Monday, January 7, 2008

Best of 2007, Part I: Movies

One of my resolutions/goals for the new year is to be more in the moment, especially since I tend to focus on either the future or the past. So I'm anxious to finish my Best of list for last year and be focused more on 2008.  With my siblings and best friends living in five different states, reading their lists is always a highlight of the new year. Love that peek into their lives, as well as getting recommendations. And as the years blur, I like looking at the old lists.


Brian and I saw more movies on the big screen this year than in any year since we became parents, thanks to finding a new babysitter, and even more so, in thanks to good friends and family who let us take advantage of every opportunity for some couple-time. When I look at these movie titles, I also think of where we were when we saw them and who was watching our kids…

  • “Knocked Up”—in Texas, with Elizabeth and Gabriel watching over the boys. We were pregnant at the time, and didn’t know it. Can’t help thinking we would have laughed a lot harder had we known. Cute, with enjoyable actors, but not great.

  • “The Departed” ---in Tucson, while the boys slept over at Carmen’s house with all the Rockow kidsJ  I enjoyed it, despite all the violence and bit of a let-down ending. Liked it even more after I saw “Babel” (which I disliked greatly). I wasn’t a fan of Leonardo until this one.

  • “Breech”—in Utah, with Amy watching the kids for our anniversary date. We could not have picked a less romantic movie, but it is really good… in a depressing way.

  • “Dan in Real Life”—in Flagstaff while the Rockows and MA once again watched over the boys.  Enjoyable actors, but annoyingly false at times. Steve Carell is a genius, and watching him play “Let My Love Open the Door” sent me into full pregnancy-induced crying.

  • “3:10 to Yuma” –in Utah, with my favorite discovery of the year: our new babysitter Tori. Strong performances. Predictable and cliche-filled, but entertaining.

  • “Michael Clayton”—Utah. Sharp and well-paced. Several great scenes---the horses, the scene in the hit-&-run-driver’s kitchen, in the car with his son. Clooney at his best, and Tom Wilkinson is always a favorite.

  • “Golden Compass” ---Utah. After Brian’s Christmas work-party, we thought we’d go for broke since we had a sitter, and saw this. It was fun, but I can’t imagine how anyone who hadn’t read the novel got a sense of any of the characters---too much plot and too little character/theme development. We came home to find Tori fast asleep on the couch, poor kidJ

  • “National Treasure 2”: --here in Utah, thanks to MA. I’m embarrassed to admit I chose this over “I am Legend” but sometimes you just know yourself too well. No zombies for me, thank you. Ridiculous plot and dialogue, but when your expectations are low, just enjoying fresh popcorn next to the guy you love is a great time.

All were fun in their own way, but the only two I'd highly recommend are "The Departed" and "Michael Clayton" ---neither were profound but both were expertly done and completely entertaining---a rare enough achievement.


“Into the Wild”: This is still in some theaters, but thanks to MA, we saw it at home. I found it moving and sad, and it has stayed with me since then, evoking more thought than I would have predicted. An infuriating story in some aspects, but told so well, with great care and great music. One of the best of the year.

“The Wind That Shakes the Barley”: I loved this one so much. Cillian_murphy3 One casting mistake (the main female, in my opinion) but great acting, great plot, and the best dialogue. Haunting, realistic portrayal of politics and an illustration of how violence as a means to peace only begets more violence.

"Stranger Than Fiction":Everyone else saw it last year. We saw it in January and I’d like to see it again. Great casting, so original, just wonderful

"Children of Men": I knew nothing before hand. So much care, so much relevance to our time (with those bloody “illegals” everywhere). Love the anti-hero running in his bare feet. Love the plot tuTalladeganightsdvdposterrns. Brilliant.

"Talladega Nights": I'll forgive it for leading us to  “Kicking & Screaming” which was unwatchable, only because it made us laugh out loud. Great combination of stupid jokes with smart satire, without any of the snarkiness of Christopher Guest's movies. Favorite line: “If we wanted some wussies, we'd have named 'em Dr. Quinn and Medicine Woman!”

"Dear Frankie" : sweet, compelling, probably predictable but I enjoyed it fully. Good tunes and great acting. I recommended it to my brother Kevin, who declared it a chick-flick.

"Thank You for Smoking": Perfect satire

"The Painted Veil": Surprisingly effective. Makes me want to revisit Maugham

"Everything is Illuminated": Wish it came out sooner, some of the book's most original ideas had already been “done” by the time the movie was made. Again, great performances, well done, quirky movie..

"Away From Her": Julie Christie--wow. Touching portrait of a marriage and letting go.

"49 & Up" : Just love this whole series.

"V for Vendetta": On a big screen the comic-book-style violence would have been too much for me, but I was enraptured by it on DVD. It has silly aspects, but serious ones too and I thought it was original and smart at the same time. Great illustration of the power of media/spin.

“Blood Diamond”: strong dialogue and acting. Insight into the ugly world of diamonds. Leo's character reminded me of leading men from old movies---a role Bogart or Mitchum were never young enough to play, but which would have suited them as well.

"Long Way Round": BBC series with great music that captured the bizarre nature of adventure in the Far East.

“Once”: this one is growing on me with distance. I had way too high of expectations, having waited forever to see it. Modest in its intentions, which is part of why it is so endearing. Great acting, nice detail to scenes, very sincere, but ultimately, not that much there beyond the music and its portrayal of loneliness.Once_filmstill1_iw

Honorable Mentions: Akeela and the Bee, Capote, Flags of Our Fathers, Half Nelson, Starter for Ten, Murderball

Worst: Running with Scissors, Holiday, Because I Said So, Pursuit of Happyness, Sicko (which might not deserve to be listed here, because it was good...but the wasted potential of being great if it had less of Michael Moore's ego and love of hyperbole infuriated me)

Kid Movies we saw on a big screen: My rating is based mainly on how much Aidan enjoyed a movie, and how much it stayed with him. “Bee Movie” and “Ratatouille” didn’t leave much of an impression, whereas “Robots” (which we saw at a public library in Wichita Falls, but it was a big screen) and “Meet the Robinsons” have had lasting influences.

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