telling minor stories to avoid a major one

Lists!: Susong’s favorite movies of 2007 by Barbecue Bros
January 29, 2008, 8:32 pm
Filed under: lists, movies

Movies are strange things to rank and discuss. First off, each person likes different kinds of movies intrinsically and even worse, the mood you’re in when you see something can seriously affect how you receive it. (Note: I’ve said this about Roger Ebert for years – his mood always determines whether a summer blockbuster is “mindless, soulless, poorly written sludge” or “a special effects driven extravaganza in which you can just turn your mind off and enjoy going to the movies again!”) And second, it’s difficult to argue the merits of different movies based on that previous bias. (If someone you know hates “slow” movies, you’re never going to convince them that Solaris is “deliberately paced.”) With those things in mind, here is my list for 2007. Was Juno funnier than Knocked Up? Nope. Once a better story than Atonement? Nope. There Will Be Blood as enjoyable to simply watch as Across the Universe? Definitely not. But each had other things going for it that added up to something more. On to the list –

  1. No Country For Old Men – In one of the first scenes of No Country For Old Men, someone is violently but silently strangled on the floor while his legs flail wildly. His feet leave a pattern of scuff marks all over the floor. At this point your brain is saying “Hold on baby Jesus, this is gonna get bumpy.” The story is basically – man finds money, second man wants money, first man runs from second man. But one of these guys is married to a sweet girl who may get too close, oh and someone is a contract killer on the loose, and there is another bounty hunter in there, and then of course the police following the trail. And one of the characters may represent the Angel of Death. Funny, when I look at those things just typed, this movie could easily have been Kiss The Girls or something. The difference is the performances of Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin (really underrated here) which are (sorry Mr. Day-Lewis) my favorites of the year. Of course, having the Coen bros direct you as if they are going after blood themselves helps too. And a story by Cormac McCarthy? Please. This was the perfect storm.
  2. There Will Be Blood – As Kenny “164” Clark said walking out of this, “I don’t think I’m smart enough for that movie.” This is a big movie dealing with big themes that are not all that easy to identify. It could be all about religion, or all about capitalism, or family, or ambition, or all of those things together. Or, as the director has said, it could just be a horror movie. I enjoyed the contradictions and mysteries in the movie that never resolved themselves – did we actually see the two Sunday sons? What was the reason for H.W. in the movie? And what about that ending? I have a feeling this will become one of my favorites (possibly the way I like Children of Men more than The Departed now) and I cant wait to check out all the special features on the no-doubt gargantuan DVD set to come.Also – This movie also featured the year’s best trailer. Check it out at
  3. Across The Universe – Love it or hate it. That’s how everyone feels about this movie. I just loved it. I’m not a musical genre freak because it’s sometimes hard to get behind people randomly breaking into song in the middle of a sentence. But here the songs of the Beatles are the point of the story. Its not the story driving the songs, it’s the other way around. Unbelievable songs, solid performances, and genuinely FREAKY direction overcome the story’s limitations and make this one of the best of the year.
  4. Bourne Ultimatum – The wildest ride of the year. What happened? I used to hate Paul Greengrass’ shaky style but after United 93 and this, I love it. Weird. Also – Matt Damon is of course the man here, just like the other two. I have yet to meet anyone who didn’t like this movie.
  5. Into The Wild – You wouldn’t think that a movie directed by Sean Penn, starring that kid from Girl Next Door and about a guy dying alone in the woods would be inspirational but man is it ever. The story centers around the true story of a guy who lit off on a trip to nowhere without telling a soul where he was going. His family and friends had no idea where he was until his body was found in the Alaskan wilderness 2 ½ years later. Was he a hero or an idiot? Wherever you side on that debate, the movie definitely presents a nice balance between showing the idealist, free-spiritedness of the “road trip” with the need for family, friends, and outside forces in your life.
  6. Ratatouille – Yea, it’s animated. So what? How can you not love Pixar? This is a great story of the little rat that could that simply looks better than any animated movie I have ever seen. Not quite as funny as The Incredibles, but Ratatouille proves Brad Bird is still on his A game.
  7. Juno – Very surprising that this made it this high since I absolutely loathed the first 20 minutes. “That aint no etch-a-sketch homeskillet. That’s one doodle that can’t be undid.” Give me an effing break. But hey, the last hour and a half redeemed the film thanks largely (in my opinion) to Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner. Read that second name again. When was the last time you heard that? Her character absolutely scared the sh*t out of me. Her tight-ass interactions with the easygoing and foulmouthed Juno are absolutely hilarious and the scenes with Juno and Bateman’s character geeking out over music and movies were some of my favorites this year. And yes, I agree with you Juno – Sonic Youth is just noise.
  8. Knocked Up/Superbad – What can I say that hasn’t already been said? These are the funniest movies of the year (with Hot Fuzz a close third). They get the tie because (duh) they come from the same laugh factory of Rogen/Apatow. Even though I HATE Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up was the better film. But come on, Superbad had McLovin. Therefore a tie.
  9. Lars & The Real Girl – I hate calling a story “heartwarming” but that’s exactly what Lars & The Real Girl is. A pretty weird little movie surrounding a lonely man’s belief that a “real doll” is his actual girlfriend and a small town’s acceptance of this totally mental idea. Unbelievable? Duh. That’s what makes it awesome. And Ryan Gosling is one of the best actors in America.
  10. Once – I have a feeling that Once will prove to be one of my favorites of this year. I have already seen it 3 times and will probably see it plenty more times in the future. A short, uncomplicated, deliberately vague, open to interpretation, incredible film. Also the best soundtrack of the year.

                  Honorable MentionsAtonement, I’m Not There, Darjeeling Limited, Black Snake Moan, Grindhouse


                  6 Comments so far
                  Leave a comment

                  [i] Bourne Ultimatum – The wildest ride of the year. What happened? I used to hate Paul Greengrass’ shaky style but after United 93 and this, I love it. Weird. Also – Matt Damon is of course the man here, just like the other two. [b]I have yet to meet anyone who didn’t like this movie. [/b][/i]

                  Are you serious? I LOATHE this movie…

                  And I think after a few more viewings of TWBB, I’ll be able to understand the movie to the point that I’ll get something out of it, but much like Magnolia, I’ll never understand it completely.

                  Comment by Kenny

                  Opinionated Kenny strikes again!

                  Comment by Susong

                  I was about to say to your Bourne comment…

                  “Susong, meet your roommate Kenny.”

                  Comment by twoguns

                  Lets all just admit that Kenny’s taste in movies cannot be respected until he removes Magnolia from the “Best Movie Ever” list. A few 2007s I am suprised aren’t mentioned:

                  300 – Susong, do you even like action?
                  Casino Royale – Could be the best Bond movie yet.
                  The Departed – I actually like Leo in this one.
                  Blood Dimond – Leo lovefest (part 2)
                  The Prestige – First time you watch it is unbelievable, just cause it wasn’t in the last 3 months doesn’t mean you have to forget about it. (DVD release – Feb 07)
                  Transformers – Although a bit corny, this movie was really solid.

                  I also would support Juno being rated higher than it currently is.

                  Comment by Walters

                  Casino Royale, Departed, Blood Diamond and Prestige were all theatrical 2006 releases, so I’m guessing that’s why they aren’t noted.

                  Comment by twoguns

                  Across the Universe was the most disappointing movie of 2007 for me. I like the Beatles, but didn’t like the renditions of their songs. The movie made them sound depressing. There were some cool scenes, but overall, I give this movie a 5/10. Hairspray was much better.

                  Also, Atonement = most boring movie of 2007.

                  Comment by Dan

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