Joe’s 2007 Top 10

The Top 10 films of 2007, according to Joseph Bélanger
(in alphabetical order)

ATONEMENT

This isn’t your usual period drama. Director Joe Wright did the genre justice last time out by getting it all in line with PRIDE AND PREJUDICE but this time out, he infuses the genre with passion and modern sensibility. The result is gripping and heartbreaking.

THE DARJEELING LIMITED

Wes Anderson’s latest quirkfest was blasted for being too simple but when the picture is this colorful and this telling, who needs complication? It’s a shame Anderson’s audience is so specific because too many people missed out on this beautiful brotherly bonding.

I’M NOT THERE

Poetry inspired by a great poet. Todd Haynes’ imagination is boundless and luckily for us, he does nothing to constrict his potential. This Bob Dylan biopic is challenging, engrossing, full of fantastic performances and so fresh that all future biopics now have a new standard to achieve.

JUNO

At first, this teen pregnancy comedy is too cool for its own good. Only that’s the beauty of it all. Like the teenage girl the story follows, JUNO only lets down its guard once given the chance to get comfortable with itself and with us watching. It is hilarious and heartfelt without being the least bit sappy.

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

This is the easiest title to include on the list. The Coen Brothers have never made it look easier. This film is smart, calculated, quiet and frighteningly tense. It is on one level a drastic departure from their signature style while still entirely loyal on another level. It is fascinating and flawless.

ONCE

John Carney’s little Irish musical shouldn’t even be called that. What it actually is, is a movie about two musicians falling in love. Their harmonies sing of their compatibility while their dialogue denotes every reason they cannot be together. It is realism and romance rolled into one soothing melody.

PERSEPOLIS

Most animated features are mindful to tread the thin line of appeal between child and adult. Marjane Sartrapi’s account of her coming-of-age in Iran and Austria makes no such effort. It is distinctly adult and absolutely enthralling. Her plight is not lightened by the style but rather heightened.

RATATOUILLE

One would think that this is exactly the kind of animated feature I just described – trying to please as many as possible but what it really is, is a movie about a rat. Director Brad Bird is not concerned about appeal but rather a story that stirs and delights and imagery that pushes animation further with every frame. If rats were this cute and culinarily-inclined, they would be in every kitchen.


LE SCAPHANDRE ET LE PAPILLON

This French film is not for the faint of heart. However, those brave enough to see it will get an experience unlike any they’ve ever had at the movies. Julian Schnabel’s delicate telling of Jean-Domique Bauby’s real life experience with locked-in syndrome is claustrophobic and nauseating but yet somehow also inspiring and liberating.

ZODIAC

This was the first film I reviewed in 2007 and it announced a great year to follow. It may be a little long but David Fincher’s dark, rich account of the puzzling mystery to uncover the identity of the zodiac killer is at times brutal, at other times snarky and at all times deeply absorbing. Fincher gets us lost and makes us like it.

***

Here’s to 2007 … Thanks for all the great times in the dark. Bring on 2008!