The Flick Chicks

01-14-08 Best Films of 2007

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Judy Thorburn

The Flick Chick's Best Films of 2007

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Now that we are a few weeks into the New Year its time for me to announce my choices for the best films, or in other words, the most memorable of 2007. I had to stop and contemplate for a while before coming up with a list of movies that really hit me the hardest emotionally or was simply the most entertaining with no allowing for an outside party (my husband included) trying to coerce or influence my decision. While my favorite movie of 2007 deals with strong and courageous characters, several on my list shares a common factor in that they are heavy dramas involving the ugliest most brutal side of human nature. Yet, I was also blown away by a few uplifting gems, a couple of very different musicals, an action packed escapist flick and other rewarding films on my very eclectic list. Here goes:

300 – A mesmerizing Gerard Butler leads the cast of predominantly macho men in Zack Snider’s brilliant, stylized adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel which mixes fantasy with ancient history. Miller’s Sin City was a groundbreaking dazzler and this adaptation of another one of his novels is an equally masterful work of art. I was completely drawn into every gorgeous detail, action, interesting characters, plot development and the great story about freedom, love, courage and sacrifice.

Eastern Promises – David Cronenberg’s follow up to 2006’s A History of Violence is an equally powerful piece of cinema. Viggo Mortenson delivers another pitch perfect performance in this well paced crime drama about the Russian mob that entails murder, prostitution and drugs. Although riddled with graphic violence, it is nevertheless a compelling work of art from one of the best directors living today.

The Bourne Ultimatum – All the pieces of the puzzle come together perfectly in the final chapter of CIA operative Jason Bourne’s (a mature Matt Damon) quest to discover his true identity. As a smart, fast paced, action packed, spy thriller with a satisfying conclusion, it fits the bill as great escapist entertainment.

Stardust – Not since “The Princess Bride” have I enjoyed such an enchanting and visually beautiful fairy tale romance that has all the right elements and draws you into a magical journey to a wondrous world of mystical characters and the supernatural. Director Matthew Vaughn gracefully weaves several plotlines into one evenly paced mixture of adventure, romance, humor and fantasy. The wonderful cast includes newcomer Charlie Cox, a glowing Claire Danes and a deliciously wicked performance by Michelle Pfeiffer as a scheming witch.

The Last Mimzy – Bruce Joel Rubin and Toby Emmerich’s script, loosely based on Lewis Padgett’s 1943 short story, Mimsy of the Borogroves, centers on a toy named Mimsy that is sent from the future to guide two special children that are siblings into fulfilling a mission that will ultimately save the world. I was totally captivated by the engrossing fantasy story and the convincing natural performances of its child stars. People of all ages, not just children, should see this magical, enchanting, smart, imaginative and spiritually uplifting film that sends an important message about how each of us are responsible for saving the human race.

No Country For Old Men – Joel and Ethan Coen’s masterpiece about a crime spree gone terribly wrong is both riveting and disturbing, featuring an amazing Javier Bardem as the most chilling, calculating, psycho killer in movies since Hannibal Lector, and powerful performances by Josh Brolin as the resourceful opportunist on the run, and Tommy Lee Jones as an aging Texas lawman who must come to grips with the way the world around him is going to hell (thus, the film’s title).

There Will be Blood – Director Paul Thomas Anderson strikes gold with this harrowing, no holds barred adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s “Oil: There Will be Blood” set in the early 20th century that centers around a power struggle between a religious zealot and a maniacal oil baron that have more in common than you think. Daniel Day Lewis’s no less than astounding performance has Oscar written all over it and Paul Dano’s star making breakout role as Lewis’ evangelical nemesis is a revelation (no pun intended).

Across the Universe – Director Julie Taymor exquisitely incorporates some of the best Beatles tunes from a by gone era and recognizable characters from their songs within a visually dazzling musical that tells the story of star crossed lovers Jude (Jim Sturgess) and Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood) and their small group of friends who are swept up in the volatile counterculture movement of the 60’s. I loved this film for its heartwarming performances by a mostly unknown cast and the inventive execution by the brilliant and daring Taymor, who has delivered a tour de force that I am sure, has made John Lennon smile from above.

Bucket List – Two terminally ill patients in their 60’s, a cynical, rich, white guy and a smart, black, car mechanic sharing a hospital room form an unlikely bond and decide to live life to the fullest and enjoy dream adventures before they kick the bucket in this charming, sentimental and unpredictable story that is full of surprises. Jack Nicolson (restraining from his usual shtick) and Morgan Freeman are superb and have great chemistry.

Sweeney Todd – Tim Burton known for his signature dark, gothic and quirky style is the perfect director for this film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical, a twisted tale about the demon barber of Fleet Street whose obsession with revenge for being imprisoned on trumped up charges leads to literally making mince meat (pies, that is) out of his victims. Although dark and gruesome right to the very end and filled with graphic, violent images, Burton and his cast led by the always up to the task, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter (who steals Depp’s thunder, this time around) orchestrate a rich and rewarding experience that is bloody awesome.

Bad Habits - Up and coming writer/director Simon Bross made a brilliant impression with this, his first feature film (shown at CineVegas 2007) that mark my words, he is going to be a major force in the world of films. Don’t let the title fool you. Although one of the major characters is a nun, the film’s premise is about eating disorders, and the toll it takes on the lives of the protagonists who are hungry for meaning in their own world. Everything about this film is spectacular beginning with the fabulous acting by all three female stars. Each scene is exquisitely crafted using water or light, camera angles and superb editing, to convey exactly what Bross intended.

At this point, I realize it would be remiss of me to ignore some other truly memorable films that were released last year, all of which are thought provoking. So just consider the following as an extension to the above list rather than labeling them honorable mention.

The Namesake is a rich, complex, and beautiful story with a universal theme that will especially hit a chord for displaced immigrants. It centers on an East Indian family who comes to this country, their American born son who rejects his heritage and culture, and his search to find his own true identity.

The Kite Runner, based on Khaled Hosseini’s best selling novel, is a haunting and timely tale revolving around the torn relationship between two Afghani born best friends. Told in flashbacks amid the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the story entails disloyalty, rejection, and seeking redemption for a childhood sin.

Ben Affleck in his directorial debut delivers a solid, intelligent crime drama with twists and turns starring his brother Casey and Michelle Monaghan as a pair of Boston detectives, as well as lovers, who are brought into a complicated case involving a kidnapped child in Gone Baby Gone.

Things We Lost in the Fire elicits a strong performance by Halle Berry and an even better one by Benecio del Torio who ignites the screen in this sensitive and heartbreaking story that deals with a tragedy, the healing process, and how all human beings need support from others in order to recover.
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