Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Looking Back on 2007 in Film

Looking back on 2007, it was a good year for us getting out to the movies (perhaps that was an unconscious resolution), as we saw nearly twenty films last year, more than double our average for previous years. One thing that stands out for 2007 is that it was the year of the musical. We had two new blockbuster musicals -- the rollicking film version of the Broadway musical Hairspray, which despite being an adaptation of an adaptation was fresh and rocked, and the very original new Disney musical Enchanted, which was totally enchanting. (We haven't yet seen Sweeney Todd, another Broadway musical brought to screen.) And 2007 also brought us a couple of movies that, while not musicals per se, were about making music and which featured music. Early in the year we had the cute but not particularly memorable Music and Lyrics (starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore), which was the big studio take on the theme. It was totally, well, pwned, by the small indie hit of the summer, Once, which really showed how to do it right. It's been six months since we saw Once, but the music, the characters, the very fresh and real story are still vivid in my mind. It was truly one of the standout films of the year.

Since the Golden Globes are cancelled (and possibly the Oscars too), and since I'm in a look-back-on-the-year mood, I thought I'd make some of my own awards. Since it was the Year of the Musical, we'll start on that note and go from there:

  • Most made me tap my feet and want to jump up and dance: Hairspray
  • Most made me want to buy the soundtrack: Once (I also bought Hairspray, and may buy a few tunes from Enchanted and Juno)
  • Most made me laugh out loud: Death At A Funeral, with Enchanted a close second, and honorable mention for Stardust and Outsourced.
  • Most made me cry: Once, with The Namesake a close second.
  • Most made me think: The Bubble
  • Most entertaining story: Stardust, Enchanted, Juno
  • Most made me want to hop on a plane: Outsourced
  • Most visually beautiful film: After The Wedding (Susanne Bier is Bergmanesque in her filmmaking), Outsourced (a visual valentine to India, though not in the same league as Water), Love In The Time of Cholera (Mike Newell's filming of the decaying Spanish colonial splendor of Cartagena helped bring Garcia-Marquez's magical realism to the screen), Atonement (a classic English manor house, vivid wartime France scenes, and Sioarse Ronan's eyes)
  • Strongest sensibility: After The Wedding (intensely psychological visual expressionism), Hairspray (Adam Shankman's kitschy Baltimore 1960 tone is pitch-perfect), Juno (quirky perky and totally coherent marriage of nostalgic values and hip young attitude), Atonement (Joe Wright makes us feel the space inside Briony's head)

In fairness, it should be noted that we didn't get to nearly every film we'd liked to have seen. Notable films we missed include La Vie En Rose, Lust/Caution, Lars and the Real Girl, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and Into Great Silence. Films we may yet catch from the year-end rush-and-tumble of releases: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Kite Runner, Sweeney Todd, The Golden Compass.

We look forward to see what 2008 brings.

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