Sunday, 30 December 2007

Repost: Top Five Films of the Year: 2007

This was published in the notes section of my facebook profile two years ago.

Having got an unlimited cineworld card in August, I've certainly seen more movies this year than in any other year in my life (for about eight weeks in a row, I was seeing two a week). I reckon the total is around 30+.
Anyway, since this is more than the average Joe (or Jane), I've decided to put together my top 5 films of 2007.
Some disclaimers:
1. I haven't seen the following films which may have made the list:
Blood Diamond, The Lives of Others, This is England, Into the Wild
2. I'm bias - I love anything camp, psychological thrillers, and character pieces: so bear that in mind when my recommended movies.

First of all, go honourable mentions, these are films which I enjoyed but don't make my top 5:
American Gangster, Zodiac, Michael Clayton, Two Days in Paris, Stardust, Planet Terror, Control, Ratatouille and Enchanted.

Now onto the main event:

Both a title and a synopsis
5. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Scoundrel Robert Ford
Seen with: Paul and Jan
Why I loved it: I don't know if any of you have ever been in a situation where two people are arguing, even though the actual words they're saying are perfectly pleasant. The people around can feel the tension fizzling over as both sides choose their words carefully: so as seen to be nice, but still trying to deliver that killer blow. Any time Pitt and Affleck are on screen, you can feel that tension. Although the movie does drags a little in places, the final 15 minutes are perfect, and the dialogue bristles with energy throughout. This and 3:10 to Yuma have managed to convince me of the value of a good Western.

"Close your eyes. Open your heart." Only not literally, otherwise you'll be blind and dead.
4. The Science of Sleep
Seen with: Sarah and Naomi
Why I loved it: This film won't be to everybody's taste. But if like me, you find something magical about dreams, you should love this movie. It's funny, charming and strange: and although not quite as good as director Gondry's previous film Eternal Sunshine, still brilliantly original and endearing.
Oh, and funny story: such was my dreamlike state after watching this movie I nearly got knocked down by a car, and were it not for the actions of Naomi and Sarah I may well be dead (or at least have some sort of minor bruise). So be warned: after watching this movie you will not still be in dreamspace and cars kill in real life.

The title no one can quite remember
3. Bridge to Teribithia
Seen with: Liston and Will
Why I loved it: Whether, this Enchanted, Stardust or Ratatouille was the best family film of the year is a matter of opinion. However, I can guarantee none will fill you with the same mix of wonder, excitement and emotion as this film did. Somehow it manages to deal with adolescence, romance, and disappointment in a remarkably real way set against the dreamworld of the two main characters. I don't mind admitting my eyes were a little wet by the end of the movie, and if you ask my movie-going-partners Liston and Will, they may well admit to similar perceptual dampness.

If you don't want to know if he's really working for the Russians, I'd advise against looking at this poster.
2. Breach
Seen with: No One
Why I loved it: I'm putting this near the top of my list with a degree of hesitancy. Was it really as good as I thought? Were the performances so remarkable, the story so captivating? One young agent must shadow a veteran accused of collaborating with the KGB to find out what he's really like. Throughout the audience plays detective as we try and get underneath the skin of this nearly-retired agent: relying on the few clues that might reveal his true nature. Based on a true story, this really caught my imagination and deserves to be seen by a wider audience than it ended up getting.

Now a real life couple
1. Once
Seen with: My parents AND No One (I, ironically, saw it 'twice')
Why I loved it: For some reason I missed the opportunity to go and see this with my flatmates, Ally and Jenny, in Glasgow, where the director and star: Glen Hansard were also appearing. Probably, one of the worst decisions I made this year.
Anyway the film is, in one word, beautiful. It's a musical, although it lacks any of the camp cheese and huge song-and-dance numbers most people associate with films like Hairspray and Moulin Rouge. Instead, its just the story of two people meeting and making beautiful music together.
Its difficult to sum up why its so good, or resonates so much. Like most musicals, the characters tell us how they're feeling through the lyrics of the songs: but instead of having six-sequin covered couples doing the jive behind them, they do so on the street, or round a piano in a music shop. Its finish is very low-key, and may disappoint those who like their endings of a Four Weddings or Jerry Maguire nature. However, it managed to bring a tear to this (extremely macho) guy's eye. And for all of that it makes it to the top of my film of the year list.