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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Best and Worst Films of 2007

My picks for the top and bottom films of 2007

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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September 6, 2007 -- It is way past time to look back on the year 2006. I skipped most of the bad movies, as usual (sue me) so my “worst of” list is hardly definitive, but I've seen most of the best films of last year. Usually, there are six to eight A films (four stars out of four), but this year was an exception. I had 13 A films, and a good number of B+ films when I got to the end of the year (I don't use an A- rating since I don't think there is a bit of difference between an A- and a B+. I also don't use an A+ rating, a B- or a C-, just F, D-, D, C, C+, B, B+ and A.).

As usual, many of the top films are released in December. I saw a number of these films on screeners (thanks to the studios, publicists and the Online Film Critics Society). The rest, I saw in Laramie, Cheyenne, Fort Collins or Denver. Don't feel left out if you haven't seen all these films. Lots of people haven't seen them all. Most of these are available on home video. There are some acclaimed films that I haven't yet seen yet myself. Many of these films were poorly distributed around the U.S.

I did see “No Country for Old Men,” which is probably the film with the most awards that didn't make my top 10 list. It was an O.K. film, but it didn't impress me enough to make my top 10 list. It really lost its way in the final act, if you can even call it that (see my overrated list below and my review for more on this). Another top 10 movie on my list is unusual, “The Lives of Others” (Das Leben der Anderen) won an Academy Award for best foreign film last year. I did not see it in 2006, and in fact, it was only released in the U.S. in 2007, so it made my 2007 list. It was eligible for 2007 year end awards in my critic's organization, the Online Film Critics Society. For many critics, this film was last year's news, and that's too bad. It is a great film, no matter what year you are talking about.

Below the list of top films are a list of honorable mentions, followed by lists of my picks for top director, top actor, top foreign film, etc. Those lists are followed by lists of the worst films, overrated films, funniest, saddest, etc. One thing that makes my list different than most is I've got more comedies in my top 10 and honorable mentions list, and more films starring black actors. Most actors, directors and critics agree that it is a lot tougher to make a good comedy than it is to make a good drama, but then they go ahead and omit the comedies from their top 10 lists anyway. I practice what I preach.

Page navigation: Honorable mention Best of by category Funniest movie,   Saddest movie Overrated movies,   Best movies you haven't heard of,   Worst movies.

Best 10 films of 2007

1. The Lookout[4 stars]

This near-perfect little film puts a different spin on the time-honored story of a bank heist gone terribly wrong. It's flawed, brain-damaged hero is as much a villain as some of the crooks he hangs out with, but he works hard to redeem himself.

2. Zodiac[4 stars]

A great murder mystery about one of the most famous serial killer cases in American History and how it changed the way similar cases are now investigated. It gets the details right, from the newsroom at the center of the story to the frustrated police also trying to solve this difficult case. Flawed heroes become obsessed with the case and nearly lose themselves in the process. A terrific performance by Robert Downey Jr. as a self-destructive journalist.

3. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters[4 stars]

This documentary, the year's best, takes a subject that is totally trivial and somehow makes it as compelling as any movie I've seen in a long time. It also has the year's best villain, a passive-agressive gamer who elicits hatred from the audience. This is a remarkable achievement.

4. Waitress[4 stars]
This little film set in a small town celebrates cooks, pies, waitresses, friendship and girl power. It is both funny and touching. It is also tragic because of the murder of Adrienne Shelly, the writer and director of this film. A vision like hers is desperately needed in these times.

5. Amazing Grace[4 stars]

A great film about how a small band of men, aided by legal trickery, ended the slave trade in England long before it was ended in America. Few films celebrate Christians the way this film does. A glorious film about truly great, virtuous men and one of the greatest songs of all time.

6. The Namesake[4 stars]
This film is both small and large. It's small because it deals with the relationships of just a few people, but it is large because it covers a lot of years and a lot of geography. It deals with two great societies, the United States and India. These cultures are diverse, but the people deal with problems that are universal to all cultures.

7. The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen)[4 stars]
This is a very powerful drama set in the last years of the Soviet occupation of East Germany. In a way it is a social application of a law of quantum mechanics, that a person who eavesdrops on another affects both himself and the people he spies upon, whether he intends to or not. An East German spy assigned to spy on artists ends up being profoundly changed by the experience, as do the people he spies upon.

8. Bridge to Terabithia[4 stars]
This is the best children's movie of the year, but few children will probably see it because of the tragedy in the story. Not all children's films have a happy ending, take “Old Yeller” for instance. Children's films as great and profound as “Bridge to Terabithia” are very rare these days. This is a film that dares to be different in a world where children's movies are increasingly trite and unchallenging. It is also a film that will appeal to adults as well as children.

9. There Will Be Blood[4 stars]
An epic film with a very personal story at its center. This is also one of the darkest films of the year about naked ambition, corporate irresponsibility and spiritual emptiness. Daniel Day-Lewis reprises the evil of his character in “Gangs of New York” in this film, but gets a lot deeper into the blackness of his character's soul. His character in this film is truly creepy.

10. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead[4 stars]

This is the darkest film of the year. It has a dysfunctional family which tops anything you are ever likely to see. The story spirals relentlessly down from a minor robbery into hatred and murder. It is about a bad idea gone horribly wrong.

Honorable Mention
(B+ films listed alphabetically)

Lars and the Real Girl[4 stars]
Resurrecting the Champ[4 stars]
In the Shadow of the Moon[4 stars]
American Gangster[3.5 stars]
Charlie Wilson's War[3.5 stars]
Hairspray[3.5 stars]
Hot Fuzz[3.5 stars]
Knocked Up[3.5 stars]
Sharkwater[3.5 stars]
Stephen King's The Mist[3.5 stars]
3:10 to Yuma (2007)[3.5 stars]

More lists below

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Links to reviews of all the films below are indexed in the following web pages:

A through B   C through D   E through G   H through L
M through Q   R through S   T through Z

Best director

1. Scott Frank -- The Lookout
2. David Fincher -- Zodiac
3. Adrienne Shelly -- Waitress
4. Michael Apted -- Amazing Grace
5. Mira Nair -- The Namesake

Best actor

1. Chris Cooper -- Breach
2. Philip Seymour Hoffman -- Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
3. Emil Hirsch -- Into the Wild
4. Brad Pitt -- The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
5. Frank Langella -- Starting Out in the Evening

Best actress

1. Marion Cottillard -- La Vie En Rose
2. Ellen Page -- Juno
3. Amy Adams -- Enchanted
4. Keri Russell -- Waitress
5. Nikki Blonsky -- Hairspray

Best supporting actor

1. Chiwetel Ejifor -- Talk to Me
2. Robert Downey Jr. -- Zodiac
3. Jeremy Davies -- Rescue Dawn
4. James Brolin -- No Country for Old Men
5. Jeff Daniels -- The Lookout

Best supporting actress

1. Taraji P. Henson -- Talk to Me
2. Cheryl Hines -- Waitress
3. Patricia Clarkson -- Lars and the Real Girl
4. Ruby Dee -- American Gangster
5. Marisa Tomei -- Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

Best adapted screenplay

1. Zodiac (written by James Vanderbilt)
2. Bridge to Terabithia
3. The Namesake (written by Sooni Taraporevala)
4. The Hoax (written by William Wheeler)
5. Charlie Wilson's War (written by Aaron Sorkin)

Best original screenplay

1. The Lookout (written by Scott Frank)
2. Waitress (written by Adrienne Shelly)
3. Hot Fuzz (written by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright)
4. Lars and the Real Girl (written by Nancy Oliver)
5. Amazing Grace (written by Steven Knight)

Best foreign language film

1. Persepolis
2. La Vie En Rose
3. Lust, Caution
4. Avenue Montaigne
5. The Italian (Italianetz)

Best cinematography

1. Into the Wild (Eric Gautier cinematographer)
2. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
3. The Kingdom (dp is Mauro Fiore)
4. Zodiac (dp is Harris Savides)
5. Bridge to Terabithia (cinematographer Michael Chapman)

Best breakthrough performance

1. Ellen Page -- Juno
2. Emile Hirsch -- Into the Wild
3. Nikki Blonski -- Hairspray
4. Casey Affleck -- Gone Baby Gone
5. Josh Brolin -- No Country For Old Men

Best breakthrough filmmaker

1. Scott Frank -- The Lookout
2. Craig Gillespie -- Lars and the Real Girl
3. Seth Gordon -- The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
4 Ben Affleck -- Gone Baby Gone
5. David Sington -- In the Shadow of the Moon

Best documentary feature

1. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
2. In the Shadow of the Moon
3. Sicko
4. Lake of Fire
5. Sharkwater

Best animated feature

1. Ratatouille
2. Persepolis
3. The Simpson's Movie
4. Paprika
5. Surf's Up

Best film editing

1. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
2. Atonement (Paul Tothill)
3. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
4. Hot Fuzz (Chris Dickens)
5. Ocean's 13 (Stephen Mirrione)

Best original musical score

1. Into the Wild
2. Becoming Jane (Adrian Johnston)
3. The Kite Runner (Alberto Iglesias)
4. Atonement (Dario Marianelli)
5. Eastern Promises (Howard Shore)

Links to reviews of all films on this site are indexed below:

A through B   C through D   E through G   H through L
M through Q   R through S   T through Z

Funniest film of the year

Hot Fuzz[3.5 stars]

Saddest film of the year

In the Valley of Elah[3 stars]

The year's most overrated films

No Country for Old Men[3 stars]
Atonement[3 stars]
The Brave One[2.5 stars]
Juno[3 stars]
The Savages[3 stars]
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story[2 stars]
I'm Not There[2 stars]
Gone Baby Gone[2.5 stars]
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le Scaphandre et le papillon)[3 stars]
Once[3 stars]

The year's best films you've never heard of

Amazing Grace[4 stars]
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead[4 stars]
Hot Fuzz[3.5 stars]
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters[4 stars]
The Lookout[4 stars]
In the Shadow of the Moon[4 stars]
Lars and the Real Girl[4 stars]
Resurrecting the Champ[4 stars]
Sharkwater[3.5 stars]
Stephen King's The Mist[3.5 stars]

The Worst Films of 2007

While I saw most of the best films of the year, I purposefully missed most of the worst films, including Daddy Day Camp, What Love Is, I Know Who Killed Me, Epic Movie, Delta Farce, Miriam, Kickin It Old Skool, Who's Your Caddy?, Good Luck Chuck, Bratz, The Movie, Tortilla Heaven, The Condemned, Caffeine, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Norbit, The Number 23, Awake, Because I Said So, Captivity, Code Name: The Cleaner, Are We Done Yet?, License to Wed, Saw IV, Evening, Sleuth, The Seeker: The Dark is Rising, Evan Almighty, Things We Lost in the Fire, Young Triffie, The Abandoned, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Premonition, The Hills Have Eyes 2, The Invasion and The Reaping, among many others, so this is not in any way a list of the worst of the worst films, just the worst of the films I saw. After all, I don't get into the movies for free, and I don't like to waste my money, but I got fooled into watching the following films anyway:

1 Margot at the Wedding[no stars]
2 28 Weeks Later[1 star]
3 For Your Consideration[1 star]
4 Grindhouse[2 stars]
5 National Treasure: Book of Secrets[2 stars]
6 Shrek the Third[2 stars]
7 Becoming Jane[2 stars]
8 Bee Movie[2 stars]
9 The Other Boleyn Girl[2 stars]
10 Bug[2 stars]
11 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End[2 stars]

Links to reviews of all the films are indexed below:

A through B   C through D   E through G   H through I
J through L   M through N   O through Q   R through S   T through Z

Page navigation: Honorable mention Best of by category Funniest movie,   Saddest movie Overrated movies Best movies you haven't heard of,   Worst movies.

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Copyright © 2008 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]