Written by: Ron Bricker
First-time CC2K writer William Motel joins the chorus of critics who have heaped praise on No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood. Both films appear on his top 10 list for 2007, along with a documentary and the long-awaited feature film debut of The Simpsons.
10. The Simpsons Movie: Like it or not, The Simpsons has set the standard for all animated entertainment. After 18 seasons and countless rumors, a big screen production finally became a reality. The problem was that no studio would give Matt Groening final cut. Twentieth Century Fox finally caved and we were given something that would appeal not only to the die-hard fans, but also to the random episode watcher. Sticking close to its roots and adding in some dirtier words than it could normally get away with, this 87 minute beauty will be loved by your inner child and anyone else who happens to be around.
9. No End in Sight: I felt compelled to add a documentary to the list for one reason or another. Like An Inconvenient Truth, the aim is to shock the viewer into disgust and eventually action. Gore’s film may have had more of an impact on the actions of Americans and the Green Movement, but Ferguson’s film really puts the inept U.S. administration under a microscope. You walk out of the room feeling dirty after you watch this well made study of the Iraq War – how we got there, and why we can’t get out.
8. Into the Wild: As a fan of John Krakauer’s work, I have to admit I didn’t think this book would translate well to the screen. Krakauer retraced the already deceased Chris McCandless’s path across the country and spoke to the people he interacted with along the way, constructing his book. A brilliant performance by the young Emile Hirsch and a tremendous job behind the camera by Sean Penn who miraculously didn’t add in some hidden hippie agenda make this a memorable trip across the US.
7. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: Johnny Depp is a lock for best lead actor in a musical or comedy in Tim Burton’s newest creation. After letting Burton know that he thought he could handle the musical load, DreamWorks green lit the movie without ever having heard Johnny Depp sing. That’s putting a load of faith and money into what one man thinks he can do, and Johnny does not disappoint. It would be a shame to miss a performance of this caliber from such a gifted and versatile actor.
6. Superbad: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg up the ante in the raunchiness department. Think of a more up to date version of Porky’s with much dirtier language. If for no other reason than hearing kids drop dialogue gems such as “the camel tail,” do yourself a favor and pick up some McLovin’ on DVD if you haven’t gotten a boner from this movie yet.
5. The Lives of Others: German director Florian Henckel hit the nail on the head with his big screen directorial debut, a political thriller set in divided East Germany in the early 80’s. Transformative performances by the all-Euro cast combined with sinister twists and turns elevate the film above standard spy fare and into the realm of high art.
4. Eastern Promises: David Cronenberg typically has at least one ultra-violent scene in all of his films and finds some way to work in a disturbing sexual image. In Eastern Promises he melts minds by getting them both into the same scene with a naked Viggo Mortensen and two Chechnyans battling to the death in a steam room. Viggo’s performance in this film is a transformation of the highest quality and puts all of his other roles to shame.
3. Atonement: About halfway through the film there is a long tracking shot on Dunkirk Beach that makes the price of admission worth it. It is simply one of the finest works of cinematography in recent memory. Throw in phenomenal acting on nearly all parts, directing, screenwriting, and a great story of redemption during WWII, and you’ve got one of the best films of the year. It’s marketing comes off as a chick-flick, but it is much, much more than that.
2. No Country for Old Men: If you managed to crossbreed Pulp Fiction, Citizen Kane, and Friday the 13th: Part II, you may have created one of the most gripping and terrifying movies ever. I can’t remember a better supporting actor performance than what Javier Bardem gives as the chaos factor in this newest Coen Brothers installment. The deafening sounds of silence in the barren Texas countryside and lack of soundtrack give this movie a taught, suspenseful story arch. You will literally be uncomfortable in your seat.
1. There Will Be Blood: The reclusive Daniel Day-Lewis returns to the big screen in this adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s Oil! Due to a very limited release it was hard to catch this film on Christmas week, but a wider opening is coming very soon, and it’s not to be missed. It’s plain to see the level of commitment that Daniel Day-Lewis puts into his roles. There is no detail overlooked in his character. He reportedly spent two years preparing for the role and had a hard time letting go of the character after filming wrapped.