2007's top 10 films 

A Movie Curmudgeon Names Names

click to enlarge If looks could kill: No Country for Old Men (above) outranks the year's best
  • If looks could kill: No Country for Old Men (above) outranks the year's best

I don't care what your favorite movies were in 2007.

Seriously, not in the slightest.

You can thank Time's Richard Schickel for the necessity of that somewhat blunt disclaimer.

In a recent essay, the long-Time film critic wrung his hands over the fact that year-end critic groups' awards often represent — horrors! — movies that a lot of people in the general public haven't seen or in some cases haven't yet been released anywhere outside of New York and Los Angeles.

It was all terribly self-congratulatory, this lauding of obscurities, all of us falling like trees in an empty forest without making a sound.

Maybe. But so what?

Schickel is actually on to something more troubling when he suggests critics use their top-10 lists and awards as an intentional counterpoint against box-office popularity. And other critics have even suggested critic groups are wasting their breath if they simply honor the same film other critic groups have named. This is a variation on the "wasted vote" notion that has made third-party politics a pipe dream.

Call me a cock-eyed idealist, but I always thought your vote should represent something you actually considered the best choice.

And that's why I don't care what your favorite movies were in 2007.

I don't care if you look at the list here and see half a dozen titles you've never even heard of before. I've put together 15 of these annual lists in my time as a film critic, and my goal has always been the same: to represent as honestly and accurately as possible the movies that moved me most, made me laugh most, made me squirm most.

Some years that means the list contains obscure little films like The Lord of the Rings and Spider-Man, and some years it's full of documentaries, foreign-language films, and Sundance-pedigree indie flicks.

There's no quota system, and no agenda.

It's all about the love.

But if it's all about my love, it's fair to ask, "What's the point?" Artistic tastes are idiosyncratic. Sharing what I love at the movies is no guarantee it will lead a reader to something she or he will love at the movies.

As much as I adored the musical romance of Once, there's someone out there who simply won't be able to get past the thick Irish accents of the film's opening minutes — or who simply doesn't think the music is all that inspired.

And as much as I found No Country for Old Men both technically stunning and thematically haunting, I know that my mother would shut it off right after the first stun bolt to the head. If I'm really, really lucky, a few people might use this list to check out a few films they might not otherwise have considered.

Them ain't exactly beat-the-house odds.

So what is the point? After 15 years of writing about movies, I come back to the same thing: I do it because it's a statement that movies matter. When I'm blown away by a masterful monster movie like Bong Joon-ho's Korean creature-feature The Host, or when a crudely brilliant satire like Walk Hard leaves me with aching cheeks, or when a subtle thriller like the mind-of-a-terrorist drama Day Night Day Night leaves me shaking, I need to share the experience. I need to shout that documentaries like My Kid Could Paint That and The King of Kong can be as wonderfully entertaining as any work of fiction.

Because I love the art and magic of the movies, I need to proclaim that quality matters, even if you and I never agree on exactly how to define it.

So I don't care what your favorite movies were in 2007.

What I care about is that you have favorite movies and that they get under your skin enough that you want to understand them a little better. Take my own list to heart, or don't. Better yet, take the opportunity to make your own list.

If it doesn't have an impact on the Academy Awards, big fat deal. You'll change the world of film art more by nurturing your own love of the movies.

And if a few of the movies mentioned here help that love grow — well, you're welcome.

Renshaw's Top 10 of 2007

1. No Country for Old Men
2. Once
3. My Kid Could Paint That
4. Joshua
5. The Host
6. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
7. Into the Wild
8. Day Night Day Night
9. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
10. There Will Be Blood

Honorable mentions (in alphabetical order): 3:10 to Yuma, The Bourne Ultimatum, Deep Water, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Gone Baby Gone, Juno, The Lives of Others, Margot at the Wedding.


Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Classified Listings

Powered by Foundation   © Copyright 2018, Charleston City Paper   RSS