Movies watched, Best of

Of the boatload of movies I watched in 2007 (see the complete list here), the following are my favorites. You get the 30-second version of why each movie makes the list, and nothing more.

Movies Released In (Or Near) 2007:

Stardust – [****] – 2007 / Matthew Vaughn: A fairy tale, but jazzy, expansive, and cock-eyed. Warm and cheery, dark and sinister, truthful. Like all good stories.

Mr. Brooks – [****] – 2007 / Bruce Evans: Maybe the appeal of this lies in how convincingly Kevin Costner plays a serial killer. Maybe not. A part or two silly, but otherwise solidly presented, and with an interesting score.

No Country for Old Men – [****1/2] – 2007 / Coen Brothers: Bleak, dusty, and bloody. (Though not as bleak and dusty as “There Will Be Blood”.) Tommy Lee Jones pitch-perfect, though performances really outstanding across the board. Everything unexpected, even when it isn’t.

Eastern Promises – [****] – 2007 / David Cronenberg: Another solid foray into organized crime by Cronenberg. More straightforward, maybe, than “A History of Violence”, but no less bloody. A conscience you don’t expect. A grimness you do.

Bourne Ultimatum – [****] – 2007 / Paul Greengrass: I’ve enjoyed the Bourne movies, and this installment is a solid addition. For non-fans of the series, this movie will not be a mind-changer, though it is better than The Bourne Supremacy, and arguably better than The Bourne Identity (despite the sad fact of “Ultimatum” not having Franka Potente).

Grindhouse – [****1/2] – 2007 / Robert Rodriguez & Quentin Tarantino: A blast of a double-feature, ridiculous, over-the-top, and phenomenal. Gory and dark, some, but largely hilarious.

Hot Fuzz – [****] – 2007 / Edgar Wright: A genius bit of action comedy unlike a most all American action-comedies, which are rarely much of either. A spoof that’s honest to itself, and solid in its own right. And what other movie have Bill Nighy, Timothy Dalton, and a masked Cate Blanchett appeared together?

Leben der Anderen, Das – [****1/2] – 2006 / Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

Gwoemul [Host] – [***1/2] – 2006 / Joon-ho Bong: Horror done right, which is to say knuckle-gripping and startling, but with glimpses of real emotion, dashes of uncertain comedy. And evil scientists, sure.

Movies Released Before 2007:

Werckmeister harmóniák [Werckmeister Harmonies] – [****1/2]: It’s only a slight exaggeration to say this film secured a place in my favorites in its first fifteen minutes. There’s a whale, though it doesn’t do much. There’s a main character who, mysteriously, never makes a single appearance. The director isn’t even sure why, so there’s no reason you should have any idea. And that’s fine.

Porco Rosso – [****] – 1992 / Hayao Miyazaki: I’ve been meaning to see this, and wish I had, sooner. It’s strange how non-surreal this movie is, considering it’s a kind of anime noir about a pilot turned into a pig in a world ravaged by sky-pirates.

Primal Fear – [****1/2] – 1996 / Gregory Hoblit: A solid, straightforward criminal procedural that is, but isn’t straightforward. Twisting and smart.

Notorious – [****] – 1946 / Alfred Hitchcock: A wholeheartedly solid Hitchcock movie. Noir, if not at its best, then extremely close. A movie that has aged surprisingly well, considering. Begins and ends with near-perfection.

Fido – [****] – 2006 / Andrew Currie: Everyone else has adorable zombie slaves, why shouldn’t we? That’s the message I got from this movie. Or was it, bullies deserve to be attacked by malfunctioning zombie-slaves? I’m really not sure any more. Anyway, a fine comedy horror period piece, if the parallel-universe 1950s can count as a period. Billy Connolly has never so convincingly played a zombie.