It was the year of the behemoth box set, the multi-disc triumph that tried to give long suffering fans everything their demanding little digital hearts ever desired. Here are PopMatters’ 30 picks for the best DVDs of the year.
Blood, Barbers, and Beauty
After a rather inauspicious start (it’s like that every January, right?), it looked like 2007 was going to be a rather uneventful year in cinema. When empty eye candy like 300 became the celebrated spring season talking point, and Judd Apatow’s dominion of film comedy highlighted a slack summer, it was clear that a year dominated by tre-quels, remakes, and uninspired originals was destined to drag the final four months down. Yet, thanks to the reemergence of old masters, as well as the invasion of some new, novel voices, fall and winter wound up saving the medium’s reputation. Even with box office receipts skyrocketing and a writer’s strike threatening future filmmaking, September through December saw one of the best, brightest release schedules of the new millennium.
As a result, 2007 will be remember as the year of big oil, bigger dreams, and the biggest run of successful laughfests by a noted one man-mirth machine ever. It will be noted as the year pregnancy went slacker (both pre and post the age of majority), when crime countered punishment for dramatic dominance, and personal projects battled high concept cock-ups by renowned movie mavericks for turnstile twists. We had ‘70s serial killers, haute cuisine cooking rodents, naked Russian mafia wrestling, French/Arab anime (?), and the foreign film reinvention of the giant monster movie. There were diving bells and butterflies, eagles vs. sharks, diabolical demon barbers, and blood, blood, BLOOD!
In the end, it wasn’t hard to pick 30 fine films from the last 52 weeks. In fact, when the PopMatters staff sat down to ruminate on the year’s best, over 110 efforts made the final cut. Those not represented in the upper echelons of evaluation, but deserving of a mention include a potent bodice ripping period piece (Atonement), Werner Herzog’s revisit of Dieter Dengler’s Vietnam POW horror story (Rescue Dawn), a perky musical update of John Waters’ sweet ‘60s Baltimore nostalgia (Hairspray), and a documentary about the ongoing infighting between supposed champions of ‘80s era arcade games (The King of Kong). Along with biopics both substantive (La Vie En Rose) and silly (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story), and a number of Iraq war condemnations (In the Valley of Elah, No End in Sight), the also-ran list is just as impressive as the final picks.
So as the creative element battles production management for a larger piece of the percentage pie, as CGI continues to run ramshackle over the animated family film landscape, as redundant horror reduxes destroy whatever marginal credibility the genre can generate, 2007 stands as an otherwise monumental time for movies. Between today and Friday, PopMatters will expand its annual coverage to include looks at the Top 10 Performances (Male and Female), the Top Independent/Foreign Films of the last 12 months, a peak at what we thought were the worst the medium had to offer, and finally, our tally of the aforementioned Top 30. As with any such assessment, there is more controversy than consensus, but one thing’s for sure, when all the decisions are rendered and the judgments made, this year in cinema will stand as one of the art form’s most memorable.
Thursday, January 24 2008
It was the year of the behemoth box set, the multi-disc triumph that tried to give long suffering fans everything their demanding little digital hearts ever desired. Here are PopMatters' 30 picks for the best DVDs of the year.
Wednesday, January 23 2008
A lot of good movies are still missing from DVD. Here is a list of 25 that PopMatters feels have been unceremoniously left to simply fade away.
Thursday, January 17 2008
In memoriam of a TV season cut down before its prime time, PopMatters staff celebrates the Top 30 TV Shows of 2007. Some are old favorites. Others have barely made their impression felt. But at a time when all broadcast fortunes are up in the air, they definitely deserve the recognition.
Fuchs' picks for the year's best movies reveal the difficulty of the quest, uncovering in their seeming failures more remarkable potentials.
Wednesday, January 16 2008
PopMatters proffers its collection of 2007's most notable defective faves. And it's okay to laugh. After all, we'd probably do the same to you and your uncomfortable fixations as well.
Here is a look at those TV actors who excelled and were, for various reasons, overlooked.
Tuesday, January 15 2008
The promise is everywhere: fewer sequels, wider variety, more top of the line talent both in front of and behind the camera. Well known franchises are finding their way back to the local multiplex, while hackneyed genres long thought dead are getting revived by interesting, ingenious artists.
Thursday, January 10 2008
From Julian Schnabel's artsy The Diving Bell and the Butterfly to the legendary Coen Brothers splendid adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men, PopMatters counts down the 30 best films of 2007.
From Good Luck Chuck to Julie Taymor's ill-advised Beatlesque '60s tribute Across the Universe, PopMatters presents the dreck of 2007.
Wednesday, January 9 2008
Beginning and ending with the superlative filmmaking of Jia Zhang-ke, traversing the nooks and crannies of the globe, PopMatters presents the 20 best international and indie films of 2007.
Tuesday, January 8 2008
From the most sweetly nuanced performance of Jennifer Jason Leigh's career to Cate Blanchett's revelatory portrayal of Bob Dylan in I'm Not There, the women of 2007 were stellar.
From the tender and eerie precision of Sam Riley's depiction of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis in Control to yet another superlative performance by Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood, PopMatters highlights the best male actors of 2007.
Sunday, January 6 2008
Whether by luck or some kind of hive rejuvenation, 2007 saw a whole lot of terrific American movies.
Thursday, January 3 2008
When flipping through my mental catalog of the year's films, certain scenes stand out. This past year offered a veritable feast of visual goodies.