'Old Men' get nod as AP's movie of 2007 - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

'Old Men' get nod as AP's movie of 2007

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Posted: Sunday, December 30, 2007 2:09 am | Updated: 6:33 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

It's never happened in all the time we've been doing this: Associated Press reviewers David Germain and Christy Lemire agree on the year's best film. Here's how the rest shake out.

The top 10 films of 2007, according to AP Movie Writer David Germain:

1. "No Country for Old Men" - With weird hair and businesslike savagery, Javier Bardem could teach Hannibal Lecter a thing or three about pitiless bloodletting. Bardem as a killer, Tommy Lee Jones as a wayworn lawman and Josh Brolin as a good old boy who stumbles on a fortune in drug money are one of the great triumvirates of modern film. Aided by cinematographer Roger Deakins' desolate landscapes, Joel and Ethan Coen bring Cormac McCarthy's Texas crime saga to life with all the regional authenticity they applied to their Minnesota tale "Fargo."

2. "Once" - This may be as real as new love gets on screen: Awkward, inspiring, nervous, hopeful, passionate, impossible, frustrating, and in the end, left in limbo for another day. The micro-budgeted tale from writer-director John Carney stars two non-actors, musicians Glen Hansard as an Irish busker and Marketa Irglova as an Eastern European immigrant. They meet, fall head over heels and, literally, make beautiful music together.

3. "Juno" - Jason Reitman's second film could have drowned in its own cleverness if it weren't so warm and funny and tart and, well, clever. This could be a star-making role for Ellen Page as the inconceivably cool and caustic title character, a pregnant teenager who challenges Katherine Heigl as the real darling of 2007's knocked-up set. Page and a brilliant supporting cast bring bottomless heart and humor to first-time screenwriter Diablo Cody's delicious dialogue.

4. "Away From Her" - Speaking of darlings, beloved indie actress Sarah Polley makes one of the most impressive behind-the-camera transitions ever, while the hermitic Julie Christie comes out of seclusion for a role that could bring her a second Academy Award to go with the trophy she won 42 years ago for "Darling." Christie, co-star Gordon Pinsent and director Polley have crafted a gem of outer stillness and inner turmoil as a husband watches the love of his life fade into the oblivion of Alzheimer's.

5. "Into the Wild" - Great an actor as he is, Sean Penn really just wants to direct. He makes a strong case for the career change with his latest film, turning a story with the worst sort of downbeat ending into an enormously inspiring rumination on the possibilities of life and the necessity of conviction. Emile Hirsch is a force of nature in this real-life story of a fierce idealist who comes to a tragic end in the wilds of Alaska.

6. "American Gangster" - Denzel Washington as a classy bad guy, Russell Crowe as a slovenly good guy, their crime smackdown directed by Ridley Scott. Who could ask for more when it comes to big Hollywood entertainment? Scott's slick direction is virtually flawless in this story of Harlem heroin baron Frank Lucas and the cop who brought him down. Both actors are at the top of their game, and the closing image perfectly captures the sense of how times change and players are forgotten.

7. "Stardust" - If a falling star takes human form, let her turn out like Claire Danes. If an evil, life-sucking witch simply must chase you, let it be Michelle Pfeiffer. If you have to ride on a flying schooner with a cross-dressing skipper, let the captain be Robert De Niro. Director Matthew Vaughn crafts a sparkling fairy tale for adults with this fantasy romance between Danes' celestial object and the boy (Charlie Cox) who falls in love with her.

8. "Starting Out in the Evening" - The aging writer's life: Your dusty novels unremembered, your body and mind near their end, yet the desire to finish that last big fiction never fading. Then along comes a beautiful young admirer to distract and titillate. Frank Langella is quietly masterful as the novelist, Lauren Ambrose is a fetching muse and temptress, and Lili Taylor provides warm support in Andrew Wagner's sly commentary on creativity in all forms.

9. "The Band's Visit" - With the nocturnal restlessness of a Jim Jarmusch flick, this wondrous little comic drama captures a wayward day in the life of an Egyptian police band stranded in the middle of nowhere during a visit to Israel. Writer-director Eran Kolirin presents a beautiful story of cultural chasms vanishing through music and spiritual kinship, anchored by tremendous rapport between Sasson Gabai as the stoically lovable bandleader and Ronit Elkabetz as a vivacious Israeli diner owner.

10. "Year of the Dog" - With his directing debut, veteran screenwriter Mike White has done his job well if his tale of a canine fanatic can hook a confirmed cat lover who finds dogs unnecessary, even detestable. Molly Shannon is hilarious and heartbreaking as a woman who lives for her dog, then goes to canine extremes to fill the void after the little mutt dies. The film is a marvelous examination of obsession, and how giving in body and soul to your compulsions may not be the worst thing for you, after all.

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AP Movie Critic Christy Lemire:

1. "No Country for Old Men" - The Coen brothers return to form with this breathtaking saga of crime and carnage along the Rio Grande. That includes the boldly enigmatic ending, which many find frustrating. In adapting Cormac McCarthy's novel about the repercussions of a ruined drug deal, Joel and Ethan Coen (and the great cinematographer Roger Deakins) have created an evocative, beautifully bleak landscape. Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones both give subtly powerful performances, but Javier Bardem is chilling as an eccentric serial killer.

2. "Gone Baby Gone" - An authentic slice of Boston, gripping in its realism and startling in its dramatic turns. Ben Affleck steps behind the camera for the first time and wisely places versatile younger brother Casey front and center as a private investigator looking for a missing girl. As a director, Affleck has found his calling, an avenue for using his obvious intelligence while getting out of the way of his own celebrity. Amy Ryan does memorable supporting work as the girl's junkie mom.

3. "Once" - A true original. Writer-director John Carney deconstructs and reinvents the movie musical as something wholly new, inspired and alive. He also breathes fresh life into the idea of screen romance with the unexpected relationship he depicts between an Irish street performer (the riveting Glen Hansard, lead singer of the Frames) and a young Czech immigrant (Marketa Irglova). No one ever bursts into song, but the folk-rock tunes that emerge organically will grab you nonetheless.

4. "Knocked Up" - How does Judd Apatow do it? As writer and director, he has the rare ability to find just the right tone all the time - a bold yet delicate balance of humor that's raunchy without being mean, sweet without being saccharine. This comedy about a beautiful blonde (Katherine Heigl) who gets pregnant from a drunken fling with an aimless stoner (Seth Rogen) features a cavalcade of pop culture references that never feel gratuitous, as well as some in-jokes that never seem smug.

5. "Away From Her" - In quiet, understated ways, Sarah Polley proves herself as a powerfully talented new director. The 28-year-old Canadian actress moves behind the camera for her first feature with the confidence and precision of a seasoned veteran. And she draws a delicately heartbreaking performance from the still radiant Julie Christie as a woman slowly descending into the hazy abyss of Alzheimer's. It's a story told with grace and surprising humor, and never turns maudlin.

6. "There Will Be Blood" - An inventively gorgeous yet wildly weird epic about greed, lies, manipulation and insanity, with a terrifying leading turn from Daniel Day-Lewis as a California oil man. Except for its inescapable intensity, you'd never know this was a Paul Thomas Anderson movie. All of his usual stylistic tricks are gone; the "Boogie Nights" and "Magnolia" director now seems more focused on character and storytelling. This one will leave you gasping.

7. "The Lives of Others" - A miracle of a film that manages to be both subtle and intense at the same time. What's even more astounding is that this is the feature debut from German writer-director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who confidently paints a claustrophobic picture of East Berlin in the mid-1980s through the relationship between a playwright, his girlfriend and the secret police captain assigned to spy on them. It's a political thriller but also a portrait of unexpected humanity - a marvel of controlled storytelling and mood with brilliant performances. (Winner of the foreign-language Oscar this year, it was only released theatrically in February so it counts for our purposes.)

8. "Lars and the Real Girl" - It may sound like a contradiction in terms to say that a movie about a guy in love with a sex doll is bursting with humanity, but that's really the most apt way to describe this warm little charmer. Ryan Gosling reinforces that he can do anything as a fiercely anti-social twentysomething who orders a life-size doll online, then thinks she's real and gets everyone else in town to play along. Director Craig Gillespie uses absurd humor but also shows a sweet, deft touch.

9. "Into the Wild" - Emile Hirsch offers a tour de force as the doomed Christopher McCandless, whose search for nature, beauty and truth left him dead in Alaska at 24. In adapting Jon Krakauer's best-seller, writer-director Sean Penn gives him a wealth of material to work with. Hirsch gets to be charming, passionate and idealistic but also impetuous, stubborn and self-righteous. Penn depicts this flawed figure in both his selflessness and selfishness without once judging him or turning him into a martyr.

10. "The Bourne Ultimatum" - In a summer packed with threequels, this was easily the best of all. Clever and smart, fast and fun, it's the first one that doesn't feel like a dragged-out continuation of a series but rather a climactic, satisfying culmination. Director Paul Greengrass has made an action film that's both delicate and aggressive, a difficult balance to strike. And Matt Damon remains a strong, stoic force in the center as amnesiac CIA assassin Jason Bourne. The year's best blockbuster.

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