To me, 2007 has been an unusual year for movies. A lot of critics, including Roger Ebert, seem to be saying that 2007 is one of the best years for movies in a long time, but I don't see that. I agree more with James Berardinelli (my other favorite critic) in that 2007 seems to be a weaker year. In comparison to 2006, I find myself struggling much more to compile a top 10 list this year. Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of good films in 2007, but most of them are flawed in one way or another. When it comes to flawed movies, there are almost always cases where I am so in love with a film that I overlook its flaws (or its flaws become somehow endearing to me). For some reason, this didn't happen as often in 2007. I don't know if I'm just getting pickier in my old age or if it's a genuine lack of good films. All I can say is that several films I left off of my 2006 top 10 would beat out several films that will probably make my 2007 list. I'm not sure what to expect from 2008, especially when you consider the WGA strike... but I'm getting ahead of myself.
The rules for this are the same as last year: Nominated movies must have been released in 2007 and I have to have seen the movie (and while I have seen a lot of movies, I don't pretend to have seen a comprehensive selection - don't let that stop you from suggesting something though). Also, I suppose I should mention the requisite disclaimer that these sorts of lists are inherently subjective and personal. Part of the reason I'm doing this is just to give some love to films that I like, but which aren't necessarily great or are otherwise flawed (as such, the categories may seem a bit eclectic). Some of these movies will end up on my top 10, but the grand majority of them will not.
Despite my overall feelings, it seems that 2007 was a much better year for baddasses and villainy. As with last year, my picks in this category are for individuals, not groups (i.e. no vampires or zombies as a group)
- Billy Mitchell, played by himself in The King of Kong
- Anton Chigurh, played by Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men
- Charlie Prince, played by Ben Foster in 3:10 to Yuma
- Lamia, played by Michelle Pfeiffer in Stardust
- Stuntman Mike, played by Kurt Russell in Grindhouse
Again limited to individuals and not groups, and again, a much stronger year in terms of badassery.
- Agent 47, played by Timothy Olyphant in Hitman
- King Leonidas, played by Gerard Butler in 300
- Predator in Aliens vs Predator - Requiem
- Cherry, played by Rose McGowan in Grindhouse
- Wray, played by Freddy Rodriguez in Grindhouse
- Jason Bourne, played by Matt Damon in The Bourne Ultimatum
- Rachel/Ellis, played by Carice van Houten in Black Book
- Nikolai, played by Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises
Best Comedic Performance
The great thing about laughter is that it's involuntary, but some of the below performances are great because you do need to think about them or recognize something subtle about their performance.
- Simon Pegg in Hot Fuzz
- Michael Cera in Superbad
- Jonah Hill in Superbad
- Ellen Page in Juno
- Will Ferrell in Blades of Glory
- Kristen Wiig in Knocked Up
Last year, my main criteria for this category was watching a movie, then immediately looking up the actor/actress on IMDB to see what else they've done (or where they came from). This sometimes happens for even well established actors/actresses, so last year's list was quite personal. This year, there are a few personal picks, but it also works as a sort of mainstream breakthrough list.
- Ellen Page in Juno
- Josh Brolin in Grindhouse and No Country for Old Men
- Keri Russell in Waitress
- Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton
- Michael Cera in Superbad
Most Visually Stunning
Sometimes even bad films look great, but this year's lineup actually is actually pretty good. On the other hand, none are as visually stunning as some of the 2006 nominees. Winner Announced!
Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film
Genre films get no love, especially from critics, but I'm a total genre hound. I love these genres, so it's unfortunate that there aren't that many to choose from. Still, a pretty good showing for horror this year, though scifi continues struggle (the one genuinely good entry this year turns out to be an homage to philosophical scifi like 2001 or Solaris). Scifi seems to be going the way of the Western or the Musical (both of which have struggled in the past, but which have also been making a somwhat recent comback). Winner Announced!
There were a lot of sequels this year, with emphasis on threequels. As one would expect, most sequels didn't fare so well. Still, there were a couple that I enjoyed. Winner Announced!
This is a really difficult category this year because I found a lot of movies disappointing this year. In a lot of cases, they were minor disappointments. These tended to be good films overall, but for whatever reason, I was expecting more (in a bunch of cases, I was looking forward to a new film from a director I liked who didn't quite live up to expectations - this was certainly the case with last year's "winner"). The most eggregious are below, but if I included all disappointments, it would be a really long list. Winner Announced!
Best Action Sequences
These aren't really individual action sequences, but rather an overall estimation of each film. Winner Announced!
Best Plot Twist/Surprise
This was a mildly weak year for plot twists, but some decent ones are below. Winner Announced!
Most Unusual Film
A new category! Alas, I had trouble coming up with nominees. This was originally the "Best High Concept Film" but the below movies aren't really high concept, so I scrapped that. I suppose there can be high concept elements to them, but they're more unusual than anything else. Winner Announced!
Anyone have any suggestions (for either category or nominations)? Comments, complaints and suggestions are welcome, as always.
It looks like Grindhouse is leading the way with an unprecedented 8 nominations, while No Country for Old Men takes in a very respectable 4 nominations. The Bourne Ultimatum, Superbad, and Fido rack up a respectable 3 nominations while a whole bunch of films manage to pull down 2 nominations. As I mentioned earlier, I'm going to give myself a week to think about each of these. I might end up adding to the nominations if I end up seeing something new, or I could add a new category ("Best Tracking Shots" comes to mind, but I haven't seen Atonement yet, and that seems to get all the press when it comes to long takes and tracking shots, so I should probably see that first...) There are a few other high profile films that I still haven't seen yet, (There Will Be Blood and The Orphanage come to mind) but hopefully I'll see those before I get to my top 10. Winners will be announced starting next Sunday or Monday.
Update: A few last minute additions: There Will Be Blood (I also wanted to add Daniel Day Lewis' Daniel Plainview to one of the "Badass" categories, but, uh, which one does he really belong in? He's not a villain, nor is he really a hero. He wouldn't win anyway, but I should note that his performance is incredibly intense, yet he manages (for 2/3 of the film, at least) to embody a conflicted and complex character. I don't think he'd win anyway, so I'll leave him off both categories) picks up one for Most Visually Stunning, as does Ratatouille (a film I inexplicably forgot to include in this category). The Orphanage makes its way into the already crowded Best Scifi/Horror Film category as well as the Best Plot Twist/Surprise category.
Again Update: Arbitrary Awards have been posted. Also see the Top 10 Movies of 2007 list.