The first 10 months of 2007 have been enough. If the year was to end now, my movie going needs would be fulfilled. Crash and The Departed were already out by this time the year’s they won best picture. So the question is, have we already seen the best movie of the year, or is the best yet to come? If you ask me, we’ve seen enough. And then some.
The amount of memorable writer/director films has been astonishing, all with terrific lead actors.
In the Valley of Elah, written and directed by Paul Haggis- Haggis was the first guy in Oscar history to write two back-to-back best picture winners (Million Dollar Baby, Crash). His coming home from Iraq film resonated with audiences and contained Tommy Lee Jones’ best acting performance. Not to mention a powerful Charlize Theron.
Michael Clayton, written and directed by Tony Gilroy- Gilroy’s first time behind the camera produced one of the most riveting films in recent history. An excellent throwback to the greatest era in cinema. Clooney gave a career-best performance as the title character. Great supporting turns from Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, and Sydney Pollack.
Into the Wild, written and directed by Sean Penn- Penn gave a great effort in telling the true story of Chris McCandless, who gave up everything to gain all that life had to offer. Young actor Emile Hirsch gave a flawless and raw performance. An excellent Hal Holbrook shines above the impressive supporting cast.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, written and directed by Andrew Dominik- A magnificently paced exploration of the West. Tabloid sensation Brad Pitt proves his acting chops by delivering a mesmerizing Jesse James. But the standout is Casey Affleck who not only matches Pitt scene for scene; he’s the one that stays in your head.
--David Fincher’s Zodiac
--Grindhouse (Tarantino’s section Death Proof, pictured)
--the multiple-short epic Paris, je t’aime
--Michael Moore’s Sicko
--James Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma
--David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises
Memorable performances not mentioned include:
--Robert Downey Jr. in Zodiac
--Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart
--Don Cheadle in Talk to Me
--Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, and Armin Mueller-Stahl in Eastern Promises
--Keri Russell in Waitress (pictured)
--Russell Crowe and Christian Bale in 3:10 to Yuma
--Siena Miller in Interview
--Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone
--Benicio Del Toro in Things We Lost in the Fire
Technical Mentions (because this is a film-buff website):
The cinematography in
--In the Valley of Elah
--Into the Wild
--The Assassination of Jesse James...
Plus, the musical score in
Saving the best for last…
I have purposely left one film out that shines above all the rest in 2007. My favorite film of last year was Babel. The first time I saw that picture, I didn’t know how to feel. I was deeply disturbed yet moved. After multiple viewings, I recognized it as a masterpiece. Every aspect of Babel is seemingly flawless. It contained the best direction, writing, acting, camera work, score and editing of the year.
I was similarly touched by this year’s Rescue Dawn. Iconic, visionary filmmaker Werner Herzog has crafted a perfect picture. Out on DVD November 20th (a special DVD review will follow), Rescue Dawn has all the elements of a classic film. Christian Bale gives his best performance, among many great ones, in the true story about Vietnam POW Dieter Dengler. The film is haunting, humorous, tragic, heartfelt and most importantly, real. Klaus Badelt’s score is some of the best music I’ve ever heard in film, I find myself listening to it over and over, desperately trying to regain some of the emotion from the powerful film. Herzog is a masterful filmmaker and his Rescue Dawn is 2007’s masterpiece.
Still to come:
--Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution (pictured)
--Ridley Scott’s American Gangster
--Joe Wright directing Keira Knightley in Atonement (hopefully as well as he did in Pride and Prejudice)
--Mike Nichols’ Charlie Wilson’s War
--The teen-pregnancy comedy Juno (It’s written by an ex-stripper and stars Ellen Page, a promising newcomer)
--The Kite Runner (based on the book)
--Johnny Depp singing in Sweeney Todd
--Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood
--Sidney Lumet’s (Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Network) Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
--Todd Haynes’ Bob Dylan bio I’m Not There
--and the one I’m most anticipating, The Coen Brothers’ No Country For Old Men (pictured).
If I ran the show, 2007 would be over. Not to say that there aren’t great films to come, if any filmmakers can put Herzog to the test, it’s the imaginative Coen’s. But just like last October, after I saw Babel, I knew that it wasn’t going to get any better. Rescue Dawn is a modern-day work of art that I’m sure will sadly be forgotten by Oscar voters. I only hope that people are as inspired by the film as I am. Remember November 20th, take two hours out of your weekend and let yourself be marveled. You will not be disappointed.