It's customary, even expected by
studios, for film critics this time of year to submit a top 10, as arbitrary as
that always feels. One fine film has great elements another doesn't quite
achieve, but perhaps thematically another shines. Nevertheless, were I to head
right back to the theatre to watch ten films this week, here's what I'd ask for
in reverse order.
10. Sicko: As infuriating as Michael Moore can be, he asks the right
questions and asks us to be accountable. Worth commendation are the
documentaries analyzing the Iraq War from Iraqi citizens and troops'
perspectives laying bare the true tragedy of this administration's lies and
9. Lust, Caution: Ang Lee's somewhat tortured but nonetheless
captivating and gorgeous story of intrigue in WWII Shanghai.
8. I'm Not There: Bravura filmmaking, not always coherent but Todd
Haynes creates challenging and heady work.
7. Michael Clayton: For the sheer delight of watching a capitalist
frenzy unfold with great performances (George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda
Swinton) and riveting dialogue.
6. Into the Wild: Sean Penn's translation of Jon Krakauer's novel into
a joyous and cautionary film. Chris McCandless seeks authenticity with the joy
of youth and a tragic mistake.
5. The Great Debaters: For Denzel Washington's critique of racism and
sexism in all its past and present guises.
4. There Will Be Blood: Epic and hypnotic as the film is, Daniel
Day-Lewis' performance redefines charismatic screen presence.
3. No Country for Old Men: The Coen brothers terrifying and brilliant
work. The performances by everyone-Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones,
Woody Harrelson-are breathtaking. The nerve wracking silences and sound effects
should make every director rethink their sound track.
2. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: director Julian Schnabel's
imaginative translation of Jean-Dominique Bauby's novel into exhilarating
cinema. Bauby's movement toward death
celebrates life exuberantly as he discovers what really matters.
1. Away from Her: Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent in a heartbreaking
story. Christie's Fiona Anderson knows she's slipping into dementia, commits
herself to an institution, and husband Grant must readjust his life. It's an
homage to love, loss, and the most crucial element of all: compassion.
here's to the cinema of 2007 with high hopes for 2008.
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