By Dennis Clemente
Every year, almost religiously, I come up with my list of 5 best, if not my favorite, movies; not 10 as de rigueur in this industry. Since I have not seen a lot of movies, I have come up with only four of my favorite movies to come out in 2007, until such time I think I have viewed the best of the rest.
1. There Will Be Blood. The movie that sent many critics into adjectival paroxysm is my best picture of the year. It is majestically filmed by directing genius Paul Thomas Anderson and ferociously acted by Daniel Day Lewis, a shoo-in for the Oscar and other acting awards. The intense sensorial score of Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood intensifies the haunting experience about religious fanaticism and greed. If not for the disappointing last few minutes, I'd gladly throw in masterpiece in there.
2. The Diving Bell and Butterfly. What would you do if you had only one functioning eye and the rest of your body was paralyzed? Write a memoir?! This is what Jean Dominique Bauby, former Elle magazine editor, did when a fatal stroke left him no choice but to communicate using only his left eyelid to produce a memoir. Thanks to the clever direction of Julian Schnabel, you feel what it's like to be inside Bauby's skin or, for that matter, his eye. It is a heart-breaking movie, profoundly sad and poetic but deeply moving and inspiring. A woman beside me could not stop weeping.
3. Atonement. A child’s lie comes to haunt her through the wreckage of World War II, destroying the lives of two people close to her. Adapted from Ian McEwan’s book, the movie falls short of being as compelling as it should be, as the two main characters’ plight in the movie is too stunted to make us empathize with them. However, the movie is poignant in capturing lost innocence. The first act is thrilling, the midsection flawed but the the last achingly elegiac act is stirring.
4. Michael Clayton. A legal whodunit written and directed by Tony Gilroy, the writer of the Bourne Identity movies. Here he goes out of his comfort zone to both write a more deliberate movie and direct, for the first time, with the confidence of a seasoned director. This is a screenwriter's dream of a movie. It has crafty storytelling, a surfeit of subplots and wonderfully written dialogue. George Clooney gives an astonishingly modulated portrayal of a lawyer trying to get back the last bit of humanity and decency he has to save himself. This is an uncommonly and refreshingly intelligent movie from the Hollywood film formula factory.
Runners-up. The Lives Of Others (although this is technically a 2006 movie shown in the US only in 2007); No Country For Old Men; 3:10 to Yuma; Eastern Promises; The Host; Lust, Caution; Zodiac; Ratatouille; Once
Performances of the Year: Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood) and Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose) are guaranteed to win every best acting honor from all award-giving bodies.