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2007 - A YEAR IN REVIEW

2007 has, in my opinion, been an exception year for film (thank you, Matt Smith).  Now it's time for my annual Top 10.  Making top 10 lists isn't a difficult enterprise; I make them all the time for various occassions.  However, this year I thought I'd offer my Top 10 in pairs.  Here are the twenty films that made an impact on me this year.  They don't necessarily all constitute the year's best, but they are the 20 that I enjoyed the most.

1.  The films that moved me the most: "Into the Wild" and "Zodiac."   Sean Penn's "Into the Wild" was a great moviegoing pleasure.  He captures the picturesque American landscape with precision and grace.  David Fincher's "Zodiac" rocked me with its intensity and fine performances from Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey, Jr.  These are my two favorite films of 2007.

2.  Please, take another picture:  "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" and "3:10 to Yuma."  I thought both of these films were an aesthetic delight.  Casey Affleck, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe, Christian Bale and Ben Foster were each excellent in their own way.

3.  Men behaving badly:  "No Country for Old Men" and "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead."  Whew, these two films hit me from the opening credits.  They contain two of the year's best ensembles, and both will remembered well beyond our time.

4.  The year of (no) birth control:  "Juno" and "Knocked Up".  "That ain't no etch-a-sketch. This is one doodle that can't be un-did, homeskillet."  Ellen Page is the wonderful discovery of 2007.

5.  This is how music movies should be made:  "I'm Not There" and "Once."  Better than any other movie musical or movie about music to grace the screen in almost a decade, these two films, polar opposite in their approach, take music (and our appreciation of it) to new levels.

6.   Being bad is so damn fun:  "Superbad" and "Grindhouse."  "Superbad," was 2007's ultimate comedy introducing us to a character (McLovin) that has become a cult hero much like Napoleon Dynamite.  And speaking of cults, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino (Tarantino much more for sure) took us on a crazy trip to a cinema world sparsely inhabited. 

7.  Real intense, intensely real:  "Michael Clayon" and "Gone Baby Gone."  Tony Gilroy's "Michael Clayton" is the finest (and most realistic) legal thriller ever made, and George Clooney is quickly becoming one of America's most acclaimed actors.  Ben Affleck made one hell of a movie this year.  Because he did (and thanks to Amy Ryan) he's on the list.

8.  It doesn't take a lot of money to make an exceptional work of art:  "Killer of Sheep" and "Shotgun Stories."  Charles Burnett's student film was a magnificient look into the lives of the urban poor in Los Angeles.  Jeff Nichols similarly inexpensive film examined the rural poor in Arkansas. 

9.  Why the edit room matters:  "The Bourne Ultimatum" and "The Kite Runner."  No film was as immaculately edited than Paul Greengrass's fantastic third Bourne installment.  "The Kite Runner," with its sweeping camera work on the back of flying kites, was too beautiful to ignore.

10. Emotional quirks make for fine movies:  "Lars and the Real Girl" and "Reign Over Me."  Ryan Gosling's role in "Lars and the Real Girl" is warm and funny.  Adam Sandler's role in "Reign Over Me" is dark and sad.  Together, they compile two of the year's most interesting character studies.

11. (a).  The five I didn't get to see:  "There Will Be Blood," "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," "The Savages," "Atonement" and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." 

11. (b).  The five that almost made it:  "The Kingdom," "Waitress," "Sunshine," "Paris je t'aime," and "Away from Her." 

Happy New Year.

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