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LOL! OMG, 2007 FTW!

What a year for movies. I can't think of a year in my adult life (whenever that started) as a moviegoer in which so many solidly made, entertaining movies were released. While maybe there are no eternal masterpieces in the crop of films from this year, I am still just as excited about films I saw at the beginning of the year like INLAND EMPIRE and Zodiac as ones I saw a few months ago like Eastern Promises, No Country for Old Men and I'm Not There. And then there's movies that technically did not open in Seattle like There Will Be Blood, which may be the best movie of both years! I'm not going to attempt to make a list, however, because every other blog and film critic has done that and with greater enthusiasm and care than I could possibly devote to it at this time. There is a lot of crossover on the year-end lists, so by now you're probably familiar with what are the "best" movies of the year (the five named above appear all over the place). What I want to consider are the numerous genre movies that were really good, but failed to place on many lists. For instance, Danny Boyle's Sunshine, I thought was one of the best sci-fi movies in years. I certainly cannot deny that it has some severe third act problems (by which I mean it completely falls apart when it should be bringing you closer), but overall it was a beautiful marriage of men-on-a-mission-in-space with technical prowess (I'm not sure if there were better special-effects this year!), solid acting, and artful direction. It's certainly one of Boyle's best films and went largely unrecognized. It reminded me of why I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid, and isn't that a feeling space movies should evoke? Peter Berg's The Kingdom was heavily criticized for using the Middle-East as the backdrop for an action-thriller. I'm pretty sensitive to bad politics in movies, and I feel confident in saying that this movie had little to say politically. It really is just a background for one of the most exciting, engaging thrillers of the year. The Bourne Ultimatum, deservingly, made it onto a few critics' best of the year list, but I personally was more enthralled by the story and characters in The Kingdom. At its heart, it's just a solid police procedural where the big city Mr. Big villain has been replaced by radical Islamist. Maybe that's tacky, but it's never handled insensitively. A recent discovery I made was the documentary Deep Water about a yacht race around the world. Sounds exciting right? What the filmmakers do with the bland subject matter is extract from it a story of obsession, isolation, and deterioration of humanity that should make Herzog kick himself for not discovering this story first. As stylish as Errol Morris and existential as Ross McElwee, this was my favorite documentary of the year. I'm out of time, but here's some more infrequently cited films of 2007: King of Kong-A great documentary about two men battling for the high score at Donkey Kong! Rock the Bells- Another documentary, this one about the chaos surrounding an attempt to reunite the Wu Tang Clan for a one-off festival appearance. Michael Clayton- Not great, but good. Often cited for Clooney's performance, but I think it's Tony Gilroy's screenplay and Tom Wilkinson's supporting role that deserve a lot of credit. Black Snake Moan- Again, not a masterpiece, not even as good as Craig Brewer's previous effort Hustle &Flow, but still, heads and tails better than a somewhat sleazy human drama about a black bluesman and Christina Ricci should be. Giving a zen-like balance to this overwhelmingly good year, 2007 also dropped some of the worst movies in recent memory, including the grandaddy of them all: Southland Tales! In 20 years time, perhaps revisionist film critics will have proven me wrong (I doubt it), but as for pure indulgent grandstanding and pretension, it's pretty much peerless. But again, other sites have made mention of the superlative films of the year. I think what makes this year great, is not just the number of remarkable films, but also the sheer number of unremarkable, but highly enjoyable films, that maybe we'll have forgotten by this time next year.