It's been a strange year for film. The usual arthouse fare has only been been marginally exciting while films coming from Hollywood are delivering the goods in unexpected ways. From sequels that aren't horrible ("Bourne Ultimatum") to comedies that don't insult your intelligence ("Knocked Up"), it's been an interesting year to be a movie fan. Now to the meat of my first post. By the way, I'm completely aping the End of Cinema.

This list includes titled released in 2006 internationally but only released in Amerikkka in 2007. That is only done for comparison's sake.


Lions for Lambs
Good Luck Chuck
The Heartbreak Kid
The Golden Compass
The Great Debaters
Reno 911: Miami
La Vie En Rose
Across the Universe
Evan Almighty
Reign Over Me
The Ten*
In The Shadow of the Moon
I Am Legend
Rocket Science
King of California
Starter for 10*
God Grew Tired of Us*
Reign Over Me
Year of the Dog
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Michael Clayton
Brand Upon The Brain*
The Savages
The Orphanage
28 Weeks Later
Lust, Caution
Black Snake Moan
No End In Sight
Talk To Me
A Mighty Heart
The Kite Runner
The Lookout
The Simpsons Movie
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
This Is England*
Charlie Wilson's War
Hot Fuzz*
American Gangster
I'm Not There
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
Lars and the Real Girl
Paris, Je T'Aime*
I Don't Want To Sleep Alone*

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Rescue Dawn*
The Wind That Shakes The Barley*
Away From Her*

20. Superbad (Greg Mottola)- This film is funny. Of course, funny is subjective and your mileage may vary. But for me, the antics of these two high school dorks who try to score some beer for a party were riotous. The only real flaw (and this is a big one) is Jonah Hill's character who comes off as someone that should be avoided and is only slightly redeemed by his scenes where he gets personal with Michael Cera's character. And on the subject of McLovin, he is a caricature and while funny is nowhere near as engaging as the other parts of the movie. I'm not trying to knock McLovin but Michael Cera is approximately a million times funnier.

19. 3:10 to Yuma (James Mangold)- I haven't seen many westerns. The ones I have seen (The Searchers, My Darling Clementine, Unforgiven) have ranged from good to excellent. I think the genre is due for a good old revival and this film just proves how good they can be. Christian Bale and Russell Crowe are both excellent as usual and the direction is pretty damn good. It's just a very solid film that does everything it sets out to do pretty damn well.

18. The Bourne Ultimatum (Paul Greengrass) - I will freely admit now that I have never seen the original Doug Liman film The Bourne Identity and as of present I feel no particular need to. The two Paul Greengrass directed features do such a great job at putting you right there alongside Bourne that it feels as if we are living it out as well. I have never been one for action movies but if they were all as good as this one, well, you'd probably see more action films higher up on the list.

17. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)- It's too soon to call it a masterpiece... but it certainly feels like one. I'm still unsure of what I think of the ending but I was fascinated regardless. The one big complaint is that... PTA has sacrificed a bit of the personality that his films used to possess. I'm not saying that it doesn't feel like a PTA movie but he's abandoned a lot of the devices that made his films unique. I know that those probably wouldn't fit in with this particular story but it's my complaint and I will stick with it.


16. Syndromes And A Century* (Apitchatpong "Joe" Weerasethakul) - It's probably the oddest, most elusive and mysterious film I saw all year. Split in two halves, it details the going-ons of two hospitals (in two different settings) that are staffed by the same people. I can't wrap my head around what's going on thematically but it will not leave my head. Some scenes go nowhere, others are pitch perfect, but it's always fascinating.

15. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu) - The scariest movie of the year. There's something to be said for this kind of everyday horror show and the reasons why it's so effective. There are no villains here, only ordinary people who must make incredibly difficult choices. There's so much tension and dread in here that I was squirming in my seat.

14. Knocked Up (Judd Apatow) - Judd Apatow had a pretty good year (minus the financial disappointment that Walk Hard is turning out to be, I liked it though). He was involved in the making of three great films. This was the best if not the funniest. The thing I like about Judd Apatow's movies (and TV shows) is that even though they're sometimes juvenile they're deeply humanistic. His jokes are not mean-spirited and you don't feel bad about laughing.

13. Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg) - What's so wonderful about this movie is the way it lets us into a world that we haven't seen before. I don't know about you but I've never seen a movie that immerses you so much into the world of the Russian mafia. Maybe that's ignorant of me but the film showed me something I did not know. There are other reasons why the movie is wonderful of course. Primarily, Viggo Mortensen's performance. It's a revelation. We knew he could act from A History of Violence but this is just on a different level. He dissapears into his role and he exudes this aura of menace that is completely tangible. The man can and will hurt you if he has to. This is a tense crime film that develops a deliberate pace as it unveils all of its secrets.

12. The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson) - I've seen a lot of criticisms lobbied at Wes Anderson's newest film. Most of them are legitimate concerns and I share some of them. Anderson's characters never rise above their quirks and oddities, he pays more attention to his soundtrack choices than to his character's emotional resonance, the film's emotional climax is somewhat racially misguided, etc. I agree with a lot of the complaints but those things fall by the wayside because of the sheer amount of joy I feel when I watch one of his movies. If a Wes Anderson film with this many problems can make my top 10, imagine one without them and think of how good that could be. Hopefully, that's what we can look forward to one day.

11. Gone Baby Gone (Ben Affleck) - Ben Affleck's directorial debut is surprising. Mostly in the ways that it knows its characters and the streets they live in. That's the reason why the film works. It's a police procedural that doesn't seem like one because it focuses so much on the hidden identities of its characters. It makes for a riveting film.

10. Zodiac (David Fincher) - David Fincher has always struck me as a pretty underrated director which is weird since he's directed a couple of modern classics (Se7en, Fight Club) and some other great ones with only one stinker to his name. The movie works both as a police procedural and as an account of one man's obsession with the case. I wasn't familiar with the Zodiac killer before I saw the movie and it helped because it allowed me to believe that it would end in the most predictable of ways but its ending establishes the movie as a great film because while there's closure it isn't the type that you expect. Finding out that it was all true made it even better.

9. 2 Days In Paris (Julie Delpy) - In some ways, it is a typical romantic comedy movie but it never feels anything but truly original. Yes, it may bring back memories of Before Sunrise/Sunset but the circumstances here are quite different. This is not a perfect romance and the way in which writer/director/star Julie Delpy analyzes this relationship bordering on the obsessed. She doesn't let her characters off the hook and she ends up arriving at truths that may be anything but romantic.

8. After The Wedding* (Susanne Bier) - Most people would recognize Mads Mikkelsen as the latest baddie in the Bond universe but I would like to point those people to this Oscar-nominated film. This movie evokes a rare spell mainly because of the way it doggedly refuses to become melodramatic when it easily could. This is the stuff that soap operas run on! Yet it all feels real and grounded and that is quite an achievement.

7. Into The Wild (Sean Penn) - This brilliant film chronicles a young man's adventure as he tries to find himself by rejecting his promising future and heading out to the road and eventually the wild. The way the film doesn't ask you to like the protagonist and instead shows you why he would give it all up is brave. It's a clear labor of love and it can be felt through every second of this movie. Great stuff.

6. Blame it On Fidel* (Julie Gavras) - Sometimes there are movies that focus so much on a single person that not only do you feel like you know them you also perhaps think you care for them. This is one of those times for me. The movie works because it always stays at the main character's level and never presumes to be about anything else aside from this particular character. Plus this has one of the all-time greatest performances by a child actor. How could I not love it?

5. The Namesake* (Mira Nair) - I never thought I would like a movie with Kal Penn this much. Sure, the Harold and Kumar movie was fun but outside of that I didn't think he had much. He's pretty good in this movie but he's outshined by his elders. Both Tabu and Irrfan Khan (a great year for him) deliver two of the best supporting performances of the year and the movie belongs just as much to them as it does to Kal Penn. It is the typical story of immigrants coming to America and dealing with the cultural rift between generations but it never feels old because the movie is so impeccably acted and the direction is always fair and compassionate. Films this touching should be treasured.

4. Juno (Jason Reitman) - This should be the Indie Film 101 horror show but, incredibly, it isn't. Instead we get a comedy about characters that are just slightly outside of our own reality. The film has such sympathy for its characters that even when they make mistakes it gives them the benefit of the doubt. It sees its characters at eye level and even makes surprising discoveries about them. It has a sense of free will and though you may have an idea of where it's going, it refuses to play along. Juno (the film, the character) is fascinating, thoughtful, human, funny and all kinds of other adjectives. This film is magical.

3. No Country For Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen) - Probably the year's most acclaimed movie (outside of There Will Be Blood), the Coen Brothers deliver a strange meditation on not only the inevitability of death ("You can't stop what's coming") but also some stuff about the times changing. The movie does have more on its mind than the average thriller but it never becomes the main focus of the movie. It's there for you to chew on if you wish to or you could simply ignore all of that stuff and just feel the hairs in your arm stand up whenever Javier Bardem shows up on screen. What the Coens have managed to do is sneak in enough arthouse musings into their thriller that that crowed enjoys it and put in enough action into their meditation on death that the average Joe won't feel bored (though they may have lost them on the ending). Yes, you could look it that way. Or you could just say that it's a damn good time.

2. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel) - It can't be beat. This is the most inspirational movie of the year. For an emotional experience, no other movie this year can beat it. Also no other movie this year found a way to visually tell its story so compellingly. I was thrilled and moved. Believe it.

1. Ratatouille (Brad Bird) - The more I thought about it, the more it became clear that the answer was quite obvious (although the last three films did give me a hard time). There was no better film this year than Ratatouille. Yes, I'm choosing a Pixar movie as the year's best. Trust me, I also wish I was picking some obscure foreign film as my #1 but I had to give in to my heart. When I watched this movie, I felt like Anton Ego right at the very end.

* Released in US 2007, elsewhere 2006

I doubt that anything can top Ratatouille but here are releases that I haven't seen that ... might. Some are big, some are not but I want to see all of them.

blood and chocolate
smokin' aces
an unreasonable man
avenue montaigne
the astronaut farmer
into great silence
the host
maxed out
black book
the hoax
aqua teen hunger force colon movie film for theaters
broken english
the devil came on horseback
death at funeral
hannah takes the stairs
i want someone to eat cheese with

romance and cigarettes
december boys
in the valley of elah
lake of fire
for the bible tells me so
my kid could paint that
we own the night
reservation road
things we lost in the fire
wristcutters: a love story
dan in real life
joe strummer: the future is unwritten
southland tales
margot at the wedding
what would jesus buy?
the mist
starting out in the evening
the amateurs
grace is gone
the walker
youth without youth
cassandra's dream

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