10. KNOCKED UP
I did some thinking before adding this one to the top ten list, but then again, I simply had to. I truly loved Judd Apatow’s “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” but this year’s “Knocked Up” is so much better for so many reasons. Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl form one of the best on-screen couples I have seen in a long time, and they play their roles delicately and with electrifying enthusiasm. On top of that, Apatow’s writing is top-notch and the thematic behind the film, though treated with a lot of silly humor, has quite a dose of truth to it. “Knocked Up” is a fine pleasure to sit through, and one of just a few films that made me laugh on a continuing basis.
9. AWAY FROM HER
Sarah Polley’s “Away From Her” is the perfect film for those desiring a dramatic love story. Blessed with a solid script that explores the devastating impact Alzheimer’s can have on a relationship, the movie completely avoids saccharine elements and never drifts away form its main thematic. Besides Polley’s subtle direction and a serene soundtrack, the film features a wonderful ensemble cast, including the charming Gordon Pinsent, Olympia Dukakis and Julie Christie, who earned a Golden Globe nomination for her compelling role as a wife who slowly succumbs to the Alzheimer’s disease. The excellent writing largely contributes to the magic of the movie, but it is Christie who will steal your heart and make you scream “Oscar!” A powerful movie indeed.
Besides “Toy Story,” “Finding Nemo” and “The Incredibles,” Brad Bird’s “Ratatouille” is one of my favorite Pixar films and undoubtedly the best computer-animated movie of the year. The script tastes just as delicious as a wonderful glass of French wine, the humor will have you rolling in the aisles, and the main characters are sincerely wonderful. Plus, the movie will definitely inspire you to cook and appreciate the deliciousness of food. From a technical perspective, “Ratatouille” looks even sharper than previous Pixar flicks, making most of the characters and decors seem more realistic than ever. Continuous action and fun are included on the menu as well. Bon appétit!
7. EASTERN PROMISES
Here’s a solid film that seriously kept its promises. Following the success of “A History of Violence,” Viggo Mortensen and David Cronenberg team up again for another nail-biting thriller that includes an all-star cast including Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel and Armin Mueller-Stahl. “Eastern Promises” is one of those dark films that pull you straight into the middle of the action and keep you hostage until the very last scene. Steven Knight’s haunting script and Cronenberg’s first-class direction perfectly harmonize in “Promises,” making it one of only a few movies this year that succeed in completely ensnaring its audience in a powerful tale of murder, deceit and retribution. Watch out for all those twists in the plot. They will knock you flat!
6. MICHAEL CLAYTON
Many of you may disagree with me on this one, but Tony Gilroy’s political thriller “Michael Clayton” is yet another film that really left a strong mark on me this year. I understand the story is rather complicated and often feels too rushed, but Gilroy proves he’s a dab hand at writing compelling scripts that can take your breath and bound you to your seat for two full hours. His direction is smooth and keeps the plot moving at a fast pace all throughout, and his characters, though mostly intricate, are fascinating to observe and analyze. George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson and Sydney Pollack all deliver first-rate performances, transforming “Michael Clayton” into a gripping thriller with tons of suspense.
How could you not fall in love with this film? Following the marvelous reboot of “Pride & Prejudice,” Joe Wright’s “Atonement” is the epitome of a movie in which the story, cast, camerawork, editing and soundtrack perfectly harmonize. Ian McEwan’s novel serves as a strong basis for a brilliantly adapted screenplay with spellbinding characters, setting off a poignant intrigue that will keep you guessing until the end. With “Atonement,” Joe Wright turns filmmaking into poetry, creating a mixture of beautiful images and powerful emotions that will pull you straight into the action. Keira Knightley and James McAvoy share a magical chemistry on screen, bringing their subtle characters to life with intense passion and commitment.
4. INTO THE WILD
If you were seeking an adventure in theatres in 2007, then I’m sure you saw Sean Penn’s latest marvel “Into the Wild.” Based on a novel by Jon Krakauer, the film focuses on a young man who abandons everything he has (including his identity) and embarks on a perilous trip all across the United States, hoping to hitchhike to Alaska where he plans on surviving for several weeks. “Into the Wild” is a wonderful tale about a brave man who seeks adventure in his life and sets out to discover who he really is. Clocking in at 140 minutes, the movie is a suspenseful ride and an inspiring reflection on life with many surprises, great humor and heartfelt drama. Sean Penn proves yet again he’s a dab hand at directing and lead actor Emile Hirsch delivers his best performance yet. This is one of those films you could go on watching for hours. It’s a gripping journey indeed.
“Juno” is undoubtedly the most original movie of 2007, captivating audiences young and old with its incredibly refreshing humor and yet another wonderful ensemble cast. Screenwriter Diablo Cody has created some of the funkiest dialogues of the year, and you’ll instantly fall in love with her unique characters. Helmed by Jason Reitman, “Juno” will make your hearts fill with warmth all while you’ll have a hard time recovering from rolling in the aisles. Ellen Page’s stellar performance ranks among the best of the year, while the film’s soundtrack has all it takes to be voted best of the decade. The songs are as expressive as the dialogue, and together, they tell a deeply moving and deliciously funny story you’ll want to experience over and over again.
2. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Critics across the U.S. named “No Country For Old Men” best film of the year, but I have to rate it second best. Joel and Ethan Coen’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s vibrating novel is a unique experience and one of the most exciting thrillers of the year. Screenplay and direction reach perfection, and the film is a definite must for those seeking a mesmerizing thriller with complex characters, challenging dialogues and a dose of social commentary. Poetic at times but mostly threatening and dark, “No Country For Old Men” is a daring film that you won’t be able to shake off once it penetrates your mind.
1. THERE WILL BE BLOOD
The nation’s top film critics were right: “There Will Be Blood” is Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece. Based on the novel by Upton Sinclair, the film follows an ambitious oilman’s quest to drill for oil on the property owned by a healer for the Holy Spirit. Although the film is unlike anything Anderson has ever done, it’s still a fantastic tale of greed, vengeance, family, religion, ambition, betrayal and violence. Lead character Daniel Plainview is probably one of the most ruthless and fierce monsters you’ll ever encounter in a film, shamelessly exploiting people to enlarge his oil business. Daniel Day-Lewis plays Plainview with passion and an incredible sense of reality, delivering the best performance of the year, if not of the decade.