Thursday, 20 December 2007

My Films Of The Year

Here are my twelve favourite films from this year — it's twelve simply because I couldn't decide which two to cut — although, as I write this, I’ve still not seen several contenders that might well have forced their way onto the list. Anyways, without further ado and in alphabetical order…

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford

The first time I saw this, it was unfinished and projected from an Avid cut, but it didn’t matter one iota — it was simply sensational. Elegiac and masterful.

Blade Runner: The Final Cut

It may be 25 years old, and I may have seen it countless times down the years, but seeing it on the big screen in Venice, I felt like I was watching this for the very first time. And, in a way, I was. Glorious.


Telling some of the same story covered in 24 Hour Party People, rock photographer Anton Corbijn’s directorial debut adopts a more intimate, up close approach that, coupled with the monochrome cinematography, serves the story beautifully.

The Diving Bell And The Butterfly

An extraordinary film that soars and tugs at both the heart and soul, Julian Schnabel’s poignant memoir of Jean-Dominique Bauby who, having suffered a massive stroke is paralysed with locked-in syndrome, could only move his left eye, exquisitely paints Bauby’s interior landscape and is perhaps as close as cinema gets to pure art.

The Lives Of The Others

I know for many this may be last year’s news, but it's in the running for the 2008 BAFTAs and I only caught up with it recently. Another extraordinary piece of filmmaking with a sensational performance from the late Ulirch Muhe. Exemplary stuff.

No Country For Old Men

I remember seeing Blood Simple on its initial release and being dazzled by the sheer impudence and wit of the filmmakers. This wasn’t only a return to form, it was a near masterpiece from the Coens. This has Oscar writ large all over it…


Smart, funny, delightful, and inventive. Not as good as The Incredibles, mind. But then again, what is?


The funniest film of the year and a wonderful ode to bad taste. I McLoved it. Sorry, it had to be done…


Danny Boyle may have trouble finishing a film (see A Life Less Ordinary, The Beach, and the 28 Days Later DVD for proof of this) but he’s still one of the best we have. Alex Garland’s script had the single greatest BIG IDEA in a movie this year, and the cinematography was sublime.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street

Did you think I wasn’t going to include this? Sure, I spent a lot of time on set and wrote the making of book, but this was Burton at the top of his game, with another sensational performance from that man Depp.

There Will Be Blood

PTA + DDL = Genius.


I have yet to see the slightly extended Director’s Cut but this version was damn near perfect. Fincher cut back on the cinematic pyrotechnics to tell a compelling story, beautifully.

Bubbling under…
The Bourne Ultimatum, The Lookout, Michael Clayton, A Mighty Heart, Before The Devil Knows You're Dead.

Best Action Sequence
It’s not because I’m British and I’ve spent a substantial amount of time passing through Waterloo, but to see Matt Damon doing his stuff inside and out the station in The Bourne Ultimatum was simply electrifying.

Best Cinematography
If the prize was for the prettiest, it would arguably go to Seamus McGarvey for Atonement, but I thought Janus Kaminski’s POV work for The Diving Bell And The Butterfly was, like the film itself, extraordinary, Alwin Kuchler painted with light in Sunshine, while Roger Deakins showed why he’s the master with Jesse James and No Country.

Best Score
I figure that Sweeney’s ineligible since it’s pre-existing, so it would have to be Dario Marianelli’s marvellously insistent click-clack score for Atonement.

Breakout Performance(s)
I know Casey Affleck’s been around for a while now, but his turn as Robert Ford suddenly woke me up to him. Ditto: Rosie Byrne in Sunshine. Control’s Sam Riley, meanwhile, embodied Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis physically and vocally.


Gerard said...

An excellent list! There's a few on there I've not yet seen, either as they're still to be released over here or I simply missed my chance on their theatrical run earlier in the year.

Any chance we'll get reviews proper of Sweeney and TWBB...? :D

Mark Salisbury said...

Strange that you should ask. When I saw TWBB before, I wasn't in a review kind of mindset, didn't take notes, etc, and just didn't feel like reviewing it.

But I've just had my BAFTA screener delivered, so I will definitely give it a second viewing over the holidays and have a review up as soon as I'm able.

As for Sweeney, I'm not sure. I remember when I posted way back that I'd seen it and loved it, someone accused me of saying nice things only because I wrote the book...

Have you seen AO Scott's rave in the NYTimes, by the way?

Gerard said...

Marvellous! I look very much forward to your TWBB review! We get it the first half of Feb over here...

As for a Sweeney review, nuts to the haters. Get one up here to get your proper critical opinion out there for us all to enjoy! I should think that having spent time on set and already expecting a lot from the film you'd be harder to impress, for if it failed to meet expectations it would leave a very sour taste. And hell, whose blog is this after all - yours or some douchebag who'd gonna leave snakey comments? :P

I have actually, read it today at work! Fantastic! Seems to me a lot of the negative reviews that are popping up are pretty ridiculous, as a lot of them are taking issue with Sondheim's score and calling it dull and monotonous..... ?!?!?!!?!? If I read another 'There's nary a memorable tune in here' review I'm gonna flip my lid.

Man. This is a long comment. I'm just home from No Country For Old Men. Man. Wow. If I didn't have to wake at 4am tomorrow to catch a flight, I'd be up here getting my review hobbled together!

Now I go. This was long.


Schmid4Brains said...

i had never hear of "sunshine" until right now. holy mother of god. it looks like "event horizon goes to the sun" which is awesome b/c i thought event horizon was really entertaining. in any case, surprised you didn't mention Alpha Dog, Music & Lyrics, or Wild Hogs! methinks you may be slipping my friend...

have a wonderful relaxing christmas/new year break type vacation of sorts. just remember that the Star Wars theme was completely ripped off from a riff in Beethoven's Symphony #5 in C Minor, Op. 67, "Fate".

seriously, go listen. you'll catch it 53 seconds in.

yeah, i'm listening to classical music and commenting on "Alpha Dog". i'm diverse like that.

Mark Salisbury said...

If you haven't seen Sunshine yet, the DVD should be out soon in the US, if it's not out already. It's flawed but has ambition and ideas and scale which is more than can be said for most movies.

The Event Horizon analogy is a sound one; and there are also elements of Silent Running, Dark Star, Alien and others in the mix, but it still very much it's own thing.

I, too, am fond of EH. It maybe The Haunting on a space ship with a dash of Hellraiser chucked in, but it's one of those movies that I'll always watch to the end, if I'm channel surfing and it comes on...