Before the Oscars are handed out tomorrow, I need to announce some of my own awards, for the films of 2007. The Academy are said to be favouring No Country For Old Men, which I haven't seen yet. And I know there are plenty of other fine films I missed out on, but that's not a significant enough fact to stop ME giving MY opinion. Not at all. So I'll start with -
My Movie of the Year
Last year it was Pan's Labyrinth, the year before, Brokeback Mountain. This time I just can't decide. Too many good films (Zodiac, Atonement, Hairspray, Control, The Darjeeling Limited, Hot Fuzz...), but no single one that stands above all else. If I force myself to pick, I might as well go with a couple of my heroes, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, who made me a personal treat in Sweeney Todd. Blood, songs, cannibalism (something a vegetarian always appreciates in a film), some really nice hair-dos. How could I say no! And thank you very much to my three pals (you know who you are) who saw it with me, as I would have been too terrified of all the throat-slashing to see it on my own!
Regrettable Hollywood Trend
There was a barrage of so-so sequels. The latest Harry Potter & Shrek films were less than their predecessors. Once again the cast in the Ocean's 13 film seemed to be having all the fun, instead of putting it in the movie. Pirates of the Caribbean 3 was a bore apart from some nice scenes with Johnny D. And Spider-man 3 went on and on and on.
Most Financially Successful New Hollywood 'Idea'
The pregnancy film designed to be equally appealing to males.Last time it was tried was when Arnie got up the duff in Junior. I don't think that really worked.Then someone thought of writing about a chick who gets preggers after a bit of meaningless sex; decides to go through with the pregnancy despite not really wanting it, and the fact it'll stuff up their life for a while; and doesn't make any demands on the ill-prepared father (though of course he's a sweetie who'll do the 'right thing' by the end). And then there's a secondary male character, who feels threatened by all the domesticity, voicing all the concerns of the young blokes in the audience who might be feeling a little queasy at all the baby-talk on screen. Mess it all around a little, adding gross-out jokes (Knocked Up), or a teen mom and an adoption sub-plot (Juno), and you have a hit!Hollywood has worked out that as long as the female lead doesn't really want the baby all that much, and doesn't go all 'gooey', the blokes in the audience won't run screaming. It's kind of like the previous 15 year run of romantic comedies with 'Wedding' in the title, which almost always followed the golden rule of not allowing the two leads to actually marry within the film, and which usually resulted in mega $ at the box-office.
Most Fun In The Cinema
I'm always a softy for musicals when they're good. Sweeney Todd was mesmerising. And though Hairspray was less ambitious, it was a pretty good time had by all. Hot Fuzz was also a lot of fun. And The Simpsons Movie did feature one great new character, in the 'Spider-Pig'.
I can think of a couple - Across The Universe, the musical based on Beatles songs. It wasn't completely without merit, but should have been either grittier, or cuter, rather than sitting limply somewhere in-between. Sunshine was a great sci-fi thriller, till a crazed killer 'sun man' turned up and silly-fied everything. Beowulf had some awesome 3D effects (easily winning the Best Dragon Of The Year award), but hollow-eyed animated humans are CREEPY. And I was quite taken with The Golden Compass, which had some great ideas for what on the surface seems a kids film, till it ended. It was designed as Part 1 of a trilogy, but the studio hasn't guaranteed the next parts will actually be made, so leaving almost ALL the plotlines up in the air, and hardly evenhinting where the story was likely to go from here, made for a frustrating ending.
Biggest Piece of Crap
According to the Golden Raspberry Awards, the worst films of the year featured performances by Eddie Murphy (Norbit) and Lindsay Lohan (I Know Who Killed Me). I didn't see them. Hopefully you didn't either, and we can all sleep better at night for that.
Most Annoying Remake
Disturbia ripped off Rear Window (which if you still aren't aware, is THE BEST FILM EVER), and left out most of the stuff that made that film great, dumbifying everything. Shia LeBouf is an appealing actor, and the whole thing was over quickly, but shame on them. Shame.
Most Inappropriate Use of Music
The young lead in Juno shows that she's not a cutesy girlie-girl by constantly discussing super cool rock bands, yet the soundtrack is full of tinkly-tankly acoustic songs, just dripping in adorable cuteness. What IS with that?
Best Non-Hollywood Films
The film La Vie En Rose, and Marion Cotillard's performance as Edith Piaf, was up there with Walk The Line, and superior to Ray, in the current spate of glossy musical biographies, even with it's messy non-linear structure. Control showed how to do the musical bio on a mini-budget, which suited Ian Curtis' rather depressing short life. The technicolour superstar life would never have suited him.
Tim Burton did head-lopping (repeatedly) in Sleepy Hollow. Took ray guns to Hollywood's biggest stars in Mars Attacks! And this year sliced the tender vulnerable necks of men, good and evil, in Sweeney Todd. So much icky, nasty, blood. Naughty Tim! But thanks Tim.
Most Disturbing Killer
Zodiac was brilliantly complex, and thankfully not overly sensationalised. And the fact that the real killer was never brought to trial, well, let's say it's not a good film to watch alone and in the dark.
RayWinstone's buff 3D animated bod in Beowulf. Body hair and beads of sweat animated to perfection as he battles beasts in the nude, as you do.The censors were pleased that appropriately phallic-shaped objects got in the way whenever too much was about to go on display. Angelina Jolie, as Grendel's mum, also nudded it up. But then her designers decided she didn't need nipples. Odd. And very silly. But attention grabbing.
John Travolta and Christopher Walken were a pretty neat couple in Hairspray.
And the brotherly love in The Darjeeling Limited was easy to get caught up in.
Special Award In Comedy
Goes to Knocked Up, for having the guts to actually show where babies really DO come from.
Worst Performances (or miscasting if you're being kind)
The entire cast of 300
David Morse, as an unbelievable and thoroughly incompetent serial killer in Disturbia, though it wasn't his fault that the role was so badly written.
"Spiderpig, Spiderpig,Does whatever a Spiderpig doesCan he swing, from a web?No he can't, he's a pigLookout, here comes the Spiderpig"
Daniel Day-Lewis, doing a John Huston drawl in There Will Be Blood. A great performance, even though his character became less believable as the film wore on (did I mention previously that There Will Be Blood was quite good but also won the Most Tediously Pretentious Film Of The Year award?).
Ellen Page in Juno, a bit too smart-mouthed to be a convincing teen, but charismatic all the way.
Shia LeBouf, was the only good thing in Disturbia, and brought a bit of charm to the CGI-fest that was Transformers.
Sam Riley, as Ian Curtis (lead singer of Joy Division), in Control.
Johnny Depp (singing!), and Sacha Baron Cohen for putting his hand up for a quite confronting and most definitely unfunny death scene (gosh, he can really bleed, can't he), both in Sweeney Todd
Spartan army: "Ha-OOH! Ha-OOH! Ha-OOH!" (300)