Friday, December 28, 2007

Top 10 Movies of 2007


I love me my movies. However, I did not love 2008. It may have been one of the most mediocre years of movie making in the past ten as a whole. There were some bright spots do not get me wrong, but many of the films I will soon discuss will not go down as the best of my best, but some of the movies were very good. However, when we here at Art of Function find ourselves at the end of a long and fruitful year, we celebrate with Top 10 lists. So, here is our top 10 list of movies from 2007.

My criteria for grading was simple. Did I enjoy it? Would I recommend it? Would I revisit it? Did it do something I had never seen any other movie do? Did it execute with excellence within the its genre of film making? If the answer was yes to any four of these questions, they made the top 10.

However, before we get to the best, lets hand out a few awards.

Worst Movie of 2007:
The Heart Break Kid: Barring its box office success this movie was just flat out terrible, and not funny. I found myself drifting off in my own head to a place of boredom, annoyance and eventual apathy. It really feels like the Farrely Brothers peaked out with Dumb and Dumber.

Most Overrated Movie of 2007
Knocked Up: This movie was funny and had was blessed with a star turn by Katherine Hiegel, but at the end of the day it failed to capture the same spirit of warmth and fun that Apatow's previous effort "The 40 Year Old Virgin" managed to generate.

Most Regretted Movie we did not seen in 2007
It's a tie with No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. We're keeping our fingers crossed we can see them this weekend.

So, on to our list of the Top 10 Best Movies of 2007!

10. Live Free, Die Hard
- True to the original concept, Bruce Willis returns as Detective John McClain and immediately finds himself embroiled in an mystery involving, mercenaries, an evil genius played by Timothy Olyphant, explosions, thrills and a wise cracking side kick played by Justin Long. The old formula that worked so well in the first Die Hard movie is back, but the action was amped up a bit, and the 2007 version of Officer McClain is a little bit more hardcore. I have to say this was the best all around action movie I had seen in a few years. It was an enjoyable watch.

9. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - I always walk away from the Harry Potter movies feeling satisfied and this darker and more mysterious fifth installment in the franchise was very inspiring while offering more chills than previous efforts. I will be sitting in the theater in 2008 for the next chapter in young Harry's adventures.

8. 28 Weeks Later - This movie did not live up to the brave and bold predecessor 28 Days Later, but it did give it one hell of a try. 28 Weeks Later is succeeds in creating a stronger human interest story in it's first act, but devolves a bit into a chase and scream film in the later third act. However, it is beautifully shot and edited. Definitely worth picking up at the video store... if you like zombie movies.

7. Once - Now, I admit that some folks adore this film. I think that as a film it brings a wonderful reality to the portrayal of two heart stung musicians who find each other on the streets, and learn about love and themselves through the recording of a demo album. The music is fantastic, but for the most part, I failed to be charmed by the lead performance of Mark├ęta Irglova. She fails to deliver for me, and at times is a bit annoying and that took me out of the movie, but Glen Hansard more than makes up for her inconsistencies. In the end, I am a bit torn over pacing and some performances, but this is a wonderful little story.

6. The Lookout - When I saw Brick last year (my No. 1 from 2006) I quickly jumped to old IMDB to find out what Joseph Gordon-Levitt's next project would be. I saw that The Lookout would be up next, and circled the calendar. This wonderful character study of a former high school star athlete haunted by a poor choice that left him mentally challenged is exquisite in its concept and the most interesting part of the film is learning how Levitt's character Chris gets through his day and deal with the disappointment of his life. However, the main plot device of the film, the robbery, that Levitt is coaxed into participating in, is somewhat dull and uncreative. However that is a minor critique for this strong film.

5. Black Snake Moan - I like to call this film a fantastic mess. Craig Brewer is a director to watch out for, and this was to be his second installment in his music movie trilogy, with Hustle and Flow which received ton of Oscar buzz and nominations. Black Snake Moan follows a cuckolded former blues player, Samuel L. Jackson, turned farmer who encounters a woman left for dead on the road, Christina Ricci, who also happens to be a nymphomaniac. He sets about trying to make her right with God, while finding himself returning to his musical roots. As I said before the film is a mess story wise. At times it feels like Brewer cannot decide to fully embrace this movie for its sexploitation devices or allow it to be rich character study, but thankfully Sam Jackson probably gives his best performance in years in this movie, and he makes it worth the watch in a big way.

4. Hot Fuzz - It is official Edgar Wright, Simon Peg and Nick Frost are genius. This movie was Universally criticized for not delivering the strength of story that Sean of the Dead gave us. However, I disagree with that statement. This film rides waves of genre film making like a deft surfer plowing down a 40 foot wave off of the Big Island. This time the trio mix the action adventure cop movie with the british rural countryside comedy and a little bit of the old murder mystery plot in this wild ride that was well worth my money spent on a seat at the old cineplex.

3. Waitress - I have to say this, a great movie about a young women struggling with an unplanned pregnancy hit theaters in 2007, and it was not "Knocked Up". We had heard people rave about this movie for months and months, which usually amounts to a big disappointment come viewing time. However Adrienne Shelly truly delivered one of the best films of 2007, quirky, funny, heart warming, romantic and filled with Drama, this movie about the best little pie maker, and her baby and her terrible husband and odd doctor make for a truly memorable viewing experience in 2007.

2. Zodiac - Mark us members of the David Fincher fan club. From Fight Club to Seven, Mr. Fincher delivers on creepy like no other film maker working in Hollywood today. His 2007 film about the notorious Zodiac Killer truly is a master piece in thriller / true crime film making. This movie truly disturbs and engages all at the same time. Each depiction of the different murders is equally more disturbing than the last, and Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr. turn in terrific performances in this creep, dark and truly terrifying movie.

1. King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters - Yes, A documentary takes home the first place finish on our list of the best movies of 2007. Seth Gordon emerged as a documentary film maker force with this incredibly entertaining look at coin op gaming and the characters who devote their lives to achieving high scores on video games that are almost as old as we are. Gordon deftly arranges his protagonist, Steve Wiebe as a down and out hero just trying to achieve one great thing in his life, the highest recorded score on Donkey Kong. Standing in his path is mullet master and the only man to register a perfect score on Pac Man, Billy "Try My Hot Sauce" Mitchell. There is high praise for editing and composition in this story where you truly laugh and cry as Mr. Wiebe hunkers down at the joystick for hours and hours of time attempting to prove that he is one of the best in the world. We left the theater in love with this movie, and forever quipping the line, "There's a Donkey Kong Kill screen coming up in five minutes," to anyone who would listen.

So, that's it! We're through 2007 and looking forward to some more great movies on the horizon... we think... we hope and we pray. See you at the movies!

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