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Top 25 Films of 2007

If only we were all aging as gracefully as these decade-old movies

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Decades is a recurring feature that turns back the clock to critical anniversaries of albums, songs, and films. This month, we dial it back to the top 25 films of 2007.

When you get to talking with friends about “great movie years,” it’s hard to pin down what makes one great. Is it a year full of undisputed classics or one that left behind the most legacy films? Can a year where the big-budget fare was lacking be saved by ambitious filmmaking at the art house level, as we largely saw in 2016? It’s hard to say. But as recent years go, those where we’d absolutely argue for greatness out of hand, 2007 lands at or very near the top of any list.

It’s the kind of year that had something for everybody. Looking for a great documentary? There’s an unbelievable real-life story about an everyday guy fighting the system in the unlikeliest places. Some memorable action? It comes in the hilarious, sleazy, and politically weary varieties depending on your taste. There were incredible dramas, hyper-quotable comedies, and a fair handful of instant American classics. Some of the best films of the post-millennium era came out of 2007. Let’s put it this way: When we sat down to make this list, serious discussions were had about a top 50, just to include some of our favorites that didn’t make the cut.

But we’ve pared it down to 25 gems, across the full spectrum of genre and storytelling, and looked back at a bunch of movies that we can’t believe are 10 years old already. We’re getting old. But hey, we’d like to think that we’re aging better than all those Spiderman 3 references in Knocked Up.

–Dominick Suzanne-Mayer
Film Editor

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25. Grindhouse

grindhouse Top 25 Films of 2007

Grindhouse was always going to be a tough sell. Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s joint project aimed to bring the delirious feel of a night spent at the drive-in theater in the ’70s to the multiplex, hoping that modern audiences would appreciate their sleazy double-feature time warp in the same way people did in decades prior. The result: just $25 million in domestic box office and a lot of confused people who left before Death Proof even started. But for the initiated, Grindhouse was something special, a weirdo amalgam of shocking violence (thanks to Rodriguez’s Planet Terror), car movie revivalism, and some top-notch fake trailers in between. In its unrelenting three hours of filth, it ended up being one of the most singularly fun and creative moviegoing experiences of the megaplex age, for those who bothered to come around. We’re still waiting on Thanksgiving, too.  –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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24. Juno

juno1 Top 25 Films of 2007

The convergence of a crackling script, a top-notch cast, a masterful soundtrack, and just the right level of hipsterism led to the surprise smash that was Juno. Of course, Ellen Page’s performance stands tall at the center, bringing the whole film into focus, complete with laughs, tears, and everything in between. From her opening slangy banter with Rainn Wilson to the slow-burning romance with Michael Cera to her conflicted relationship with the prospective adoptive parents of her soon-to-be-born baby, Page handles each relationship with the appropriate level of sneering sarcasm and quiet fear of a teenager way over her head but desperate to seem in control. Today, the film holds up in its offer of equal charm to teenagers identifying with her complex feelings and the adults looking back in wonder and anxious nostalgia. Juno is the rare film that grapples with the reality of the teenage experience and yet also creates its own insular world. –Lior Phillips

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23. The Bourne Ultimatum

the bourne ultimatum Top 25 Films of 2007

Rarely do second sequels pack in as much intensity and ingenuity as The Bourne Ultimatum. After taking the reigns to the franchise from Doug Liman with 2004’s The Bourne Supremacy, Irish filmmaker Paul Greengrass ran with the Robert Ludlum adaptation, shaking up the action genre with an unrepentant style of brutality and high-stakes thrills that felt like a lob to the head over a bucket of popcorn. What should have been the final chapter of an epic, groundbreaking trilogy — ahem, you can send all the hate mail to Universal for last year’s middling sequel, Jason BourneUltimatum brings Matt Damon’s titular hero back to the States, where he’s closer than ever to uncovering the truth of his sordid past. Getting there is 90% of the battle, and it’s seeing him run through the gauntlet as opposed to away from it that makes the film such a tense experience. Look no further than the film’s frenetic chase through Tangier, which involves motorcycles, rooftops, and one bloody bathroom brawl. Want to make a sequel with substance? Start taking notes here. –Michael Roffman

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22. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days

4 months 3 weeks 2 days Top 25 Films of 2007

As one of the heralds of the Romanian New Wave and the 2007 winner of Cannes’ Palme D’or (grand prize), Cristian Mungiu’s harrowing drama arrived with a wealth of laurels. But it’s unlikely that all the acclaim, or forewarning, could prepare an audience for the devastation that Mungiu finds in the story of two young women attempting to obtain a black-market abortion during the final days of the repressive Ceaușescu regime in 1980s Romania. Taking place almost exclusively in run-down apartment buildings and hotels, the film is unyielding both in its deliberate, long-take realism and in its venomous commentary on the regime’s willingness to sacrifice lives for bureaucracy. It’s a vision of a society where every act against the law could be fatal and where hope has been abandoned in favor of survivalism. But it’s also a vision of a place where people can still live, at a price. Always at a price. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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21. Hot Fuzz

hot fuzz Top 25 Films of 2007

Following up Shaun of the Dead was always going to be an exhausting feat for director Edgar Wright and his co-writer and star, Simon Pegg. Making a faithful genre film that also spoofs the form is a delicate wire to walk, and the cult horror comedy felt like an instant classic from the get-go. Hot Fuzz felt like a worthy successor, though. The second action-fueled chapter in Wright and Pegg’s Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy never lays it all out on the table, leaning, instead, on jerky editing, laugh-a-second pacing, and a middle lull that takes its time to establish the actual plot. Pegg’s fish-out-of-water, veteran cop act is a delight, especially alongside Nick Frost’s bumbling rookie sidekick, and the small town mystery works to the film’s advantage. Between all the references to the genre and its rousing, bloodbath of a finale, Wright intricately sews the whole together like a brilliant quilt, treating comedy like art with the utmost respect. It’s no surprise that both of their careers have since flourished. –Philip Cosores

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20. Gone Baby Gone

gonebaby Top 25 Films of 2007

It’s difficult to imagine, in 2017, the sorry state Ben Affleck’s career was in just a decade ago. These days we pretty much take Affleck’s credentials as a two-way Hollywood star for granted, but his rise from Gigli infamy only started with his 2007 directorial debut, a tense, meditative, and surprisingly mature adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel Gone, Baby, Gone. Against all odds, Affleck crafted not only an effective crime drama but a vivid portrait of Boston’s working-class underground that holds up marvelously 10 years later. Part of the film’s success owes to Affleck’s brother Casey, who stars alongside Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman in a breakout role. The younger Affleck’s performance as private investigator Patrick Kenzie launched him from a bit player to a bona fide star, an arc that eventually resulted in his winning Best Actor for Manchester by the Sea earlier this year. –Collin Brennan

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19. The Mist

the mist Top 25 Films of 2007

Frank Darabont is no stranger to Stephen King. One of his earliest works behind the camera was a short film adaptation of the blockbuster author’s emotional Night Shift story, “The Woman in the Room”, and he cemented his name in Hollywood forever with his other two King adaptations: 1994’s The Shawshank Redemption and 1998’s The Green Mile. So, when he decided to turn the page to The Mist, Darabont had carte blanche to do whatever he wanted with the property, and he went all out. Inspired by the monster movies that once haunted ’50s drive-ins, the filmmaker leaned heavily on larger-than-life characters, played to perfection by Marcia Gay Harden and Toby Jones, who are grounded in reality by a small-town atmosphere that felt eerily nostalgic yet achingly palpable. Much of that feeling has to do with the point of view of go-to everyman Thomas Jane, who gives it his all as a father shepherding his son through a sea of ungodly beasts both human and out of this world. As Brent Dunham recently wrote for Blumhouse, The Mist couldn’t be more appropriate for our current political climate, arguing that the portal to hell opened a long, long time ago for us. Spooky. –Michael Roffman

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18. Persepolis

persepolis Top 25 Films of 2007

When you hear people gripe about Hollywood making nothing but comic-book movies, they aren’t talking about Persepolis. Marjane Satrapi’s two-part autobiographical graphic novel had already defied the odds by joining Art Spiegelman’s Maus as part of the literary canon, and her story lost none of its power in translation to the silver screen. The film finds an adult Satrapi tracing her past from her precocious, prophet-in-training girlhood in the midst of the Iranian Revolution and subsequent Iran-Iraq War to her adolescence in Vienna to a final fleeing of Iran after college and her first marriage. In the same minimalist, black-and-white sketching of her novels, Satrapi depicts a world of violent change and personal anguish with a heavy heart but also a sharp eye for irony, humor, and pop culture. It’s a film that touches hearts through the tenderness of the Satrapi family; ponders what costs one should be willing to pay in exchange for true freedom; and isn’t shy about including a comical “Eye of the Tiger” montage to show a change in its protagonist. It’s a brutally honest story that reminds us that not all courage in the comics comes with tight and capes. —Matt Melis

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17. Once

once Top 25 Films of 2007

As La La Land recently reminded us, musical films can be off-putting or divisive when set in the present day. This isn’t to say they’re bad, necessarily, but it’s true that a modern musical has to do a little extra leg work to not come across as a totally cheesy relic of a bygone era. This was just as true in 2007 as it is in 2017, which is part of why Once remains such an unlikely success a decade after its initial release. Though it certainly qualifies as a musical in name, nothing about John Carney’s film bears any trace of bombast. Carney trusts the viewer enough to care about his characters, though even he was probably taken aback by how much we glommed on to the understated romance between Irish street musician Glen Hansard and Czech immigrant Markéta Irglová. Even more remarkable is that Once was made on a shoestring budget — but then again, who needs money when you have songs like the heartbreaking (and Academy Award-winning!) “Falling Slowly”?” –Collin Brennan

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16. I’m Not There

im not there Top 25 Films of 2007

Even now, get together with a handful of people who love movies, and each of them probably has a unique take on I’m Not There, Todd Haynes’ unorthodox take on the life and times of Bob Dylan. As interpreted through six actors, from Marcus Carl Franklin’s train-hopping young man to Heath Ledger’s young lover to Cate Blanchett’s take on Dylan’s most memorable pop persona (from the start of his electric period), Haynes’ film is far less a biopic than a play on the many modes that every long-tenured celebrity enjoys and an empathetic biography that suggests even our greatest geniuses have phases, just like the rest of us. I’m Not There is hardly without its moments of overwhelming melancholy, but the warmth exuded by so much of the film is something that any Dylan fan can appreciate. It’s the perfect film for an artist who’s always been impossible to pin down. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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15. Into the Wild

into the wild Top 25 Films of 2007

Maybe it’s Eddie Vedder’s humbling score, Emile Hirsch’s brazen performance, or even Eric Gautier’s overwhelming cinematography, but Sean Penn’s cruelly underrated drama Into the Wild is hard to shake a decade later. Based on Jon Krakauer’s 1996 non-fiction book of the same name, this true-life story follows the tragically short life of Christopher McCandless, an Emory graduate who abandoned society for America’s more natural underbelly in the early ’90s. He left his family, he left his friends, he left the grid altogether. As we watch Hirsch’s McCandless wade through the icy Colorado River or meet out-there hippies at Slab City, there’s this inherent escapism at hand that’s admittedly alluring albeit totally reckless. Yet, despite the film’s multiple meditations on the constructs and limitations of society, Penn wisely leaves any tangible conclusions to the viewer’s discretion, which is why the film remains such an enigma. But really, there is no answer; as human beings, we’re spiritually bound to others, while always yearning for the great beyond. That’s life. –Michael Roffman

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14. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

before the devil knows youre dead Top 25 Films of 2007

Something weird happens when discussing this movie among colleagues, friends, and family these days. Mention Sidney Lumet’s final effort, his wicked awesome Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, and like clockwork, if someone’s seen it or they recall it, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s butt is the first point of conversation. Seriously. Lumet, in a bit of wildly unexpected sex drama in the form of a cold open, allows the great blonde actor to be filmed pushing his paunchy back into a bent over Marisa Tomei, all the while PSH is loving the fact that he’s doing the act in front of the mirror. She’s a trophy, a prize, not a person to love. There’s no music. Nothing romantic. We’re just kinda thrust into it, pardon the expression. There’s a point here. Abrupt and unsexy as this is, it’s kind of a perfect open for the insane, callow, vainglorious thriller that the great Sidney Lumet is about to dole out. This is a film about hungry, selfish, just damn-awful people and the ugly stuff they do just to get by. Albert Finney’s terrible. Ethan Hawke is terrible. Philip Seymour Hoffman is most assuredly terrible. And what fun it all is, too. This wicked classic, cynical and proud to be it. A last lick from towering giant Lumet in rare form. –Blake Goble

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13. Control

control film Top 25 Films of 2007

Music biopics can be such a snore. All too often filmmakers are hamstrung by a tawdry screenplay that tries to include every Important Moment with the idea that filmgoers are going to walk away with not only a new appreciation of said artist or band but an idea of who they were and what they represented. The problem with those ideas is that’s not how life works, and the whole thing becomes a maudlin shit show, chock-full of perfunctory moments that capitalize on superficiality and sensationalism. That’s why Control, Anton Corbijn’s biographical film on Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis, felt like such a revelation. Corbijn, who had actually served as the band’s original photographer, offers a 122-minute portrait that’s so hands-off, despite being perfectly shot and accurately portrayed. Sam Riley’s a natural as the late Curtis with a brutally physical performance that soars for its silent, patient approach. Every little detail is in the settings, the music, and the off-screen conflicts that only come to light if you look for them. It’s not for everyone, sure, but it’s certainly honest, and that honesty speaks volumes. –Michael Roffman

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12. Superbad

superbad Top 25 Films of 2007

The premise isn’t exactly new: soon-to-be-parting teenage friends try to honor their run together with some final booze-soaked celebration and debauchery. Hollywood churns enough of these out, but only a handful of them reach Superbad quality. So, why do we still turn to the crude, lowbrow misadventures of Evan, Seth, and Fogell (aka Hawaiian organ donor McLovin) a decade later? Sure, the flick’s endlessly quotable, the Keystone Kops antics of Officers Slater and Michaels are still shockingly hilarious, and the comedic chemistry (from timing to body size) between Michael Cera and Jonah Hill couldn’t be sharper, but the film also speaks to the inevitable fate of teenage friendship. Evan and Seth are typical, insecure teens who have always leaned on each other, and now that support system is about to vanish. As the drinks fly back and that separation anxiety grows heavier, director Greg Mottola plays it for laughs (Seth carrying Evan to safety or the two drunkenly proclaiming their love for each other in sleeping bags), but that doesn’t mean something emotionally significant isn’t taking place. That final parting shot of Seth going down the escalator with Jules will ring true for any viewer who ever had their own Evan. Things must change, but, as the moment hints, it’ll probably turn out okay. Now, enjoy fucking Jules, Seth! –Matt Melis

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11. Atonement

atonement Top 25 Films of 2007

Atonement might be best remembered a decade later for Joe Wright’s humane-yet-visceral take on World War II (particularly that phenomenal single-take panoramic of Dunkirk), but the Best Picture nominee and adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel is most effective as a brutal commentary on how some sins can never be redeemed. Wright’s film is at once a powerful war story, a sensuous bodice-ripper (for a war movie, it also features one of modern Hollywood’s most genuinely erotic sex scenes), and the searing character study that made Saoirse Ronan an actress of substantial note. As a young girl who tragically misunderstands something she can’t comprehend, setting in motion a chain of events that destroys several lives, Ronan conveys so much of the film’s emotional arc in her growing devastation, as her comprehension of the larger world only deepens her grief. That’s all before the film’s final monologue, in which Vanessa Redgrave (as the aged Ronan) delivers a soliloquy that adds a faint sense of closure and a powerful dose of irony to an already rich film. This is high drama, delivered near perfectly. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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10. Waitress

waitress Top 25 Films of 2007

Some films feel magical, flaws and all. They grab you and, usually quietly, refuse to relinquish their hold, becoming richer and more precious every time your mind wanders back to that scene, that moment, or that shot. That’s Waitress. The fact that writer, director, and vital supporting actor Adrienne Shelly didn’t live to see her film on the Sundance roster makes it a more bittersweet beauty, but her death isn’t why Waitress became a cult and critical favorite, nor why it became an equally lovely musical (still running on Broadway, for what it’s worth). Anchored by subtly but fiendishly charming and vulnerable performances from Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Cheryl Hines, Shelly, and Andy damn Griffith, this is a story that’s funny and sweet and dark and sad and devotedly human, all at once. As a bonus, it’ll also make you feel suddenly starving and maybe just a little lonely. But any sorrow this film brings is laced through with sweetness, like a tart note in a gorgeous piece of pie. Shelly’s death is such an element of sorrow, one that can’t be denied, but her absence makes this last confection all the more precious. Anyway, watch this movie. Might be best viewed on a full stomach. –Allison Shoemaker

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09. King of Kong: Fist Full of Quarters

king of kong Top 25 Films of 2007

It’s mind-blowing that two documentaries about the classic arcade gaming subculture dropped in the same year. It’s less inexplicable why we’re still talking about one of them, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, a decade later and not the other, Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade. While the latter teleported us into an odd dimension of grown men who dedicate their lives to chasing high scores and world records on ‘80s arcade games that 99% of the population stopped caring about decades ago, Seth Gordon’s Kong depicted the very same super dweebs as heroes and villains, Davids and Goliaths, clashing gladiators with basement tans. Since its release, those involved with the project have claimed that Gordon played loose with facts and chronology to build drama and used unflattering editing to turn iconic gamer Billy Mitchell into one of the century’s most hated onscreen douches. However, these revelations aside, we still find ourselves rooting on sad-sack everyman Steve Wiebe as he battles not just a giant, princess-stealing ape but geeky gatekeepers nervous about seeing their little universe breached by outsiders. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have looking over someone’s shoulder at an arcade. –Matt Melis
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08. The Orphanage

 Top 25 Films of 2007

An old orphanage. A boy with a sack mask. A missing child with HIV. A psychic medium. Vehicular homicide. Constant dark skies. Seaside caves. Séances. Spectres. Parental guilt. Sins of the past. Sounds like the stuff of gloomy legend. And yet, when all is said and done in J.A. Bayona’s sensationalist shadow show The Orphanage, it all comes to a head in a thrilling game of hide-and-seek. In the last leg of Bayona’s thriller, all the Giallo scares, all the spooky corridors and mystery plotting boils perfectly, then suddenly cools with a simple child’s game. This hide-and-seek is nerve-wracking at first. Laura (Belén Rueda) is playing the game with spirits, desperate she’ll win the safe return of her lost son. But Bayona flips the script and turns the scene into a heartbreaking revelation. It becomes a scene about life’s transience and the millions of ways we connect with one another. After all the raw nerve and jumps, we almost never see this in horror. There’s no stabbing, no emphasis on the gore – just a person trying to make sense of something almost impossible to explain, and we feel her anguish and astonishment for something we take for granted in the movies: the existence of ghosts and the frailty of life. The Orphanage endures as an unsung romantic masterpiece of modern horror.–Blake Goble

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07. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

jesse james Top 25 Films of 2007

When a studio and director differ on a film’s final edit, it generally doesn’t bode well for the final product presented to theatrical audiences. So when The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford finally saw its release after more than a year delay, the critical acclaim it wound up receiving was a bit of a surprise. It’s easy to see what both sides wanted. The film boasts a narrative that could easily have played to its cowboy action, boasting a marquee star in Brad Pitt and a legendary tale that doesn’t need much help to enthrall. But director Andrew Dominik was happy to let the sweeping Canadian shooting locations and contemplative themes of hero worship and legacy crawl at a more leisurely pace. We won’t know what Dominik’s four-hour cut of the film looks like, but what we got was maybe the best of both worlds — a film that can get lost in its own beauty because it know it has a story to return to. And, of course, there are the powerhouse performances, topped by a menacing, magnetic Pitt and Casey Affleck in his first Oscar-nominated run, playing the titular Ford with masterful touches of empathy and tragedy. –Philip Cosores

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06. Ratatouille

ratatouille Top 25 Films of 2007

When we pieced together our Pixar Dissected, Ratatouille clocked in at a paltry #11. Here’s the thing: When ranking Pixar films, pretty much anything above Cars is pretty wonderful. (Watch Monsters University! Trust me!) Ratatouille is no exception, a gorgeously animated and strangely inspiring story that encourages us (meaning all people who consume art) to not judge a rat by … well, by the fact that he’s a rat. As with most Pixar outings, there’s no shortage of voice talent — standouts include an unsurprisingly stirring Peter O’Toole and main-rat-on-campus Patton Oswalt — and the animation, too, is incredibly rich. Still, what makes Ratatouille special isn’t any one secret ingredient. Like all great dishes, there are a few flavors that stand out (and seriously, that Peter O’Toole speech!), but the whole is utterly and completely greater than the sum of its delightful parts. This is the rare film that inspires without being Inspirational, and for that, we all owe it a kissy-fingers-chef-delicious noise. –Allison Shoemaker

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05. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

the diving bell and the butterfly Top 25 Films of 2007

In 1995, the unthinkable befell the former editor of Elle in France, Jean-Dominique Bauby. After suffering a massive stroke at 43, Bauby was struck with “locked-in syndrome,” a condition in which the body is fully paralyzed while the mind remains active and intact. Bedridden and left in a state of perpetual terror, Bauby discovered that one of his eyes could still blink. Using this, he authored his own memoirs, with the help of an exceedingly patient speech pathologist. Julian Schnabel’s film chronicles the final two years of Bauby’s life, using his prose to vividly re-enact Bauby’s return from absolute hopelessness through the power of human memory. For a film about such a wrenching subject, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is uncommonly full of life, the kind of emotionally authentic true-life story that comes around maybe once or twice in a generation of filmmaking. And Mathieu Almaric’s performance as Bauby is equally remarkable, a marvel of muted physicality. The soundtrack’s a killer, too. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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04. The Darjeeling Limited

the darjeeling limited Top 25 Films of 2007

Not being The White Album shouldn’t penalize Magical Mystery Tour, and neither should any of Wes Anderson’s films be overlooked because they pale in comparison to his masterpieces. One such film that gets short shrift is The Darjeeling Limited, a heartfelt, powerful feature whose biggest flaw perhaps is that its visual setpiece isn’t as epic or iconic as The Belafonte or the Tenenbaum home. While some might say that the film gets a bit messy, the tale of three grieving brothers (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman) lingers on their pain tenderly. Beyond the protagonists’; travels into foreign land for spiritual discovery, this film felt like Anderson’s own quest, pushing outside his own dollhouse bounds and exploring character in the golden light on location in India. To further alter his palette, the auteur reshaped his traditional Kinks-y soundtrack with music from Satyajit Ray, whose work was a major inspiration for the film. Quirky siblings from an upper-class family struggling with death and depression? Sure, but the nuanced script and the panning shot across the rolling train cars convey a remarkable emotional depth, a powerful analysis of the way life constantly rolls forward even if there’s a recently deceased father and a massive tiger lingering just behind us at all times. –Lior Phillips

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03. Zodiac

zodiac film Top 25 Films of 2007

David Fincher’s lovingly crafted throwback to the era of ‘70s detective flicks may not be the most commercially successful film in his oeuvre, but it’s certainly the most disciplined and probably the best. Set in a meticulously recreated version of San Francisco in the late ‘60s, Zodiac asks a question that’s far more timeless than its setting: What can obsession drive a man to do? Obsession is indeed the film’s principal theme, infecting everyone from homicide detective (Mark Ruffalo) to Chronicle cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) to Fincher himself, who pores over the details of his work in an effort to extract every drop of tension from the celluloid. This one doesn’t offer much in the way of answers, but its questions are the kind that will keep you up at night. –Collin Brennan

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02. There Will Be Blood

 Top 25 Films of 2007

As with all of Paul Thomas Anderson’s films, There Will Be Blood is, despite its visual magnificence and thunderous performances, deceptively simple. So simple, in fact, that the devolution of oil tycoon Daniel Plainview can be compared and contrasted with any number of tyrannical business types throughout history, including our current President, a man who, much like Plainview, won’t rest until all of his desires are fulfilled, all of his enemies vanquished, and all of the faith he has in his own brilliance sustained. There Will Be Blood isn’t an origin story, necessarily; rather, it centers around the characters and moments who tease out the humanity that strives to emerge from the oil slick that is Plainview’s soul and the quiet, unfair betrayals that ensure it stays buried forever. In the end, it’s about winning, by any means necessary. Daniel Day-Lewis earned an Academy Award for his turn as Plainview, a much-deserved bit of recognition considering the role is equal parts deity and empty vessel. There Will Be Blood was not just a revelation in the film milieu of 2007; it was also integral to Anderson’s evolution. It depicted a newfound refinement in him as a director, but also a sea change in his central themes. While his early work concerns the joy and necessity of created families, his latter work is about the fragility and precariousness of human connection. There Will Be Blood heralded that shift and remains to this day his most potent examination of it. –Randall Colburn

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01. No Country for Old Men

no country for old men Top 25 Films of 2007

No Country for Old Men is brutal, perplexing, and downright chilling. But, it’s a Coen brothers film, and these hallmarks have long been a part of the filmmakers’ DNA, going back to the best of their ultra-violent spectacles, classics like Blood Simple, Miller’s Crossing, Fargo, and even the darkest corners of The Big Lebowski. Though, when their Oscar-winning adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s 2005 novel hit theaters in the fall of 2007, the film felt like a blow to the head, dulling the senses with its uncanny storytelling, uncompromising stakes, and undeniable tension. That tension’s in the very first frame and kept boiling by Javier Bardem’s unnerving performance as Anton Chigurh, an all-too-pragmatic hitman who haunts the Texas wasteland like he’s Michael Myers meets The Terminator. Symbolically, however, he’s more like the Holy Ghost to Tommy Lee Jones’ broken Father and Josh Brolin’s sacrificial Son, religious allegories that heavily factor into McCarthy’s harrowing commentary of a broken America. The way the Coens weave their respective narratives together through taut action, crisp dialogue, and chewy metaphors is what makes No Country for Old Men such a tantalizing, if not utterly timeless, work of inspired cinema. Call it, friend-o. –Michael Roffman

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