And the Oscar for Best Picture… of 2007…

You may’ve noticed that it’s the 2010 Oscars this Sunday (technically Monday over here), finally bringing an end to the tale of movies from 2009 (Empire have their awards a while later, which is pushing into the pointless — OK, they’re never going to become an Oscar-predictor by moving up in the schedule, like the BAFTAs aimed for with their pre-Oscar move; but how many people still care about last year by the time we’re a quarter through the next?)

It seems appropriate timing, then, to finally publish this group of reviews for (most of) 2007’s Best Picture nominees (a ‘feature’ I’ve had in the planning for well over a year — oops). Yes, it’s two ceremonies ago, but it’s the best I’ve got.

So, in alphabetical order… with the exception of the winner… which, by coincidence, puts them in reverse viewing order for me… Anyway, here are the reviews:

2010 #25

“There’s underage sex, swearing, numerous displays of teen independence, divorce, love of rock music and horror films… All that’s missing from a Middle American Mom’s worst nightmare is drugs (there’s no violence either, but we know them there yankees love a bit of that).” Read more…

2009 #87
Michael Clayton

“The obvious point of comparison is Damages, the excellent TV series that also concerns such high-profile big-business lawsuits, but… Damages sustains it for over 9 hours, replete with cliffhangers and plot twists so far beyond what Clayton’s straightforward story has to offer that Gilroy isn’t even dreaming of being that good.” Read more…

2009 #7
There Will Be Blood

“not to say it’s a bad film, but it is at times a baffling one… I can’t help but wonder if I missed something crucial along the way because, even after two and a half hours, I had no real idea what the film was about.” Read more…

And the winner, of course, was…

2009 #5
No Country for Old Men

“it’s really about Fate, randomness, chance. Some clearly think this brilliant; I remain unconvinced. It lacks satisfaction. Maybe that’s real life — no, that is real life: random and lacking closure and satisfaction. But this isn’t real life, it’s a movie” Read more…

Of the five Best Picture nominees from 2007, the only one I gave five stars was Atonement. As the only one I watched around the time, such a score may’ve been boosted by BAFTA hype and its Britishness, while perhaps the likes of No Country have, conversely, been ruined by their extended hype.

On balance, the film I most enjoyed from the line up was Juno; but does that make it best? Depends what you’re looking for, I suppose.

2007: The Full List


And so the end is here. Yes, finally this time! (Check out the previous post for my best and worst of the year.) A nice round 25 entries, too… well, 26 with the Star Wars one

Anyway — as we’ve reached the end, here’s the full alphabetical list of everything I saw, followed by some intensely interesting statistical whatsits.

What a year, eh?

The Full List

American Dreamz
Annie Hall
Basil the Great Mouse Detective
Before Sunrise
Before Sunset
Berlin: Symphony of a Great City
The Black Dahlia
Blood Diamond
Bonnie and Clyde
Boogie Nights
The Bourne Ultimatum
Brief Encounter
Bringing Out the Dead
Bullets Over Broadway
C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America
The Cat’s Meow
Citizen Kane
A Cock and Bull Story
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
The Crowd
The Departed
The Devil Wears Prada
Educating Rita
Fantômas: In the Shadow of the Guillotine
Fantômas: Juve Versus Fantômas
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
Flight 93
For Your Eyes Only
Garden State
Great Expectations
Happy Feet
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Hellboy: Director’s Cut
Hello, Dolly!
Hot Fuzz
An Inconvenient Truth
It’s All Gone Pete Tong
Johnny English
The King and I
The King of Comedy
Kinky Boots
Kramer vs. Kramer
Ladies in Lavender
The Last Days of Pompeii
Letters from Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
Manhattan Murder Mystery
March of the Penguins
Mean Creek
Mean Streets
Mrs Brown
Mrs Henderson Presents
Mystic River
The Naked City
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth
Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion
The New World
New York Stories
Night Watch
Notes on a Scandal
Ocean’s Twelve
On the Town
Over the Hedge
The Paleface
Pan’s Labyrinth
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Piglet’s Big Movie
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Play Time
Point Break
The Prestige
The Pursuit of Happyness
The Reckless Moment
Right at Your Door
Ringers: Lord of the Fans
Road to Morocco
Romance & Cigarettes
Sense and Sensibility
The Sign of Four
South Pacific
Spider-Man 3
Starter For Ten
Stranger Than Fiction
A Study in Scarlet
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
Taxi Driver
Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny
This is Spinal Tap
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
Three Colours: Blue
Three Colours: White
Three Colours: Red
Traffic in Souls
Transporter 2
United 93
West Side Story
While You Were Sleeping
Wild at Heart
The Woodsman

Alternate Cuts & Other Reviews
Crash: Director’s Cut
Gone With the Wind
Spider-Man 2.1
Star Wars – Episode 4: A New Hope – DVD Edition
Star Wars – Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back – DVD Edition
Star Wars – Episode 6: Return of the Jedi – DVD Edition

Bus Stop
The End
Nine 1/2 Minutes
A Propos de Nice
Skyscraper Symphony
Telling Lies

The Full Statistics

In the end, I watched 129 new feature films in 2007.

I also watched 6 features I’d seen before that were extended or altered in some way. (All of those are left in the statistics that follow unless otherwise indicated.)

I also watched 8 shorts (none of which shall be counted in any of the statistics).

I’ve already seen 2 films from this list again (specifically, Happy Feet and Hot Fuzz).

I saw 9 films at the cinema this year. That’s far beaten by the number of new films I saw on DVD though, which stands at 97 (rising to 103 with those extended/altered ones). I also saw 14 on TV, 4 via downloads, and 5 on good ol’ VHS.

The most popular decade by far was the ’00s, with 70 films — that’s 52%! Of the rest, 4 were made in the ’10s, 5 in the ’20s, 1 in the ’30s, 8 in the ’40s, 2 in the ’50s, 6 in the ’60s, 7 in the ’70s, 12 in the ’80s, and 20 in the ’90s. That’s every decade of the 20th Century covered.

The average score was 3.7 out of 5. That includes 16 five-star films and just 1 one-star film. The majority of films scored four stars, with a total of 72 receiving that mark. There were also 32 three-star films and 14 two-star films.

21 of my new films appear on the IMDb Top 250 Films at the time of writing. Their positions range from 15th (Goodfellas) to 247th (Manhattan). None of them are bad enough to make it onto the Bottom 100.

Additionally, 4 films appeared on Empire’s 25 Greatest Films of the YearNotes on a Scandal (at #14), Letters From Iwo Jima (at #11), Hot Fuzz (at #8) and The Bourne Ultimatum (at #1). Many of the films undoubtedly appear on other ‘Best Films Ever’ lists, but I’m hardly going to go research them all.

A total of 111 directors (or directing partnerships) appear on the list. Martin Scorsese appears most often with 7 films. He’s closely followed by Woody Allen with 5 and Krzysztof Kieslowski with 3. Others with multiple films are Clint Eastwood, Louis Feuillade, Lewis Gilbert, John Glen, Paul Greengrass, Lasse Hallstrom, David Lean, Richard Linklater, Ian Mackenzie & Alex Nicholas, F.W. Murnau, Sam Raimi, and Guillermo del Toro. Also, Gene Kelly and the pairing of Hideaki Anno & Kazuya Tsurumaki directed 2 films each, but in both cases one of them was co-directed with someone else. Obviously, the other 94 just directed one film here.

The actors and actresses who appear multiple times are too numerous and difficult to list. There were at least a few though.

In film titles, the most common first letters are B and S (the latter thanks to a big boost from the alternate cuts). The next-closest were T, C, M and P. A total of 17 titles begin with “The”, while just 3 start with “A” or “An”. (Also, can you see the places where I’ve cheated slightly in the alphabetical list above?)

57 of the films are currently in my DVD collection.

The End…

So that was 2007. Here’s to 2008!

2007 In Retrospect


It may be getting on for the end of January 2008, but finally the penultimate entry of 100 Films 2007 is here! Read on for my five least-favourite films I’ve seen this year, and (more interestingly, I’m sure) my top ten — in a lovely countdown and all!

(Yes, I said penultimate entry: still to come, a statistics-tastic one!)

A Bit of an Explanation

I’d like to point out that these lists aren’t based on the ratings I gave at the time. That is to say, if I gave out precisely ten 5-star ratings it doesn’t mean those will be my top ten. A slightly strange thought I know, but opinions can change and therefore so may mine. The title of this entry sums it up: in retrospect these are the films I wanted to pick out as the best I’ve seen in 2007. Hard work it was choosing too!

I’ve included a “see also” section for each of the top ten. These aren’t supposed to be the ten next-best films I’ve seen this year, but are instead other films I’ve seen this year that are in some way related (with the briefest of explanations as to how). These are really just a chance to point out films that are of similar interest; I wanted to stress that they’re not necessarily numbers 11 to 20 on my list.

As a final note, I’ve not considered any of those controversial different-cuts-of-films-I’ve-seen-before for inclusion here. If I had then I’m sure Crash would’ve been high in the top ten.

The Five Worst Films I’ve Seen in 2007

Flight 93 (#26) 1/5
The only film all year to achieve the lowest possible score; if this list were numbered, it would surely be my worst film of the year. Nothing in it is above the level of cheap TV movie — which it is, but that’s no excuse. The script, acting, direction, effects… I genuinely failed to find anything worthwhile here, especially in light of the excellent United 93, a truly brilliant film of the same story. Some say this makes a good companion piece to the movie, but I really don’t think it does: the latter is a respectful, realistic, thoughtful piece of filmmaking; this is tacky and unrealistic, and tries so hard for an appropriate level of sentiment that it often winds up being laughable. And laughable is not something this event was. In short, don’t even bother.

New York Stories: Life Without Zoe (#117) 3/5
It seems almost churlish to pick out one segment of a film, but as it’s an anthology where the other two parts are pretty good it would be even more churlish to slate the whole film. The centre short of New York Stories, an anthology film by Scorsese, Coppola and Allen, is second only to Flight 93 as the most painful thing I’ve had to sit through this year. The characters are irritating, the performances weak, the writing twee… Sofia would obviously go on to better things (Lost in Translation mainly), but Francis Ford seems to be firmly leaving the quality filmmaking behind at this point. (As a side point, I thought Scorsese’s short in this film was decent enough, while Allen’s is utterly brilliant. The listed score is the one I gave the whole film.)

Play Time (#118) 2/5
Jacques Tati has his fans. Filmmakers such as him (especially foreign ones) inevitably do. But I just can’t fully get to grips with his style of comedy, and I suspect many truly discerning critics wouldn’t either. There are gags, but they’re slipped in among long stretches of interminable boredom where literally nothing happens, and when they arrive they have a tendency to run on too long. Tati is undoubtedly making some points about the state of the modern urban world with this, but that doesn’t make it any more entertaining. Repetitive and flat, it’s not worth sitting through for the handful of genuinely good comic moments.

C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America (#79) 2/5
As well as being a poor film in its own right, this represents a variety of films which failed to live up to my expectations. In this case, I was looking forward to a well-developed alternate history of America, where things were vastly different because the Confederates won the American Civil War. Instead, the film is almost solely concerned with the idea that, if they had won, black people would still be slaves. This preoccupation is unsurprising when you learn the background of the filmmakers, but the film isn’t sold as simply a “what if black people were still slaves?” piece. Most major historical events play out as they did anyway… except that black people are still enslaved! It’s far too one-dimensional.

Thunderbirds (#85) 2/5
I was left with a few potential final choices from my short list of bad films, all of fairly equal poorness. This is the worst though, because, like C.S.A., it’s so disappointing. I didn’t have great expectations for this film thanks to all the bad press it received at the time of release, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that Thunderbirds is a great TV series full of wonderful and entertaining ideas, most of which are squandered in this poor Spy Kids rip off. The only good thing about it are the ship designs, which faithfully modernise all of the Thunderbird craft. Other than that, it’s a poor script, poor story, and pretty poor acting too (even from Sir Ben Kingsley, who camps it up something rotten). What a waste.

The Ten Best Films I’ve Seen For the First Time in 2007

10) Blood Diamond (#19) 4/5
Ed Zwick pulls off the impressive task of making a Moral Message Movie that is also a proper action thriller, something which (as far as I’ve seen) usually leads to a film winding up greatly more in one camp than the other. The action sequences are exciting and impressively staged, the message is conveyed but not over-played, and within this there’s still room to focus on the characters and their personal journeys. All of the actors perform well in their roles, though Djimon Hounsou can still be singled out as the best of the bunch. Important and entertaining — a rare feat.
See also: The Bourne Ultimatum, a more widely praised gritty action-thriller.

9) 300 (#101) 4/5
Pure testosterone-fuelled entertainment. That’s a pretty simply way of summing up what is, at the end of the day, a pretty simple film. It looks gorgeous, with cinematography, design and CGI combining to create a series of hyper-real, beautiful visions. The fight scenes are brutally excellent, though in danger of becoming a bit repetitive if they’re not your thing. The story is also a little slender, padded out with copious slow motion and a bolted-on political subplot in the final act, which could have been excellent if integrated better. But none of these flaws really matter, because 300 does what it sets out to, and it does it bloody well.
See also: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, an equally CGI-heavy bit of constant action.

8) Three Colours Red (#42) 5/5
This really (slightly cheekily, but unashamedly) represents the whole Three Colours trilogy. You see, while each film is completely standalone and works excellently in its own right, they still work best when viewed together, in order, at which point the ending of this (the third part) is wonderfully effective. The trilogy explores the three values represented on the French flag: freedom, equality, brotherhood; but these are clearly themes with broader resonance, which gives these films a more universal appeal. They do tend toward the slower-paced and slightly ‘arty’ end of the filmic spectrum, but, considering that’s a style I don’t generally get on with either, these are nonetheless brilliant.
See also: Hidden, another French film with occasionally similar themes.

7) Citizen Kane (#100) 5/5
Widely regarded as one of, if not the, best films ever made, Citizen Kane has certainly had to fight hard for such an accolade. But it’s pretty well deserved: almost everything about the film still stands up well today, from the engaging mysteries of the plot, to the collage of styles, timeframes and unusual camera moves that can still seem innovate 66 years on. As I said in my original review, there is masses that can (and has, and will) be said about this movie. You shouldn’t need me to tell you that if you have any real interest in films you ought to at least give it a go. For me, it mostly managed to live up to its colossal reputation.
See also: Chinatown, an acclaimed noir-ish & unsolvable mystery of America’s wealthy.

6) Brief Encounter (#76) 5/5
Most classics are so for good reason; and, chances are, the older a film oft-cited as a classic gets, the better the chance of it genuinely being one (as the lesser films drop away in favour of newer ‘classics’, you see). At 62 years old, then, Brief Encounter stands a fair chance of being a damn good film. And, lo and behold, it really is. The social conventions of a bygone age are beautifully played out — while things certainly wouldn’t go this way today, one can still oddly relate to it all. With a touching, funny script, note-perfect performances, and terrific direction, you don’t get them much more classic than this.
See also: Before Sunrise, a modern take on railway-related romance (that only narrowly missed a spot here).

5) Stranger Than Fiction (#81) 4/5
This is a wonderful conceit for a film: one day, a man begins to hear his life being narrated, as if it were a novel. And then the novelist tells him he’s going to die. To explain what happens from there would ruin it, of course (and take too long), but it’s variously fantastical, romantic, thoughtful, and fun. It’s stylishly directed by Marc Forster, who’s fast becoming one of my favourite directors (I expect Bond 22 to cement that opinion), and has plenty of originality. While some plot threads may be pretty standard fair, they’re well executed too, which makes for a highly entertaining whole.
See also: While You Were Sleeping, a quirky (though not as fantastical) setup for a rom-com.

4) The Prestige (#14) 4/5
I must confess to being a bit unsure about The Prestige at first. Not that I didn’t think it was good, just that I wasn’t sure how good. In retrospect, it’s good enough to make it this high on my list (beating off most of the films that I rated higher than it!) Nolan is a great storyteller: the chronology of the film is all over the place, yet never once is the viewer lost as to what we’re seeing when. It’s all propped up by a brilliant cast and a central mystery that is intriguing, with a number of neat twists in its resolution. The more I remember it, the more I like it.
See also: Primer, a somewhat similar mystery in a (sadly) less satisfying film.

3) Mean Creek (#69) 5/5
It’s a simple concept: a group of kids take the school bully out to teach him a lesson and it all goes horribly wrong. But it’s not a sanitised, irritating kids movie, with shiny little brats and a beautiful message about friendship; it’s an indie with a realistically dark heart, and thankfully not one that has succumbed to the “nothing happens because it’s about the characters, see” school of ‘intelligent’ filmmaking. The kids carry the movie (barely an adult is seen, and even then only briefly) and their performances are all strong, often a worry with child actors. It’s a tense, believable story, with a good exploration of the consequences of their actions, including an appropriate level of ambiguity. A fantastic little drama.
See also: Brick, another indie of middle American kids in potentially murderous situations.

2) Hot Fuzz (#20) 5/5
The Shaun of the Dead team return, this time spoofing action movies (as opposed to zombies). Many say this isn’t as good as Shaun, but I rather suspect they’re mostly the sort of people who are into the niche-y zombie films in the first place (don’t get me wrong, mind, I love Shaun). Hot Fuzz is funny throughout, has a good stab at some exciting action sequences, and the cast of British stalwarts are fantastic. It was a big hit in the UK and deservedly so. It’s set to form a loose trilogy with Shaun and an as-yet-unrevealed project, which I feel we should all be looking forward to immensely.
See also: Stormbreaker, a kid-centred slice of tongue-in-cheek British action.

1) United 93 (#22) 5/5
Paul Greengrass didn’t stand a chance at the Oscars, as Scorsese had finally got round to making another film good enough for them to finally give him an award. Greengrass deserved it more though. The Departed was a decent film, but as this is the only mention of it in this entire article you can see I was hardly blown away. But this is all beside the point: United 93 is a great film. The direction is perfectly suited to the subject matter, the storytelling appropriately tense and with a good dose of realism, and the performances utterly believable. The fact that this is endorsed by the families of those who died is the final stamp of approval. The men and women who were on board United 93 are all heroes — not in some cheesy Hollywood way, but in a very real-world way. This captures that, and feels an appropriate tribute.
See also: Right at Your Door, a fictional tale of terrorism’s potential effect on ordinary people.

Special Mentions

I just wanted to take a moment (or, a section) to highlight a few other films, for various reasons.

Firstly, I can’t end this without mentioning the 13 films that earned themselves 5-star ratings this year, as only six of them made it into the top ten — those being Brief Encounter, Citizen Kane, Hot Fuzz, Mean Creek, Three Colours Red, and United 93. Perhaps I was less certain about rating some so highly in retrospect, but, regardless, the other seven were: Chinatown, Educating Rita, Goodfellas, Heat, The King of Comedy, Kramer vs. Kramer, and Trainspotting.

As the year went on I kept a running list of potential contenders for both my bottom five and top ten. The former eventually totalled 15 films (some were shortlisted not because they were truly bad, but due to the level of disappointment involved, such as Spider-Man 3). The list for the top ten reached the giddy heights of 48 films — 37% of the total! Maybe I’m just the generous sort. As well as the top ten itself (obviously), some of these were the other 5-star-ers listed above, and several more have been named in the “see also” sections. Rather than list all the remaining 24 (you do the maths), here’s nine of them that stuck in my mind enough to warrant mentioning:

Night Watch, an entertaining epic/fantasy/horror mash-up from Russia.
Perfume, a visually pungent, thoroughly bizarre adaptation of the popular novel.
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, a classic silent urban fairytale.
Manhattan, a beautiful black & white relationship drama.
The Woodsman, an intelligent and character-centric study of a difficult issue.
Pan’s Labyrinth, an engaging blend of fantasy and cruel reality.
Bullets Over Broadway, an amusing and entertaining take on the mob and the theatre.
Octopussy, a surprisingly entertaining Roger Moore Bond film.
Basil the Great Mouse Detective, an underrated Sherlock Holmes-riffing Disney flick.

The Films I Didn’t See

Of course, this obviously isn’t a Top 10 of 2007 in the traditional sense. But, nonetheless, new films do feature, and with that in mind there were a number of notable films released this year that I’ve yet to see.

Here, then, is an alphabetical list of 50 films made in 2007 that I’ve missed. (To be fair, some of these aren’t actually out over here yet… but when I finally see them they’ll be listed as 2007, so on this list they go! Equally, a fair few films have cropped up on best-of-year lists but are technically from 2006, so have been left off.) The films listed here have been chosen for a variety of reasons, from box office success to critical acclaim.

2 Days in Paris
28 Weeks Later
3:10 to Yuma
30 Days of Night
Across the Universe
Aliens vs Predator: Requiem
American Gangster
The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford
Becoming Jane
Blades of Glory
Charlie Wilson’s War
Die Hard 4.0 / Live Free or Die Hard
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Ghost Rider
The Golden Compass
Grindhouse (or its constituent parts individually)
I Am Legend
I’m Not There
Knocked Up
Lions For Lambs
The Man From Earth
Michael Clayton
National Treasure: Book of Secrets
No Country For Old Men
Ocean’s Thirteen
Resident Evil: Extinction
Rush Hour 3
Shrek the Third
The Simpsons Movie
Southland Tales
St. Trinian’s
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
There Will Be Blood

A Final Thought

It’s been very strange, looking back over this list to pick my choices. Some films I saw at the beginning of the year feel like they were just the other week; others seen more recently feel like they were an age ago. It’s quite an interesting experience — one that I’d recommend.

2007 | Weeks 51-52

And so here we are: my 23rd entry, the final two weeks of 2007, and the end of my quest! You can look out for summaries of the year to be posted in the next few days, and then it’s thoroughly done.

…for 2007. I’ll be starting afresh for 2008 though, right back down at #1.

After the emptiness of my last entry, I have actually watched some films this time. Three of them, in fact — my final three films of the year! And one short too.

They were…

#127 The Bourne Ultimatum

#127a Telling Lies

#128 While You Were Sleeping

#129 Piglet’s Big Movie

2007’s summary posts will be republished in November.

2007 | Weeks 49-50 (2008 Preview)

It’s the last month of the year! The winter holidays have started! There’s only a week (and a bit) ’til Christmas! And, after the fourteen-film craziness of the last entry, in the past two weeks I’ve only watched… well, NO films!

Yet there is still an entry. Why? Well, I resolved that, regardless of how many films I watched, I’d post double-week entries for both this one and the next. And I haven’t watched any films, so there’s none here. A silly resolution, obviously. Incidentally, this all means you can expect the final chapter of my 2007 quest to appear on Monday December 31st. How very appropriate.

So instead of film reviews, but in light of the fact I’m posting this anyway, I’ve decided to share with you some of the changes I have planned for 2008. I’m sure there’s nothing mind-blowingly exciting here, but maybe it’ll be of vague interest.

2008 Preview

The most notable change to the blog will be that, instead of large week-spanning multi-film round-ups, I’ll be posting reviews individually. The weekly format is a hold-over from the blog’s deviantART origins and obviously isn’t as blog-like as individual entries will be.

In a similar vein, there’ll be a few more details beyond the current year/director/format selection — for example, the running time, or the BBFC classification (perhaps the MPAA one too). These things are hardly integral to the content, I know, but it might make the whole thing feel a bit more well-informed.

In the unlikely event anyone particularly enjoys my little introductions and updates, something like these will crop up from time to time in a new format — expect ‘editorials’ scattered amongst the film reviews at imprecise intervals.

I had also considered adding in reviews of other things, such as re-watched films and TV shows, in a similar way to the editorials. I decided this would dilute the focus and clutter the blog, however… but be sure to check out my new sister blog, Smaller Screens, which will cover those things with a broadly similar ‘voice’ to this blog.

Finally, I might actually start using keywords. I tried initially for this year, but it seemed a little pointless. I’ll try to keep them general and helpful, rather than bogging them down with one-off things like the film’s title. Information like the director, the genre, the year of production, the format, and so forth, will likely go in the keywords, to create some sort of browsable thingamie on the sidebar.

Maybe one day I’ll go back and mix some of these changes into how the 2007 posts are organised, just to streamline the whole thing. But don’t count on it. [2015 note: Hahaha! Dear God, the number of times I’ve re-posted and re-formatted the 2007 entries now…]

Next Time

It’s the final entry of the year! And then two more… You’ll see.

See you on New Year’s Eve…

An extended musing on falling in love with films

An issue that came to my mind while writing this entry (specifically after viewing film #123): when was the last time I ‘fell in love’ with a film? It’s got me pondering not only that, but also what caused me to ‘fall for’ the films I do like? Was it the critical reaction as much as my personal opinion? The in-built notion of This Is A Good Film making sure I liked it?

I don’t think that’s quite true: I was certainly aware of the high praise for films like Pulp Fiction or Fight Club (both of which I adored from first viewing) when I saw them, but I’m sure there was something more to them that impressed me. Certainly, there are films I’ve enjoyed to a similar degree where my awareness of its wider praise has followed later, such as Donnie Darko or Children of Men. By a similar token, there are films where I knew of the praise, such as Memento and The Departed, and still didn’t come to love them.

It leaves me wondering if, as I grow older, I’m less prone to being swayed by received critical opinions and finally just judging films on their own merit; or, possibly, I’m so eager to try to have my own thoughts and to therefore avoid things that I’m not taking them in the right way? It’s a very self-reflexive question and consequently a hard one to answer, especially as all opinions on art are so subjective anyway.

As for the issue of films I’ve ‘fallen in love’ with, the issue is slightly complicated by a division between Entertainment Films and Proper Films (I use these terms loosely, for the sake of this argument). To use some of the same examples, I would class all the films thus far mentioned as Proper Films (we can already see the line blurring as they all certainly have high entertainment values too), whereas things like Pirates of the Caribbean or Serenity are more clearly of the Entertainment variety. Handily, I have a list of all the films I’ve seen in the past eleven months, so I can see what I may’ve loved in the past year.

And, indeed, there are some. Under the Proper banner we might find the likes of Mean Creek, Brief Encounter, or, probably most of all, United 93. Under the Entertainment heading there could possibly be 300, Stranger Than Fiction, or, undoubtedly, Hot Fuzz. But it can be tricky to designate the difference between “liked a lot” and “loved” — there were several more films I nearly listed, but then just wasn’t sure.

Indeed, how much I love even the ones mentioned, and even more so whether they rank amongst films I’d call all-time favourites, is a complex proposition. When does “liked a lot” become “loved”? In the past, the likes of Se7en, Apocalypse Now and Magnolia, as well as one or two others mentioned earlier, easily jumped straight to the top of my favourites list after just one viewing… but then maybe I was just young and impressionable. Or maybe I wasn’t as easily persuadable as I seem to think, and I’m just still waiting for something to capture me the same way they did…

2007 | Weeks 46-48

Welcome to the second most film-packed entry ever! Why has this come to be so?

I’ve had a little bit of a theme season (one might say) these past few weeks, so I’ve been waiting for those films to appear in a single entry; plus there are other films watched in between, making the list even longer.

So, what was the theme? Well, being the dedicated student that I am, I’ve watched all the suggested viewing for a seminar in which my group had to pose the questions. The seminar was on “Urban Rhythms”… but in film-viewing terms that translates to four Scorseses, four Woody Allens, and an anthology featuring shorts by both of them and Francis Ford Coppola (plus a fifth Scorsese that wasn’t on the list but was on TV). Such respectable viewing!

Throw in another four films and this is the most film-packed entry since the seven-week, fifteen-film behemoth that was the first entry! And it makes it to only one film less in under half the time. Well blimey. Best get on with it then…

#113 On the Town

#114 Bringing Out the Dead

#115 Annie Hall

#116 Wild at Heart

#117 New York Stories

#118 Play Time

#119 Manhattan

#120 Hellboy: Director’s Cut

#121 The King of Comedy

#122 Taxi Driver

#123 Goodfellas

#124 Manhattan Murder Mystery

#125 Bullets Over Broadway

#126 Mean Streets

2007 | Weeks 43-45

It’s goodbye to October and hello to November, as the year moves into its final sixth. It’ll be over before you know it — and with it, my final total of new films this year. How exciting! It may wind up being lower than some of my previous predictions would’ve had it, though, considering the increasing number of weeks I feel the need to cover, and with an increasingly low number of films too…

But anyway, all of that’s a whole seven weeks away yet. For now, let’s stick to this little (literally) lot:

#109a Manhatta

#110 The Crowd

#111 Fantômas: In the Shadow of the Guillotine

#112 The Naked City

2007 | Weeks 41-42

Ah, University! Work has now fully returned to interrupt all the lazing around and film-viewing I so enjoyed before; of course, studying a film module does mean there’s a guaranteed one or two new films every week, and probably quite unusual ones too. “Hurrah,” cries the statistics! “Ooh,” cries… erm… anyone who likes more unusual choices…

I do feel a tad arty this week, actually. Of the six films listed below, two are French, one German, one Japanese, two are shorts, and five are between 77 and 94 years old. That’s two weeks at the start of a University film module for you!

We begin with the two oldest of all those, both made 94 years ago. That’s no guarantee of anything, mind… well, except no spoken dialogue.

#105 Fantômas: Juve Versus Fantômas

#106 Traffic in Souls

#107 Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion

#108 Berlin: Symphony of a Great City

#108a À propos de Nice

#108b Skyscraper Symphony

#109 The Paleface

2007 | Weeks 37-40

This entry we move right from the start of September on into October — under three months of the year left!

As I mentioned last time, my eight-day trip to New York has brought about the first multi-week entry in almost two months; couple that with moving in to a new place and all the associated sorting, plus having almost two weeks’ worth of TV to catch up on (and that taking up most of my viewing time), plus starting my final year at University, and this is a four-weeker. Actually, it’s pretty much a one-weekender — I didn’t watch a new film until Thursday 4th.

And so, following that ‘accidental’ almost-four-week break, I’m finally getting on with moving past the aim of 100 and into the grounds of “let’s see how far I can get”. This entry I make it to… well, read on and see for yourself.

It’s an all-action extravaganza this entry, with no less than four films with a distinctly violent centre. But don’t think it’s all the same, oh no no — between them they cover several continents, even more countries, and spread out from the ancient past to the distant (or, at least, alternate) future, via the present day of course. There are spears, swords, guns and fists causing pain left, right and centre… and a few more unusual objects too. If you thought “action movie” meant endless bullets and slow motion… well, it does tend to involve at least one of those… but still, have a look and see that there is room for some variety.

We begin with what will likely be the first in an on/off series I like to call “Films From This Year That I Missed At The Cinema And Am Finally Seeing When They Hit DVD”… though this one’s technically from 2006. But it didn’t arrive over here until March 2007, so, y’know, it still counts.

#101 300

#102 Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

#103 Transporter 2

#104 Miracles