Category Archives: Lists

The 2007 Movies I Loved The Most.

It’s already mid-January and we’re still doing lists. Yeah, life is pretty when you’re procrastinating.

This list has been the subject of much debate, as to what movies are exactly eligible: some movies were much later released in Europe but already made their way throug other mediums (yeah the internet baby). Other movies were released in 2006 but have only made its way to my dvd player this year. Were these still eligible?

I have decided to not really care about these rules. This list is just about what I have seen this year. There are 2006 movies on the list and there are movies on the list that have a 2008 theatre release in Europe. And then there are all those 2007 movies I haven’t even seen: Boss of it All, Grindhouse, There Will Be Blood, Juno, Darjeeling Limited, Eastern Promises, Inland Empire, etc etc.

So this list is very limited, incomplete and very personal. It has not been an easy one either. Like every year, I bitch and moan about how much better TV is and this year is just the same. One thing I noticed over the past months that production-wise there have been beautiful beautiful films, but almost every time these movies fuckup their writing. Most shining example must be the Dylan biopic I’m Not There. Arguably it deserves best cinematography of the year, as well as best editing, but oh boy the screenplay. I’m tired of non-narrative movies that don’t make any sense. It’s truly the easy way-out.

So anyway shouts go to all these movies I liked but missed something, somewhere: The Prestige, Stardust, 3:10 to Yuma, Blades of Glory, Gone Baby Gone, Atonement, I’m Not There, This is England, Four Months Three Weeks Two Days and I am Legend.

And here’s the Ten Most Liked:

1. Ratatouille

An animated movie on the number one position, is that still blasphemous these days? It is definitely different to judge because the whole acting aspect is so different.

Ratatouille is just about the only film on this list that truly represents the things I admire these days: a perfectly strong executed high-concept script, mixed with very well developed characters who have very broad appeal from the kids to the seniors to the moviebuffs. 3D animation truly learns the writer a lesson about how every single second matters in your script.

There is nothing fancy in the writing, nothing redundant. Everything seems clean, simple and down to the point but it’s overwhelmingly effective and joyful. I’m in awe of Brad Bird’s accomplishment. This is the second movie of his that blew me away. If he keeps this up, you have found your true auteur here and you may forget about all those other whimsical ones.

2. Notes on a Scandal

Notes on a Scandal really took my breath away when I first saw it. I was thinking it to be some boring, badly written drama about an English school but how foolish I was. I should note that along with Ratatouille, this is the only film on this list where I have nothing bad to say about the writing. Which is exactly the reason these two are number one and two. One might say I’m laying too much focus on the whole writing aspect and as that may, I fully acknowledge how writing is not everything. But it is much like the structural foundation of a house. Said house still has to be decorated or I’m not living in it. But if the structure doesnt provide a roof, or walls, or is totally unstable, you best run far away from that house.

Notes on the Scandal did quite the oppositie. It combines such a tightly written story with an amazing depth. Judi Dench was phenomenal and Cate Blanchett for once didn’t irritate me (I’m not her biggest fan, although I admit she’s really good at her job). The ending was small but oh so clever within this story. I wish I’d see more movies like this.

3. No Country for Old Men

The critic’s darling of the year and I must say there’s reason enough to praise No Country for Old Men. I was especially awed by the way they told their story by almost pure visual bravura. In a sense this was maybe their most Hitchcock-ian movie. Almost every major point in the story was told by watching the events unfold, there was hardly any dialogue that created the story. The suspense came from watching two men enter a room, knowing they were going to do bad things. Again no dialogue.

The whole movie was like watching two masters-at-work. I kept thinking no youngster could ever achieve this kind of visual mastery. You could feel the craftmanship, as if the Coens had worked thirty years to get at this point: being able to master their story in pictures. That’s probably why I was disappointed by the ending, where all of a sudden dialogue took over and tried to provide a very ambiguous ending. I sort of wished they had pushed their style and felt a little cheated at the end, which is probably the reason they ain’t number one.

4. Superbad

We had been hyping Superbad among our little circle for months. Expectations were high and we probably liked the movie already ALOT before we had even seen it. Nonetheless it didn’t disappoint at all. I’m not sure this will be the definitive teen movie (as some have been calling it) but let’s say they do a very remarkable job in an already overcrowded genre. And let’s not forget these are the sort of movies which are very easily to hate. They are cheesy, have an inherently simplistic premise and portray not the most refined kind of people. Superbad however does an awesome job of combining these three things with enough heart, enough complexity and enough refinement.

I must admit I still prefer Freaks and Geeks above everything the Apatow clique has ever done. To me it is still their biggest accomplishment, even if the show was only at the cradle of all these recent output.

Superbad too relies heavily on the ingredients that made Freaks and Geeks so good, but that’s mainly meant as a compliment because they did it so well. And lest we not forget the surplus of Greg Mottola’s direction. He truly gave the story a much needed visual flavor that may have looked simple but was in fact very clever and beautifully done. That’s at least one major point I’ll give them over Freaks and Geeks.

5. You The Living

Should we be disappointed if we eat two days in a row exactly the same perfect dish? Probably not. Yet I was somehow disappointed with You The Living because it felt like almost exactly the same recipe as Songs From The Second Floor. And I know I shouldn’t really because yet again Roy Andersson does things I have never seen another director do. The mise-en-scene was yet again magnificent. The actors were awesomely cast. The camerawork was astounding. The jokes were once again brilliant. But ah the story!

You know this could have dragged on for another hour or another two hours or maybe you could have told this story in 45 minutes. This is never a good sign. And there lies the heart of my problem with You The Living. Somehow because this was the second dish, it all felt way muddier and incomprehensible.

This is still number five because Roy Andersson is still as genius as he ever was. But I’m slightly worried what the third dish is going to be. We hope it will make a little more sense.

6. The Departed

I had almost forgotten about The Departed when I started compiling this list. I think I saw it in January right after I made my 2006 list. This was another critic’s darling and again, I could see why. The first 40 minutes were brilliantly perfect cinema. The whole set-up of the two moles in each department, the antagonists, Boston, everything clicked together and the old master Scorsese just blew me away.

But then the script started to become too complex. And setups didnt become payoffs and things were left in the open, and everyone was a mole and people died randomly. There were just too many suspenses developing as we moved forward and they didn’t come together.

Problem is they tried to stay too closely to the trashy original Infernal Affairs script, which had too many plot twists to begin with.

The Departed is as good as everyone says it is but it overplays its screenwriting hand a bit too much. But the actors, the direction, production design, editing make it truly the classic movie it will become.

7. Knocked Up

Two Apatow clique movies this year, two are in my top ten. Do we have a crush on that little troupe? Yes, we have.

I posted some notes on Knocked Up a few months ago, where I kind of criticized the clique of writing thinly developed female characters. I still stand by those notes and it’s really the only thing which prevents me from putting this movie in the number one position.

As far as all the rest goes, these are the kind of movies I’m jealous of. The kind I’d like to make myself. The kind they made in the thirties and forties. If only Apatow would make these kind of movies as a screwball comedy with strong female leads, you’d probably have some sort of perfect comedy.

8. Babel

Together with The Departed, this was on most people’s 2006 list. But I wasn’t blown away by this as I was by Departed or No Country for Old Men. There is something about Babel that just isn’t working. It’s probably a structural problem, and I think it’s the root of the feud between writer and director.

I’m a fan of both these two man: Arriaga and Inarittu, and it’s hard to criticize one guy. They’re probably both the problem of what’s not working.

However, Babel scores this high because of the japanese storyline. I thought that was one of the most clever and touching stories I had seen in a while. Almost everything worked in that story for me and I wonder what would have happened if they had just made one movie out of that one storyline.

9. The Hills Have Eyes // Ils // Bourne Ultimatum


12 movies in a top 10 list!? Cheater!

Let me try and clarify why there are three movies on the number 9 spot. I had seen some interesting horror and thriller genre movies this year and I really wanted to have one in my top 10. The problem is I just couldn’t choose which of these three movies deserved that spot the most. They all have screenplay problems, BUT they excel in the action & suspense sequences.

So this number 9 spot is split in three, namely
– Best action choreography goes to the Hills Have Eyes. The scenes with a raving revengeful father trying to get his kid back by entering the mutant’s village were just amazing. This was The Shining meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre in a special french Aja way. Thrilling!
– Most intelligently creepy ending goes to Ils. What an awesome twist that was! Such a simple and effective movie and all this time I was wondering what the payoff was going to be. I was truly surprised in the catacombs. An intelligently creepy ending as I haven’t yet seen that much. I want to see more of this french directing duo.
– Best action suspense goes to the Bourne Ultimatum. I really loved all the action sequences, with the Metro station as the most effective and supenseful. Greengrass really knows how to captivate your mind with strong suspenseful action, bloody awesome job.

10. Stranger Than Fiction

Stranger Than Fiction has a great meta-premise (what if your actors can actually hear the movie’s voice-over talk?) and it worked far better than I had anticipated. The first 30 minutes or so were genuinely surprising, clever and entertaining.

The movie has been compared over and over with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: both use this sort of weird meta screenplay device, both have a big comedian in a dramatic role and both feature a romance.

I actually think the Stranger than Fiction premise works far far better as Eternal Sunshine did (which was truly the weak part of that movie), but the romance and the second act of Stranger Than Fiction makes the movie weaker.

There just isn’t enough chemistry between Ferrell and Maggie Gyllenhaal and it’s a combination of dialogue, scenes and acting. Plus they should have written the Dustin Hoffman professor part out of the script.

However, for a great first 30 minutes, a good ending and a so-so second act, you make a movie that deserves number 10.

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These were our 2007 TV victories.

So here we are.

The first 2007 list and it’s nothing but our beloved tv. This was the most easy list to make actually, since it encompasses almost everything we’ve been doing this year. There were not alot of movies, not alot of music and not alot of reading. Most of the time was consumed by the little screen. Suffice to say we still think the great minds of our generation are at work in television. The best comedy, the best drama, the best acting, the best writing, we all saw it in television. Are we blind? Are we too much focused on the little screen? Year after year we’ve pimping the networks and their shows but I’m afraid we can only continue to do so if they keep on producing this kind of quality. I hope this list will be the best argument to prove there’s so much to find on the little screen.

The problem of these shows keeps being all these different seasons. Sometimes you have to delve through a shitty first or second or third season to get to the real good stuff. Sometimes it gets shitty after the first season. But we encourage everyone who hasn’t seen anything of these shows to try it out and buy or rent these gems somewhere.

I had to exclude quite a few shows and some favorites of last year. This is not because these shows are suddenly bad but because I didn’t enjoy this past season as much as I did earlier. This list is more about particular seasons, not about shows in general. The list would have been a whole lotta different then.

So shouts go to the shows that didn’t make the final ten but had some quality as well: Dexter, Tell You Love Me, Mad Men, Brothers and Sisters, John From Cincinatti, Rescue Me, Heroes, Battlestar Galactica, 4400, Rome, Sopranos, Big Love, Gossip Girl, The Riches and Grey’s Anatomy (and some I probably forgot).

Here’s the ten of 2007:

1. ENTOURAGE – SEASON 3 (part deux)

Entourage S3 part deux was the final installment before our boys went to shoot Medellin. The scenes with Drama were among the most emotional scenes I saw this whole year. The writing was off the wall. Amazing 8 episodes. Victory at last!

2. LOST – SEASON 3

All the lost haters were still crying around mid-season 3 how bad Lost had gotten but I say: the ending, the ending the ending! Best piece of climactic writing in a television show ever. Season 3 had its share of problems agreed but Lost continues to fool everyone out there. This show is history in the making. This is the show we shall be telling our grandkids about. You cannot escape.

3. HOUSE – SEASON 3

Oh Gregory! House finishes so high because of two things: a) it’s immense popularity, b) it’s quality of writing and acting. A show so popular with such amazing quality restores my faith in humanity. Say death to the blockbuster and viva House!

4. THE OFFICE – SEASON 3

What show got the biggest laughs this year? We have some quality comedy shows in this top ten but The Office gets most funny show of the year. My god, what a comeback Greg Daniels and his writing staff did. I didn’t particularly like S1 & 2 but season three completely blew my mind. Safety Training might have been one of the best and funniest episodes ever written for tv. That’s what she said!

5. DAMAGES – SEASON 1

The best new show of the year and it’s yet again FX bringing the goods. This show was about lawyers but I don’t think we’ve been much inside a courtroom. This was not your typical courtdrama. The whole flashback structure got a little tiring towards the end but still they pulled it off very nicely. If you want to look at how a great pilot is written, this is your show to check out. Clever twists and writing, brilliant acting and beautifully filmed. Name me one movie this year that was as strong and thrilling as the Damages pilot.

6. FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS – SEASON 1

I had quite a few initial problems with the dramedy writing of this show. The musical genius was obvious but the storylines were lacking somehow. The show got much better towards the end but still it may not be the strongest overall show of the list. However the individual genius moments and songs made up for it easily. If there was truly one original show this year, this is it. I think the second season may surprise a lot of people. Brett & Jemaine for mancrush of the year!

7. IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA – SEASON 2 & 3

Another one that took me by surprise. I had heard some good things about this show but never really bothered to check it. Until recently. And yeah, this is exactly my kind of comedy. Loud, harsh and politically incorrect to the bone. Seinfeld on crack, hell yea. I don’t think all the different episodes are equally good but boy oh boy, I’ve been truly laughing my ass off with most of season 2. One of the most underappreciated comedy shows, check it out!

8. CALIFORNICATION – SEASON 1

David Duchovny in one of my top tens, who would have thought? I wasnt the biggest fan after the pilot but something made me come back and it was mostly this great family dynamic Californication created. I fell in love with the bastardness and sweetness of the Duchovny character trying to win his daughter and ex back. The ending was beautifully sweet as well. And who can forget the getting caught by the wives threesome sex?

9. FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS – SEASON 1

Ah Friday Night Lights, praised by many, watched by few. This is a difficult one to review. Something inside me says it’s a little bit too cheesy, a little bit too simple, a little bit too much classic high school drama but another side says the creators got further than all that. There is definitely room for improvement but I do think this show does a very good job of delving a little deeper: yes its about football, yea its about teenagers in high school, agreed its about texas and rightwing voters and religious nuts. Not the most easy arena to get some liberal critics interested in. And yet they did. It’s not as good as the movie (which is quite honestly awesome) but there is much to be liked about this series. Do not dismiss that easily. This is a sleeper but a very good one nonetheless.

10. BONES – SEASON 2

Or how I love the Deschanel family. No seriously, the biggest reason to stay for Bones is Emily Deschanel. She singlehandedly elevates this show to new heights. But it’d be unfair to take away praise from David Boreanaz and the other regular cast because they do a great job as well. If there is one thing to be learned from a show such as Bones and House: create some interesting characters in your team and get some great actors and you’ll notice you can do very good. The writing and plot of Bones isnt always that thrilling but sometimes they have some pretty clever episodes. This is a show that’ll give you great entertainment and hey, it’s even pretty well made. A deserved number 10.