PopMatters Picks: The Best TV, Film, and DVD of 2007
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.
Edited by Bill Gibron / Produced by Sarah Zupko and Bill Gibron
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