Jeremy’s ListDevin’s List – Russ’s List – Nick’s List

Note: If it counted, the Final Cut of Blade Runner (released theatrically in 2007) would be my #1. That’s cheating though isn’t it?

2007 was a splendid year for movies, a surprising turn of event due to the incredible amount of disappointing summer movies, big movies that sucked, and high concept piles of asshole that shambled into the multiplexes seemingly every Friday. This was a year a lot of great filmmaking voices bellowed out loudly that the big changes and death of art folks like me complain about for pageviews is pretty much bullshit, and as long as films like this are able to get through the system there’s hope for us all.

My Worst from 2007
My Best from 2006
My Worst from 2006
My Worst from 2005
My Best from 2005

http://chud.com/nextraimages/top15mist.jpg15. The Mist (My Review) (Buy the Audiobook)

Allow me this indulgence on my Top List. Last year I had quite a few entries that really paint 2006 as a somewhat off year (though The Departed and Pan’s Labyrinth are damn near perfect in my eyes). The Mist is a flawed film and not as nuanced as one you’d expect on a list like this but I cannot get it out of my head. It’s a cold and relentless movie, one that rips out your heart and then laughs as it recoils to the cold air. It’s a horror film with a serious bent on saying big things about the way we as people interact and execute our beliefs. The fact it has monsters is an afterthought. It’s still a concussion grenade to the face, both due to its ending and the overwhelming dread the enters with the titular atmospheric condition. The pacing is amazing, there’s some great scares, and the entire cast does a terrific job. This is a brilliant re-entry into horror for Frank Darabont and this kind of willingness to go the distance for a project is telltale why we need the guy making more movies and writing less things for George Lucas to ignore. This one’ll not dissipate in my subconscious any time soon.

Current Rating: 8.0 out of 10

Contributing
Factors:
Great, adult filmmaking in a horror film. A cast that is used to perfect extent. Cool monsters. A return to form by Thomas Jane. Darabont at his most wicked.

Performance to
Savor:
Jane.

P.R. CHUD.com
Pull-Quote:
“Don’t Mist this great movie!”

http://chud.com/nextraimages/top15lavie.jpg14. La Vie En Rose (CHUD Review) (Buy the DVD)

I caught this one pretty late in the game and was really surprised it’s a 2007 film. Luckily for me and this list it is, as it’s one of the best biopics I’ve seen in a long time. I can’t envision Marion Cotillard playing anyone else but Edith Piaf after seeing this movie because she is so hardwired to the role it’s like watching a documentary about the troubled and amazingly talented singer. The film is very good and possibly could have sufficed without her, but she takes it to the Heavens. If she doesn’t win Best Actress this year I’m going to kill a dwarf.

Current Rating: 8.0 out of 10

Contributing
Factors:
An amazing central performance. Great music. Larger than life and melodramatic situations dealt with amazing grace.

Performance to
Savor:
Marion Cotillard.

P.R. CHUD.com
Pull-Quote:
“You will believe an Edith can Piaf”

http://chud.com/nextraimages/top15americang.jpg13. American Gangster (Jeremy’s Review) (Buy the Book)

This could have easily been the best film of the year but it loses its way in the last act and ultimately doesn’t have the emotional payoff all great classics of crime cinema have. It’s amazingly shot, acted to perfection, and loaded with great moments and what could have been Goodfellas ’07 ends up falling short. Still, it’s a magnificent entry in this year’s slate and further proof of Ridley Scott’s position at damn near the top of the directorial heap. As far as world-class helmers go, there’s nobody in the world better to execute a mainstream film, genre be damned. Oh, and Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington don’t suck, do they?

Current Rating: 8.0 out of 10

Contributing
Factors:
Ridley Scott is just unstoppable. Denzel and Crowe are better here than they were in Virtuosity, amazing! Really stout supporting work. A great sense of period.

Performance to
Savor:
Denzel.

P.R. CHUD.com
Pull-Quote:
“A worthy addition to the robust and legendary gangster genre.”

http://chud.com/nextraimages/top15charlie.jpg12. Charlie Wilson’s War (Buy the Book)

Tom Hanks is one of the staples in Hollywood, but he hasn’t been this much fun in a long, long time and his grace as an actor lends this somewhat light political comedy a really solid core. While Philip Seymour Hoffman chews scenery and Julia Roberts showcases expensive gear and makeup magic, Hanks holds the middle together with a performance that might be dismissed as easy. Timing and stature like Hanks in this movie is one of the most underappreciated talents in Hollywood, because it’s real easy to be big and loud and much harder to be a steadying presence in the middle of more brightly colored characters. His Charlie Wilson is a rascal hero you can’t help but love. Aaron Sorkin’s script is great and Mike Nichols does a really great job keeping the movie flowing and the laughs coming and this film accomplishes more with one post-film line of text than Lions for Lambs accomplished in 90 minutes.

Oh, and for a fleeting few minutes, Emily Blunt’s gonna bust your pant seams.

Current Rating: 8.3 out of 10

Contributing
Factors:
Consistently entertaining. Amazing dialogue. Tom Hanks is effortless and Philip Seymour Hoffman is such a scene stealer, you’d expect his mug on a Happy Meal.

Performance to
Savor:
The Hoff.

P.R. CHUD.com
Pull-Quote:
“Charlie Wilson’s Goddamn Great.”

http://chud.com/nextraimages/top15gone.jpg11. Gone Baby Gone (Jeremy’s Review)(Russ‘s Review) (Buy the DVD)

The twist is laughable and the film doesn’t have same kind of residual payoff that Mystic River has [that movie gets better upon repeat viewings, by the way] but Ben Affleck’s directorial debut is a stunning mixture of stripped-down character piece and adult thriller. Casey Affleck completes a two-punch of great performances this year, showcasing a private dick with a lot to learn but also one with incredible resiliance and inner strength and his supporting crew does him good. Especially Ed Harris, who has become a true artist in the past few years, going from solid generic everyman to the character in films with the most fire and grit. All of a sudden the name Affleck isn’t a punchline. It’s a seal of quality.

Current Rating: 8.3 out of 10

Contributing
Factors:
Great character work by all involved. A very real and unsexy look at Boston. A plot that chooses smaller great moments over twists and formula staples.

Performance to
Savor:
Affleck 2.0.

P.R. CHUD.com
Pull-Quote:
“Ben Affleck is right and you’re wrong. How does that feel?”


10. Hot Fuzz (Devin’s Review)
(Russ’s Review) (Jeremy’s Review) (Buy the DVD)

I don’t think anyone reading this article hasn’t seen Hot Fuzz. The films of Edgar Wright, Nick Front, and Simon Pegg are an absolute requirement for anyone even remotely intelligent and with a sense of what movies are supposed to be. A great, acutely funny, and pitch perfect movie and exactly as in sync with its inspiration as Shaun of the Dead. Not a second of wasted space and a film that gets better with each viewing. Ask me in a year but I may end up liking this one even more when it’s all said and done.

Current Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Contributing
Factors:
Hilarious and smart. A true follow-up to Shaun of the Dead. Great filmmaking. Universal appeal.

Performance to
Savor:
Simon Pegg.

P.R. CHUD.com
Pull-Quote:
“The perfect movie for any occasion.”

9. Runnin’ Down a Dream (Buy the DVD)

Imagine a four hour documentary about Tom Petty. Yeah, I was skeptical too. Then, watch it and realize that the time flew past you like a screeching osprey. What a great movie. Peter Bogdonavich, horrible scarf and all, unloads a terrific and unique movie loaded with great tunes, amazing looks at the music, and a real spotlight on the amazing talent backing the famous singer. Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench in particular, my eyes were truly opened to these amazing people. Another great thing is how far from a Behind the Music episode this is. Though there’s conflict, this is much more about a really talented performer’s ability to survive so close to the forefront while still being somehow underrated throughout. A really special movie.

Current Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Contributing
Factors:
Great music. Great storytelling. Great material.

Performance to
Savor:
Tom Petty’s backing band.

P.R. CHUD.com
Pull-Quote:
“One of the sneakiest geniuses in the world of music is revealed through a deep and intricately layered music documentary masterpiece.”

8. Superbad (Devin’s Review) (Russ’s Review) (Buy the DVD)

Knocked Up is a really great comedy, but it makes the decision to try and be a very funny movie and deliver a moral message, though somewhat diluted. Superbad is only concerned with laughs and great timeless characters. Both are great, but it’s Superbad which will be remembered alongside films like Blazing Saddles, Animal House, and Super Troopers [which has already achieved legendary status despite the doubters’ best wishes] for all time. Jonah Hill will blow you away the first time and the Mclovin character is the one the lunkheads will quote and worship, but Michael Cera absolutely destroys most of the comedic performances in ages with his nuanced and sneaky work as Evan. A great comedy, vulgar and raw and honest. Unmissable.

Current Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Contributing
Factors:
Laughs out the ass. Great ensemble. Jokes that lead to jokes that lead to jokes that blossom upon the fifteenth viewing. One of the funniest and honestly raunchy movies ever.

Performance to
Savor:
Michael Cera, sneaky as a ninja.

P.R. CHUD.com
Pull-Quote:
"Mclovin is only the tip of the iceberg that is the hilarious Superbad!"

7. The Darjeeling Limited/Hotel Chevalier (Devin’s Review) (Order the DVD)

This is the most emotionally satisfying of Wes Anderson’s films, primarily thanks to the great work of its leading cast but also because the filmmaker’s style is so part of the filmmaking vernacular now there’s no adjustment period, allowing the story to begin working at frame one. No longer needing to dwell on the funny situations of his near perfect previous track record of films, Anderson (and his new co-writers) just let flow the magic. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but there’s no denying the charm and wistful love evident in The Darjeeling Limited. This is a fun, old-fashioned emotional family drama that sneaks into you as you watch it as a comedy.

Current Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Contributing
Factors:
A great trio of leading men. An excellent precursor in Hotel Chevalier. A gorgeous sense of style. Wes Anderson’s trademark approach to filmmaking is extremely compatible with this Indian jaunt.

Performance to
Savor:
Adrien Brody.

P.R. CHUD.com
Pull-Quote:
"Wes Anderson is maturing like an extremely fine wine."


6. Juno (Russ’s Review) (Order the Soundtrack)

Jason Reitman is a great filmmaker already. After two films. That’s fucking rare. Diablo Cody’s a really fun talent to watch. Ellen Page is wildfire and Allison Janney, Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, J.K. Simmons, and Jennifer Garner all deliver amazing supporting work. Just a really fun and perky little movie that embraces the quirky side of life in a way Napoleon Dynamite only dreams it can. A really lovely little audience pleaser. Co-star Olivia Thurlby is legal, gents. That’s also a beautiful thing. But, the real secret to Juno, and it’s no secret at all… is Ellen Page.

Current Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Contributing
Factors:
Great performances. Mature approach to "Movie of the Week" material. Laughs aplenty. A sense of truth uncommon in these sorts of films.

Performance to
Savor:
Ellen Page. So cute. So sexy. So Canadian.

P.R. CHUD.com
Pull-Quote:
"The most irreverent and fun comedy of the year."


5. Michael Clayton (Devin’s Review) (Jeremy’s Review) (Buy the Script)

Charlie Wilson’s War, The Bourne Ultimatum and Michael Clayton are the best mainstream films for adults of the year but this one just had me riveted throughout its running time, and I’m truly surprised at just how violently opposed CHUD.com’s reviewers were to it. As I sat watching this, I couldn’t have been more into it, more in love with George Clooney’s work in it, more riveted by Tony Gilroy’s way of making a film. It’s not going to challenge the idea of what makes for a good thriller, nor will it have the audience pumping their fists as the climax seems to wish, but it’s a really strong movie and one I look forward to revisiting many times on DVD. I have nothing but love for this one, and it’s definitely a "feel" film. I just felt it and in a strong way.

Current Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Contributing
Factors:
A great sense of mood and tone. Wonderful acting from everyone. Extremely engaging and entertaining material.

Performance to
Savor:
George Clooney is nails but Tom Wilkinson is a force of nature here.

P.R. CHUD.com
Pull-Quote:
"This is how mainstream films should be."

4. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Russ’s Review) (Pre-Order the DVD)

Andrew Dominik knocked this one way out of the park, taking a story that’s been told dozens of times and turning into a dense and compelling character study of two men and the fate they shared. Casey Affleck jumps into the forefront of the young acting crowd with an assured and unique performance and Brad Pitt challenges himself impressively as he begins to play characters who are past the "rock star" phase of their lives, easing painfully into their latter days. A really evocative, lyrical, and special movie. I still don’t understand how this thing got so mismanaged and manhandled as it’s easily as worthy and beautiful as any of the awards bait films of the year.

Current Rating: 9.1 out of 10

Contributing
Factors:
Amazing photography. Delicious and deliberate pacing. Amazing character work by all involved. A surprising freshness considering the subject.

Performance to
Savor:
Pitt. Yeah, I’m the guy who think he delivered the best performance. Sue me.

P.R. CHUD.com
Pull-Quote:
"The Western is far from dead, and The Assassination of Jesse James deserves mention in the same breaths at the cornerstones of the genre."


3. Into the Wild (Devin’s Review) (Order the Book)

What a refreshing and old school film. Sean Penn has always been an interesting filmmaker but here he just lets go of any angst and allows a very loose and affecting tale to unfold and as a screenwriter he’s taken a very great work of literature and given it a new life of its own. He’s really delivered on his promise as an artist and this is a film which will inform new generations. It’s amazing to see a story about a miseld young man searching for something in the world and in himself that doesn’t ask the audience to judge or decide but rather let them fall sway to similar forces that drove Christopher McCandless. The book was moving but backed by testimony and sober reporting. The movie takes it to another level altogether. Amazing stuff.

Current Rating: 9.2 out of 10

Contributing
Factors:
Sean Penn’s emotionally powerful and impeccably realized vision. Excellent and enriching performances. The ability to take the time necessary to let a good story unfold.

Performance to
Savor:
Emile Hirsch, who surprised the daylights out of me.

P.R. CHUD.com
Pull-Quote:
"An amazing movie, introspective, poignant, and refreshingly analog."


2. Zodiac (Devin’s Review) (Order the DVD)

I’m working on my DVD review for the director’s cut of this film, so I’m saving most of my commentary on the subject for that, but this is simply an amazing and sneaky little masterpiece. The decision to focus on the procedural rather than the visceral and familiar serial killer stuff allows David Fincher, his amazing cast, and an excellent script to completely immerse themselves in the obsession and nuts and bolts of the effort to solve the case. Not only is it deeply satisfying even though the case obviously wasn’t solved, it reminds us just how malleable the medium can be. Superficially this is a contemporary of Silence of the Lambs or Fincher’s own Seven but it’s such a better film than those it isn’t even a comparison. The murders are simply chapter stops in the lives of the protagonists, and the identity and motives of the Zodiac Killer pale in comparison to the story of the lives affected by his actions. In reality, it’s All the President’s Men. It’s a novel. It’s a drama. It’s a look at America at a very specific moment in its history. It’s everything but a generic thriller and it’s a film that bears new fruit upon each viewing. In a career filled with amazing and mindbending films, Fincher may have stepped into an even more exclusive creative bracket with Zodiac.

Current Rating: 9.6 out of 10

Contributing
Factors:
The complete confidence and freedom to unsexy and oftentimes frustrating world of investigations. Brilliant performances from the supporting cast and an underappreciated one from lead Jake Gyllenhaal. An amazing script and David Fincher’s incredible precision behind the lens.

Performance to
Savor:
Robert Downey, Jr. Mark Ruffalo. John Carroll Lynch.

P.R. CHUD.com
Pull-Quote:
"One of the most engrossing movies of the 2000’s."


1. No Country for Old Men (Russ‘s Review)

I cannot believe what a monumental achievement this is. Superficially this is a chance for the Coens to do a jazz riff on a rather threadbare but wholly shattering novel. The novel itself is fantastic and so much of the meat is right there in Cormac McCarthy’s unique voice. That the Coens stayed very close to the material isn’t a suprise. That they did so while investing layers upon layers of new value is a surprise, since the recent output by the filmmakers have suggested they were in a state of uncertainty, bouncing between commercial fare and the sad loss of To the White Sea. This, Lebowski set aside as it’s not a movie but rather the best thing since ball bursts, is their best film. An adaptation. A deslotate modern Western. A film with a third act shimmy that threatens to lose the audience. A film starring Josh Brolin. All is just in the world of movies, for as much as we bemoan the surplus of everything shitty we’re forced to endure, a concussion blast of perfection hits us and makes it all seem worthwhile. This is one of those films you judge people by. I’m not going to say that if someone’s dangling off a ledge that I might not try to help if they’re not a fan, I’m just saying that I might not use my muscular dickin’ hand with the cast iron grip.

Current Rating: 10 out of 10

Contributing
Factors:
Javier Bardem in a career defining role. Josh Brolin proving that my decade-long love for him is just. Tommy Lee Jones delivering the most heartfelt and honest performance of his career. Amazing, amazing source material ripe with dialogue that goes down like single malt. The Coen Brothers, reminding us all that they can rule the world if they want.

Performance to
Savor:
Every single one.

P.R. CHUD.com
Pull-Quote:
"One of the greatest films of the past twenty years."


Honorable mentions: The Bourne Ultimatum. Once. Beowulf. Knocked Up. The Kingdom. 1408. Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure (IMAX). Eastern Promises. Sweeney Todd. Ratatouile.

Wish I could have seen: There Will Be Blood. I’m Not There. Atonement. Perseopolis. Across the Universe. Sicko. Waitress. Reign Over Me.

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