With a quarter to go, my top 20 movies of 2007. Some December '06 stuff is included - I don't care about when it first showed up at a festival so much as when your average film buff could have had a chance to catch it.
1. The Ten
You know how if you beat Super Mario Bros. you can play the whole game again in "hard mode"? This feels like comedy's "hard mode."
2. The Host
I reserve further comment until it comes off my store's "new release" section and I can rent it again for free.
3. Knocked Up
If there's a better plot-based comedy this decade I will be very, very surprised. The bonus disc is better than 90% of them. Try to complain about gender disparity or the fact that it didn't stop being funny in order to earnestly recreate your stance on abortion and I will take you to the mat. You will be forced to snivel about how you just didn't like it that much and how "everyone's allowed to have their own opinion" without a goddamn leg to stand on. I will own you with science. I know kung fu.
4. Planet Terror
The closest Hollywood has come to bringing an Electric Six album to life.
It could have used a touching anecdote about their past to explain why Jonah Hill got so emo about his eventual split with Michael Cera (they could have swiped the one from Wedding Crashers); bromance doesn't get that co-dependent without some shared trauma. Aside from a desire to see women get a movie like this about their adolescence, that's my only complaint.
6. Spider-Man 3
Me, I think more movies should have so much emotion, razzle-dazzle and energy that they threaten to morph into a Bob Fosse production. In comparison, Batman & Robin threatened to morph into Andrew Lloyd Webber, and that's a truer sign of improvement in superhero films than any deadly serious adaptation.
7. Notes On A Scandal
Argues for the value of oscar bait by making a more entertaining Mary Kate LeTourneau film than Lifetime ever would. Even if TV had the gall to add an aging repressed lesbian to the story, I doubt they'd find anyone who could chew it up and spit it out like Judi Dench.
Director Billy Ray once again tells us the real-life story of an amazing liar and the guy who happened to be there when he fucked up.
9. Balls Of Fury
Highly recommended to fans of State humor, Christopher Walken and Kickboxer. The incorporation of ping-pong into action sequences is the reason CGI was invented.
The last chapter of a ladies' man, equally pathetic and graceful.
11. Reno 911: Miami!
"Any last words?" "Ummm... Uhhhh... Ummm, 'He liked it'? NO! Wait!"
12. Shoot 'Em Up
Clive Owen gives another ridiculous violent fantasy some heart by protecting a baby, only this one takes pride in its ridiculousness. Knocked up a spot or two for setting a shoot-out to the entirety of "Ace Of Spades" and making it work.
13. Away From Her
Another swinging sixties icon confronts the ravages of age. Expect more of this as boomers get autumnal.
14. Black Book
Paul Verhoeven's "serious" film is his second most exciting* since Total Recall. Another case for Oscar bait!
15. Bourne Ultimatum
I've run while holding a DV camera, and there's no reason for the screen to shake THIS much. But Paul Greengrass makes sure you still see what you need to. I'm hoping if they make a fourth that they'll finally create a climax that's as gripping as the end of the first act. I don't have to worry about Bourne not kicking butt and taking names.
16. Children Of Men
I might be drastically underrating this movie in hindsight, but as much as I enjoyed Clive Owen and the long takes, I'm still hung up on how much Hollywood they're hiding behind the cinema verite. Possibly the best dystopian sci-fi movie of all time, but it's still dystopian sci-fi.
A great short film about post-accident disability followed by a tolerable heist flick.
Mark Wahlberg still hasn't turned a movie into gold without joshing on the other actors, but his attempts are getting better.
19. Hot Fuzz
I can get over the fact that I'm supposed to find mass-murdering pronvicials hilarious as long as I focus on what was, namely Timothy Dalton and Nick Frost.
20. 3:10 To Yuma
If you're making a classy action movie and need someone to pull off a character whose motivation is unclear, Russell Crowe can make sure we don't really care while he's on the screen, even if we notice.
The other 20 I've seen so far this year, in order of diminishing preference: The Hawk Is Dying, I Think I Love My Wife, Zodiac, Alone With Her, Blades Of Glory, Alpha Dog, Letters From Iwo Jima, Black Snake Moan, 28 Weeks Later, Perfect Stranger, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters, Death Proof, Rescue Dawn, Ghost Rider, Smokin' Aces, The Number 23, The TV Set, Dead Silence, Hannibal Rising and...*drum roll*...Fracture.
*I can't ignore Starship Troopers, as much as it gets in the way of my point. But I can make it an asterisk.