2007 Top Ten: R. Emmet Sweeney
As I punish myself by watching the final Bills game of the year, it's good to remind myself of some actual pleasures I experienced in 2007 - of the cinematic variety. I've already worked my listmaking muscles for the Indiewire poll, but that one is restricted to films released in the U.S. in 2007. The list below is of films I viewed in any venue, whether it be a festival or general release screening. It was a good year, although my favorites aren't really consensus choices - I enjoyed No Country and There Will Be Blood, but greatly preferred the titles below. I dedicate my idiosyncratic list to Jonathan Rosenbaum, who, as Matt pointed out to me, is retiring on his 65th birthday, February 27th. Along with Termite Art's patron saint, Manny Farber, Rosenbaum has been the critic most responsible for shaping my interest in film, in expanding my horizons beyond America's borders, and for constantly questioning critical consensus, even when warranted. Skepticism keeps a mind fresh. Thanks Mr. Rosenbaum.
1. Flight of the Red Balloon, directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien (Release Date: 4/2/2008)
2. Still Life, directed by Jia Zhangke (Release Date: 1/18/2008, IFC Center)
3. Two Wrenching Departures, directed by Ken Jacobs
4. Opera Jawa, directed by Garin Nugroho (no distributor)
5. Private Fears in Public Places, directed by Alain Resnais
6. Offside, directed by Jafar Panahi
7. Exiled, directed by Johnnie To
8. Useless, directed by Jia Zhangke (no distributor)
9. 12:08 East of Bucharest, directed by Corneliu Porumboiu
10. Zodiac, directed by David Fincher
Other movies I valued: The Romance of Astree and Celadon, Alexandra, Belle Toujours, Brand Upon the Brain!, There Will Be Blood, The Darjeeling Limited, Blades of Glory, Nancy Drew, Away From Her, Southland Tales, Eastern Promises, I Think I Love My Wife, Black Book, Syndromes And A Century, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Live Free or Die Hard, Walk Hard
I also want to single out an actor. Anna Faris' slackjawed stoner in Smiley Face is as committed a performance as Daniel Day Lewis' in There Will Be Blood. While Lewis chews off his lines, Faris loops them out like she's pulling taffy. It's a brilliant comic turn in which she commands the frame in every shot - she moves as if underwater, in a dreamy, rolling over in bed kind of way. Flashing her dewy saucers, swearing with aplomb, and mangling the Communinst Manifesto, it's the co-performance of the year.
As always, check our compatriots at Tativille, Scarlett Cinema, and Fourteen Seconds for a veritable flood of informed opinion on the celluloid year that was. And don't forget Spinster Aunt's 12 Delightful Things! It's delightful!