Feature

Best movies of 2007

The critics have weighed in on the films of the year. Here, their consensus top 10.

1. No Country for Old Men Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen (Rated R)After 20 years of brilliance on the movie margins, Joel and Ethan Coen are “ready for their close-up,” said Richard Corliss in Time. Their adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel is “dry, funny, beautifully acted, thrillingly cinematic.” Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, and Tommy Lee Jones play a diabolical game of cat-and-mouse throughout the American West. The action-filled but unhurried film is “nearly mainstream” yet remains a quintessential Coen brothers creation. In theaters nationwide.

2. There Will Be BloodDirected by Paul Thomas Anderson (R)P.T. Anderson, who previously helmed Boogie Nights and Punch-Drunk Love, reveals maturity and staggering range with his loose adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s Oil!, said Stephen Holden in The New York Times. “Grounded in a titanic performance” by Daniel Day-Lewis as a turn-of-the-century prospector turned tycoon, the film is a “raw-boned, radically unsentimental fable” about the changing faces of the American dream. In select theaters.

3. OnceDirected by John Carney (R)The movie musical has been reinvented as “something wholly new, inspired, and alive” by writer-director John Carney, said Christy Lemire in the Associated Press. Musicians Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova are first-time actors who “breathe fresh life” into an onscreen romance set in Ireland. Awkward but genuinely hopeful, the pair make beautiful music together. On DVD.

4. Away From HerDirected by Sarah Polley (PG-13)In the directorial debut of the year, Sarah Polley presents a “delicate chamber piece” about a couple dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, said Ella Taylor in the LA Weekly. With Julie Christie glittering in the lead alongside Gordon Pinsent, the film offers a “tenderness, lyricism, and feminine practicality” that somehow doesn’t leave you depressed. Polley, who is less than 30 years old, takes the difficult subjects of aging and dementia and turns them into a moving cinematic experience. On DVD.

5. AtonementDirected by Joe Wright (R)Ian McEwan got lucky when English director Joe Wright chose to adapt his stunning novel, said Wendy Ide in the London Times. Atonement, which chronicles the lives of two forbidden lovers who are torn apart by a misperception, is “the kind of film that comes along all too rarely.” Wright’s sure-footed guidance helps the sensual pair of James McAvoy and Keira Knightley turn this period piece into an “unmistakably British” love story. In select theaters.6. The Diving Bell and the ButterflyDirected by Julian Schnabel (PG-13)The year’s “most hopeful, great movie” tells the story of a man whose devastating stroke leaves him paralyzed except for one eye, said David Edelstein in New York. The man is Jean-Dominique Bauby, the former editor of French Elle, who recounted his last days in a memoir written by blinking his left eye to indicate different letters of the alphabet. Julian Schnabel’s “visually inspired” direction ensures that the “hero’s plight becomes a metaphor for the human condition.” In select theaters.

7. The Lives of OthersDirected by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (R)This “wrenching drama” about an East Berlin secret policeman facing up to Communist tyranny reveals how lack of freedom ruins individual lives, said Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly. In Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s film, “the tentacles of fascism reach right into homes, into relationships, destroying intimacy as a form of control.” It holds up next to such classics as Z and The Conformist in the way it exposes utter villainy of a repressive regime. On DVD.

8. No End in SightDirected by Charles Ferguson (Unrated)The best of this year’s glut of political films, first-time filmmaker Charles Ferguson’s documentary sheds light on the Bush administration and the war in Iraq, said Stephen Hunter in The Washington Post. Ferguson teaches Michael Moore a lesson by demonstrating how to build a case with “scrupulous reporting, non-conspiratorial analysis, penetrating interviews,” and expansive research. Throughout his fair portrayal of the U.S. occupation, Ferguson seems to understand policy better than the White House does. On DVD.

9. Juno Directed by Jason Reitman (PG-13)It’s hard enough to write a great comedy, but harder still to pull off one as smart, “charming,” and genuinely moving as Juno, said Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times. The film, written by first-timer Diablo Cody and starring newcomer Ellen Page, tells the story of a quirky, whip-smart 16-year-old, whose first sexual experience leads to the maternity ward. For a movie that addresses teen pregnancy, it’s “light on its feet, involving the audience in love and care for its characters.” In theaters nationwide.

10. Sweeney ToddDirected by Tim Burton (R)“A striking achievement in every way,” Sweeney Todd reunites the dark duo of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, who first worked together on 1990’s Edward Scissorhands, said Peter Travers in Rolling Stone. Bur­ton’s version of Stephen Sondheim’s wicked musical is a showcase for Depp, who “acts and sings his way into the black heart” of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In theaters nationwide.

How the films were chosenOur results weigh the rankings from year-end lists published by: Art Forum, the Associated Press, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly, the Guardian, the LA Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, Maxim, New York, The New York Observer, The New York Times, the New York Post, Rolling Stone, Salon.com, Slate.com, The Onion, Time, the London Times, The Village Voice, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

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