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Cinema: Best and Worst of 2007 (Shortlist)

By December 31, 2007One Comment

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.

One Comment

  • David Geary says:

    Blades of Glory is not in the worst cat­egory. It swept me away on a sequined skate. Sure, I was sleep-deprived and my crit­ic­al fac­ulites wer­en’t as sharp as they might be, but it’s enjoy­able escap­ism. And I found the Heder – Ferrell combo a winner.