Monday, May 5, 2008

2007 Diva Cup Awards: The Top 10 Films of 2007

I could write some deep and meaningful analysis of the year in film, but, frankly, I'm just ready to put 2007 behind me once and for all. One thing did strike me though while looking through this list again: 7 of the 10 films have men as their main characters. While the good female roles haven't exactly dried up, the films these performances appear in just aren't as spectacular it seems.

I hope you have enjoyed this year's Diva Cup Awards and thanks for sticking with Rants of a Diva through the 2007 film year.

10. The Bourne Ultimatum (Paul Greengrass)
If Jean-Luc Godard, in all of his inventive, New Wave glory, had been forced to make a crowd pleasing film, the end result probably would have looked something like Greengrass' The Bourne Ultimatum. With all of the jump cuts and shaky camerawork, the film was an adrenaline rush from start to finish. I haven't been this enamored with a pure popcorn flick in a long time.

9. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)
It would be easy to dismiss There Will Be Blood as Daniel Day-Lewis' one man show, with him being in nearly every scene and his heartless domination of the entire narrative, but Anderson has grander ambitions for his project than a simple character study and fleshes them out nearly perfectly.

8. Superbad (Greg Mottola)
In the never ending "Best Apatow of 2007" debate between Knocked Up and Superbad, I'm placing my support behind Greg Mottola's rowdy comedy of two horny teenage boys looking for booze and girls. Nearly 20 minutes shorter than Knocked Up, Superbad is more concisely edited and can set up a joke, deliver and move on much quicker. The end result is a film that is more consistently funny with laughs that last nearly twice as long. As an added bonus, Superbad boasts a star-making performance by Michael Cera as the sweetheart Evan.

7. Zodiac (David Fincher)
I was skeptical at first, but David Fincher has made a 2 and a half hour, detail-heavy cinematic investigation into the Zodiac killings that terrorized San Francisco 30+ years ago one of the most gripping and intriguing films of the decade. I've liked, never loved, Fincher as a director before, but Zodiac has now put him on my directors to lust over. And no discussion of Zodiac is complete without mentioning the acting ensemble- most notably Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey, Jr. and Mark Ruffalo.

6. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik)
Having heard it described as a Terrence Malick-lite film, I did not think I would like The Assassination of Jesse James... when I first saw it. But I was hooked from the opening few minutes and, although I'm probably the only person who believes this, I actually felt that the nearly 3 hour run time was too short. Brad Pitt is definitely solid in a nice change of pace performance, but the picture belongs to Casey Affleck, with his in-born awkwardness being used to infinite effect, as the "love-struck" Bob Ford.

5. Sicko (Michael Moore)
Michael Moore's documentaries customarily make me hate the problems that plague our society. Before watching Bowling for Columbine I never knew I cared about gun control, but now it's a huge issue with me. I knew Bush was a douchebag before Fahrenheit 9/11, but Moore showed Bush in a whole new douchy light. But after watching Sicko, I was literally sick to my stomach at the injustice of health care. Moore's constant attacks throughout the films are relentless and don't rely on the gimmicky assholishness of his other films. With Sicko, Moore steps back and lets the problems and his solutions speak for themselves.

4. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (Sidney Lumet)
Sidney Lumet's return to form was, along with Britney Spears, one of the most welcome comebacks of 2007. But the real star of the film is Kelly Masterson's script, with its clever shot/reverse shot approach that shows two sides (even three at others) to the story and adds more depth to the preceding scenes as it goes along. It is so brilliant that it's hard to believe that it is a debut script- imagine what Masterson will write for script number 2.

3. No Country For Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen)
Oscar seems to be atoning for their sins after the 2005 Crash debacle by picking two worthy winners in a row. This Coen Brothers thriller is up there with Fargo and The Big Lebowski as their finest work. If it wasn't for that perplexing ending, which I'm still working through and need another viewing to understand, this would probably be the best of the year.

2. Hairspray (Adam Shankman)
Somehow, the director of Cheaper by the Dozen and The Pacifier has turned a beloved Broadway musical into an immaculately well-made movie musical. The soundtrack feels contemporary, pulled from the 60's and un-Broadway all at the same time; the script retains the original story but isn't afraid to make changes to better suit the film medium; and the ensemble is one of the finest assembled in recent history, complete with star making performances from Nikki Blonsky and Elijah Kelley, an endearing star turn from John Travolta, a fabulous return to the screen by Michelle Pfeiffer and James Marsden and Zac Efron singing and dancing their way into my heart.

1. Atonement (Joe Wright)
People often deride Oscar votes for voting with their hearts, and often times they go overboard by shameless manipulators (the love story in Titanic, The English Patient, Jamie Foxx in Ray), but sometimes you just need to let your emotions get the best of you. Movies are supposed to make you feel and the best ones get you so involved in what's going on that by the time the final frame is projected, you need a second to collect yourself before you can leave the theater. Those are the exact feelings I had at the end of Atonement. Not only does Atonement have the emotion wrapped up, it's blessed with a director more interested in emotions than the usual prettiness and grandeur of the usual costume picture, two sexy and vibrant young stars who give Leo and Kate a run for their money in the chemistry department, one of the finest child performances ever and a young actress, stuck bridging the gap between the younger and older versions of her characters, who miraculously connects the pieces and delivers a heartbreaking performance most people ignored. Atonement suffered a little bit of a backlash right before the Oscars and I only hope that people will eventually rediscover this gem and realize what it's intentions where and how well they were achieved.


J.D. said...

OMG. ♥

Samantha said...

at least you got #1 right! lol :)