film might be pummeling, considering it is told through that one eye that isn't paralyzed, you might come out of the it with a renewed sense of hope and with the feeling that you've just seen something truly special, a kind of work of art that can move mountains and change your perspectives on things. Amen.

(10) Sweeney Todd (Tim Burton)

Tim Burton's best movie since Ed Wood back in 1994. A ghastly entertaining movie musical about a barber that slashes his clients up in pieces and sells them in meat pies. Johnny Depp is jaw droppingly good and as usual the visual flair the Burton gves us is astoundingly beautiful. A kind of gothic, darkly lit world that only Burton can achieve in his own uniquely warped mind. The musical numbers are outstanding and based on Stephen Sondheim's Broadway musical of the same name.

11) The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, Andrew Dominik

12) Into The Wild, Sean Penn

13) Eastern Promises, David Cronenberg

14) A Mighty Heart, Michael Winterbottom

15) I Am Legend, Francis Lawrence

16) Live Free Or Die Hard, Len Wiseman

17) Death Proof, Quentin Tarantino

18) The Darjeeling Limited, Wes Anderson

19) The Mist, Frank Darabont

20) Black Book, Paul Verhoven

21) Rendition, Gavin Hood

22) The Simpsons Movie, David Silverman

23) The Lookout, Scott Frank

24) Lust, Caution, Ang Lee

25) Interview, Steve Buscemi

26) The Brave One, Neil Jordan

27) Breach, Billy Ray

28) We Own The Night, James Gray

29) Knocked Up, Judd Apatow

30) Spider-Man 3, Sam Raimi