Friday, December 28, 2007

My 25 Favorite Things in the Films of 2007

Well, one day I hope to have the income to go to the movies every week again like I used to. But for now, I have to make do with getting them on DVD much later. So, since I'm not doing a best music of the year list for this crappy year, I instead did this list. Maybe it'll be something annual. These are my favorite things in the films of 2007 that I've actually seen so far.

25. Gunnar
Pathfinder sucked hard, but my original adopted actor, Main Man Clancy Brown, was pretty badass as a Viking lord.

24. I’m glad someone said it.
Alison Scott: I'm actually doing my first on-air interview today.
Ben Stone: With who?
Alison Scott: Uh, Matthew Fox.
Ben Stone: Matthew Fox from Lost?
Alison Scott: Yeah.
Ben Stone: You know what's interesting about him?
Alison Scott: What?
Ben Stone: Nothing!

23. Optimus Prime
Yeah, Transformers sucked (it really did, apologists, it really blew), but I loved Optimus Prime. They reached right back into my past and brought Peter Cullen to do the voice again, creating a warm character who hit all the right notes (except maybe the creepy mouth and the King Kong-like gait). And he even got to say “One shall stand, one shall fall” and “Autobots: roll out” again. In a movie that takes the idea of giant robots wrestling over a magical car battery very, very seriously, I was glad to find something to like.

22. Keep moving forward
A lot of animation websites seem to be apologizing for lavishing Meet the Robinsons with love earlier this year, pointing out that it’s a tad overrated. Maybe it is, but it’s also a very, very good movie and the first indicator in 2007 that Disney was on the right track once again. Between singing frogs, Bowler Hat Guy, Danny Elfman’s score, the tyrannosaur with a big head and little arms, a sudden Tom Selleck reference, and an actual good message (that you’ll find a place to belong, but the ability to think and be self-sufficient is more important), I thought it was one of Disney’s best films since Lilo & Stitch.

21. Jason Bourne and Spider-Man
Both The Bourne Ultimatum and Spider-Man 3 got mixed reviews (in the case of Spidey, mostly negative). But I enjoyed both of these third installments in great action movie franchises. Sure, they were over-the-top and not as good as their predecessors, but I still love the characters and felt I got more than my money’s worth out of both. In a year when John McClain and his asshead, Mac-loving sidekick are flying cars into helicopters and giant robots are wrestling over a magical car battery, over-the-top is relative, anyway. At least these movies had a story.

20. “I want more!”
Ashley Tisdale is once again the only actor in the High School Musical series who understands that the material is supposed to be comic, not earnest.

19. Captain Shakespeare
Only the second time I’ve genuinely found Robert De Niro funny; I loved his turn in Stardust as a secretly gay, gentle, dress-wearing, music-loving anglophile. I thought Stardust was an incredibly underrated movie, but Captain Shakespeare was the best of it.

18. Zodiac
Remember in the 1970s how they used to make movies that were actually good? David Fincher sure does.

17. Kerry Washington
I Think I Love My Wife turned out to not be a very good movie, but Kerry Washington (so excellent in Ray) was fun and, um, hardening as the perfect embodiment of casual sexuality and unattainable beauty. Why are we still wasting time pretending Jessica Alba is sexy and fun when Kerry Washington is around to star in romantic comedies?

16. I am McLovin.

15. Your Friend the Rat
After a couple of DVD bonus shorts from Pixar—Mike’s New Car, Jack-Jack Attack—that merely felt like outtakes from the films they accompanied, this new short with Ratatouille was light, bouncy, informative, and fun. I especially dug the combination of different visual styles. And then there was this very catchy song sequence, one of the best pieces of animation of the year. And it features a shout-out to Francois Truffaut! One of the many joys of Ratatouille.

14. Dumbledore’s Army
I really like Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but I still thought it was the most rushed and sloppy of the films so far. But the montage sequence where Harry, Ron, and Hermione assemble and train Dumbledore’s Army was by far the best sequence. Though I was glad the movie did justice to possibly my favorite character from the books, Luna Lovegood.

13. Not stopping the beat.
Thanks to Hairspray, for the first time I’m thrilled at the return of the musical. It had every chance of being terrible, but everything clicked into place for me (even Travolta) and came out perfect.

12. “Pop! Goes My Heart”
Music & Lyrics produced one true gem: this music video and song. So perfect a pastiche of 80s new wave pop that it still hasn’t left my iPod since I first heard it. Hugh Grant sings all the parts but plays half of the duo in this music video, a hilarious parody of so many bad videos from 1984. Check out the makeup on that doctor!

11. Shia LeBeouf
This kid is just so damn good. He’s so intense and so committed to playing the characters he plays that he even makes crap like Disturbia and Transformers watchable. Unfortunately, he seems to be caught in the web of making DreamWorks movies, and DreamWorks is the worst that modern filmmaking has to offer. But still, the kid’s just so damn good that it might be worth seeing what he’s in regardless.

10. “Marriage is like that show Everybody Loves Raymond, but it’s not funny. All the problems are the same, but, you know, instead of all the funny, pithy dialogue, everybody is really pissed off and tense. And it doesn’t last 22 minutes. It lasts the rest of your life.”

9. “That’s How You Know”

8. Grindhouse
It didn’t live up to all of its expectations, I admit. And fans will still argue over which segment was better (or if either were any good). But it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had at the movies. It had one of the best car chases ever filmed, some of Quentin Tarantino’s best and worst dialogue ever, some great and terrible special effects, some really great characters (especially Stuntman Mike, one of QT’s greatest creations), the mostly-awesome trailers (Edgar Wright’s Don’t being the best, Rob Zombie’s Werewolf Women of the SS being surprisingly disappointing), and Rose McGowan with a frigging machine gun on her leg. For better or for worse, for all its excesses and its pleasures, this movie is about as awesome as awesome gets.

7. The fiendish murders of Hot Fuzz.
I won’t give it away, but I will say that, after Nicholas Angel’s conspiracy theory seems ironclad, the real motivation behind the rash of murders in Sandford was probably the biggest laugh I had at the movies all year. This led to the best reference in the movie, which no one else in the theater recognized: “Forget it, Nick. It’s Sandford.”

6. The viral marketing campaign for Knocked Up, which yielded, among other things, this incredibly filthy clip.

5. The opening credits of Superbad. Bonus points for the excellent funk soundtrack.

4. King Leonidas in battle.
I loved the movie 300 for its almost surrealistic visuals and total lack of realism. It really was like a living comic book. The best sequence, by far, features King Leonidas in battle, forcefully striding into combat, spear flying, sword swinging, with the camera moving back and forth, drawing the eye here and there just the way panels in a comic book are supposed to. Even more than Sin City, it’s a stylistic and utterly great transfer of Frank Miller’s graphic style to film visuals.

3. Reaching out across government lines.
It’s hard to pick the best moment from Sicko; a powerful, moving film. But the tears finally came (and they always come in Michael Moore’s post-millennial films) when Moore took some of this country’s forgotten, abandoned 9/11 volunteers to Cuba. A Cuban fire department wanted to meet and salute some what even they called “the heroes of 9/11,” leading Moore to ponder: “If this is what can happen between supposed enemies, if one enemy can hold out his hand and offer to heal, then what else is possible?” What indeed?

2. Amy Adams
I haven’t been sure what to expect of Amy Adams; she gave a very delicate, very special performance in Junebug, a movie I didn’t like. Since then, I’ve been expecting her to develop into a better comic actress, but I was disappointed by her turns in bad movies like Talladega Nights. Then, she just explodes with talent in Enchanted, a perfect fairy tale that wouldn’t work at all if she hadn’t been so wonderful. It’s another special performance by someone who may just become a special actress. My favorite performance of any this year.

1. Spider-Pig


J.D. said...

Spider-Pig, Spider-Pig
Does whatever a Spider-Pig does
Can he swing from a web?
No he can't, he's a pig
Look out!
He is a Spider-Pig!

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Amy Adams looks so hot in that photo. So disturbingly virginal and hot.

FranIAm said...

You ARE McLovin' aren't you?

I knew it!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I loved spider pig almost as much as the spider pig song.

And I could not agree more about Luna Lovejoy, although Neville Longbottom with his tartan sweater-vests kicks a good deal of ass, as well.

Swinebread said...


Now I know you rock!

The Creature said...

Your friend the Rat owes a lot to the Disney short, "It's Tough to be a Bird." One of my favorites, when I was a kid (and they still showed shorts in before the feature). It's been a long time since I've seen it, so I don't know if it still holds the same magic that so thrilled my juvenile mind.

SamuraiFrog said...

J.D.: Much better than Harry Plopper.

Dr. Monkey: You should see her step out of the shower. I enjoyed the hell out of that, even with the towel.

Fran: I am something like a sexy burger...

Barbara: I'm glad to see Neville getting more time.

Swinebread: I have my moments.

Creature: I think it holds up, but I'm a devotee, and Ward Kimball's animation is always so great. I hadn't thought about the similarities, but that explains why it reminds me so much of a 1950s cartoon.

MC said...

To me, a fucking mouthful of Ledger should have been a tagline for Knocked Up.

SamuraiFrog said...

It should probably be a tagline for a lot of movies. The Dark Knight: "A Fucking Mouthful of Ledger."