Saturday, December 22, 2007

my year in movies

Let it not be said that having a baby puts an end to movie watching! True, I only saw four movies in a theater this year (two with Steve, one with a friend, and one by myself), but a perusal of our Netflix rental list shows that we checked out somewhere around 100 DVDs in 2007. Here, in no particular order, are my favorites ... and the biggest disappointments.

Favorite (OK, only, but they were all good) movies seen at a theater:

• The Queen
• Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
• Once
• Juno

Favorite English-language films (not including the four above, which would be on this list had I not listed them in a separate category):

• Mrs. Henderson Presents
• Sweet Land
• Knocked Up
• Dreamgirls
• Little Children
• Gideon's Daughter
• Little Miss Sunshine
• A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash (documentary)
• The History Boys
• The Departed
• Notes on a Scandal
• The Pursuit of Happyness

Favorite foreign-language films:

• The Lives of Others (Germany)
• Volver (Spain)
• The Chorus (France)
• The Valet (France)

Favorite TV series on DVD:

• Big Love: Season 1
• The Sopranos: Season 6: Part 2
• Entourage: Season 3

Biggest disappointments (movies I expected to like a lot, given all their hype, but really didn't):

• A Mighty Heart (Loved the book about journalist Daniel Pearl's death, think it's cool that Angelina Jolie and Mariane Pearl are friends in real life ... expected much more from the movie.)
• Babette's Feast (Dreary!)
• Into Great Silence (Heard raves about this mostly-silent documentary about the inside life of a French monastery, but couldn't stay awake for an hour, much less the full three.)
• Babel (This was nominated for an Academy Award?!)
• Borat (It seemed like a string of Borat sketches from Da Ali G Show; the TV sketches were funny, but this movie got tiring.)
• Pan's Labyrinth (I can't stomach films that show fascist brutality in so much detail.)
• The Aristocrats (I've heard about the near-cult following this film has. What on earth is the big f*&%ing deal?)

And my top favorites?

I really loved a handful of these — The Queen, Gideon's Daughter, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Little Children, Juno. But the one movie that made me turn to Steve as the credits rolled and say, "This is the best film I've seen all year," was The Lives of Others, which won the Academy Award this past year for best foreign-language film. It's about a government worker in Eastern Germany during the 1980s who is assigned to spy on a couple of artists. I know ... it doesn't sound hugely compelling the way I describe it ... but I loved it. It was gripping, human, sad and uplifting; and, unlike fellow nominee Pan's Labyrinth, it managed to portray the scariness of a horrible government regime without making me have to throw up or avert my eyes.


elizabeth in mississippi said...

I totally got Babel.
The way that one thing ends up connected to all sorts of other things across the world.
Kinda like the way that the wrong paint choice in China last year ends up making my blood boil today.
Sorry. Toy selling this time of year is getting a little under my skin.
Happy Holidays!
I'll actually make contact with the world after Christmas is over & the returns have been handled.
Love you, Mean it.

Anna's Mommy said...

Wow! I totally agree with your choice of "The Lives of Others" as your movie pick of the year, it was for me as well. I don't know too many people who have seen it to discuss.

Ellen said...

Thanks Em, I'll definitely check out these movies you liked, starting with Lives of Others. I too like movies that portray heavy subjects without showing aweful violence.
Wasn't Pan's Labrynth a children's film?

Soupy said...

I like your list - I haven't seen the majority of them! I'm actually in the middle of trying to finish the Queen - we taped it off pay per view- and I haven't been able to get into it- I think I have to sit and watch it as a whole.
I agree w/the others you like, and are writing the names down of the onces I haven't seen. I've heard of some and have them now on my list.
I also have to say - I did like Babel. In some weird way, it made me think. I think because I forgot to turn the subtitles on until half way thru the movie, so I was forced to rewatch parts of it and it made more sense. Basically I think it was just a movie of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and all interconnected. Sad but interesting. I thought the Japenese girls' story was the most moving.
You'll have to try and get a few more movies in before #2 arrives!!! :)

Emilie said...

I did "get" Babel's point, actually. I just didn't like it, probably for very subjective reasons. I found the story of the Mexican nanny heartwrenching and could barely breathe when those kids were lost in the desert. I cannot watch that kind of stuff these days. And although the deaf Japanese girl's story was sad, I thought the movie could have stood on its own without the Japanese segment. Despite the interconnectedness part, yada yada.

I actually liked the core of the movie the best — the Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett part, and the misunderstandings that arose from the accidental shooting. But it just killed me to see that boy get killed and die in his father's arms on the hillside.

Maybe I was just too sensitive to see a movie like "Babel."

Emilie said...

Oh, and Ellen, Pan's Labyrinth is about a child, but it's definitely not a children's movie.

liz said...

Great post!

My favorite movie of the year has got to be "Little Miss Sunshine" - I thought it was absolutely fantastic.

I liked parts of "Babel," but not enough for the Academy Awards. The desert scene was definitely the worst.

I agree about "Pan's Labyrinth," too. Ugh.

I've got to disagree with you on "Babette's Feast," though - maybe because I once heard a sermon that referenced that movie that was incredibly moving.

And lastly, I'm interested that you listed "Entourage" as a favorite - I watched a few episodes of that (season 1) and couldn't get into it. Maybe I'll try again. Totally agree with "Big Love" and "The Sopranos," though! And keep waiting for "The Tudors" to come out - you will love it!

Missy said...

Interesting list Emilie! I hated The Aristocrats. I can handle raunchy comedy to a point - and this movie crossed the line for me about 20 or 30 minutes into it and I had to turn it off.