I am impressed with the number of quality films released thus far in 2007. The Oscar calendar runs from March - February, so in just two months, studios have released a handful of films that you'll hear about at the end of the calendar year when Top 10's are released.
I began 2007 with Chris Cooper's smart and subtle portray of Robert Hanssen in the under-appreciated "Breach." The film wasn't in theaters very long, and I hope Cooper's performance finds a larger audience on DVD. It's certainly worth it.
"Zodiac" is certain to be one of my sentimental choices as the fall awards season picks up. David Fincher's Los Angeles detective story starring Mark Ruffalo, Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey, Jr. is an extrordinary display of what happens when you can't catch the bad guy.
"Reign Over Me," demonstrates Adam Sandler's penetrating anger, more appropriately displayed when compared to his dramatic debut in P.T. Anderson's "Punch Drunk Love." In this film, Mr. Sandler has a skilled side-kick, who's driven mad by the normalcy of his life. It is a heart-breaking film for both obvious reasons (Sandler lost his entire family in one of the plane crashes on 9-11) and more subtle ones.
Joseph Gordon Levitt's latest film "The Lookout" is pure gold; smart and sharp, much like Gordon Levitt's somewhat unnoticed "Brick" from 2006. Jeff Daniels practically steals the film.
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez' delicious double-feature "Grindhouse," which was a marketing disaster, simply. The entire experience worked. Tarantino's "Death Proof" has received praise on its own, which seems to have prompted Harvey Weinstein to push it as its own film (a longer version will show at the Cannes Film Festival). "Death Proof" has arguably the best non-CGI car chase ever filmed.
Just this weekend, two films, "Away from Her," and "Paris je t'aime" were released in select cities. Both films opened to wonderful reviews across the spectrum. In a few weeks, I'll have the chance to see "Killer of Sheep," one of the most anticipated films of the year, at the Little Rock Film Festival. And I still haven't seen "The Hoax" or "The Namesake."
This time in 2006, "Inside Man" and "Thank You for Smoking" were the only two memorable films I saw before summer that even sniffed my Top 10. While it's only the beginning of May, 2007 appears to be off to a strong start.