January 24, 2008, - 12:56 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Each year, I plan to release my list of best and worst movies of the year just ended earlier, and I’m getting there. I figured this week, with Oscar nominations being announced, would be the ideal week. As you can see, none of my choices match those that got awards. That’s because Hollywood–including the Motion Picture Academy voters–are out of touch with the rest of America. I think my choices match more of what America is thinking. And the market bears that out on several of my choices, which topped the box office.
About my choices: While I could easily narrow down my favorite top ten movies of the year, there were so many bad ones, I decided to offer a top 25 of the worst (skip them all or be sorry). And, yes, there are some ties. I put an asterisk next to “Blade Runner: The Final Cut,” because it’s not really an original 2007 release, but a touch-up/re-release and mostly-perfected version of a movie from 25 years ago. Still, it’s up there, and had it never before been released, it would tie “3:10 to Yuma” as the best movie of 2007 on my list. “3:10 to Yuma” just came out on DVD a few weeks ago, and I highly recommend purchasing a copy.
Also note that I’ve added new categories, this year, in addition to the Best and Worst. Although I picked my favorites overall, I also liked those that appear under Best Animation, Best (Most Non-Annoying) Chick Flick, Best Action Flicks, Biggest Lie, and Pan-Terrorist Dishonorable Mentions.
Remember: I sat through all of these movies and many, many more so that you could save time and money and wouldn’t have to sit through the theatrical tripe that pours out of LaLa-Land every week.
Click on the bolded titles of the movies to view my complete, original reviews.
1) “3:10 to Yuma“: A remake of a late 1950s Elmore Leonard original, the great American western is back. And so are strong, honest father figures. Magnificent actor Christian Bale deserves an Oscar for his performance as a down-and-out rancher who refuses to sacrifice his integrity for money he desperately needs.
*1a) “Blade Runner: The Final Cut“: Director Ridley Scott updates special effects and ties up loose ends in this final cut of his 1982 original. This futuristic movie, starring Harrison Ford, was ahead of its time then and 25 years later remains one of my favorite movies, still ahead of its time. I could watch this over and over.
Set in the future, Ford is Detective Rick Deckard, who hunts down android criminals called “Replicants,” who are out to destroy humans and prolong their lives. Beautifully shot, cool detail, and great Vangelis soundtrack. Even after 2019, it will still be timeless. Many hidden meanings and interpretations.
Best to buy the limited edition complete DVD set, which comes with the various versions of this movie, a metal origami unicorn, Blade Runner police car, and other cool things, in a silver briefcase.
2) “In the Shadow of the Moon“: Meet the living astronauts who went to the moon and see a time when America was revered and applauded throughout the world. They feared and were awed by us, because our astronauts had spunk, were proud to be Americans, and had a great sense of humor, in addition to reaching the Moon first and landing nine times over the years. Tremendously patriotic and positive movie. Great to watch with your family.
3) “The King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters“: In addition to “Moon,” this is one of my favorite documentaries of all time. It is funny, entertaining, and a light, relaxing movie, pitting real-life heroes and villains in the contest to be the world champion of Donkey Kong. Hilarious and so much fun.
4) “300“: The Battle of Thermopylae is presented in high-tech CGI using real actors. The brave Leonidas fights against all odds for freedom versus slavery under Persian King Xerxes. Graphic and bloody, but for a good reason. The original “Give me liberty or give me death.”
5) “The Kite Runner“: A privileged Afghan boy wrongs his family’s peasant servant just before the Soviet Invasion. Years later, as a secular American immigrant, he returns to Taliban, Islamofascist Afghanistan to right a wrong. The year’s most powerful movie and a great statement on the harm Islam can do to a family, a country, a world.
6) “Disturbia“: A hip, high-tech, teen update of the Alfred Hitchcock classic, “Rear Window,” this movie is exciting and fun. It has action, suspense, and a murder mystery. So many twists and turns, it makes you second-guess yourself. Tight, modern, and well done.
7) “The Namesake“: The story of a Hindu Indian family’s arrival and absorption into America, its second generation’s struggle to adapt to America while holding onto Indian heritage. But this could be the story of most legal American immigrants (other than Muslim ones) who want to be Americans. This is the story of the kind of immigrants we want in America. It is also the story of the love of a father for his kids and their belated demonstration of love for him. Kal Penn is fantastic as the son, Gogol. Touching and colorful, while also sad.
8) “National Treasure: Book of Secrets“: A great adventure starring Nicholas Cage returning as a treasure hunter in this sequel. Mixes action and mystery with American history and historical sites. Patriotic AND fun. Can be used as a great tool to teach your kids American history.
9) “Enchanted“: An animated fairy tale princess with traditional values turns human, when landing in modern New York. She attempts to return to her Kingdom and find her fiance Prince. In the meantime, she meets a jaded divorce lawyer and charms him, too. Meant for kids, very entertaining for adults. Charming to the nth.
10a)(TIE) “Lars & the Real Girl“: A lonely, small-town Midwestern guy believes an anatomically correct mannequin is a real-life girlfriend. The great thing in this movie is the hilarious way in which PC townspeople act as if the dummy is human, too. In many ways, they are infected with Lars’ insanity. Reminds me of the way many PC Americans act as if Muslims in America are “peaceful” and pose no threat. The Emperor Wears No Clothing meets 2007.
10b) “Resurrecting the Champ“: Based on a true story, a loving father and sportswriter wants to impress his son and advance his career. He meets a homeless man he believes is a former boxing champion. He writes a feature article on it and while he becomes a star, a twist brings his life tumbling around him. Forgiveness, redemption, righting wrongs, a dedicated father who truly cares about his son but gets a little carried away–all of that is in this movie.
1) “Ratatouille“: A rat dreams of becoming a great chef and is inspired by the ghost of his favorite famous chef. But he’s a rat, so he helps a young man succeed in whipping up the coolest of culinary creations at France’s top restaurant. Charming, fun, colorful animation, and entertaining for adults as much as it is for kids.
2) “The Ten Commandments“: A great animated version of the Biblical story of the Jews as slaves for Pharoah in Egypt and their exodus to Israel. Accurate to the letter and very entertaining and appealing to kids (and all those who enjoy the story of Passover).
Best (Most Non-Annoying) Chick Flick:
“Broken English“: A pretty New York 30-something has bad luck with men. All of her friends have married and she is stuck alone. When she finally meets the right guy, she lets him go back to France. Then, like trying to find a needle in a haystack, she searches for him in Paris. Charming, ends just at the right point, and very entertaining. More fun than chick-flickish. Guys, this one you can stand, in the event your girlfriend or wife wants to watch a romance.
Best Action Flicks:
1) “Live Free or Die Hard“: Detective John McClain is back in this very exciting action thriller. The only flaw–the cyberterrorist is not a Muslim, but a disgruntled DHS employee. Some stunts are not believable. But it’s heart-pounding and entertaining each and every second.
2) “Beowulf“: The boring poem you read in high school is boring no more. Beowulf comes to rescue the Nordic Kingdom from the killer demon Grendel and his mother. Lots of swashbuckling and funny stuff. A parody of itself. This new style of 3-D CGI is very cool, if sometimes headache-inducing. The weapons and characters are right in your face. Best watched in a theater with 3-D glasses, so I don’t know how it’ll translate into home rental/viewing.
WORST (Skip these at all cost.:
1) “Redacted“: Brian DePalma and Mark Cuban defame our troops in Iraq in the worst way imaginable. They are portrayed as scumbags, liars, perverted rapists, and cold-hearted murderers.
2) “Severance“: British employees of an arms company which works for a defense contractor are on a retreat in Eastern Europe. They are hacked up and murdered in the most sadistic, bloody, and graphic of ways. Beheaded heads rolling around. Not funny. Just sick.
3) “Smokin’ Aces“: A bloody, disgusting, pointless race by mobster criminals and FBI agents to reach a drug-addicted snitch. Dismememberment central coupled with Andy Garcia engaging in a bad Brooklyn accent. Violence and graphic murder for no redeeming reason.
4) “David & Layla“: Most groanworthy flick of the year. Smart Kurdish director who knows better makes absolutely awful moral equivalency movie about Jews and Muslims. Scratch that. No moral equivalency. The Muslims are classy, refined people. The Jews are sex-obsessed–every single one of them, except the gay one–garish, and obnoxious. Oh, and idiotic and classless, too. And they patronize prostitutes. Jewish David, who does a local cable show about sex, meets classy Muslim dancer Layla. They fall in love. We are the World. “Can’t we all just get along?” for dummies.
5) “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead“: A drug-addicted scumbage brother convinces his younger brother to rob their parents jewelry store. It goes horribly wrong. Everyone is cheating on each other, cheating each other, and killing each other. Oh, and doing drugs. No wonder Hollywood loves it. Not depressed enough. Waste two hours watching this. It’ll do the trick.
6) “The Condemned“: WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) gives us two hours of torture porn. A mogul puts ten killers and hardened criminals on an island to kill each other. The last one alive lives, and it’s all broadcast on pay-per-view TV. All are wearing explosive devices. Rapes, human explosions, hackings, and other graphic maiming and killing. Stone Cold Steve Austin proves he doesn’t just beat wives, he subjects Americans to visual torture at the movies. Sadistic to the nth.
7) “The Ten“: Disgusting, absurd abomination allegedly based on the Ten Commandments. Supposedly a comedy. Just warped.
8) “The Lookout“: A formerly popular high school jock from a wealthy family gets into a tragic car accident while driving drunk. He kills his friends and, himself, loses all short-term memory. As a janitor at the bank, he is preyed upon by criminal thugs who convince him to let them rob the bank. Evil, disgusting, sad, and disturbing. Ugh.
9) “Margot at the Wedding“: An uglied-up Nicole Kidman masturbating and Jack Black’s naked butt. Images I will never get out of my mind. Selfish and dysfunctional writer Margot aims to stop her dysfunctional sister’s wedding to a loser. Constant graphic discussions about sex, where the women are ugly and every other word is the f-word. Both have loser kids and all are weird. Oy.
10) “Reno 911! Miami“: Far worse than the already horrid TV show. Unfunny comedy about gross police officers from Reno who come to Miami to save the day from terrorists. Jokes are completely sick or stupid or both.
11) “Death at a Funeral“: Two sons of a departed man fight over who delivers their father’s eulogy. Meanwhile, at the funeral, lots of digusting and stupid things happen with the guests, including gross fecal material release, a drug-OD’d naked man, and a gay midget with blackmail photos. Nail the coffin on this one.
12) “Knocked Up“: Completely disgusting, sophomoric movie about a loser who impregnates a pretty loser who is just becoming successful. Together, they make an immature loser couple. Not funny. Just uber-crass and groanworthy.
13) “Georgia Rule“: Messed up women Lindsay Lohan and Jane Fonda star in the feel-good seduce a Mormon missionary movie of the year. Makes comedy of child-molestation. Completely warped and silly.
14) “Inland Empire“: David Lynch makes his most non-sensical absurd movie yet. Wish I could tell you what it was about, but after 2.5 hours of the 3 total, I walked out. Was tired of thinking, “HUH? HUH? HUH? . . .” Anyone who claims to understand this movie is lying. High-brow movie intellect equals pretense to the nth here.
15) “Romance & Cigarettes“: Susan Sarandon plays a working-class woman whose husband cheats on her with a dirty-mouthed woman. It’s a musical. Need I say more. Disaster on screen.
16) “Because I Said So“: Diane Keaton needed a paycheck and got more annoying than usual as she tries to marry off her caterer daughter. Bigger bomb than Heroshima.
17) “Wild Hogs“: Proof that Oprah can elevate bad taste to atrocious taste. She over-promoted this dumb movie about fat John Travolta, dumb Martin Lawrence, and unfunny Tim Allen trying to escape the grind of upper-class life with a cross-country motorcycle trip. Believe me, that sounds way better than it is. Filled with sophomoric and stupid jokes that backfire. Anything with the two bald ugly twins from MTV’s failed 1990’s “Apartment 2F” as twin hick sheriffs with bad Southern accents is bound to be a stinker. And this definitely was.
18) “Brothers Solomon“: Two dumb brothers set out to father a kid for their dying dad. Stars the two Wills of SNL fame. That’s a hint that it’s too lame.
19) “Feast of Love“: A chick flick filled with the dumbest of relationships and moralizing. Please make it stop. Greg Kinnear, are you nuts? Morgan Freeman, hope you liked that paycheck, dude.
20) “Love in a Time of Cholera“: Love in a time of stupidity. Latino movie based on popular Oprah book of the month novel is the lamest of the lame. Too stupid for words. A poor, illegitimate son of a single mother sets his sights on a beautiful wealthy girl. Her father splits them up and she dumps him and marries someone else. After being raped, he spends his life sleeping with as many women as Wilt Chamberlain and documents it in his black book. Yes, Oprah, you would like this dreck. For the rest of us, there are sleeping pills.
21) “Mr. Woodcock“: A successful self-help author comes home to find out that his mother is dating his boyhood nemesis, the coach. Sadistic, silly, and pointless. Sorry, Stifler. Billy Bob Thornton needed a paycheck.
22) “Rendition“: Legally Blonde goes Legally Dhimmi. Reese Witherspoon gets her star turn at making a bomb of an anti-war propaganda film. The thesis of this one: Muslim Arabs who are kidnapped by the CIA for rendition are not really terrorists, but kind and loving American fathers who are completely innocent. The end.
23) “Gracie“: Title IX propaganda for young girls comes to the big screen, with Elisabeth Shue to make it look purty.
24) “Perfect Stranger“: Halle Berry is in a preposterous “thriller” with Bruce Willis, in which she suspects him of killing her friend. Completely preposterous plot, the ending even more so. Berry’s other 2007 flick, “Things We Lost in the Fire,” was almost as bad and pointless, too. Looks can’t carry you forever, chickie.
25) “Jane Austen Book Club“: Five of the most annoying women and a girlie-man get together to whine about how men suck and why they love Jane Austen’s books. Not even good enough for the Lifetime Network. Jane Austen is turning over in her grave.
“Rescue Dawn“: Starring the talented Christian Bale as heroic Vietnam Vet and German-American pilot Dieter Dengler, this was, after I originally saw it, my pick for best picture of the year. But I soon learned that the movie was a lie–that it defamed an American P.O.W. Gene DeBruin, who was also a hero, as a Charles Manson nutcase and traitor, a complete falsity. Don’t bother with this.
Pan-Terrorist Dishonorable Mentions:
* “A Mighty Heart“: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt do kumbaya with the Islamic terrorists who beheaded and dismembered Brad Pitt. “Can’t we all just get along?” New lesson: Muslims weren’t the extremists who murdered Daniel Pearl because he was a Jew. They were the peaceful ones who helped find his killers. Riiiight.
* “The Kingdom“: The many fictions that Saudi Arabia wants you to believe, including that they allowed FBI agents in to investigate the Khobar Towers terrorist attacks on Americans (they didn’t), that they allow American women to galivant around the country in short sleeves and uncovered hair (they don’t), and that Islamic terrorist mass-murderers of Americans are morally equivalent to the FBI agents that hunt them. One other falsehood: That the FBI hates extremist Muslims and wants to go down fighting them. More like, wants to go down eating poisoned falafel with them at an outreach luncheon at Ahmed’s Shawarmeh Hut.
* “Civic Duty“: You know the Muslim Arab alien grad student who is your neighbor? Yeah, the guy that gets his schooling paid for by an extremist Islamic charity? The one who has suspicious meetings in the middle of the night and has strange paraphernalia in his apartment for putting chemicals into water or on something else? The guy who, with his friends, is collecting envelopes from different ATM machines?
Well, he’s not a terrorist at all. You’re just a nutjob for not ignoring all the red flags. Being suspicious of glaring inconsistencies = being a bigot. The end.
Read my picks for Best and Worst Movies in previous years:
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