' Cinema Romantico: The 3rd Annual Prigge's: Top 5 Movies of 2007

Friday, January 11, 2008

The 3rd Annual Prigge's: Top 5 Movies of 2007

Not to overstate, but 2007 was probably the greatest year for movies I've ever personally experienced. If you think I'm lying, well, I've got the esteemed Roger Ebert on my side who called 2007 both "a time of wonders" and "one of the best years in recent movie history" as well as Nathan Lee of the Village Voice who said "2007 was hands down, hands up, wax on, wax off, do a little dance, drink a little water, yippie-kay-ya motherf---er!—the most exciting moviegoing year I've witnessed since becoming a film critic. "

My Top 5 is stellar, not-to-be-believed, the stuff of which dreams are made. It includes three masterpieces and another two that can be called great. In fact, all five of them are better than anything released in all of 2006 and 2005. And there were other great movies, too. I'd like to send emphatic shout-outs to the utterly uproarious "Juno" and the intelligent, well-crafted "Michael Clayton" and the quiet, we're-gonna'-take-our-time wonders of "Away From Her", and the pulse-pounding, this-is-how-you-make-an-action-movie "Bourne Ultimatum". I loved those movies but they just can't compete with the Top 5.

It's also worth noting that in an era where most filmmakers can't craft even a semi-decent ending to save their lives all 5 of these movies have unquestionably perfect conclusions.

The only bad part about all this? We're in for one hell of an inevitable letdown in 2008.

1. Atonement. The finest film released during the existence of our humble blog. Chalk this up as one of those movies I'll spend the rest of my days trying to sum up with words only to fail at every turn. It deepens as it progresses and saves the most powerful punch for last, which is made so powerful because the film takes time to allow us to become invested in it. It's a film with marvelous acting and breathless writing and the sublime direction of Joe Wright that works not to show off but to enhance the story. This is why I still wholly believe cinema to be our greatest artform. "Atonement" is why I go to the movies.

2. Once. There's an issue regarding this magical, transcendent Irish musical opus I'd like to clear up right now. It's critically acclaimed beyond question but now with every critic's Top 10 list coming out it seems to be falling to victim to a certain issue that plagues critics - namely, The Theory Of Importance. The esteemed Roger Ebert didn't put it in his Top 10 but instead gave it a "Special Jury Prize". And check out the words by Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips (who, to be fair, did name "Once" his #1 film of the year): "I really can't rationalize my pick for favorite film of the year" and "(other movies) reached higher and achieved more." What sense does that make? How can it not be rationalized? How in the hell did "Once" not reach as high and attempt to achieve as much as, say, "In the Valley of Elah"? Is it because "In the Valley of Elah" dealt with the war in Iraq and "Once" only dared deal with two people sharing a connection? That makes absolutely no sense to me and it's why this film is getting no love now that it's awards season.

IN CINEMA SUBJECT MATTER DOES NOT EQUAL IMPORTANCE. "Casablanca" involved the Nazis and the French Resistance, yes, but no one would have given it two thoughts if people didn't care to the hilt about the relationships between the characters. And yes, "Atonement" also dealt with WWII and yes I liked it better than "Once" but then its the humanistic aspects of "Atonement" that made me care about the movie when it got to the war and kept carrying me through. And so what if "Once" is just two people and nothing more? If two people meeting and realizing they will be affected by one another for the rest of eternity isn't important, if that isn't reaching high, then I give up.

3. No Country For Old Men. Let's all agree right up front that purely on a moviemaking level this one is darn near perfect. It is expertly crafted, paced, and it employs silence to about the greatest effect I've ever seen. In fact, I wish every film school in the country had a class entitled Silence 101 (Using Silence In Your Films And Not Hammering Things Home With The Soundtrack) that would begin each semester with a lecture on this movie. But goes past just moviemaking to be a tale of something else, something deeper, something to do with fear. Llewellyn fears Chiggurh and Chiggurh lives to cause fear and then there's Carla Jean, the one person in the film who won't give in to fear. Now that I've had two months to sit on it I feel safe in making this proclamation: "No Country For Old Men" is the Coen Brothers' best movie.

4. Gone Baby Gone. On the surface it's a crime and procedural film but it accomplishes what only the finest films do - it reveals its deeper meaning through the results of the procedure without ever shoving things down our throats. It's also filled to the brim with powerhouse performances including - as we established yesterday - the best one of the year. There a few nits to pick, yes, but then I think those are only noticeable because the film is so damn close to perfection.

5. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. I honesty can't believe this wound up in my Top 5 but, man, I just dug the hell outta' this movie. I loved it. Dark, dreary, frightening, violent but also deeply, devoutly passionate and romantic. A final shot that will stay with me for the rest of my days. I don't know what to say that I didn't say in my review. Maybe you should just read it again. And then go see this movie.

1 comment:

Mark Woollon said...

Question:

There Will Be Blood- opinion?

:)