Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscar Wrap-Up, 2007 Best and Worst Movies

So I sat through the entire Oscars ceremony last night. I was pleased with a number of the awards results, from the expected (best actor Daniel Day-Lewis, best supporting actor Javier Bardem, best picture No Country for Old Men, best score Atonement) and the unexpected (best supporting actress Tilda Swinton, best editing Bourne Ultimatum, best visual effects The Golden Compass). I thought Jon Stewart did okay, especially considering that he only had a week to prepare with his writing staff.

Which brings me to my 2007 Best and Worst: Movies list. Of the Oscar nominees, the only film I planned to see but didn't was Elizabeth: The Golden Age (I have netflixed it though). Of the other movies, I would still like to see Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and The Great Debaters. I'm going to admit that I'm voting a bit more with my heart than my head here. I ranked some stuff pretty high, even though I saw more artistic merit in other movies. This is what I enjoyed the most.

The Best:
1) Michael Clayton. I loved a lot of movies from 2007, but this is the only one I didn't have ANY reservations about. Acting, script, design, direction...this movie has it all. Plus, it stars George Clooney.

2) The Bourne Ultimatum. This isn't a particularly cerebral film, but it is well-written, directed, and acted. And the assassination in the London train station scenes are as good a suspense/action sequence as any I've seen. I like that someone as talented as Paul Greengrass (United 93) is willing to make something so enjoyably popcorn-y. This is sure to become an action movie favorite. Plus, it stars Matt Damon.

3)3:10 to Yuma. Like Bourne, this is also a fairly straightforward film. But also like Bourne, it's incredibly well-made and very enjoyable. Russel Crowe and Christian Bale work wonderfully together.

4) Ratatouille. Pixar continues its streak of beautiful, lovable, quality family films. It's not quite Finding Nemo, but it's close. As soon as I finished watching this one, I put it back in the DVD player and watched it again.

5) No Country for Old Men. I still have reservations about the ending, but this movie was impeccably executed. The showdowns between Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin are so good, that you can almost forgive anything else.

6) Atonement. Unlike No Country or There Will Be Blood, this is an example of a "classic" drama, made very much in an older mold. However, due largely to its interesting plot structure and kinetic direction, the film avoids feeling dated. I wish they had given Keira more to do (she comes off as annoying, largely due to the lack of material she has to work with), but James McAvoy and Saoirse Ronan are excellent.

7) Eastern Promises. It's all about Viggo Mortensen. End of story.

8) Gone Baby Gone. The script lacked some zest, relying too much on voice-over narration, but I was very taken with Ben Affleck's direction and Casey Affleck's performance. I'm looking forward to future projects from them.

9) Zodiac. A beautiful ensemble piece, though a bit drawn out. Mark Ruffalo totally works his ridiculous haircut, too. I was a bit surprised it got totally ignored this award season, though it was probably released too early in 2007.

10) Juno. A little too artificially cute for me, but Ellen Page is amazing. Plus, who doesn't like JK Simmons?

Stuff I liked but had some issues with: American Gangster, Charlie Wilson's War, Harry Potter 5, Across the Universe, Shoot 'em Up, The Golden Compass, Live Free or Die Hard, Oceans 13, There Will Be Blood.

The Worst:
1) Spider-Man 3. Painful. May be a franchise killer, though Marvel is planning to try again.

2) Shrek The Third: Eh.

3) Breach: A waste of Chris Cooper.

4) Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: It lost a lot of the joy of the previous two installments. It felt as if they just wanted it over.

5) The Seeker: The Dark is Rising: Very disappointing. It was so flat.

6) The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford: There was a good movie in this film, but it's hard to find in the 2 hours 40 minutes running time. It's really a shame, given that Casey Affleck and Brad Pitt are quite good.

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