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Favorite Movies I Watched in 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Last night on NPR, I heard one of their movie critics give his top-ten (eleven, since one place had a “tie”) list of his favorite movies he’s seen in 2007. Naturally, they were almost all artsy-fartsy, foreign-language, independent, dramatic, esoteric, incomprehensible . . . (I think you get my point). There was only one on his list that I’ve seen, and—amazingly enough—it is on my list too (#4).

I’m going to try to limit this to just movies I saw at the theater—and I’ve been to the movies more times this year than in the last three years combined. But I did have to mention one that actually released in 2006 that I saw for the first time on DVD in 2007, just because I enjoyed it so much.

[There are several movies that came out this year that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to see, but really want to:
August Rush
Becoming Jane
3:10 to Yuma
National Treasure: Book of Secrets
(going to see this Friday)
The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep]

But now, without further ado, here are my favorite movies that I watched in 2007:

10. The Illusionist. I think this movie may have actually come out in 2006, but I watched it on DVD this year. This movie reminded me very much of the films of M. Night Shyamalan, complete with a twist at the end.

9. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. This was the summer of the sequels—Pirates, Bourne, Harry Potter, Shrek, Fantastic Four, etc. I greatly anticipated this “final” film in the trilogy, even took my parents to see it when they came to visit me over Memorial Day weekend. It would be higher on my list, except I think it was poorly edited and suffered a little from series fatigue in the storywriting. The scene with Captain Jack out in the desert could have been cut way down, apparently they cut out at least one key scene of dialogue that would have explained the ending better, and they kind of dropped the whole Calypso storyline down the drain (literally). But still, a great, fun movie.

8. Sicko. I know, I know. Most people don’t like Michael Moore nor his documentaries. But even though his bias is evident in how he put together this documentary on healthcare in America compared with overseas, it was an eye-opening look into an industry I previously knew (or thought) so little about. And it’s funny.

7. No Reservations. I’m not a big Catherine Zeta Jones fan. I find Abigail Breslin annoying (does she really have to be in every movie that calls for a pre-pubescent girl?). But this movie took me by surprise. It helps that when we went to see it, I was actively working on my novel that features a chef as the hero. But this was well written and well acted all the way around. Caveat: do not watch this movie on an empty stomach!

6. The Game Plan. This movie was worth the price of admission just from the first few minutes. Okay, I admit, I wanted to see it because I love Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. I expected it to be cute. I didn’t expect it to be as good as it was. Both Johnson and Madison Pettis (who played his daughter, Peyton) brought not just humor but also a genuineness that is often missing from “cotton candy” movies like this one. Oh, and The Rock sings!

5. Amazing Grace. Again, going to see this film was a decision made more based on who was in it than the subject matter. Some actors are just born to play historical characters, and Ioan Gruffudd is one of them. This movie featured a who’s who of British actors (Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones, Albert Finney, Michael Gambon, Rufus Sewell) and introduced a new face, who will hopefully become one of that who’s who: Benedict Cumberbatch (as England’s youngest Prime Minister, William Pitt). Aside from the abundance of acting talent, it is a beautiful homage to William Wilburforce, the driving force behind the campaign to end England’s involvement in the slave trade in the late 18th/early 19th century. (Oh, and it more than makes up for the fiasco that was The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. I was embarrassed for Ioan when I saw that one!)

4. Ratatouille. I don’t go see a lot of animated movies—mostly because I’ll be happier watching them on DVD at home without the stress of being in an enclosed space with a lot of kids. But this was one that I couldn’t miss. And I’m so glad I didn’t. The animation was the best I’ve ever seen (there were times it was hard to remember that what we were seeing was animated and not photographic). The story came to a point where it seemed like it was going to come to a nice, sweet, not very deep, but happy conclusion. But then the second half of the movie started—and things got much deeper and more interesting. Again, not a movie to see on an empty stomach!

3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I wasn’t really sure how they were going to condense the longest of the seven books down into the shortest of the five (so far) films. But they did it. Seeing these movies as a fan of the books is like just checking in to make sure that as I read them, I’m imagining the characters and settings as looking correct. As expected, this movie took on a much darker atmosphere. They had to pare it down to the most basic and important plot and events that took place, changed a couple of little things, and consolidated a couple of characters’ actions (Neville, once again, got to be a more prominent/heroic character by doing what Dobby does in the book to help out; the complicated relationship/breakup between Harry and Cho was handled by having Cho be the one who turned them in). But with as much as they had to work with and fit in, they did a good job. I’m already anticipating the next installment.

2. The Bourne Ultimatum. I actually was more excited about the release of this movie than the HP movie . . . mostly because I haven’t read the books and I didn’t have any idea what was going to happen in this third and “final” installment in the Bourne series. And this movie did not disappoint at all. In fact, if my back hadn’t gone out and kept me nearly housebound for a month and a half, I would have seen this one several times while it was still in the theater. There’s just something about seeing the chases (especially the car chase through the streets of New York) on the big screen that seeing it on DVD can’t replicate. Yes, I have already watched all of the special features on the DVD when I got it from Netflix the day it released.

1. Stardust. Should be sitting in my mailbox in a little red envelope as I write this. (Can’t wait to get home and find out!) Not only is this the best movie I saw this year, it’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen! Similar to The Princess Bride, this is a movie that will become an instant classic, one that should be in every movie lover’s library. The richness of the story and characters is unlike most movies being made these days. That, and the fact that I’ll never be able to listen to the “Can-Can” the same way again! If you haven’t seen it yet, go out and rent it tonight!

  1. Thursday, December 20, 2007 9:49 am

    Great list! I need to post one but it might not get done until after Christmas. However, I have to tell ya that Stardust is my favorite movie of the year too!! 🙂 Instant classic!


  2. Thursday, December 20, 2007 9:56 am

    I didn’t get home from running errands until after 8:30 last night—and immediately sat down and watched it. Then watched the special features (the Bloopers reel is great!).


  3. Thursday, December 20, 2007 12:05 pm

    Don’t get out enough to adult films to have a Top 10 list, which explains why the only two on your list that I’ve seen weren’t intended for adult audiences: Harry Potter and The Game Plan. But I too liked them both.

    My fave of the year though has to be Transformers, even after having now seen it on DVD at least 30 times!


  4. Thursday, December 20, 2007 12:06 pm

    Ooo, thanks for the list. I’m always trying to figure out what to get when I go to the rental store. Actually, we’ve been to the theater twice this year, which is amazing.


  5. Thursday, December 20, 2007 12:08 pm

    I watched Transformers a couple of weeks ago. It was cute, but I found it a little on the silly side for it to make my top-ten list. But great for its entertainment value.


  6. Thursday, December 20, 2007 12:26 pm

    Just saw Stardust–after I finished reading the book. I liked it a lot – more than I thought I would. Loved the score.

    Rataouille is ON MY LIST. I want to see it, just haven’t had time.

    Liked Bourne Ultimatum too 🙂

    Haven’t seen Harry Potter yet.

    Pirates of the Carribean…saw it. And I’ll end up with the DVD too 🙂 But it soooooo wasn’t a conclusion to the trilogy no matter what they say.

    I saw August Rush two weekends ago. It’s good. The music is REALLY good. I was surprised at how much I loved the film.

    Now don’t get me wrong I’m excited as heck about going to Europe Friday! But I’m missing the premier of National Treasure Book of Secrets! I so hope it’s still in the theater when I get back (should be I’d imagine). I loved the first. My sister and I have seen it WAY to many times. We can quote whole passages 😀


  7. Thursday, December 20, 2007 1:05 pm

    I might see Stardust someday, but I recognized one of my idiosyncrasies this year, and it makes it unlikely I’ll see it.

    Mainly I’m deeply entrenched in my solidly middle-class perception that I have control over myself. That I don’t believe in destiny, etc.

    I was reading reviews, got totally creeped out when I got the the bit with the voodoo doll, and knew I’d never see it in the theater.

    I don’t mind overcome-by-magic things like Circe and the pigs, because the men made their choice when they ate the food, but the idea of something as totally out of your control as the uber-powerful evil taking a negative interest?

    Well, I can imagine it fine, but I don’t want to spend time with it.

    Like I said, this a totally middle-class thing. I’ve observed/read very different attitudes in other circles, but I’m very aware of being (in this way) a product of my environment.

    More than anyone asked for, I know. Thought it might be vaguely interesting in the how-people-think category.


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