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The Best and Worst Films of 2007
By Marie Asner
Today is a typical day in America, when weather is playing an enormous part in what we do. Where I am right now, it is snowing furiously and as writers say, “a good day to hit the keyboard,” computer, that is. I have found the films of 2007 to be just slightly above average. For every film that has even some merit, there is a “Saw,” “Hostel” or zombie flick to eat away at your attention. At this rate, many film-goers could be on their way to a medical degree. Comedy? Has anyone else gotten tired of potty humor as being THE way to the box-office? If all else fails, have the main character go into a rest room stall, get drunk, vomit, have a baby throw food at them, change a diaper, walk a dog or decide they need sex anywhere, anyplace. Maybe the writer’s strike will clear the air.
Back to the Best and Worst Films of 2007. Here are my picks for Best Films, in alphabetical order.
American Gangster (Universal)---Denzel Washington in action as someone with greed as a middle name. An insightful look at drug trafficking.
Atonement (Focus)---a compelling screen adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel concerning a lie that had a life of its own. Photography of Dunkirk Beach is spectacular.
Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Miramax)--- subtitled bio-pic by director Julian Schnabel of the life of Elle magazine’s editor, Jean-Dominik Bauby. Filming is from the view of the patient in this harrowing real life story of a paralyzed man.
Eastern Promises (Focus)---Russian gangsters, prostitution and Viggio Mortensen in a daring role. The title may have thrown audiences, but the story of ruthlessness is top-notch.
In The Shadow Of The Moon (ThinkFilm)---documentary for science fans, and you know who you are. All this and no special effects, either. Great photography and interviews with men who belong to an exclusive club: they have walked on the moon.
Into The Wild (Paramount Vantage)---Director Sean Penn took the life of Christopher McCandless and let the audience know what it is like to be totally alone in a wilderness.
Michael Clayton (Warner Bros)---George Clooney and Tilda Swinton are on opposing sides in this story of corporation-level deception and the price to pay.
The Assassination of Jesse James (Warner Bros.)---a film poem of the last days of an American western outlaw. Brad Pitt was fine as Jesse, but it was Casey Affleck as Ford who ran away with the film. Even so, mountains in Missouri?
The Kite Runner (Paramount)---another good film adaptation this time of Khaled Hosseini’s novel. Gives audiences a view of life in Afghanistan before and after the Russian invasion. To be forgiven is something that haunts through a lifetime.
Extra: Hairspray (New Line)---energetic music score and Christopher Walken and Michelle Pfeiffer in the toy store. Plus, who could have thought John Travolta could pull it off?
In the category of surprisingly-good-soundtrack is “Becoming Jane” (Miramax film) by Adrian Johnston (Sony soundtrack.)  Best western-that-was-actually-filmed-in-the-U.S, “3:10 to Yuma” (Lionsgate.)
I’m adding a category of when-will-it-be-released, so what happened to Kevin Kline’s “Trade” (Roadside Attractions)?  It is a film concerning trafficking with underage kids that packs a punch. Will it debut in 2008?
Now, it is time to go to my picks for The Worst Films of 2007 list, also listed in alphabetical order.
Blades of Glory (DreamWorks)/Heartbreak Kid (Paramount)/License to Wed (Warner Bros)/Mr. Woodcock (New Line)/I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (Universal)/Daddy Day Camp (Sony)---I’m grouping these films together as an example of what happens when you have a top star such as Will Farrell, Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Billy Bob Thornton, Adam Sandler and Cuba Gooding, Jr. in worse than mediocre material with the no-no’s in paragraph one of this article.
Fantastic Four (Fox)/Transformers (Paramount)---Here are examples of special effects films that should be billed as “Special Effects: No Plot or Acting.”
Fred Claus (Warner Bros.)---could anyone possibly believe Santa had mumbling Vince Vaughn as a brother? Rudolf was probably the stand-in.
Georgia Rule (Universal)/I Know Who Killed Me (Tri Star)---an attempt to give Lindsay Lohan a chance to act, but both scripts made her look as though she were in other movies. In “Georgia Rule,“ Jane Fonda was statuary and Felicity Huffman, the only one acting.
Knocked Up (Universal)---another story of a getting drunk, one-night stand and Seth Rogan doing his dork routine. Katharine Heigl, this is not the way to go. By the way, Rogan’s “Superbad” (Sony) is just that.
Lars and the Real Girl (MGM)---get real, the town was under mass hypnosis and the “girl” from Mars.
Last Legion (MGM)/Dragon Wars (Younggu Art) ---films that should have gone straight to DVD, but instead were unloaded in theaters with no advance warning. Kind of like a head cold.
Mr. Bean’s Holiday (Universal)---Rowan Atkinson can roll his eyes and turn rubbery just so many times before you want to take a serious nap.
Saw IV(Lionsgate)/Hostel 2 (Sony)---at the rate these gore films are cranked out, the franchise will be on the 50th sequel each by this time next year.
Things We Lost In The Fire (Paramount/DreamWorks)---what a shame that the director had to tell this story with close-up’s of Halle Berry’s eye and Benicio del Toro’s chin. This should have been subtitled: Make-up 101.
Last, anything new by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarentino. It’s now gone from story to vanity.
See you at the movies.
Copyright 2007 Marie Asner
Submitted 12/28/07
Marie Asner is past president and member of the Kansas City Film Critics Circle, the second oldest film critics voting group in the United States. Marie is celebrating her 25th year as a film critic.



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