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Sunshine

Director: Danny Boyle
Cast: Rose Byrne, Cliff Curtis, Chris Evans, Troy Garity, Cillian Murphy, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh

(Fox Searchlight Pictures; US theatrical: 20 Jul 2007 (Limited release); UK theatrical: 5 Apr 2007 (General release); 2007)

20


Sunshine Danny Boyle


Leave it to cinematic shapeshifter Danny Boyle to provide the perfect post-millennial bookend to Stanley Kubrick’s flawless sci-fi masterwork 2001. Without drawing on the typical speculative bull spaceship that’s mired the genre since the story of the Skywalkers rewrote the rulebook, we get a deep thinking adventure that asks the big questions while keeping easy answers away from the audience. The notion of holding the entire fate of humanity in your hands, and how you counter such a responsibility, is the movie’s main theme. What drives us as individuals become the secondary layers that let Boyle’s broader perspectives slip directly under your skin and into your psyche. Bill Gibron





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Sicko

Director: Michael Moore
Cast: Michael Moore

(Weinstein Company; US theatrical: 22 Jun 2007 (Limited release); 2007)

19


SiCKO Michael Moore


Everyone has strong feelings about Michael Moore—he’s either a pushy polemicist or a courageous fighter for truth – but it’s possible to applaud his cinematic savvy and the overall thrust of his politics while also acknowledging his weakness for tendentious argument and in-your-face showboating. All these qualities are on display in his most provocative pictures, including this revealing study of the American health-care system, which reached the screen just as liberal-minded voters and politicians were gearing up for a long-overdue effort to inject some fairness and equality into the situation. It’s the year’s most important American domestic-issue documentary. David Sterritt





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Gone Baby Gone

Director: Ben Affleck
Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Ed Harris, Morgan Freeman, Amy Ryan, Edi Gathegi

(Miramax; US theatrical: 19 Oct 2007 (General release); 2007)

Review [19.Oct.2007]

18


Gone Baby Gone Ben Affleck


One wonders how much of his experience in the tabloid’s tainted limelight affected Ben Affleck when choosing to take on this Dennis Lehane novel as his first directorial project. The story certainly has elements (no matter how indirect) that harken back to the differences between perception and reality. While the media’s role in the movie is minor, how we see ourselves—as parents, as family members, as part of the community—resonates loudly in this impressive debut. Even more fascinating is brother Casey’s straight ahead performance. It mimics the movie’s tone perfectly, encapsulating everything the narrative strives for. Bill Gibron





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The Simpsons Movie

Director: David Silverman
Cast: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer

(Fox; US theatrical: 27 Jul 2007 (General release); UK theatrical: 26 Jul 2007 (General release); 2007)

Review [20.Dec.2007]
Review [27.Jul.2007]
Review [26.Jul.2007]

17


The Simpsons Movie David Silverman


After 18 seasons of boob tube buffoonery, The Simpsons went big screen in the summer of ‘07. Pre-release concerns that the film would be little more than a really long TV episode were quickly dashed away by a streaking Bart-on-wheels. Matt Groening and his cartooning team successfully created an epic tale and filled the whole screen with vivid colors and large-scale wackiness. The plot? Well, one of the great joys of The Simpsons has always been its circuitous storytelling style. Suffice it to say, a pet pig leads to a glass dome, which necessitates an Alaskan odyssey and a motorcycle miracle. Makes sense? Well, you’ll be laughing too hard to care. The Simpsons Movie is big-time fun. Michael Keefe





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Superbad

Director: Greg Mottola
Cast: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader, Seth Rogen

(Sony; US theatrical: 17 Aug 2007 (General release); 2007)

Review [18.Aug.2007]
Review [17.Aug.2007]

16


Superbad Greg Mottola


Judd Apatow had his hand in a lot of funny movies in 2007, and one of the best was one he didn’t actually direct or write: Greg Mottola’s Superbad. The film maintains the laugh density of a broad comedy and the heart of Apatow’s best character work as it follows a day and night in the life of Evan (Michael Cera) and Seth (Jonah Hill), lifelong best friends facing separation after high school. What they talk about instead, of course, in torrents of natural-sounding yet unbelievably hilarious dialogue, is getting laid. The meek, stammering Cera and the loudly profane Hill forge an effortless comedy team, perfectly capturing what feels like a real-life friendship (note the first names of screenwriters Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen). An unfairly maligned subplot involving a pair of cops is a smart variation on the film’s affectionate, realistic, uproarious depiction of unspoken male bonding. Jesse Hassenger





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The Darjeeling Limited

Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Amara Karan, Camilla Rutherford, Anjelica Huston

(Fox Searchlight; US theatrical: 29 Sep 2007 (Limited release); UK theatrical: 23 Nov 2007 (General release); 2007)

Review [21.Feb.2008]
Review [17.Oct.2007]

15


The Darjeeling Limited Wes Anderson


Wes Anderson, like God, works in mysterious ways. And just like the supposed Supreme Being, when he hits on something special, the results literally resonate with importance. This is the finest movie the idiosyncratic filmmaker has made, besting previous works of wonder like The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore. The setting—a train traversing India—makes an excellent road movie metaphor for the troubled brothers trying to reconnect. Even better, the alien backdrop allows for Anderson’s arch mannerisms to meld perfectly with the performances. What we wind up with is a spiritual quest without the sanctimonious smugness. It’s an amazingly open adventure. Bill Gibron





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Margot at the Wedding

Director: Noah Baumbach
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Zane Pais, Jack Black, Ciarán Hinds, John Turturro

(Paramount Vantage; US theatrical: 16 Nov 2007 (Limited release); UK theatrical: 8 Feb 2008 (General release); 2007)

Review [5.Mar.2008]
Review [26.Nov.2007]
Review [19.Nov.2007]

14


Margot at the Wedding Noah Baumbach


Many critics have unfairly dismissed director Noah Baumbach’s follow-up to 2005’s The Squid and the Whale as “gratuitous”, “pretentious” or “unlikable”. They couldn’t be farther from the truth, however. Baumbach has crafted an expert investigational extension on the themes he skirted in his other work: the comical (and often harrowing) ineptitude of New York City’s intelligencia, the loneliness of the adored, and the awkwardness of being an adolescent are all here are mercilessly ripped to shreds. Up on the chopping block are familial relationships, here the mysterious bonds of femininity and sisterhood threaten to tear apart Margot and Pauline. Why people are harping on the darkness of the characters is beyond me—Ingmar Bergman did this sort of emotional exploration for decades, and it suited him just fine. Margot at the Wedding is a film that the great Swedish master might have crafted in his heyday (shades of Persona are everywhere!)  Baumbach should never be apologetic for his willingness to put himself on the chopping block like this. Matt Mazur





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Once

Director: John Carney
Cast: Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová

(Fox Searchlight; US theatrical: 16 May 2007 (Limited release); UK theatrical: 7 Sep 2007 (Limited release); 2006)

Review [6.Jan.2008]

13


Once John Carney


If the bittersweet conclusion of the musical-romance Once doesn’t render you a puddle, well, I don’t think we can be friends. Known merely as Guy and Girl, Glen Hansard (of the Frames) and Markéta Irglová are perfect as the film’s would-be lovers who forge a tentative connection through their mutual passion for music. Guitarist Hansard sings out his heart, lungs, and guts; pianist Irglova, with her delicate voice and playful demeanor, is his ideal complement. Artfully integrating Guy and Girl’s performances, writer-director John Carney lets their story unfold at a gentle pace in the streets and shops of Dublin. Unassuming in style but generous in feeling, Once reminds us of the unique power of music to capture romantic yearning and the magic that can spring from unfettered artistic collaboration. Marisa Carroll





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Michael Clayton

Director: Tony Gilroy
Cast: George Clooney, Sean Cullen, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton, Sydney Pollack

(Warner Bros.; US theatrical: 5 Oct 2007 (General release); UK theatrical: 28 Sep 2007 (General release); 2007)

Review [5.Oct.2007]

12


Michael Clayton Tony Gilroy


This slow-burn thriller by first-time director Tony Gilroy is a rarity: a morally complex genre film that doesn’t paint in black and white, but that also doesn’t deny its audience the simple pleasure of watching a well-plotted potboiler.  Tom Wilkinson plays a corporate lawyer who goes off his meds and gets a conscience; Tilda Swinton plays the in-house consul who crosses the line to reign him in.  But the movie belongs to George Clooney, who has transformed himself from a head-waggling hunk on E.R. to a genuine movie star.  He brings real glamour to the lead role, then strips it away to show the compromise and sadness of a man in his position. Peter Swanson





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Hot Fuzz

Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Jim Broadbent, Steve Coogan, Timothy Dalton, Paddy Considine, Edward Woodward

(Rogue Pictures (Focus); US theatrical: 20 Apr 2007 (Limited release); UK theatrical: 14 Feb 2007 (General release); 2007)

11


Hot Fuzz Edgar Wright


An all-business London cop is transferred to a sleepy village in the British countryside, where his new partner is a useless oaf and his most pressing case is finding an escaped swan. Would you believe that’s the setup for the year’s most deliriously over-the-top action extravaganza? Hot Fuzz is a double-barreled delight: it’s both a warm-hearted buddy comedy (easily the best of the year’s so called “bromances”), and a gory murder mystery. But the final 30 minutes elevate the film to action movie nirvana. Director Edgar Wright channels the over-caffeinated frenzy of Michael Bay with none of the mean-spiritedness; Simon Pegg and Nick Frost will have you cheering every gratuitous one-liner; and the script provides some sly commentary on the village’s stubborn resistance to change. Hot Fuzz might be the ultimate “dumb fun” movie—although the real joke is that it isn’t dumb at all. Jack Patrick Rodgers



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