For me, 2007 will be remembered as the year The Simpsons finally made it to the big screen (cow-a-bunga!). But while good, it really wasnt one of the years best (Doh!). No, that honor is reserved for a select few that captivated my attention in various ways, keeping me engaged, excited and, most of all, entertained.
So here are my picks for the best and worst, in order of preference. All thats left to say is lets pray that the Hollywood writers strike ends soon, lest we have nothing to pick for 2008, 2009, 2010 …
A rich, epic tapestry of extraordinary power and beauty fueled by a stark, tragic undertow. It blew me away with its narrative and cinematic riches and stunning performances from James McAvoy and Keira Knightley.
Two semi-estranged, dysfunctional siblings contend with the dementia of a parent in this character-driven masterpiece from Tamara Jenkins (Slums of Beverly Hills). Simultaneously sour and funny, its an utterly absorbing piece of work. Laura Linney is flat-out superb, as is the dour Philip Seymour Hoffman. But its Philip Bosco who gives the performance of his career as a parent slipping into senility.
The funniest movie of the year, hands down. Its uber-profanity was offset by the underlying sweetness of its three core characters as they made the formidable transition from awkward adolescence into awkward manhood. Michael Cera gives a comic performance worthy of an Oscar, but its Christopher Mintz-Plasses lovable nerd McLovin who steals every scene hes in.
David Cronenbergs potent, compelling story of a young woman who gets caught up in a dank underworld of Russian mobsters combines the best of the directors sense for the unsettling and sinister with his new fascination for solid storytelling. Viggo Mortensen is stunning, as is Armin Mueller-Stahl. One unforgettable scene in a sauna finds Cronenberg channeling Hitchcock with uncanny mastery.
OK, so it bombed big time at the box office, but not in my heart. Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino provided the years most unique movie-going experience. A deliberately cheesy, way over-the-top faux double-feature that might have played at your local drive-in in the 70s.
How could Eli Roth, whose original Hostel was genuinely terrifying, muck things up so badly with the sequel? Well, for one, he abandoned all sense of reality to the point of absurdity. The terror turned laughable. And the rest of the movie? Pure torture.
It should have been called Hannibal Mind-Numbing. This was the years most pointless entry into the official film register. Luckily for Anthony Hopkins, he is too old to play his younger, cannibalistic self.
30 Days of Night
Vampires on steroids invade an Alaskan town that plunges into darkness for 30 days. Hide-and-seek ensues for the predator and prey; boredom ensues for the audience. They dont call them bloodsuckers for nuthin.
OK, so while maybe not the worst film of the year (Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was far more horrible), Spidey 3 was by all means the most disappointing, especially given all the hype and the two masterful films preceding it. What a sinful waste of talent.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End
Actually, this trilogy-closer was an even more sinful waste of talent. The narrative was cluttered, the filmmaking clamorous, the experience without a drop of the joy and filmmaking nuance that made the first two Pirates movies so much fun. Well, I guess we can thank God its over. It is over, right? Right?
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