The ‘reel’ deal: 2007’s best flicks

By Ricky Simpson

In 2007, four movies grossed enough in the box office to be ranked in the 25 highest-grossing films of all time. Strangely, three of the four were slammed by viewers and critics alike. Last year there were no “instant classics,” no true Oscar front-runners and no films critics gushed over. Although Tinseltown may have slacked in ’07, I have assembled a list of the year’s 10 best productions that should not go unnoticed.

1. I’m Not There

There is so much to admire about this one-of-a-kind biopic, from unorthodox storytelling to the honest and less-than-glorifying depiction of a folk singer. The beauty of it all, however, comes from the insightful mind of director Todd Haynes, who brought to the screen a cinematic experience we have never seen before.

2. Charlie Wilson’s War

This true story about notorious philanderer Charlie Wilson and his passion to single-handedly squeeze Afghanistan from the grasp of the Soviet fist is not only touching but one of the funniest films of the year. Perfect laughs mixed with moving, historic drama is why this film is very close to being the best of the year.

3. 300

“300” has everything you can ask for from a great blockbuster. Between the moving true story of loyalty and nobility, macho combat scenes and a wonderfully adapted comic-book feel, “300” is a perfectly packaged drama that just happens to have a lot of action.

4. No Country for Old Men

The story was a little strange and the end may have been less than satisfying, but the action and character development is supreme. As new legendary character Anton Chigurh emerges, you may rank him with Darth Vader and Hannibal as one of the most chilling villains to grace the silver screen.

5. Black Snake Moan

The strong themes and intense symbolism of “Black Snake Moan” emphasize the dirty portrayal of a controversial subject. If this film had better marketing behind it, it could have been in the running for a number of Oscars.

6. Before the Devil

Knows You’re Dead

As one of the most powerful dramas of the year, and with a cast that is nothing short of spectacular, this drama revolving around family and bad decisions has already won numerous awards. Even though this was a box-office sleeper, word of mouth has propelled this film. With a phenomenal screenplay and painfully somber tone throughout, this Sidney Lumet (“Network”) film is perfectly torturing and has a powerful climax.

7. Dan in Real Life

“Dan” is the comedy with a heart. Despite some uncomfortable romance, everyone can enjoy the laughs Steve Carell brings when he plays the nice guy we are all pulling for until the end. With a stellar performance by the entire ensemble, including that by Oscar-winner Juliette Binoche, the entire cast meshes together as well as any other collection in any film and puts together a delightful comedy with laughs, romance and sensitivity.

8. In The Valley of Elah

In a year when war movies tanked, this super-drama emerged as an elegant depiction of the mental anguish suffered by soldiers. Coming off his motion picture debut with “Crash,” Paul Haggis nailed his second big-screen endeavor with this stateside war mystery. Behind Oscar-worthy performances by veterans Tommy Lee Jones and Susan Sarandon, “Elah” is a disturbing drama with a painful truth, which is what Haggis does best.

9. Juno

Ellen Page is not yet 21, but she is sure to be an Oscar nominee for her role as a free-spirited, blunt-speaking, pregnant adolescent. This lighthearted flick is a captivating, quirky comedy with lovable characters and peculiar themes, presenting uncomfortable moments to be deciphered by the viewer, leaving emotions to the wind.

10. Enchanted

This film is so childish and innocent you feel evil not to love it. Amy Adams completely embraces this role and plays the perfectly exaggerated princess.

Close But Not Enough

Into The Wild, Superbad, Zodiac, Beowulf

Of course, not everyone can be a winner, and there were obviously more than 10 films worth seeing this past year. Sometimes we are forced to search for the great films and do a little more than trust a flashy trailer during a “Grey’s Anatomy” commercial break.