The Ten Best Films of 2007

10.) Ratatouille
After its lackluster 2006 effort, Cars (which inexplicably earned a sequel, coming in 2011), Pixar bounced back in a big way with its love letter to the beauty of France and French cooking. It’s perhaps the great animation studio’s best written film (along with Toy Story 3), and the animation, it goes without saying, is spectacular.

9.) Charlie Wilson’s War
Talk about great writing. Aaron Sorkin will probably win his first Oscar for The Social Network, but he was robbed (not even a nomination!) for this whip-smart political dramedy. Tom Hanks and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are both tremendous as the two men who engineered a covert mission to arm the Afghan resistance during the Cold War.

8.) Atonement
While some would no doubt describe Joe Wright’s lush period piece as mawkish, the word I’d use is heartbreaking. I connected so deeply with this material that I needed consoling after it was over. But it’s not just the profound emotions at work that make this special. The acting (especially by Saoirse Ronan), gorgeous cinematography, and brilliant score make this a film worthy of its place on my list.

7.) The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
I was just floored when I first saw Julian Schnabel’s beautiful portrait of a man suffering from locked-in syndrome, and repeat viewings have only enhanced the experience. The wonderfully inventive cinematography (a theme this year) and the truly difficult, but ultimately successful, performance from Mathieu Amalric earn this film its four stars.

6.) No Country for Old Men
This one is a tough nut to crack (it still astounds me that it won Best Picture). It took me multiple viewings to realize its true brilliance because the story doesn’t really let you in. By doing so, however, we can marvel at its complexities and perfect technical work.

5.) Michael Clayton
Another film that took multiple viewings for me to fall in love with, I now consider Michael Clayton to be the best written film of the past decade. Its story is familiar and unique at the same time, and it unfolds exactly at the pace it wants to. It’s hard to pick out the best performance in the bunch, as all three main actors knock it out of the park.

4.) Superbad
Films rarely make me laugh uncontrollably, but this one did and still does today. Jonah Hill and Michael Cera have beaten these characters into the ground at this point, but in Superbad, they were fresh and really fun to watch. The writing, courtesy of co-star Seth Rogen, is beyond hilarious and pushes more boundaries than any Apatow comedy I can recall.

3.) Gone Baby Gone
The films moral conundrums are endlessly fascinating, and its performances—especially those of Amy Ryan and Ed Harris—are powerful. But Ben Affleck gets the majority of the props here for really transporting us to the streets of Boston.

2.) Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
Phillip Seymour Hoffman is just unbelievable in Sidney Lumet’s film about a robbery gone wrong. The film’s structure is interesting , and Lumet’s direction is as steady and reliable as ever.

1.) There Will Be Blood
Few films nowadays are as epic as There Will Be Blood, and few performances are as epic as Daniel Day-Lewis’ here. The cinematography is extraordinary, as is the score. And P.T. Anderson’s direction as brilliant as it is messy and unconventional. Ultimately, it beats out Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead and Gone Baby Gone because it’s so out there. My choice of it probably isn’t too surprising (so many others call this the best of 2007), but there’s just no film I admire more.

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