Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Underrated's Top Ten Movies Of 2007

This year turned out to be a quality year all around in both TV, music, and film. I wish that films weren't as expensive (or someone would like to hook me up with my screenings, hint hint) because there's so many I haven't had the chance to see yet, and are just waiting to become available on Netflix. Regardless, I think the 10 below were all worthwhile investments of the ones I did get out to the big screen to enjoy. Keep close watch here, as Top Songs and Top Albums are still yet to come!

01. Juno
Having just seem this film on Friday, it may be considered a bit quick to put this at the top of my list. But when you put the genius that is Ellen Page on screen with some of my favorite Arrested Development-ers (Michael Cera and Jason Bateman), and throw in some great tunes from Kimya Dawson, there's really no doing wrong. In a understated tale of a women going through some, er, changes Juno plays at every emotion in the most genuine way. I wanted to be Juno throughout most of the film, and yet also identified with her misplacement among a suburban world. Every actor (yes, even Jennifer Garner) played their characters in the most un-stereotypical way, and yet even invoked a kind of familiar laugh. I'd like to see this film again, not only for the free orange tic tacs at the end, but for the heart, and music that feels so inviting.

02. Lars And The Real Girl
Ryan Gosling is, hands down, one of the most talented actors of our generation. Ever since Half Nelson I've looked at this Canadian as a breath of fresh air into a somewhat mundane collection of young talents. Lars And The Real Girl showed Gosling at his most vulnerable. Somehow, some way, this film turned a perverse subject of a blow up doll as a girlfriend, into something heartwarming and purse. Gosling's every facial expression invoked a new emotion, and it was an absolute pleasure to see him, as Lars, working through his mental state on screen. Often times hilarious, this emotionally driven ensemble piece is one that shouldn't be overlooked by prejudgment. Now Mr. Gosling, I'm rather curious to see how you will manage to top this.

03. Control
This film left me speechless. And now, almost two months later I still don't know how to put into words the experience of seeing Control. Directed by the fabulous Anton Corbijn, and staring newcomer Sam Riley, the film tells the tale of the infamous Ian Curtis, however it isn't a typical biopic. The film is mostly from the perspective of his wife Debroah (and based off her memoirs) and the always wonderful Samantha Morton plays the role with such force and apt that you feel physically uncomfortable at numerous times during the film. Paying homage to the music, and with a tasteful, yet horrifying take on Curtis' eventual demise, Control is a film worthy of high praise, personally putting it up right against Sid And Nancy in top musical films.

04. Waitress
It's no shocker that I'm a huge Keri Russell. She was my hero growing up, watching her on the Mickey Mouse Club and finding solace in our shared curly hair. Felicity may have been my biggest obsession to date—all I'll say is MTV's FANatic— and while watching Mission Impossible III last week, I couldn't stop asking Pat if Felicity was going to come back to life. Needless to say, I was excited about her latest project Waitress a dark comedy about a lonely housewife who becomes pregnant and yearns for a new life. Russell is at her top game here, playing with fellow castmates emotions, doing what Jennifer Aniston should have done in The Good Girl and she does it with grace. Equal parts humorous and heartbreaking Waitress is one of those rare film gems, where you are happy to escape to someone else's world—which may or may not be better than your own—just to root for the protagonist. Plus, it never hurts to have Six Feet Under's Jeremy Sisto in the mix.

05. Knocked Up
As a huge fan of Freaks And Geeks, I basically adore everything Judd Apatow has a part in. Although still a bit hesitant of casting Izzie, I mean Katherine Heigl in the lead female role, Knocked Up was a hodgepodge of familiar faces, grotesque laughs, and water cooler moments. Personally I think the relationship between Paul Rudd and Apatow's real-life wife Leslie Mann stole the show, but each character and scene was perfectly pieced together for an almost realistic view of the worst fear of a one-night stand. Seth Rogen did a stand up job altering his character throughout the film to show a genuine growing up, while still keeping it light and fresh. And let's be honest, any chance to have Martin Starr in a film, is a-okay with me. Give that guy a leading role already!

06. Wind That Shakes The Barley
I actually saw this film two summers ago in London, but it was released in the US here, so we'll stick to that release date. I'm not a huge fan of historical flicks, but this one seemed to successful portray a real life event with a compelling tale. A sympathetic look at Republicans in early 20th century Ireland, two brothers, played brilliantly by Cillian Murphy and Padraic Delaney are torn apart by anti-Brit rebellion over the years. I'm not one to get super emotional during films—okay, kind of a lie—but watching it with my mother, who knows first-hand the after-effects of this time, was a bit surreal. Played by real Irish, the tale will leave you stunned and shocked, in an un-traditional film with outstanding performances.

07. Superbad
Two things we need to get straight: I am not a 17 year old boy, and I don't typically like gross-out humor. With that said, I throughouly enjoyed Superbad because even in spite of the two previous statements, the quick wit and hilarity of Michael Cera and Jonah Hill's night out is enough for any skeptics to be won over. And sure, I will forever be disgusted at the stain on Hill's pants, and certain crude references could have been left behind, but in the end, I was left satisfied with a film that borders on immature and sophisticated humor the entire length of the film. That takes skill. And it seems like I'm always more of a fan of the b-plot, this flick is no different. Christopher Mintz-Plasse's McLovin deserves a big high-five for the convenience store scene alone, and is only heightened with the addition of director and writer Seth Rogen and his partner in crime SNL's Bill Hader.

08. Ratatouille
I had to keep reminding myself that the rats in Ratatouille were not real. The computer animation in this film are at top-notch, and its ability to write a sophisticated children's story in a way that doesn't have some jokes for adults and some for kids (a la Shrek), instead making a wholesome film that everyone can enjoy. Complete with a great collection of guest voices from less-obvious choices like Patton Oswalt, Will Arnett, and Ian Holm, in the end, it's not the most hysterical film ever made, no, but it is one of the more entertaining ones. And that, I think, always should win out in the end.

09. Hot Fuzz
Pat introduced me to the wonder that is Shaun Of The Dead earlier this year, so I was pumped to catch the second coming off the duo, this time as police officers heading to a strange town in Hot Fuzz. While it did not live up to the former, it did have its moments—the usual homage to classics with smart one liners and clever references. The film succeeded in both working as a action film and as a comedy, which is hard to come by these days.

10. The Simpsons Movie
The Simpsons Movie wouldn't stand up to some of the episode greats of the iconic television series, but seeing our favorite yellow family on the big screen was enough to warrant this movie a favorite. From the opening scenes, of seeing the entire town of Springfield, to the classic story line of Homer screwing up and then trying to make right, the film was a nice celebration of what we've come to expect—unexpectedly sophisticated story telling and a moral to every tale. It was a long time coming, and well worth the wait, and I have a sneaking suspicion this film, like most Simpsons episodes will stand the test of time.

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