In compiling this list, there were a lot more good movies made in 2007 than I’d remembered.
Here are my favorites, followed by a big list of honorable mentions.
The Top 10
Totally breathtaking. In the future, the sun is dying. So a ship is sent out in space with a special kind of bomb that will reignite the sun. But contact with the ship is lost, so a second ship with a second bomb is sent out to do the job. But as the crew of the second ship approaches the sun, they receive contact … from the first ship. And from there, terrible decisions have to be made and horrifying horrors are experienced. The team dynamics reminded me a lot of the original Alien, and there’s a lot of amazing work from Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Cliff Curtis and Rose Byrne, who also wins the 2007 award for Girl I’d Most Like to Save from a Potentially Horrifying Science Fiction Death and Bring Home for a Fine Homemade Meal and, If She’s Interested, a Life Filled with Love and Happiness and Babies.
Even from the first trailers I was pretty sure this movie would be a lot of fun, but I still can’t believe how legitimately good and fun and entertaining the final product turned out to be. Original review here.
8. Seraphim Falls
Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson star in this post-Civil War Western about revenge and redemption. Original review here.
7. Live Free or Die Hard
Original review here. I’ve almost worn out my DVD showing it to friends who didn’t catch it in theaters. It’s not the best Die Hard movie, but it just might be the most entertaining.
This is a fun, lovely, magical movie that’s kind of in the same vein as The Princess Bride. Original review here.
5. Rescue Dawn
Christian Bale gives the most inspiring performance of his career as a U.S. Navy pilot who’s shot down over Vietnam and masterminds a daring escape from the prison camp he’s sent to. Jeremy Davies and Steve Zahn are equally awesome in supporting roles. Original review here.
4. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Brad Pitt is mesmerizing as James, but the real star here is Casey Affleck.
3. The Bourne Ultimatum
The best possible conclusion to what just might be the most consistently satisfying film trilogy I’ve ever seen. Original review here.
2. Gone Baby Gone
Ben Affleck cements himself as a true actor’s director in his directorial debut, and makes a true actor out of his brother Casey in the lead. Amazing.
1. The Kingdom
The Kingdom, by director Peter Berg, hit me harder than any movie I saw this year, mixing heart, smarts and dazzling action with timely reflections of current events. It’s unpredictable, unrelenting and totally entertaining.
The opening credits play over cleverly edited animation that chronicles the political and business history between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Then, during a baseball game played by an American oil company’s employees and families at their secure Saudi Arabian housing facility, terrorists strike with an efficiency that rips out your heart with one gut-wrenching sucker-punch after another.
FBI agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) and his team — a bomb expert (Chris Cooper), a forensics specialist (Jennifer Garner) and an intelligence analyst (Jason Bateman) — have to play a mean game of political hardball just to get five days on Saudi soil to solve the case and bring those responsible to justice. Political obstacles and cultural differences create complications and frustrations at every turn, while unseen dangers lurk around every corner.
Ashraf Barhoum is excellent as the Saudi colonel assigned to Fleury’s team. He shares a particularly strong rapport with Jamie Foxx, whose own charisma and screen presence remain as indomitable as always. Cooper’s southern charm is undeniable. Bateman, whose wit gets quite a workout, flexes plenty of other muscles — both physical and emotional — in what’s got to be the year’s most suspenseful subplot. Garner’s character lacks the physical confidence of her Alias alter ego, which makes her own big action scene even more thrilling and powerful. (No need to worry, Sydney Bristow fans. When it comes to fighting, Garner’s still got it.)
Berg’s direction allows this talented group to incorporate and nurture believable character bonds within the formidably-paced framework of Matthew Michael Carnahan’s compellingly layered screenplay. Action fans will be talking for a long time about a massive fight sequence that drops a claustrophobic homage to the rocket launcher bit from Clear and Present Danger into the middle of a meticulously choreographed gun battle that defines Berg as a formidable action auteur on the level of Mann and Frankenheimer.
And then there’s the ending, which will leave you thinking and feeling long after it’s over.
Dan in Real Life. Steve Carell stars as a lonely widow who attends a family reunion with his three daughters. He meets a woman at a local bookstore who awakens a spark inside him, only to find out she’s his brother’s new girlfriend. And it goes on from there. Heartfelt, sweet, sad and ultimately a very uplifting little movie with amazing work from Mr. Carell, who has the humor/heart balance of guys like Bill Murray and Steve Martin down pat. And I’m not sure I could give higher praise than that.
Arrested Development was a stronghold of comedic genius, but somehow young Michael Cera’s sweetly awkward portrayal of George-Michael Bluth earned him some of the show’s best and funniest moments. It’s no surprise, then, that he’s so hilarious in Superbad, with equally solid work from co-star Jonah Hill. It’s crude, but it made me laugh. A lot.
Keri Russell was absolutely luminous in Waitress, which is nothing like what I expected it to be and even better because of it.
3:10 to Yuma should have been in the Top 10, but I still can’t come to terms with what I see as a major tonal problem with its ending. That being said, Christian Bale and especially Russell Crowe did spectacular work in one of the truly best Westerns I’ve ever seen.
The first half of I Am Legend was legendary. The second half, not so much. Had the terrible special effects been on the same level as Will Smith’s emotional performance, this could have been a modern classic.
300 looked great and had tons of quotable dialogue.
No Country for Old Men is an awesome piece of work, but its second half isn’t for everyone. That being said, I enjoyed it for what it was and appreciated what they were trying to say with the ending.
The Mist kicked my ass, took my name and sent me on my way with a hole in my gut. But I’m still not sure how I feel about what they did with the ending. Regardless, Frank Darabont should be proud of how powerfully his film depicts the terrifying depths of human frailty and fear. In that regard, it was certainly the most terrifying film I saw in 2007.
I liked the old-school camera tricks David Goyer used in The Invisible.
I totally fell in love with Nikki Blonsky in Hairspray.
This is was a good year for Shia LaBeouf, who was excellent in Transformers and did wonderful leading-man work in the fun, suspenseful Hitchcock homage Disturbia.
Speaking of Hitchcock, I liked Vacancy a hell of a lot more than I expected to.
It’s been fun watching Daniel Radcliffe grow along with Harry Potter, and his work in The Order of the Phoenix was no exception. Big points, too, for Gary Oldman.
Knocked Up cemented Seth Rogen as a comedy genius. But my favorite part of the whole movie was the speech by Craig Robinson — who plays Darryl on The Office — to Leslie Mann’s character outside of the club when he won’t let her in because she’s too old. “I know. You’re right. I’m so sorry. I fuckin’ hate this job. I don’t want to be the one to pass judgment, decide who gets in. Shit makes me sick to my stomach. I get the runs from the stress. It’s not cause you’re not hot. I would love to tap that ass. I would tear that ass up. I can’t let you in ’cause you’re old as fuck. For this club, you know, not for the Earth.”
I didn’t see The Darjeeling Limited because I was afraid of it. Wes Anderson’s movies get me where it counts, and this just wasn’t the year for that. Whew.
What were your favorites?