best film: I had to tell myself not to overcomplicate this one. It’s a tremendous year worthy of all the praise form retro podcasts and articles—warranted– a towering year for cinema with that top 5-6 films especially. I think there are multiple years in the decade where The Assassination of Jesse James would be the best film of the year. That said, I can’t quite put it past PT Anderson’s There Will Be Blood so that’s the choice here. I’ll go on more about Day-Lewis below but I’ll just say this, I have, currently, Magnolia as the #40 film of all-time and I’m not sure this isn’t better. That’s enough.
most underrated: Joe Wright’s Atonement is somehow ranked as the 24th best film of 2007 on the TSPDT 21st century list. That’s egregious. It’s no lower than 6th. The Dunkirk shot, the ingenius editing, and performances …. all these elements make me feel like a bit of an idiot saying it’s 6th of the year honestly. It feels like a #2 or #3. I think the narrative genius of no country for old men keeps it above this film but I think Wright’s achievement may be stronger than the Coen’s and usually those films win me over, over time. I’m much closer to saying it’s better than no country than I am saying it’s the effing 24th best film of the year… bad form TSPDT.
most overrated: The consensus is way off on atonement but they really don’t miss much the other way here in 2007. I think the closest for me is I’m Not There by Todd Haynes. They have it as #9 and I’m another 5-10 slots behind that though my recent viewing of Velvet Goldmine helps and makes a nice pairing with this film (and an homage to citizen kane).
gem I want to spotlight: Edgar Wright is a director capable of a masterpiece who has not given us one yet. I’m starting to get skeptical to whether he ever will (he’s 5 movies in now and usually it happens by 5 movies in) but one thing is certain, he is a spectacular editor. Hot Fuzz doesn’t have the following of Shaun but I think it’s a little better and the editing is the main reason why. He’s creative and purposeful with each and every transition. He’s clearly an admirer of the cop and action genre but he’s created his own style blend here marrying music with exaggerated sound mixing to create his unique voice beyond the soundtrack, camerawork and pairing with comics like Pegg and Nick Frost.
trends and notables: As I said in the quick intro on “best film” 2007 is a big year. I’m not convinced it’s the best of the decade though when you compare it with 2000. Still, we have 5 masterpieces and I’m not throwing out the idea that atonement would be 6. Already though we’re talking about one of the best 5-10 or so years in cinema at the very least. Also, I should note that here in Feb of 2018 I feel uniquely qualified (even more so than usual) to do this ranking and have this discussion since I’ve seen the vast majority of these elite 2007 films in the last 6-8 months. We have, in 2007, perhaps the best PT Anderson film, perhaps the best Coen brothers’ film, unquestionably the peak of the Romanian new wave and one of the best films from David Fincher. It’s a hallmark year. We also have, with an emphatic exclamation point, the final archiveable film for Sidney Lumet (before the devil knows you’re dead). Not to be outdone, we have the single best acting performance of the decade and one of the truly great ones of all-time in Daniel Day-Lewis. For newcomers, it’s great to see Jeff Nichols’ shotgun stories hold its own amongst so many great films. In a lot of years it would be a top 10 film.
best performance male: There’s Daniel Day-Lewis here and there’s everything else. This performance is his Jake LaMotta/De Niro in Raging Bull. It’s a top 10 performance of all-time and I’m not ruling out top 5. Behind him there are another 9, yes, 9 performances worthy of mention. 7 of these 9 are in masterpiece level films (I’m throwing MacAvoy in atonement in there) and the other two are George Clooney in Michael Clayton and Damon in Ultimatum. I think both are very worthy and these are also top 10 films. But back to the top, if I had to pick a singular runner up to DDL it would be Casey Affleck in Assassination of Jesse James and third would be Pitt in the same movie. We also have Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem in No Country and Ruffalo and Downey Jr. in Zodiac. These are dueling great performances—certainly on these great actors’ “Mount Rushmore” (or their best) in masterpieces so they have to be mentioned.
best performance female: Ellen Page is my winner here for Juno even though I couldn’t find a spot for the film in my top 10. She dominates that film, delivers Diablo Cody’s dialogue so well, and is worthy because the film is a top 10 quality even if I couldn’t find a spot for it in this ridiculous year. Behind that we have two great works for Keira Knightley and Saoirse Ronan in Atonement. Tilda Swinton would surprise many with her Oscar win for Michael Clayton but I’d challenge anyone who said she wasn’t deserving. My last mention goes to Anamaria Marinca for her devastating work in 4 Months, 3 weeks, 2 Days.
- There Will Be Blood
- The Assassination of Jesse James
- No Country For Old Men
- 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
- The Bourne Ultimatum
- Michael Clayton
- Eastern Promises
- The Darjeeling Limited
Archives, Directors, and Grades
|28 Weeks Later||R|
|3:10 To Yuma- Mangold||R|
|4 Months, 3 weeks, 2 Days- Mungiu||MP|
|A Mighty Heart- Winterbottom||R|
|American Gangster- R. Scott||R|
|Atonement- Jo. Wright||MS/MP|
|Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead- Lumet||R|
|Charlie Wilson’s War- M. Nichols||R|
|Eastern Promises- Cronenberg||HR|
|Flight of the Red Balloon- Hsiao-Hsien Hou||R/HR|
|Gone Baby Gone- B. Affleck||R|
|Hot Fuzz- E. Wright||HR|
|I’m Not There- Haynes, Bale||R|
|Into the Wild- S. Penn||HR|
|La Vive en Rose||R|
|Lars and the Real Girl||R|
|No Country For Old Men- Coen||MP|
|Paranoid Park- Van Sant||R|
|Shotgun Stories- J. Nichols||HR|
|Sweeney Todd- Burton||HR|
|The Assassination of Jesse James- Dominik||MP|
|The Bourne Ultimatum-Greengrass||MS|
|The Darjeeling Limited- W. Anderson||HR|
|The Diving Bell and Butterfly||HR|
|The Edge of Heaven||R|
|The Secret of the Grain||R|
|There Will Be Blood- P.T. Anderson||MP|
|We Own the Night- Gray||HR|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives