Tuesday, December 18, 2007

best of 2007: movies

Finally, it's time for my highly opinionated list of 2007's best movies. A few notes before I begin:

  • Not all of these were originally released in 2007, but since that’s when I first saw them, they belong on this list.
  • Aside from the first two, these aren’t in preferential order.
  • Your mileage, as always, may vary.

1. Shortbus: The title refers to an underground salon for the "gifted and challenged" where disaffected New Yorkers meet up for conversation and sex. This movie gained notoriety because real sex is shown onscreen, but it isn't pornography; one reviewer put it best when he said "It's like Manhattan with money shots." Brilliant, heartbreaking, brave, and utterly uncompromising, it's another fantastic film by Hedwig and the Angry Inch's John Cameron Mitchell.

2. Mysterious Skin: I read this book earlier in the year and loved it; fortunately, the movie does it justice. It's about a young boy who wakes up bleeding in his cellar, and because he can't remember the previous five hours, he starts to think that he was abducted by aliens. He obsesses over this theory for years, and then he tracks down someone who knows exactly what happened. Since I'd already read the book (also one of my 2007 favorites), I was prepared to be disturbed, but parts of this movie were still extremely difficult to watch. Still, it's a must-see if you can handle the strong subject matter, and Joseph Gordon Levitt is phenomenal in an Oscar-worthy performance as the teenager who holds the key to the secret.

3. The Simpsons Movie: Yes, it's like an extra-long episode spiced up with mild profanity and (animated) full frontal nudity, but it's also extremely funny.

4. Grindhouse: Now THIS is entertainment! Planet Terror is an ultra-gory zombie flick starring Rose McGowan as a go-go dancer who winds up with a machine gun for a leg. Death Proof isn't nearly as good, and it takes forever to get going, but once it does, it's a wild car chase/women's revenge hybrid. And in between the two movies, there are fake trailers spoofing Nazi exploitation, giallo, a Mexican revenge thriller, and best of all, an incredibly sick and twisted homage to 80's holiday-themed slasher flicks called Thanksgiving. Grimy, nasty fun.

5. Marie Antoinette: I've always been fascinated by the tragic tale of Marie Antoinette, and I loved Sofia Coppola's first two films, so I was really anxious to see this one...and it didn't disappoint. It's quite possibly the most beautiful movie I've ever seen, with its luscious candy colors and stunning costumes. And I'm not normally a big fan of hers, but Kirsten Dunst is fantastic as the doomed queen.

6. Zodiac: A riveting account of the search for the serial killer who terrorized the Bay Area in the late 60's and throughout the 1970's. It's almost three hours long, but its fantastic cast (including Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., and Mark Ruffalo, all of whom I freakin' love), tight script, and tense directing by David Fincher make the minutes fly by.

7. Casino Royale: The latest installment in the James Bond series cuts out the camp, opting instead for relentless action and more cerebral quips, and Daniel Craig's leaner, meaner Bond made all the haters shut up.

8. 300: Leonidas, king of Sparta, leads a small army against the king of Persia; heads (and arms, and legs) roll. Exciting action sequences + dazzling visual style + lots of half-naked men in leather Speedos = a spot on this list.

9. Pan's Labyrinth: A dark, twisted fairy tale about a young Spanish girl who discovers a magical world in the backyard of her new home; imagine if Alice fell into hell instead of Wonderland. Beautiful and disturbing; its images and ending haunted me for days after seeing it.

10. Superbad: In hopes of getting laid, two teenage boys try to score booze for a party. Needless to say, things don't turn out quite the way they expected. This was like an unbelievably raunchy John Hughes movie, and I laughed my freakin' ass off.


Stay Alive, in which a group of teenagers gets their hands on a video game that kills its players if they die in the game. You know you’re in trouble when the biggest name in your cast is Frankie Muniz.

By the way, I had a hard time deciding whether to pick Stay Alive or the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie, but the opening of ATHF, which had me laughing so hard I was literally doubled over, saved it from receiving this dubious honor. (The other 85 minutes or so? Unadulterated ass. )