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The Best (and Worst) Films of 2007

A Powerful Year

It was a notable year for movie lovers, who were treated to the triumphant returns of the Coen brothers (No Country for Old Men), Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood) and Sidney Lumet, who delivered his most powerfully disquieting work in years with Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. There were films about barbarous barbers, litigious bees and even an industrious rat running the most venerable restaurant in Paris, but only a privileged few earned the distinction of being the year’s best. Among them:

Rossiter Drake

Best Films
1. Zodiac: This film represents David Fincher’s most accomplished work to date -- no small praise, considering his deserved reputation as an heir-apparent to Hitchcock. At more than two-and-a-half hours, it leaves little to the imagination, but it is riveting from the start; an absorbing, superbly acted stranger-than-fiction story that feels satisfyingly resolved despite the lack of a definitive ending.

2. There Will Be Blood

3. The Wind That Shakes the Barley

4. Eastern Promises

5. No Country For Old Men

Honorable Mention: The Dead Girl, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Rock the Bells

Worst Films
1. Good Luck Chuck: Comedies based around the premise of scatological obsession are nothing new, but Good Luck Chuck aims lower than any in recent memory, and misses consistently.

2. Southland Tales

3. 30 Days of Night

4. Sunshine

5. Alvin and the Chipmunks

Dishonorable Mention: I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Fred Claus, Transformers

Mel Valentin

Best Films
1. No Country for Old Men: A spectacular return to form for the desert-lost Coen Brothers, here faithfully directing Cormac McCarthy’s wrenchingly nihilistic morality play into one of the most chilling, haunting films of this (or any) year. Anchored by a riveting turn from Javier Bardem as a sociopathic killer with a twisted moral code (is there any other kind?). In effect, he’s a retributive Old Testament god.

2. There Will Be Blood: Imagine the late Stanley Kubrick directing Citizen Kane with Daniel Day-Lewis as Kane and you’d get a fare idea about PT. Anderson’s near-masterpiece, a devastating character study that also doubles as an incisive dissection of early twentieth capitalism and religion. And yes, the disturbing contemporary parallels are there if you look hard enough. Actually, you don’t have to look hard at all.

3. In the Valley of Elah: Unjustly ignored by mainstream audiences, Paul Haggis’ murder mystery/thriller set in and around a U.S. Army base is even better than the last film he wrote and directed, Crash. War changes everything, Haggis tells us, including good men.

4. Beyond the Gates (a.k.a. Shooting Dogs): Released in England and Europe in 2005, but not seen stateside until the spring of this year, Michael Caton-Jones heart-wrenching drama examines the Rwandan genocide through the eyes of a self-doubting, middle-aged Catholic priest played by John Hurt (never better) and an idealistic 20-something teacher (Hugh Dancy, in a revelatory performance).

5. The Devil Came on Horseback: A poignant portrait of former Marine Brian Steidle, who went to the Darfur province in Sudan as an unarmed military observer for the African Union and came back a deeply committed, impassioned advocate for international intervention in the Sudan.

Honorable Mention: Sweeney Todd, The Savages, Lars and the Real Girl

Worst Films
1. Dragon Wars (a.k.a. D-War): Here’s a short story about this four-years-in-the-making South Korean monster mash: no. Even the stars of the late-great "Mystery Science Theater 3000" would have walked out in utter and complete disgust.

2. The Ten: Ten minute skits about prison rape as a stand-in for romance isn’t funny -- it’s repulsive and offensive, and a sure sign of creative and moral bankruptcy.

3. Reign Over Me: More angry-man-child shtick from the increasingly desperate, increasingly unfunny Adam Sandler, here trying, and failing, at a dramatic role. A sad waste of Don Cheadle’s considerable talents.

4. I Think I Love My Wife: Someone, anyone, should have put a stop to Chris Rock’s vanity project the moment they heard the pitch.

5. Feast of Love: Morgan Freeman plays God (again), letting loose with the omniscience and the banal platitudes about life and love (yawn).

Dishonorable Mention: Because I Said So, Blood and Chocolate, Bridge to Terabithia

Matt Forsman

Best Films
1. Superbad: Yes, there were TONS of great dramas out there in 2007 that will likely garner all kinds of awards from the Academy, but truly we were blessed with some fantastic comedies. Many of them were well written, cleverly constructed, well directed, and had excellent performances. Superbad contained all of the aforementioned and consistent laughs from start to finish. Director Judd Apatow and his posse deserve some credit for their comedic genius.

2. Rocket Science

3. The King of Kong

4. Black Sheep

5. Beyond The Gates

Honorable Mention: Hot Fuzz

Worst Films
1. P.S., I Love You: This painful excuse for a romantic comedy struck out in every possible way. The story is feeble and implausible. None of the characters in the film have any kind of substance or depth. Even more remarkably this film has no memorable performances. This is really saying something considering you’ve got a cast that includes Hilary Swank, Kathy Bates, Lisa Kudrow, Gerard Butler, Gina Gershon, and several others.

2. Aqua Teen Hunger Force

3. Perfect Stranger

4. The Cleaner

5. License to Wed

Dishonorable Mention: Blood and Chocolate