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Sunday, December 16, 2007

My Top Films in 2007

I've published my all-time top five and top ten list of films before, but 2007 was a year in which I saw some very thought provoking and enjoyable films. So, I've decided they merit a post to share with you.

Here's the top ten films I saw in 2007:

  1. Into the WildInto the Wild: Sean Penn's directorial début depended entirely on the performance of young Emile Hirsh. In my view Penn picked a winner. In a movie to do with human bonding on so many levels, I followed Hirsch for two and a half hours as he rejects society and ventures into the wilderness, and he kept my attention pretty much throughout. I watched this just recently after my own 2007 summer trek, and the idea that only after being completely self-sufficient can a person grasp a meaning for his or her life and one day perhaps go back with that knowledge fully learned, struck a note in me. I highly recommend this film.

  2. Takva: This Turkish movie is a rare example of an inner look at Islamic sects and their organizations. Sometimes feeling like a documentary, Takva: A Man's Fear of God follows the humble and introvert protagonist whose degree of devotion is challenged by the outside world, and his fear of God begins to eat away at his senses. The film looks for answers to such questions as why people can't simply be good to get nearer to God. In my opinion, to balance the output of Western imitations in the Turkish film industry, this type of movie should be released more often.

  3. Das Leben der AnderenDas Leben der Anderen: The Academy Award winning foreign language film of 2006/7 is astonishingly smart. The Lives Of Others is set prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and follows a surveillance agent and his growing obsession with his assignment - a writer and his lover. Okay I'll be dramatic and say I was swept off my feet by the film, and was amazed to discover that it's actually a directorial début.

  4. Once - Made in 2006, but released this year, I read somewhere that Hollywood film-maker Steven Spielberg said of this "little movie" that it gave him "enough inspiration to last the rest of the year". In my opinion it's one of the best music films you'll ever see. Shot in 17 days on a pittance of a budget, it tells the story of an Irish busker and a young immigrant's romance. Every bit as moving as a film can be.

  5. The Last King of Scotland: Winning an Academy Award for his efforts, Forest Whitaker announced his talent to the world with his intimidating embodiment of Ugandan despot Idi Amin, who rose to power in the 1970s. James McAvoy plays Nicholas Garrigan, a Scottish physician who travels to Uganda for the adventure and wins Amin's affections, becoming his personal doctor. All the awards and the plaudits for this film are absolutely justified.

  6. This is EnglandThis is England: On paper Briton Shane Meadows has an untainted record as a feature director. For example for me, Dead Man's Shoes was the best British horror in a long, long time. This is England is perhaps his best yet, based on his own experiences with skinheads in the mid-eighties.

  7. Rocky BalboaRocky Balboa: I always felt it was a shame that the Rocky franchise fell down on the disappointing number 5, but I guess it was that itch that Sylvester Stallone finally scratched here with a triumphant return, which came out in late 2006. Most critics didn't think a 60-year-old could do it. I'm glad they were wrong, because what these films have taught me is that even when you're losing, you can be a winner. Just takes the right amount of heart.

  8. American GangsterAmerican Gangster: It's 1970s America, and a detective works to bring down Denzel Washington's drug empire, who is smuggling the drug into the country from the Far East. Washington gave one of the performances of the year here as Frank Lucas, the heroin kingpin from Manhattan, in a movie that at first glance is typical of its genre. It's based on a true story, that doesn't glamorise, but pushes buttons to makes us think about self-perceptions of right and wrong. Although in my opinion it just misses out being a criminal classic, nonetheless, it's a stunning vision under the eye of Ridley Scott.

  9. The Bourne UltimatumThe Bourne Ultimatum: Okay, I confess, this one didn't make me think too much, but that's because I just didn't have time to; this is a film for that little bit of action junkie that lies dormant in all of us. Paul Greengrass shakes with the familiar frenetic camera work. Taking up the role of the protagonist for the third time, Matt Damon somehow managed to convincingly portray a flawed superhuman, while the espionage action lifted the franchise to new heights. Its place is cemented in my books as one of the great trilogies.

  10. SuperbadSuperbad: Well, we can't be serious all the time. The 23-year-old Jonah Hill plays a 16-year-old in a popular subject in Hollywood this past decade involving teenagers trying to get drunk and laid. I usually walk around this well trodden ground, but on the recommendation of friends I decided to watch it. I have to say it actually did make me think, and from the few I have seen of this type, it's never been done this well.

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