my personal best-movies-of-2007 list

Every year, Shaun and I sit down in a pub after the last movie we
see in the year and make our personal top 5 lists.  The only rule is
that we had to see the movie, in the theater, in that calendar year.
So we usually end up with some movies that were officially released the
year before.  This was my list this year, in the order in which we saw
the films:

Children of Men
Volver
Persepolis
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
I’m Not There

Children of Men was actually the first movie we saw in 2007.
When we left the theater that day, Shaun said that he wouldn’t be
surprised if it didn’t end up being the best movie he saw all year.
Because we usually get a bunch of critically acclaimed or Oscar-bait
movies opening down here in January, it’s not unheard of that the first
movie we see holds up.  This year we’re going to be seeing Charlie Wilson’s War first, though, and I doubt that that will be on my end of the year list.  Maybe – but I kind of hope not.

This was kind of an unusual year in that we ended up seeing a lot of
good movies, but we didn’t have that "big movie that everyone must see"
experience.  I have two movies on my list that I really, really liked,
but they’re the kind of movies I would be very careful about
recommending to others (Jesse James, and I’m Not There).
It’s not weird for me to have one movie on my list like that, or to
have a movie that I don’t recommend because of something like violence,
but not movies like this that I love a lot but that I know many people
I like, and whose taste I respect, wouldn’t really like at all.

This was also an odd year because we went to the Toronto Film Festival. A third movie on my list, Persepolis,
hasn’t even opened here yet so I couldn’t recommend it to anyone even
if I wanted to.  As a matter of fact, the last decision I had to make
for this list ended up being between My Winnipeg, Guy Maddin’s deeply idiosyncratic and personal "documentary" about his hometown, and Persepolis.
One of the things that made that choice so hard was trying to tease out
the impact that the movie had on me apart from the experience of seeing
it in the same room as the filmmaker (and in the case of My Winnipeg, seeing it performed in part by the filmmaker).

One of my favorite movie experiences of the last year was seeing Chats Perches, because of the way it brought back My Winnipeg
for me.  I saw  on DVD as part of the Tournees Film Festival at Western
Oregon — so it can’t qualify for this list — but the juxtaposition of
these two movies — one deeply personal, psychological and
autobiographical/ the other deeply personal and set against a huge
geopolitical backdrop — was really powerful.  Both movies are visually
very personal and individual; both movies are essentially (or in the
case of Maddin, actually) read to you by the filmmaker. I wouldn’t have
expected at the beginning of this year to see movies that would make me
spend a couple of days thinking about Winnipeg and Paris, together, but
I did and it was awesome.

Here’s the full list of films we saw in the theater in 2007:

Children of Men
Curse of the Golden Flower
Pan’s Labyrinth
The Last King of Scotland
Volver
Zodiac
Breach
The Lookout
The Namesake
Waitress
The TV Set
Ocean’s 13
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Nancy Drew
Once
You Kill Me
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Bourne Ultimatum
Talk to Me
Persepolis
Hollywood Chinese
My Winnipeg
Chansons d’Amour
Vexille
3:10 to Yuma
Michael Clayton
Gone Baby Gone
The Darjeeling Limited
American Gangster
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
No Country for Old Men
I’m Not There
Lars and the Real Girl
Sweeney Todd

ETA:  The cat above is an example of the cats featured in Chats Perches.

Edited again to add: Shaun’s list is available now.

2 thoughts on “my personal best-movies-of-2007 list

  1. Great list – I also enjoyed Volver quite a bit. I haven’t seen the others on your top list, so they are moving up in my movie queue.

    Surprised that Pan’s Labyrinth didn’t make the top set. It was easily in my top 5 from a filmmaking/storytelling perspective.

    Thanks -

  2. That’s a great example of how personal and idiosyncratic this list really is. I really liked Pan’s Labyrinth, and would more readily recommend it to more people than some of the movies that did make the list. But it just didn’t have the same impact on me, personally, as these five did. It’s not so much a matter of “x and y” were better in these movies than they were in Pan’s Labyrinth as it is, “I wasn’t still thinking about Pan’s Labyrinth a month after I saw it”

    If you didn’t see Children of Men, though, I’d suggest renting it. I get the sense that it doesn’t quite have the same impact at home as it did in the theater, but it’s a really powerful movie.

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