Tedious and predictable, I know - and for a change I'm not talking about "Transformers." No, it's list time. No big difference from everyone else here, my 2007 Top Ten, organized last to first, with the usual disclaimer that as I'm not a professional film critic nor located in France, Los Angeles, New York or Austin there are certain "big" entries I haven't gotten to see yet: Principally "Kite Runner" and "There Will Be Blood."
One additional disclaimer: The ACTUAL best film I saw in 07, in addition to being easily my favorite of the year, was Paul Verhoeven's "Black Book." However, as it was technically released and Oscar-submitted in 2006 I did not officially include it. You, however, should still see it as it's a future classic and the best movie The Mad Dutchman has made since "Robocop," which incidentally is indeed my favorite movie ever.
So, on with it:
10. DRAGON WARS
Around here, movies are graded by how they PLAY, not on their intentions. Hyung Rae-Shim apparently intended his megabudget, nine-years-in-production "Dragon Wars" as South Korea's foray into the realm of global "tentpole" blockbusters, but the end result is something else entirely: Cheezy-as-hell, bafflingly-silly and, well.. something simply beautiful to behold - a real, honest-to-god, no-irony-about-it Asian Giant Monster Movie with all the outsized imagination, near-surreal incoherence and seemingly-shanghai'd actors any genre entry worth it's salt could ever want. Giant snakes constrict skyscrapers, dinosaurian behemoths launch shoulder-mounted missiles, winged reptiles dogfight with attack choppers and armored Feudal Korean demon knights march through hails of US Army bullets. It's the visual poetry that monster-loving boys devour, the stuff of which Movie Geeks are born.
9. RESCUE DAWN
In a year where the American political scene tore itself apart as Left and Right battled to see who could make a more astonishing asshole of themselves preening and posturing about the meaning of "patriotism" and what it "really" means to love their country; a German fringe-film icon and a British actor teamed up to release the most honest, simple (but not simplistic) and genuine ode to The American Spirit in years... in a fact-based Vietnam movie, no less! Shooting a man-vs-wild epic of psychological breakdown and physical triumph smack dab in the Forest Primeval with a star who lives and breathes physical transformation, Werner Herzog is in his element; while Christian Bale may finally have met the director who's intensity can match his own.
8. EASTERN PROMISES
David Croneberg cuts every single shred of fat from the Gangster Movie formula and hands us the leanest, sharpest and most efficiently-satisfying "crime-picture" in years. Not a frame, line, scene or idea is wasted in this narrative Blitzkreig of a Russian Mob drama, with Viggo Mortensen topping himself yet again, Naomi Watts oozing sex and sympathy and Armin Muehler-Stahl in an Oscar-worthy bad guy turn for the ages.
Barbarian Fantasy finally came roaring back to life in the wake of Zack Snyder's super-fun "300," but Robert Zemeckis' bawdy 3D animation-for-adults epic was the more satisfying mind-bender; with awesome action scenes, a slick script from Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman and a vision so grandly realized that jaw-dropper monster battles can compete with a near-naked Angelina Jolie for arousal-inducing spectacle.
6. THE SIMPSONS MOVIE
After changing television, the sitcom, animation and pop-culture history forever over the course of 20-and-counting brilliant seasons, "The Simpsons" finally manage to hit theatres big time by going back to basics: Comical eco-disaster in Springfield, recklessly-impulsive nuttiness from Homer, smart-alecky antics from Bart and Lisa, put-upon stoicism from Marge. Took long enough, and every bit worth the extra polish.
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez turned the IV-drip off and finally gave their exploitation-film creative power source to audiences straight-up. The result? A work of Movie Geek nirvana the re-drew the line between Those Who "Get It" and Everyone Else. Zombies, car chases, babes, blood and beasts pack 200 movies worth of memorable moments into 2 movies worth of running time.
4. REIGN OVER ME
Mike Binder at last crafts a movie that lives up to his ambitions and unique view of the world; a heart-rending examination of the personal crisis that must be solved and the personal problems that probably can't be amid the most affecting vision yet of Post-911 New York existance. Adam Sandler sheds every scrap of armor and irony as a man slowly killing himself in an attempted descent into madness, while Don Cheadle re-establishes his considerable dramatic credibility as the only man who may be able to bring him back... or at least help him learn to exist where he is.
David Fincher makes his best film, and possibly the best Serial Killer mystery ever, breaking down in mezmerizing detail the maze-like history of the hunt for the Zodiac Killer. Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo and Jake Gyllehaal give some of their best work ever amid flawless period detail and some of the year's most intense moments. A total package from top to bottom.
2. THE MIST
It's Frank Darabont doing John Carpenter doing Stephen King doing H.P. Lovecraft, and it's a top-flight creature feature masquerading as a pitch-black human drama... or maybe thats the other way around. Whatever else it may be, "The Mist" is dynamite moviemaking no two ways about it. Thomas Jane leads the good guys as they battle a monster-concealing weather anomally that comes complete with land-squids, giant bugs, flying lizards... and a rapidly-unraveling religious nutcase who might be more dangerous than all of them.
1. GONE BABY, GONE
All is forgiven for Ben Affleck, onetime punchline and current maker of the Best Movie of 2007. An authentic, grim and harshly-realistic vision of Boston crime and punishment; framed around a private detective (Casey Affleck) who's moral sturdiness gets put to an ultimate test investigating the conspiracies that spin out of a little girl's kidnapping. Featuring stellar work from all involved, and a breakout turn from Amy Ryan as an unlikable yet human mother at the center of the storm.