|2007 Movie Awards|
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Best Films of 2007
I saw somewhere on the order of 60 movies that were released in 2007. This is somewhat lower than most critics, but higher than your average moviegoer. Also unlike most critics, I don't consider this to be a spectacular year for film. For instance, I left several films off my 2006 list that would have been shoe-ins this year. If I were to take a more objective stance, limiting my picks to the movies with the best technical qualities, the list would be somewhat easier. But that's a boring way to assemble a list and absolute objectivitiy is not possible in any case. Movies that really caught my attention and interested me were somewhat fewer this year. Don't get me wrong, I love movies and there were a lot of good ones this year, but there were few movies that really clicked with me. As such, a lot of the top 10 could easily be exchanged with a movie from the Honorable Mention section. So without further ado:
Top 10 Movies of 2007
* In roughly reverse order
As I mentioned above, a lot of these honorable mentions would probably do fine for the bottom half of the top 10 (the top half is pretty strong, actually). In some cases, I really struggled with a lot of the below picks. If my mood were different, I bet some things would change. These are all good movies and worth watching too.
Posted by Mark on January 27, 2008 at 08:18 PM .: link :.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
2007 Kaedrin Movie Awards: Arbitrary Awards
So the formally announced 2007 Kaedrin Movie Awards came to an end on Friday (No clear leader emerged, but No Country For Old Men and The Bourne Ultimatum each brought home two awards), but here's a few additional awards that don't really have any other nominees:
Update: Added Daniel Day Lewis to the scenery chewers. Heh.
Posted by Mark on January 20, 2008 at 11:49 PM .: link :.
Friday, January 18, 2008
2007 Kaedrin Movie Awards: Most Unusual/High Concept Film
The nominations for the 2007 Kaedrin Movie Awards were announced last week. This post marks the end of the formally nominated awards, but I've still got another wrapup post with some miscellaneous awards and finally my top 10 films of 2007.
Most Unusual/High Concept Film: Fido
From left to right: Mother, Son, Fido.
When I was making the nominations, I didn't want to say high concept film, but then after I finished, I realized that they really are high concept films. The winner, a strange but fun Canadian zombie film done like a Lassie story, but with zombies in place of dogs. The setting is a sorta retro-futuristic 1950s, filled with vibrant colors and, well, zombies. It's a lot of fun. Grindhouse is an awesome throwback to 1970s grindhouse film. Stardust is arguably not that unusual or high concept, but then the film's director describes it as The Princess Bride meets Midnight Run. It's probably not as good as either of those films, but that doesn't make it bad (actually, in this mediocre year, it stood out for me, despite the fact that it did so poorly in theaters.)
Next up is a buch of miscellaneous awards, followed by my top 10 of 2007. Both may be posted this weekend, but the top 10 might take a little longer.
Posted by Mark on January 18, 2008 at 12:18 AM .: link :.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
2007 Kaedrin Movie Awards: Best Action Sequences & Best Plot Twist/Surprise
The nominations for the 2007 Kaedrin Movie Awards were announced last week. This week, I'll be announcing two winners every day, culminating in a post with my top 10 movies of the year and possibly some other wrap-up posts. Here are the awards for Best Action Sequences & Best Plot Twist/Surprise:
Best Action Sequences: The Bourne Ultimatum
It almost seems like the filmmakers went out of their way to devise the most complex action scenes possible. The train station sequence was nothing short of brilliant. The foot race and fight in tangiers was less unique, but extremely well executed (great stunt work). And a car chase in New York can't be an easy thing to film. Greengrass and his crew nailed every scene. Most of the other nominees were also quite good. I wanted to mention Live Free or Die Hard because it was actually pretty entertaining, certainly much moreso than I was expecting (which is to say, I wasn't expecting much), and the action sequences were well done. 300 had a lot of good action, but by the end, it had become repetitive (I still enjoyed it).
Best Plot Twist/Surprise: The Mist
Minor Spoilers! It's a controversial ending, to be sure. Apparently the book was much more open ended than the movie. But no matter what you think of the film's ending, you have to admit, it was a gutsy move. I mean, it's a movie that wants you to wonder which is worse - humans or the monsters in the mist. It takes a pretty bleak view of humanity... but then, the ending emphasises the price of hopelessness. The other nominees had some good twists as well, particularly The Orphanage and Eastern Promises. A lot of times, twists in movies are ruined by the knowledge that they're coming. If you know something's coming, it's much less difficult to be surprised by it. So the best twists are the ones you don't see coming. All three of the films I mentioned are kinda like that. Sure, I had an inkling for all of them, but it's not like I was watching a M. Night Shyamalan movie.
And coming down the homestretch, tomorrow we've got the final category: Most Unusual Film (and now that I think about it, Best High Concept Film would probably still work for this category)
Posted by Mark on January 17, 2008 at 07:43 PM .: link :.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
2007 Kaedrin Movie Awards: Best Sequel & Biggest Disappointment
The nominations for the 2007 Kaedrin Movie Awards were announced last week. This week, I'll be announcing two winners every day, culminating in a post with my top 10 movies of the year and possibly some other wrap-up posts. Here are the awards for Best Sequel and Biggest Disappointment:
Best Sequel: The Bourne Ultimatum
This wasn't a particularly difficult decision. After all, most sequels aren't all that great, and this year was no exception. The Bourne movies are indeed quite good, and director Paul Greengrass has managed to make two very good sequels to the original. His fast cuts and shaky camera may annoy some, but Greengrass does a good job of it. It's easy to dismiss such filmmaking until you see a film that attempts the same style and utterly fails (*cough, cough* Transformers *cough*). Anyway, it's not like there was much in the way of competition this year.
Biggest Disappointment: Spider-Man 3
This is the only "negative" category, and it's actually a difficult one. Last year, I chose a movie I actually kinda liked, but which didn't live up to lofty expectations. There are a couple of nominees like that this year, but the winner is more of a bad film that didn't live up to expectations. The first two Spider-Man movies were brilliant, and far exceeded my expectations. The third installment fell flat, succumbing to the typical superhero trap of introducing far too many characters (notably villains, though the character count is way up overall). Then there's also the bizzarre central portion where Peter Parker becomes a tool and does a dance number or something. The first two movies had moments like that, but they were only moments, and they actually helped serve the story. This movie is just a mess.
On deck: Best Action Sequences and Best Plot Twist/Surprise
Posted by Mark on January 16, 2008 at 07:52 PM .: link :.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
2007 Kaedrin Movie Awards: Most Visually Stunning & Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film
The nominations for the 2007 Kaedrin Movie Awards were announced last week. This week, I'll be announcing two winners every day, culminating in a post with my top 10 movies of the year and possibly some other wrap-up posts. Here are the awards for Most Visually Stunning film and Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film:
Most Visually Stunning: Sunshine
This was a really difficult category this year, as there weren't any huge standouts for me. I ended up on Sunshine, mostly because it's a good film that gets no props and it's gorgeous too. Some of the other films on the list (like No Country or There Will be Blood) probably have more technically sound cinematography and photography (and they're pretty), but they're also relatively straightforward in their craft. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's not as visually arresting as epic space-themed sequences that take place near the sun... I should probably also mentione Ratatouille, as it really is quite impressive, but animation is almost like cheating in this category! Still, it's worth recognizing.
Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film: The Orphanage
Yep, a last minute entry into the category ends up winning the whole thing. I just saw this movie this past weekend, and I absolutely loved it. By far the best horror movie of the year. It focuses more on a psychological horror, though there are some stingers (aka Boo! moments). Really, though, it's not filled with those moments, which is why it works so well. It's the anticipation that really kills you. The ending is quite odd, but I think it works really well. The other nominees are all pretty good, but my second place would have to go to Sunshine. It's got all the standard space exploration cliches (unfortunately, that means it's got both good and bad ones), but I actually liked it, even the ending (which turned a lot of people off).
It's a shame that there really weren't many other SF films this year (or last year, or the year before...) Unfortunately, it seems like this trend will continue. Even longstanding series like Star Trek seem stagnant (a key indicator of stagnation is moving the story backwards to fill in the past of the universe, as Trek has done with their last series, Enterprise, and with the new JJ Abrams movie). For that matter, why isn't there anything new going on in the genre? All the most popular SF going on right now (Trek, Aliens, Predator, Terminator, Battlestar Galactica, etc...) is based on the nostalgic love of movies/series that were made 20-40 years ago. And a lot of that is crap. AVPR was mildly entertaining, the new Terminator series is horrible. Only Battlestar Galactica seems to be doing anything fun, and that's based on a crappy 25+ year old TV series. What was the biggest SF event of this past year? You could argue that it's the 5 disc DVD set of Blade Runner, a 25 year old movie based on a 40 year old story. What we really need is a genre-smashing film or TV series made by a talented filmmaker. I thought perhaps the "untitled Darren Aronofsky sci-fi project" might do something, but that turned out to be The Fountain, which barely qualifies as SF, if at all. We need a new Kubrick-like talent to shake up the genre the way 2001 did... Ok, so I've babbled on about SF enough for now.
Coming tomorrow: Best Sequel and Biggest Disappointment
Posted by Mark on January 15, 2008 at 09:18 PM .: link :.
Monday, January 14, 2008
2007 Kaedrin Movie Awards: Best Comedic Performance & Breakthrough Performance
The nominations for the 2007 Kaedrin Movie Awards were announced last week. This week, I'll be announcing two winners every day, culminating in a post with my top 10 movies of the year and possibly some other wrap-up posts. Here comes the Best Comedic Performance and Breakthrough Performance awards:
Best Comedic Performance: (tie) Michael Cera and Jonah Hill in Superbad
A bit of a cheat, sure, but this comic duo works perfectly together, and Superbad was the movie that made me laugh the most this year. A big part of those laughs was Hill's exuberance and, to offset that, Cera's straight-man act was perfect. I do want to mention two of the other nominees though. Simon Pegg's performance in Hot Fuzz was spot on and featured a number of extremely subtle in-jokes and references (for example, when he runs, he looks like the T-1000 from T2 and when he yells, he does so like Swartzenegger from the end of Predator (i.e. the "Ruuun! Get to da chappah!")). I'd imagine that some people are confused by my nomination of Kristen Wiig in Knocked Up. After all, she's only on screen for what? 2, maybe 3 minutes? Well, she steals every second, and IMHO she's the funniest part of the movie.
Breakthrough Performance: Josh Brolin in Grindhouse and No Country for Old Men
Ok, nominating Ellen Page again was a bit of a cheat, but I wanted to recognize her again because she gave another exellent performance and she didn't win last year. But she wasn't really a breakthrough to me. Her performance was excellent, but I expected that. The other person in the running for this was Michael Cera who put in two good performances this year. In the end, though, Brolin was the real surprise. Where did this guy come from? Oh yeah, The Goonies! But that was over 20 years ago. It's interesting, I suppose, how someone's career can change so quickly, as Brolin went from B-level to A-list seemingly at the drop of a hat. He was excellent in both Grindhouse and No Country, and he turned up in American Gangster and In the Valley of Elah as well. He seems to be busy...
Next up: Most Visually Stunning and Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film
Posted by Mark on January 14, 2008 at 07:44 PM .: link :.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
2007 Kaedrin Movie Awards: Best Villain/Hero/Badass
The nominations for the 2007 Kaedrin Movie Awards were announced last week. This week, I'll be announcing two winners every day, culminating in a post with my top 10 movies of the year and possibly some other wrap-up posts.
Best Villain/Badass: Anton Chigurh, played by Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men
This was a more difficult decision than I originally thought. The diabolical Chigurh was the first villain that came to mind for this category, but a couple of other villains really deserved some consideration. I didn't really consider Ben Foster for the win, but I did want to recognize his twisted turn as Charlie Prince in 3:10 to Yuma (he turned out to be a much more compelling villain than Russell Crowe's Ben Wade). I did seriously consider Stuntman Mike from Grindhouse, but while he does make for a great villain, he doesn't turn out to be that much of a badass... Billy Mitchell, a man who made a name for himself by playing video games, might not seem like your typical villain, but I actually did seriously consider him for this award. Just about every time he opens his mouth, I wanted to punch him in the face. I think he's definitely the runner up, which is really saying something, as he's in a documentary film about Donkey Kong (i.e. not a source of villainy you'd expect). In the end, no one could really compare to the chilling, unstoppable killer played brilliantly by Javier Bardem. He's a shoe-in for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar (assuming the Oscars happen this year).
Best Hero/Badass: Nikolai, played by Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises
A much better year for heroic badasses (even if a few are borderline "heroes"), this was a really hard category. King Leonidas and Jason Bourne were on the shortlist, but I ended up going with Viggo Mortensen's Russian gangster, mostly because of that one spectacular no-holds-barred fight sequence in which Mortensen's character takes on two armed attackers and wins... despite being naked for the whole fight. There are other moments of badassery in the movie, but that one scene says everything you need to know about Mortensen's character. The movie is overall flawed, but this character is what makes it watchable.
Up next: Best Comedic Performance and Breakthrough Performance. Check back Monday for the winners.
Posted by Mark on January 13, 2008 at 01:37 PM .: link :.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
2007 Kaedrin Movie Awards
I saw somewhere on the order of 60 movies that were released in 2007. Believe it or not, this is somewhat down from 2006, mostly due to an otherwise busy year. In any case, this is also somewhat more than what most moviegoers see, so I wanted to do a roundup similar to last year. The categories for this years movie awards are mostly the same as last year, and I think we'll proceed in a similar manner. Nominations will be announced today, and starting next week, I'll announce the winners (new winners announced every day). After that, there might be some miscellaneous awards, followed by a 2007 top 10 films list.
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)
Again limited to individuals and not groups, and again, a much stronger year in terms of badassery.
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.
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.
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.
Posted by Mark on January 06, 2008 at 12:44 PM .: link :.
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