The Best Films of the Decade: 2007
Well 2007 in the ongoing series of The Best Films of the Decade has been slightly delayed, what with Xmas, guests, and over indulging, 2007 has had to fall to the wayside for a short time. However, it is here, and it marks a year with some great documentaries and some wonderfully shot films. For stories and for the sheer cinematic spectacle, 2007 was a good year.
Next up will be 2008, and then the year just passed, before we hit the Best of the Decade when we look back on the winners of each year and vote to see which you think is the best of them all. In the meantime though, let me not get ahead of myself, here's 2007.
Remember you can visit all the previous years and still vote on them.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
It wasn't until quite recently that I watched this film and I was most surprised at just how good it is. A slow moving and well developed film that really concentrates on the characters involved and their relationships, and provides for some wonderfully cinematic moments. Definitely a high contender on the list for the best film, and great performances from Casey Affleck and Brad Pitt.
On his third film, Joe Wright delivered Pride & Prejudice, the first film that really did make his mark on audiences, and with Atonement he hammered that idea home with his forte being the emotional drama. James McAvoy and Keira Knightley gave superb performances which did well for their careers too, but some are a little jaded of the emotional epic dramas such as this.
Gone Baby Gone
What a surprise, Ben Affleck could direct, and direct well, in fact he could direct better than he could act. Like Joe McEwan on Atonement, he directed a strong novel adaptation, and he also cast his brother, Casey Affleck. Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Michelle Monaghan, Amy Ryan and Amy Madigan make up this interesting cast who deliver some strong emotional performances. I personally found it a huge surprise just how well it did.
Eastern Promises (Filmstalker review)
What a superb film. I always thought that David Cronenberg would continue to deliver us the off beat and very odd films that he did so well, and then we get A History of Violence which really surprised and captured me, that was a great film, and while Eastern Promises did reflect a little of that movie here, it was darker and much harder. I do feel that History of Violence was the cleaner in the story telling, but overall it's another fantastic film from Cronenberg, showing that he's not just about the oddities.
Hot Fuzz (Filmstalker review)
I think it's fair to say that Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg rewrote the book on the horror comedy some three years earlier, and with Hot Fuzz they rewrote...well...a ton of other genres and at the same time delivered a ton of comedy. Since this pair started making films British comedy has tried to live up to both Shaund of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, and frankly they've been falling short for a long time.
I Am Legend (Filmstalker review)
I thought I Am Legend was much better than a lot of critics did, they picked points with it and took exception to various aspects, including the performance from Will Smith which I thought was superb. He really makes this film and his continual fear and paranoia was palatable, and when he seems to give up it's just as believable. The film looks wonderful too, and the empty city scapes win your belief over too. However I think the ending lets the film down in a lot of people's eyes. I did like the way it wasn't Hollywood-esque although it does sell itself out right at the end, but then the alternative ending on the DVD and Blu-ray is a lot better and I do wish this had been on the cinematic release.
In the Shadow of the Moon (Filmstalker review)
This was a strong year for documentaries and In the Shadow of the Moon was one of the best. It's inspiring and moving and yet all it really does is show us the talking heads of a few key men. However these are more than just men, these are the astronauts that have made it to the moon and back, and in their own words they tell us just what it was like and what it meant to them. I love the way it was filmed, setting aside the stunning footage of the launches themselves, it's the intimate close-ups and the eloquent words of the men involved that stir the emotion, and it works wonders. A beautiful film.
We'd seen Ellen Page in Hard Candy (Filmstalker review) and X-Men: The Last Stand (Filmstalker review), but it was Juno that really enabled her to maker her career. It wasn't just Ellen Page that this film helped, or Michael Cera, or Jason Reitman, but Diablo Cody was perhaps the one that came off best with this film for her insightful characters and story, and cool dialogue. A big favourite with audiences.
The Kite Runner
Marc Forster seems the unlikely choice to adapt this book for film, and yet for fans of the book it seems that he's done a great job and delivered a superb adaptation. Of course with
David Benioff adapting the Khaled Hosseini novel then perhaps it's no surprise. Forster has stayed very true to the novel, and that comes through in the film.
I never got to see this film from Tony Gilroy, and his first directorial outing might cause people to doubt him but just look at the writing pedigree he shows in his earlier career. Then there's the mighty cast of George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Michael O'Keefe, Sydney Pollack and Tilda Swinton, A great line-up that delivers a strong thriller.
A Russian epic that tells the tale of the great Genghis Khan, a slave who rose to conquer half the World including the Russian empire, now that's an epic and Sergei Bodrov has the rest of the life of Khan in his sights with The Great Khan. An epic that seems like it would struggle to come from Hollywood budgets, much less those of Russian, but it does and it works.
No Country for Old Men (Filmstalker review)
This is to show you just how generous and fair handed I am with these nominations. Although you can nominate anything you want in the "Other" category, I couldn't not include this film because there are so many people who believe it is a great film and probably is the best of the year, even though I think it isn't either. For me the ending where the lead characters face off (and remember I do not mean the ending of the film itself) a bitter disappointment and something that is all too weakly explained away. However I know there are many fans of the film out there and so I include it here.
This animated film received a wealth of accolades for the story it told of a Iranian girl that begins during the Islamic revolution and tells a human story of Iran and Iranians, something that a lot of films and characters about Iran weren't doing at the time. It's a film that picks itself up from the average animated film and gives a very personal tale. I think the truly triumphant thing about it is that it reached such a diverse audience.
The Savages (Filmstalker review)
"superb script...fantastic performances...extremely touching and moving film" is exactly what I said about this film when I reviewed it, or rather that's the summarised version, I did write a much more verbose review! Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman are superb in this film and deliver some great natural performances, as does Philip Bosco, but it's the two leads that shine. That's all thanks to the excellent script and strong direction from Tamara Jenkins who makes The Savages such a great film to see. It's all about people, their relationships and their real human experiences.
Le scaphandre et le papillon (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)
The fact that this is a true story propels it onwards, and the powerful performance from Mathieu Amalric doesn't hurt either. Backed by a superb cast and the moving and inspirational real life story of a man who is paralysed apart from his left eye, and slowly dictates his memoirs on which the film is based. Excellent film.
Stardust (Filmstalker review)
I loved Stardust, almost as much as I love one of the most perfect films of all time, The Princess Bride, and that film and story are nigh on perfect, it's as entertaining now as it was the first time I watched it, well perhaps not as much, but it's close. That's how I feel Stardust may go too, although I've only seen it once the viewing gave me the same feelings I got with Princess Bride. There are a few little tarnishes, but they are hardly noticeable, and with some strong performances Matthew Vaughn shows just what he's capable of in a completely different genre.
Taxi to the Dark Side (Filmstalker review)
Another powerful documentary this year and another film I really enjoyed watching. It feels strange to say that when there's someone's death at the centre of the film, a seemingly innocent taxi driver who was murdered while in the custody of the American military. What I like about this superbly made documentary is that it starts at a small event and builds it up, looking at the people involved, the decision and power structure behind the events that brought about the death, and it soon becomes a truly frightening but incredibly fascinating story. I'd thoroughly recommend the film.
There Will Be Blood
I have friends who keep telling me to watch this film, however I do find that I struggle with Daniel Day-Lewis at times, no matter how well thought of he is, however there is the balancing factor of the writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson and that should be something to draw me in to the film. Frankly thought I've never made it there, but I do believe that this has a great chance of being the Best Film of this year, despite all the excellent documentaries to chose from. A film rich both visually and through the plot, and one that won Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis and Best Cinematography.
It took me some time to actually get around to seeing this film, but when I did I was astounded. The film is a superb work that delivers a powerful thriller that manages to draw you right into the story. What's more is that it's a true story that's possibly revealing the actual killer behind the infamous Zodiac killer in San Francisco during the seventies. What I remember most about this film, apart from the great performances from all the actors involved, is the way the film looks. The cinematography is superb, and some of the street shots blend CG and real life together in a way that is seamless. Wonderful film, hugely powerful.
What of those "almost made it" films? The films that almost made the big list but didn't? Well here they are, and it's not quite as big as some of the previous years. In fact I'd say that 2007 had less really good films overall, but what it did have was a fair amount of quality. See what you think of the almost made it's:
3:10 to Yuma, American Gangster, Beaufort, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Golden Compass, I'm Not There, In the Valley of Elah, Live Free or Die Hard (Filmstalker review), The Mist (Filmstalker review), Mr. Brooks, The Orphanage, El orfanato, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (Filmstalker review), [Rec], Shake Hands With the Devil, Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad) (Filmstalker review), Vacancy (Filmstalker review)