Saturday, November 26, 2016

2007--The Year in Review

An incredible year for movies, top-heavy with masterpieces to the point where this can assuredly be deemed the last most astounding period for the art form. The top four are all western-US-themed--two set in the old (or nearly old) West, and two in a radically new West, and each are now violent modern classics. It was very difficult to pick the best of the best this year, but I had to go with the one that absolutely would not leave my mind after I saw it, and for years afterwards. The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford was abandoned to a dismal box office showing by uncaring Warner Brothers execs. But when I first saw it on the big screen opening weekend, I was so dazzled by it that I left the theater stumbling in amazement at writer/director Andrew Dominick's complete mastery with words and images, all employed to transport us back to this momentous place in history, and all able to connect with our present fascination with celebrity and public adulation. I love that the film was further adorned with Casey Affleck's sadly empty and desirous Robert Ford (a performance I almost counted as a lead) and Roger Deakins' absolutely incredible widescreen cinematography, which literally makes us feel as we're seeing the past through a new (though old) lens. Still, I can watch it again and again, mining more great things from it. It endlessly feels like poetry.

At about the same time, Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood was unleashed, and though I didn't get it the first time around (though I was instantly impressed with Daniel Day Lewis's reprehensible oil tycoon Daniel Plainview), I found myself gravitating to the movie more and more, to the point where I now see it as another invaluable P.T. Anderson masterpiece. Same goes for the Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men, a gripping adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's Texas-set crime novel, and certainly a worthy choice for Best Picture, as the Academy deemed it. The saddest thing is that the Academy didn't even give one nomination to David Fincher's brilliant (though slightly flawed) look at the Zodiac killings that kept the San Francisco area in fright for more than a decade. Zodiac, with its remarkably invisible visual effects, remains perhaps the most underrated movie of the year, though it has competition in Sidney Lumet's nerve-wracked final film Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's pitch-perfect tribute to '70s B-movie glory Grindhouse (which I'm still waiting to see again on digital media in its original form), Mexican director Carlos Reygadas' completely gorgeous Silent Light, Gus Van Sant's unexpectedly beautiful look at the skateboarding subculture Paranoid Park, Andrzej Wajda's unbelievably devastating war drama Katyn; Danny Boyle's deeply felt yet faulty sci-fi drama Sunshine, and James Gray's tense tale of crime and family called We Own the Night. Though there were two movies that fought against it all (the Marion Cotillard-anchored Edith Piaf biopic La Vie en Rose and Julian Schnabel's inspiring The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), the sureness of death and darkness overtook the movies of 2007, to the point of utter brilliance. NOTE: These are MY choices for each category, and are only occasionally reflective of the selections made by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (aka The Oscars). When available, the nominee that actually won the Oscar will be highlighted in bold.

PICTURE: THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD (US, Andrew Dominik) (2nd: There Will Be Blood (US, Paul Thomas Anderson), followed by: No Country for Old Men (US, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen); Zodiac (US, David Fincher); The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (US, Julian Schnabel); No End in Sight (US, Charles Ferguson); Grindhouse (US, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino); Encounters at the End of the World (US, Werner Herzog); Silent Light (Mexico, Carlos Reygadas); 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Romania, Cristian Mungiu); Paranoid Park (US, Gus Van Sant); Katyn (Poland, Andrzej Wajda); Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (US, Sidney Lumet); My Winnipeg (Canada, Guy Maddin); Gone Baby Gone (US, Ben Affleck); We Own The Night (US, James Gray); [●rec] (Spain, Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza); La Vie En Rose (France, Olivier Dahan); The Edge of Heaven (Turkey, Fatih Akin); The Visitor (US, Thomas McCarthy); Ratatouille (US, Brad Bird); Superbad (US, Greg Mottola); American Gangster (US, Ridley Scott); I’m Not There (US, Todd Haynes); Michael Clayton (US, Tony Gilroy); Charlie Wilson's War (US, Mike Nichols); The Savages (US, Tamara Jenkins); Into the Wild (US, Sean Penn); Once (Ireland, John Carney); La Vie en Rose (France, Olivier Dahan); Waitress (US, Adrienne Shelly); Sicko (US, Michael Moore); Persepolis (France, Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Strapi); Sunshine (UK, Danny Boyle); Smiley Face (US, Gregg Araki); Knocked Up (US, Judd Apatow); Taxi to the Dark Side (US, Alex Gibney); A Girl Cut in Two (France, Claude Chabrol); Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (US, Tim Burton); Hannah Takes The Stairs (US, Joe Swanberg); King of California (US, Mike Cahill); Hot Fuzz (UK, Edgar Wright); Enchanted (US, Kevin Lima); My Blueberry Nights (Hong Hong/US, Wong Kar-Wai); Year of the Dog (US, Mike White); Lars and the Real Girl (US/Canada, Craig Gillespie); Across the Universe (US, Julie Taymor); The Bourne Ultimatum (US, Paul Greengrass); Atonement (UK, Joe Wright); Juno (US, Jason Reitman); Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (US, Jake Kasdan); Cassandra's Dream (US/UK, Woody Allen); Death at a Funeral (US/UK/Netherlands, Frank Oz); The Lookout (US, Scott Frank); The Mist (US, Frank Darabont); Paranormal Activity (US, Oren Peli); Redacted (US, Brian De Palma); Helvetica (US, Gary Hustwit); In the Valley of Elah (US, Paul Haggis); Eastern Promises (UK/Canada, David Cronenberg); The King of Kong (US, Seth Gordon); Control (UK, Anton Corbijn); The Darjeeling Limited (US, Wes Anderson); Lust, Caution (Hong Kong/China/US, Ang Lee); Transformers (US, Michael Bay))



ACTOR: Daniel Day Lewis, THERE WILL BE BLOOD (2nd: Tommy Lee Jones, No Country For Old Men, followed by: Richard Jenkins, The Visitor; Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Before the Devil Knows You‘re Dead; Michael Douglas, King of California; Brad Pitt, The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford; Chris Cooper, Breach)



ACTRESS: Marion Cotillard, LA VIE EN ROSE (2nd: Anna Faris, Smiley Face, followed by: Anamaria Marinca, 4 Months 3 Weeks & 2 Days; Laura Linney, The Savages; Adrianne Shelley, Waitress; Ellen Page, Juno; Amy Adams, Enchanted)



SUPPORTING ACTOR: Casey Affleck, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD (2nd: Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men, followed by: Paul Dano, There Will Be Blood; Robert Downey Jr., Zodiac; Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild; Kurt Russell, Grindhouse; Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton)



SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett, I‘M NOT THERE (2nd: Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton, followed by: Saoirse Ronan, Atonement; Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone; Marisa Tomei, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead; Laura Vasiliu, 4 Months 3 Weeks & 2 Days; Sally Hawkins, Cassandra's Dream)



DIRECTOR: Andrew Dominik, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD (2nd: Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood, followed by: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, No Country For Old Men; David Fincher, Zodiac; Julian Schabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; Carlos Reygadas, Silent Light; Cristian Mungiu, 4 Months 3 Weeks & 2 Days)



NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY (France/US, Julian Schnabel) (2nd: Silent Light (Mexico, Carlos Reygadas), followed by: 4 Months 3 Weeks & 2 Days (Romania, Cristian Mungiu); Katyn (Poland, Andrej Wadja); [●rec] (Spain, Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza); La Vie En Rose (France, Olivier Dahan); The Edge of Heaven (Germany/Turkey/Italy, Fatih Akin))



DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: NO END IN SIGHT (US, Charles Ferguson) (2nd: Encounters at the End of the World (US, Werner Herzog), followed by: My Winnipeg (Canada, Guy Maddin); Sicko (US, Michael Moore); Taxi to the Dark Side (US, Alex Gibney); Helvetica (US, Gary Hustwit))



ANIMATED FEATURE: RATATOUILLE (US, Brad Bird) (2nd: Persepolis (France/US, Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrepi))



ANIMATED SHORT: I MET THE WALRUS (Canada, Josh Raskin) (2nd: My Love (USSR, Alexander Petrov), followed by: Peter and the Wolf (US, Suzie Templeton); Madame Tutli-Putli (Canada, Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski); The Ark (Poland, Grzezorj Jonkajtys))



LIVE ACTION SHORT: DENNIS (Denmark, Mads Matthieson) (2nd: Hotel Chevalier (US, Wes Anderson), followed by: Cutlass (US, Kate Hudson); The Mozart of Pickpockets (France, Philippe Pollet-Villard); Tanghi Argentini (Belgium, Guy Thys))



ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Kelly Masterson, BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD (2nd: Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava, and Jim Capobianco, Ratatouille, followed by: Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton; Tamara Jenkins, The Savages; Diablo Cody, Juno)



ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2nd: Andrew Dominick, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, followed by; Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be BloodRonald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; Aaron Sorkin, Charlie Wilson's War)


CINEMATOGRAPHY: Roger Deakins, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD (2nd: Robert Elswit, There Will Be Blood, followed by: Roger Deakins, No Country For Old Men; Christopher Doyle and Rain Li, Paranoid Park; Darius Khondji, My Blueberry Nights)

ART DIRECTION: THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, There Will Be Blood, Atonement, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

COSTUME DESIGN: ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE, The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Across the Universe, There Will Be Blood



FILM EDITING: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, There Will Be Blood, The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, The Bourne Ultimatum, Zodiac

SOUND: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, There Will Be Blood, The Bourne Ultimatum, Sunshine, The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford 



SOUND EFFECTS: THERE WILL BE BLOOD, No Country for Old Men, The Bourne Ultimatum



ORIGINAL SCORE: Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD (2nd: Jonny Greenwood, There Will Be Blood, followed by: Dario Marinelli, Atonement; Alberto Iglasias, The Kite Runner; David Shire, Zodiac)

ADAPTED OR SONG SCORE: Glen Hansard, ONCE (2nd: Alan Menken, Enchanted, followed by: Michael Andrews, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story; Marc Shaiman, Hairspray; Paul Gemignani, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street



ORIGINAL SONG: "Falling Slowly" from ONCE (Music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova) (2nd: “Happy Working Song” from Enchanted (Music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Stephen Schwarz), followed by: “Walk Hard” from Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (Music and lyrics by Marshall Crenshaw, John C. Reilly, Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan); “Le Festin” from Ratatouille (Music and lyrics by Michael Giacchino); “Way Back Into Love” from Music and Lyrics (Music and lyrics by Adam Schlesinger); “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted (Music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Stephen Schwarz))



SPECIAL EFFECTS: ZODIAC, Sunshine, Grindhouse

MAKEUP: LA VIE EN ROSE, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Elizabeth: The Golden Age

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