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PopMatters Picks: The Best TV, Film, and DVD of 2007

A lot of good movies are still missing from DVD. Here are 25 that PopMatters feels have been unceremoniously left to simply fade away. Stay tuned tomorrow for the best DVDs of 2007.

Edited by Bill Gibron / Produced by Sarah Zupko and Bill Gibron

Schedule for features...

Wednesday, January 9: FILM: The Top 10 Performances, Male and Female

Thursday, January 10: FILM: The Best International and Indie Film of 2007

Friday, January 11: FILM: The 30 Best Films of 2007 and the 10 Worst Films of 2007

Wednesday, January 16: FILM: The Most Anticipated Films of 2008

Thursday, January 17: DVD: Guilty Pleasures (TV/DVD) of the Year

Friday, January 18: TV: Top TV of the Year

Thursday, January 24: DVD: The DVD Wish List

Friday, January 25: DVD: 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.

-- Bill Gibron

Director Spotlight: Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock helped to create the modern horror genre, the modern thriller, and the modern black comedy. He changed film, even as he was inventing new ways to approach it. Stay tuned through October as we present our collection of essays on the Master of Suspense.

Film

'Psycho': The Mother of All Horrors

Psycho stands out not only for being one of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest films, it is also one of his most influential. It has been a template and source material for an almost endless succession of later horror films, making it appropriate to identify it as the mother of all horror films.

Francesc Quilis
Film

The City Beneath: A Century of Los Angeles Graffiti (By the Book)

With discussions of characters like Leon Ray Livingston (a.k.a. "A-No. 1"), credited with consolidating the entire system of hobo communication in the 1910s, and Kathy Zuckerman, better known as the surf icon "Gidget", Susan A. Phillips' lavishly illustrated The City Beneath: A Century of Los Angeles Graffiti, excerpted here from Yale University Press, tells stories of small moments that collectively build into broad statements about power, memory, landscape, and history itself.

Susan A. Phillips
Books

The 10 Best Indie Pop Albums of 2009

Indie pop in 2009 was about all young energy and autumnal melancholy, about the rush you feel when you first hear an exciting new band, and the bittersweet feeling you get when your favorite band calls it quits.

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