My list of the ten best films of 2007 goes to print on Wednesday in the Capital Times and I’ll post it here on Tuesday night. To whet your appetite here’s the shortlist of best (and worst) of 2007 with the additional bonus of the New Zealand box office grosses for each film. The keen-eyed and statistically minded reader will be able to calculate the precise degree of influence exerted over the market by an (even above) average weekly local film reviewer.
The complete list of 24 best and 21 worst is after the jump.
Best (in temporal order):
Babel (UIP) $629,795
It has a kind of science-fiction feel about it as we see four very different world cultures presented as if they could be other planets, alien territory yet eerily familiar.
Volver (Dendy) $120,752
Try as I might I can’t find a flaw with the performances, the story or the direction.
Notes on a Scandal (20th Century Fox) $898,205
Philip Glass’s excellent music helps ratchet up the tension nicely.
Letters from Iwo Jima (Warner Bros) $79,118
Moving and elegiacal, Eastwood’s Iwo Jima duet is in the very top drawer of anti-war films: essential viewing.
Hot Fuzz (Paramount) $1,017,421
It is, of course, completely brilliant. And loud.
The Road to Guantanamo (Palace) n/a
… gave me anger-cramps for days afterwards.
Breaking and Entering (BVI) $66,267
While a final plot twist might lay it on a little thick, there’s usually plenty of truth supporting the intelligent script and generous direction. Highly recommended.
Pan’s Labyrinth (Hopscotch) $676,782
… completely brilliant on every level.
Zidane: a 21st Century Portrait (Indie) n/a
… the resulting film is cinema art in the purest sense – beautiful to watch and listen to, yet at the same time as intellectually stimulating and rigorous as you want it to be.
Bobby (Hoyts) $251,795
… Estevez’s rage and bitterness about Kennedy’s pointless assassination is printed on every frame. Straight in to the year’s top ten – with a bullet.
Knocked Up (Paramount) $1,626,350
… a wonderful film that shows a deep-seated love for life in all it’s gooey glory.
Ten Canoes (Palace) n/a
… the result is beautiful and human and scatalogically funny. A reminder of what cinema can achieve when it is set free.
Eagle vs. Shark (Hoyts) $947,252
… full of great (mostly small) comic moments and observations and on the rare occasions when something doesn’t quite work it’s easy to ride with it.
The Italian (Rialto) $397,992
… a lovely and old-fashioned art-house winner about a six year-old Russian orphan played by the wonderful Kolya Spiridonov.
Deep Water (Hopscotch) $104,085
… if you already saw it at the Festival check it out again as it’s quite a different film second time around.
Half Nelson (Palace) $46,696
… a beautifully acted character study about a gifted school teacher (Ryan Gosling) with a drug problem …
Atonement (Paramount) $1,304,182
… about a lie told in innocence that has far reaching and terrible consequences.
Away From Her (Dendy) $123,212
(Pinsent’s) is an extraordinary performance, fully investing his character with all of the painful mash of love, loss and guilt that Polley’s eloquently spare script requires.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Warner Bros) $126,703
… often rewarding, and the dialogue in particular is a treat for lovers of rich vocabulary …
Venus (Hoyts) $128,834
While O’Toole’s performance has won all the plaudits (and the Oscar nomination), it is the portrait of reckless, innocent and impetuous youth that has stayed with me – the best portrayal of what it means to be young I have seen in a long time.
Death Proof (Roadshow) $259,993
… pure cinematic entertainment – an expertly constructed throwaway tribute to the cheap thrills of the 70s.
The Secret Life of Words (Dendy) $49,559
… it’s always a pleasure to discover that you’ve been watching something quite different to the film you thought you’d sat down to.
This is England (Madman) $44,846*
Meadows has always been able to get great performances out of young people and the wonderful Thomas Turgoose as Shaun is no exception.
Into the Wild (Paramount) $132,281*
I came out of the theatre into the cool summer rain and walked home determined to experience every drop as if it was the first one.
And the worst:
Epic Movie (20th Century Fox) $978,187
…a new low-point in the dreary, lazy “spoof-a-lot-of-recent-films” genre and cost me 86 minutes of precious Wellington sunshine-time that I can never get back. Effortlessly unfunny.
Norbit (Paramount) $848,846
… if you are in the market for inane and insulting you’ll be well served …
The Marine (20th Century Fox) $278,192
Easily the worst film of the year, so far, The Marine starts off as simply geo-politically offensive and ends up a total crime against cinema.
Pathfinder: Legend of the Ghost Warrior (20th Century Fox) $435,417
The violence isn’t particularly well directed and there isn’t much apart from violence in it, so it’s ultimately very hard to recommend.
Perfect Stranger (Sony) $370,556
Complete rubbish from start to finish.
Reno 911!: Miami (Paramount) $221,076
… about as funny as someone standing on your corn (an image drawn directly from life, ladies and gentlemen).
4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (20th Century Fox) $1,832,826
… awful: the jokes are lame, the plot is risible, characters relate to each other on only the most inane level and the effects look cheap. Every frame of this film should be ashamed of itself.
Blades of Glory (Paramount) $1,393,136
It occurs to me that film-makers rarely bother to write for Ferrell any more, they just stick a camera in front of him for hours on end and let him riff.
Georgia Rule (Hoyts) $171,158
I found the casual treatment of gross sexual abuse and alcoholism to be totally offensive in a film this shallow.
Because I Said So (Maiden Voyage) $129,732
I found it impossible to dredge up any enthusiasm for this film but the handful of middle-aged women I shared the screening with laughed like drains so you might want to take their opinion over mine if you are so inclined.
No Reservations (Roadshow) $379,931
I despised its lazy competence …
Day Watch (20th Century Fox) $40,851
… might not be the King of Stupid but it’s probably Arch-Bishop.
Next (Paramount) $132,747
At one point an FBI agent watching Cage on a surveillance monitor exclaimed “Can you believe this shit?” and someone in the audience yelled “No!”. Actually, on reflection, that might have been me. Sorry.
The Invasion (Paramount) $82,873
A complete failure on almost every level.
When Night Falls (Indie) n/a
… by putting the film in cinemas alongside professional product the producers are asking for your money and I can’t, in all honesty, recommend that you part with it.
Bratz (Hoyts) $283,870
… as toxic as the chinese-made toys that inspired it, a nakedly cynical hymn to consumption, triviality and shallowness.
Rush Hour 3 (Roadshow) $1,758,431
The Brave One (Roadshow) $283,976
I really wanted to give The Brave One the benefit of the doubt until its absurdity and consistently poor narrative choices overcame my resistance and I simply had to hate it.
Inland Empire (Dendy) n/a
An audience was obviously the last consideration for Lynch when he was throwing this mess together.
The Heartbreak Kid (Paramount) $682,975
… a trial beyond all human endurance.
Hitman (20th Century Fox) $595,682
… stupidest film of the year …
That makes an average gross box office of ($9,032,120/24) $376,338 for the best and ($10,000,462/21) $476,212 for the worst. Not as big a difference as I had suspected so I don’t think my point is actually made here.
The NZMPEA box office stats don’t show YTD numbers for every film so I’ve had to extrapolate these figures from the US$ reports for NZ at Box Office Mojo and then convert back to NZ$. Apologies if these don’t match other published figures.