musings of a saint and sinner

Monday, December 31, 2007

Favorite movies of 2007

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and as usual I have not yet seen all of the important films released this year, but I thought I would include my list of favorites thus far.

I would venture to say that it was not as exciting a year for film as in recent years. I don't know if the writer's strike had anything to do with it or not. But there were still some wonderful examples of really enjoyable films. So here you go. Ratings are out of 5 stars:

Amazing Grace: Finally, a film about a Christian that is both well done by the standards of the art, and uncompromising in its message. You usually do not get both attributes in the same film. I loved the portrayal of William Wilberforce as someone who was tempted to disappear into a contemplative life but instead was called outside of himself to serve his neighbor. And he was used up for his neighbor. This is the true call of discipleship and it has been something I have thought about often since seeing the film. I also greatly appreciated the beautiful testimony given by John Newton in the film: "There are two things I know: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior." Amen! 4 stars.

The Bourne Ultimatum: Paul Greengrass plus Jason Bourne equals one explosive movie! I enjoyed this one more than the previous two (and I enjoyed them quite a lot). The cream of the crop of thrillers. 5 stars.

Dan in Real Life: With every new part I see him in, my respect for Steve Carrell grows. This guy is great making a fool of himself on The Office, great as a likable geek on The Forty-Year Old Virgin, and great as the sad but relatable romantic lead in this movie. This movie was an incredibly warm-hearted celebration of family life--both its joys and woes. It was also believable and honest. The chemistry between Julliete Binoche and Carrell is unexpectedly rich. And unlike most romantic comedies, the hero does not just make mistakes which we the viewer are expected to accept in the interest of the all-supreme self and its feelings (In the Land of Women, anyone?). Rather, in this film, we do see our main character making mistakes, but we also see him repent and grow. Bravo to one of the best romantic comedies I have ever seen! (For another treat by the writer and director, Peter Hedges, I suggest my favorite movie about Thanksgiving: Pieces of April. That film is one the most redemptive films I have ever seen. And both films are evidence that great films do not have to be depressing, and that films that leave you happy do not have to lack depth.) 5 stars.

Evan Almighty: For all of the jeers tossed at this movie by the press, you'd think it was just horrible. No, it isn't a masterpiece, but I actually found it quite charming...and did I mention I love Steve Carrell? This movie taught some beautiful lessons about the relationship between God and human beings. I love Morgan Freeman's regal and yet approachable portrayal of God. Art benefits me in this way, giving me a greater faith in God's character. My favorite line of the movie: When Evan tells God he cannot build an ark because he has plans and God laughs whole-heartedly (as if to say, "You're so cute!") and says, "Plans? That's a good one! He has plans!" (You've heard the quote...but I bet you never thought that was the way He'd laugh!) 3.5 stars.

Enchanted: Amy Adams rocks my face off. Her portrayal of the princess in this movie took me back to a wonderful place when I was younger and had a more optimistic picture of the world. I adore the innocence of her character. We so rarely see genuine innocence in film anymore. This movie just made me smile. The only part I didn't like was that it kind of fell apart at the end in that the princess ends up with the New York man instead of the man she has pledged her commitment too. Is being worldly wise really better? 3.5 stars.

Knocked Up: This will turn out to be my yearly favorite which is not for kids (or even teenagers, probably). But for grown-ups, this is a wonderful comedy with real heart as two young people who experience an unexpected pregnancy grow into parents. Genuine dialogue, believable scenarios, and an unexpected pro-life perspective. I loved how the characters grew through the course of the movie. And I laughed my head off. 4.5 stars.

The Lives of Others: Ok, I lied. This is another one that is not a film for kids, as there is some sexual content, but an insightful look at the world of Eastern Germany under communism. Humanizing look at a member of the Stasi who is transformed by what he hears on his surveillance headsets. The power of love and art to change people (no matter what Lenin said!). 5 stars.

Paris, Je T'Aime: Delightful film (somewhat reminicient of "Love Actually," but with greater artistic flair and depth), with 20 different stories from 20 diverse directors. My favorites were "Tuilieries" (with Steve Buscemi, directed by the Coen brothers), Bastille (so romantic and beautiful!), "Place des Victoires," "Quartier Latin" (with the fabulous Gena Rowlands), "Place des Fetes" (feels like a full movie with beauty, depth, and tragedy), "Faubourg Saint-Denis" (with Natalie Portman...feels like another full movie, with a surprise twist), and "14ème Arrondissement" (a beautiful, winsome piece). The only one that I really didn't care for was the vampire one. I suppose it might be romantic to people who like vampire movies, but I found it kinda gross. 4 stars.

Rescue Dawn:
I think I remember why I was OBSESSED with Christian Bale in high school...the man is an incredible actor and his commitment to the role is absolute. He actually ate live maggots, slept in the jungle and got leaches on himself that he had to pull off, lost a lot of weight, and bit into a live snake...all to make a movie about surviving escape from a prison camp in Laos during the Vietnam War believable...and boy is it! Great director and ensemble cast too. 4 stars.

Spiderman 3: The best of the Spiderman movies, in my opinion. Amazing special effects, and a compelling story with great relevance to the struggle against sin in the Christian life. I couldn't help repeatedly thinking of Romans 7. 4 stars.

Films that will probably make it on my favorite list (but which I have not yet seen yet):
3:10 to Yuma
The Kite Runner
Lars and the Real Girl
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood


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