Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007 Top Ten: Matt Singer

(Links take you to my review where available)

1. No Country For Old Men
2. The Diving Bell & The Butterfly
3. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
4. Zodiac
5. The Host
6. Hot Fuzz
7. Syndromes and a Century
8. There Will Be Blood
9. Into the Wild
10. Black Book

Honorable Mention (In Order of Preference):
Gone Baby Gone
Lake of Fire
The Bourne Ultimatum
We Own the Night
The Namesake
Rescue Dawn

Like last year, my full comments on my top ten (and a brief piece on the year in general) are already available for your consumption on And, like last year, I've probably yammered on about most of these movies enough already. So instead I thought I'd augment my contribution to the annual collective of top ten lists by my associates at Tativille, Fourteen Seconds, Scarlett Cinema and more by providing what I'm calling "A Salute to the Pleasure Principle" — my list of the five most underrated simple pleasures from the OmniCorp that is the Hollywood movie machine. Ranked roughly in order of the pleasantness of the surprise they provided:

5. Walk Hard
Though I enjoyed this more than any of the other four films on this list it's number five simply because I expected it to rock — and, verily, it doth. So why, America, have you forsaken your favorite comedic son, Judd Apatow, and his favorite collaborator, Jake Kasdan? This is a screamingly funny movie and the best spoof since probably Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult. And it has an incredible cast. And some awesome dick jokes. The fact that no one's going upsets me deeply. This is like if the Beatles got back together and nobody went. Come to think of it, the Beatles do get back together in Walk Hard (in the form of an awesome group cameo by Jack Black, Justin Long, Paul Rudd, and Jason Schwartzman).

4. Bee Movie
Certainly not on par with the likes of Pixar, but nevertheless a fine animated film from a guy (Jerry Seinfeld) who clearly hadn't invested any more thought in the undertaking than "Hey, y'know I think it'd be fun to make an animated movie." One could argue that the film lacked the grounded vitality of prime-run Seinfeld (and more closely resembled the fanciful and wholly uneven season nine era Seinfeld) but, c'mon, it's a movie about a talking bee who sues all of humanity for crissakes. Look elsewhere for grounded. The movie looked way better than it had any right to too.

3. Live Free or Die Hard
John McClane 4, Newtonian Physics 0.

2. Dan in Real Life
Drawn by the promise of a film shot and set in my fiance's hometown and little else, I was deeply impressed by a warm film with a lots of humor and even more sensitivity. Steve Carell got a lot of praise for his work in Little Miss Sunshine but I think he's far better here, as a single dad who spends his life giving others advice while remaining deeply out-of-touch with his own emotional needs. Watch his sincerity in the scene where he plays "Let My Love Open the Door" on the guitar in front of his enormous extended family and his would-be girlfriend. It's only Carell's beautiful, barely contained emotions that keep the scene from a potential maudlin meltdown. The plot gets a little contrived towards the end — and Juliette Binoche is horribly miscast as Carell and Dane Cook's (!) love interest — but mostly this is a very entertaining movie about real families and the very mundane (and therefore utterly life-or-death) problems they face. By the way, I've been to the Alley Katz bowling alley. It's in Westerly, Rhode Island. Nice place.

1. Music and Lyrics
There is a reason people continue to flock to romantic comedies and that reason is the promise of a film like Music and Lyrics. Light, fun, sweet, romantic, sexy, charming, and utterly formulaic it is a Hollywood product so perfect Warner Brothers should turn the screenplay into a Mad Lib and make it over and over again with different stars and situations (Isn't that how they make most of these movies anyway?). Stars Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore are the perfect opposites attract onscreen couple; he all sardonic rejoiners and gloom and she all sunshine and bubbles. The songs are great too; in a world without Once this would have been the must-own soundtrack of the year (even still, it kind of is). Mark my words, though not enough people saw this in theaters, it will become a favorite on basic cable and video.



Blogger Michael J. Anderson said...

Question: are any of these simple pleasures better than the bottom of your honorable mentions, "Once"? Also, what are they lacking that your honorable mention selections contain? In any case, your list is a must-read as always - and very different than my own.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Matt Singer said...

No all these simple pleasures were farther down the ranked shortlist of 49 movies I very much enjoyed this year that I eventually winnowed down to to ten.

In terms of what they might be lacking, it'd probably be different things for different movies (Dan In Real Life's biggest flaw is casting). As always, these movies are just ranked in terms of personal preference and very little else. The only claim to authority I make is the fact that I do see a ton of movies; 178 new releases this year by my count.

5:42 PM  
Blogger P.L. Kerpius said...

Wow, this is a real deviation from our usual nearly-identical lists, no? Mine is completely different this year; probably what separates us the most is No Country and your simple pleasures mention, Bee Movie, which I just would rather be forced to watch NFL football than see again! (P.S. I don't like football!!!!!)

8:47 PM  

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