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Dec 28, 2007

The Blog Cabins End of Year Spectacular (2007)

If you've been paying attention, you already saw my top five films of 2007, as posted in the LAMB listing a few days ago. But that only begins to scratch the surface of possible lists and/or awards that I can hand out here at the end of the year. So, without further ado, let the SPECTACULAR begin!!

All of the Films I Saw This Year (in the Theater, 75 in all, though I saw some twice):
The Good Shepherd, The Queen, Little Children, Children of Men, Notes on a Scandal, Arthur and the Invisibles, The Painted Veil, Epic Movie, Pan's Labyrinth, Smokin' Aces, Breach, The Number 23, Zodiac, 300, The Namesake, The Lives of Others, The Last Mimzy, The Lookout, Blades of Glory, First Snow, The Hoax, Grindhouse, Fracture, Hot Fuzz, Disturbia, Ten 'til Noon, Spider-Man 3, 28 Weeks Later..., Black Book, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Once, Knocked Up, Ocean's Thirteen, Mr. Brooks, Bug, Surf's Up, Paris, Je t'aime, 1408, Ratatouille, A Mighty Heart, Sicko, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, You Kill Me, Transformers, Joshua, Waitress, Talk to Me, Sunshine, The Bourne Ultimatum, Rescue Dawn, The Simpsons Movie, Superbad, Death at a Funeral, The Ten, 2 Days in Paris, Across the Universe, Eastern Promises, In the Valley of Elah, The Darjeeling Limited, Michael Clayton, Gone Baby Gone, Lars and the Real Girl, Southland Tales, Lions for Lambs, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Beowulf, No Country for Old Men, I'm Not There, American Gangster, The Golden Compass, I Am Legend, Walk Hard, Juno, Sweeney Todd, The Savages.

The Five Best Films I Saw This Year (Academy Award eligible, except for number 1 where I give good reason why):
1. Paris, Je t'aime - Only recently have I learned why this great movie was not nominated for a single Golden Globe (and won't get any Oscar attention, either) - though it debuted in the US in April, it played almost all over the world in 2006, this taking it out of contention. Regardless, it tops my list for the year (since it couldn't have been on my 2006 list, as I don't often travel overseas to see movies), and it's one of the best films for film lovers that I can think of. Composed of 18 shorts set in Paris and directed by 18 different directors, it's like the best sampler platter you could ever ask for. No, every short isn't a winner, but a vast majority are good, with a select few being great. See it soon if you missed in theaters.

2. In the Valley of Elah - Yeah, it's depressing. It's politically motivated. It's also damned good, with Tommy Lee Jones' best performance in years (and that's saying something).

3. Grindhouse - Along with Paris, Je t'aime, the most fun I've had in a theater in a long time. The small screen and the abominable splitting of Planet Terror and Grindhouse into separate DVDs will hurt the legacy and love of Grindhouse for future viewers, but for those who sat there for the 3+ plus hours and loved it, an experience like it won't come again soon. At least we have Machete to look forward to (keep fingers crossed).

4. Knocked Up - Where to start? You all know the story - Apatow knocks it out of the park again, with many of the same players (Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann) that were on board for 2005's The 40 Year Old Virgin. It was so similar in tone and theme that it might as well have been a sequel, but not too many minded - it was obscene, hilarious and was the true star-making turn for Rogen. A winner all around.

5. Southland Tales - Ambitious, audacious, outlandish - throw on any "-ish" or _'-ious" adjective you want, it probably fits Richard Kelly's second film. Just don't try fitting it with a genre, because if you tried, it would probably end up something like "apocalyptic musical dramedy." It's bizarre, horribly acted at times, confusing as can be, and quite possibly...brilliant. A must see for the spectacle of it all, even if you end up hating it.

The Five Films That Barely Missed "The Five Best Films I Saw This Year" List (in no particular order):
* The Savages - heartbreaking, funny, melancholic, brilliant, sad, poignant, true - pick one. From the Squid and the Whale school of familial discontent and growth.

* Once - a simple love story enhanced by some great music, set in Ireland and starring a couple real life musicians (who turned into a real life couple). Independent filmmaking at its best.

* 2 Days in Paris - Julie Delpy took the notion of the romantic comedy and set it on its head with her take on a dysfunctional couple and all the joy and sadness they bring each other. She and co-star Adam Goldberg are smart, funny and rude. One of the funniest movies of the year to boot, and it largely went unseen.

* No Country for Old Men - It got and deserved a ton of acclaim, but that last 20 minutes or so still sticks in my craw. Let the "best Coen Brothers film" debate roll on (note: my pick is Lebowski, followed by Fargo).

* 300 - seems like it was long ago when this came out. Like it or hate it, it's a beautiful film filled with ultraviolent images - if The Matrix showed us how far science had come into blockbuster filmmaking, 300 took that science and made it into art.

The Best of the Rest that Didn't Make Either of the Above Lists:
Breach, Superbad, Eastern Promises, Hot Fuzz, Ocean's Thirteen, Sicko, You Kill Me, Michael Clayton, Sunshine, The Namesake.

The Top Five Films I Didn't Get Around to Seeing This Year (I'm Guessing):
1. There Will Be Blood

2. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

3. Into the Wild

4. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

5. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The Five Worst Films I Saw This Year
1. Epic Movie - I have no excuse.

2. Spider-Man 3 - Sam Raimi has no excuse.

3. Mr. Brooks - Kevin Costner has some excuse, but Dane Cook

4. Lars and the Real Girl - "Bianca" (the sex doll) has an excuse; Ryan Gosling doesn't.

5. 1408 - John Cusack is more appealing here than he has been for awhile, but it just kind of implodes on screen in the second half. Stephen King wants an excuse.

My Five Favorite Performances of the Year ("favorite" does not necessarily equal "best"):
1. (tie) Michael Cera in Superbad and Juno - Recently, Mrs. Fletch and I watched all three seasons of Arrested Development on DVD (note: best sitcom ever - even better than my beloved Seinfeld), and I really don't care that Cera hasn't showed much range in his roles over the last few years - I could watch him play the awkward teenager well into his 40s. He is a master of uncomfortability (if that's a word) and comic timing, particularly when it comes to his facial features.

2. Ben Kingsley in You Kill Me - Sir Ben continues to surprise me. Granted, I haven't seen that much of his work, but just comparing some of his recent films (this and Sexy Beast, for example) show you (in contrast to Cera) a man with tree-mendous range; I've never given him much credit for comedy, but his turn here is sympathetic and hilarious. (Bonus points to co-star Tea Leoni for being more likable than I've ever seen her before.)

3. Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men - it's hard not to love Anton - much like Teddy, he speaks softly but carries a big stick (filled with air). He has no sense of right and wrong, only the urge to follow his own personal code, which weighs on him like a ton of bricks. It can not be denied. Probably the best villain since Darth Vader and one of the best-ever characters, period.

4. Tommy Lee Jones in In the Valley of Elah - the people who say actors show how great they are when silent should be screaming Tommy's name out. His retired-Marine father of an MIA officer son has a strong sense of purpose, an unrelenting determination, and a need to know the truth. Though the Best Actor trophy has all but been given to Daniel Day-Lewis (and probably rightfully so), I'll be rooting for Jones.

5. Adam Goldberg in 2 Days in Paris - the Woody Allen for those people taller than 5'5", Goldberg (aka The Hebrew Hammer) gets free rein to own the screen in Julie Delpy's comic gem, showing the world that you don't have to be wimpy to be an anxiety-filled intellectual with an acid tongue.

The Five Films I'm Most Looking Forward to for Next Year
1. Cloverfield - it seems as though this is destined to be a letdown given all the hype, but I'm ready to find out.

2. Be Kind Rewind - two words: Michel Gondry. The director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep and Dave Chappelle's Block Party is one of the few directors that's earned a "For Sure" stamp from me, indicating that I'll be in line for whatever movies they come up with next.

3. The Dark Knight - again, high expectations abound here, but with Nolan, Bale, Freeman already in and now Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart and Maggie Gyllenhaal joining the team, it's hard to imagine this being a failure.

4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - quite the contrary here. Had this come out 10 years ago, we'd be hoping for the moon; now, I think the collective hope is that it just isn't awful ("Hi, Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions!").

5. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - in case you don't remember, this was on 2007's list of movies I was looking forward to. What are the odds it will be on the 2009 list as well? C'mon, Fincher....

Finally, here are the "9 1/2 Best Films Mrs Fletch Saw This Year... (no rules)
1. The Lives of Others
2. In the Valley of Elah
3. The Namesake
4. Children of Men
5. Paris, Je t'aime
6. Once
7. Southland Tales
8. Superbad
9. 300 and Across the Universe

Doesn't she have great taste?

17 people have chosen wisely: on "The Blog Cabins End of Year Spectacular (2007)"

Mrs Fletch said...

I really wish more people would have seen Southland Tales... it's a brilliant mess.

RC said...

surprised in the valley of elah was so high...i haven't seen it because it got such bad reviews initially...i was really looking forward to it...i still want to see it.

your top 5 you haven't seen looks like a good list of movies that could edge in elsewhere on your list...diving bell has gotten such amazing reactions.

--RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

DCMovieGirl said...

"Bianca" (the sex doll) has an excuse; Ryan Gosling doesn't.

Nice. :) Can you give the man credit for taking a risk?...

...Okay, maybe not.

Robb said...

Mrs. Fletch, since you put "Across the Universe" on your best list I'm going to put "Southland Tales" on my Netflix queue. I thought Universe was a hot mess, but a delicious one at that.

Mr. Fletch, I'm wondering what you thought of Sweeney Todd?

BostonSucksMyBlog said...

yeah 1408 got retarded half way through

Fletch said...

DCgirl - as an actor, I love Gosling, and you're right - he took a big risk. But all I can see is a guy who in 20 years will look at this and think "WTF was I thinking?"

Robb - a (short) Sweeney Todd review is coming shortly.

RC - agreed. There's still a lot of good stuff I need to see.

soundtrackgeek said...

Ooh lots to comment on!

I don't know how many movies I have seen this year, but probably not as many as 75.

My top 5 this year would be:

1. 300
2. Die Hard 4.0
3. Spider-Man 3
4. Transformers
5. Stardust

I haven't seen your nr. 2 "In The Valley of Elah", but I really have to see it after listening to the soundtrack by Mark Isham, it's beautiful.

Knocked Up was one of the most overhyped and worst movies of the year. I didn't laugh once, maybe smiled a couple of times. Superbad was so much better.

Breach was really boring I thought. Loved the story though.

Of your worst movie list, I agree with 1408. A total waste of time. Mr. Brooks wasn't bad and Spider-Man 3 was simply amazing. Epic Movie I don't want to watch, ever. There's just something about it that makes my skin crawl.

2008 will be amazing, so much to look forward to. All your 5 films are on my to-do list next year.

James said...

I'll but putting out my Top movie list in a few weeks after I see a few more flicks.

As it is right now I have "Atonment" at the top. I just wrote a review for it last night on my blog.

Mrs. Fletch said...

Robb, I'm so glad you're adding S.T. to your Netflix queue. LOVE your description of Across the Universe "a hot mess"... perfect!

WaywardJam said...

Fletch - Phenomenal 2007 recap! I have a few random comments for you: -Thanks to you and other Paris,Jet'aime has risen to the top of my Netflix queue.
-You gotta love Danny F'n Trejo - Machete all the way!
-Savages finally opens here in 2 weeks, who knows when There Will Be Blood will open for me.
-No Country for Old Men...Mark it 8 dude, Lebowski is a perfect game!
-I too feel Cloverfield will be a huge pile due to the overhype, but let's hope we can both enjoy being wrong.

I am feeling slack now for not having my 2007 Year in Review finished. Again, great job, my hats off to you!

Fletch said...

soundtrack geek - I've heard comedies don't travel well overseas - could that contribute to your dislike of Knocked Up? What did you think of the similar 40 Year Old Virgin?

Got to agree to disagree on Spider-Man 3. It was bloated, to say the least.

James - haven't seen your Atonement review yet - will have to check it out. I think we've been avoiding it mostly because of Keira Knightley. Not a big fan of her acting...

Wayne - Muchas gracias, Glad you liked it.

Yes, I do love Danny Trejo. If you really want to see him out of his usual element, watch SherryBaby. Decent (not great) movie, but his role is so out of character, it's almost sweet.

There Will Be Blood opens in Phx Friday (tomorrow). Can't wait to see it.

Nick said...

About SherryBaby (since Fletch brought it up)... I agree. Though I only really remember two things about that movie:

1) Danny Trejo's character being completely different than usual (which was shocking at first).

2) Maggie Gyllenhaal's boobs. Seriously, they might as well have had her walk around topless the entire movie. She was probably only wearing a shirt for about 20 minutes of the entire movie. And when she was, she wasn't wearing a bra... and you could tell.

I also remember that the sister-in-law was a total bitch and I think Sherry would have done just fine had the woman not been such a c-word about the whole thing. The "Don't call her mommy" thing was like... 'whoa'. But anyway, I'm getting off topic.

Maggie's boobs. There.

Fletch said...

Yeah, Maggie was on full display for much of the movie. At least it earned her a lot of kudos for being a "raw, naked display of acting." Oops - too literal.

Anonymous said...
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WaywardJam said...

I did see "Sherrybaby" and I agree it was ok as a film, Trejo was surprisingly great, and Maggie's boobage was worth the price of admission alone. I did prefer "Secretary" more for both the story and the nakedness.

Tony Tanti said...

Great lists, I love lists.

Paris Je T'aime was the best I saw this year too but I didn't put it on my top 5 due to it's 2006 status. You're right though that it wasn't released here until 2007 so I wish I had included it on my list now.

By the way, since you were nice enough to ask where I was the last couple weeks, I was in a middle eastern country called Oman. I have family teaching high school there. It was a warm and unique Christmas.