2007 Leaman Awards - The Part-Time Critic

Monday, January 16, 2017

2007 Leaman Awards

*Last Updated: 7/24/2022  

2007 Films Seen: 103
Number of Films with 'A' or 'A+': 4
Key Films Still to See: n/a

Brief Summary: 2007 was quite a curveball for me as it's essentially a year my favorite films were largely surprises and my most anticipated films were disappointments. Thankfully the surprises have given the year some quality at the top, but it's an overall down year for me. I don't think I went into a year with greater expectations than I did 2007. From the outset, it was a year featured much anticipated trilogy endings or new franchises: Spider-Man 3, Pirates 3, Bourne 3, Ocean's 3, Rush Hour 3, the sequel to Bruce Almighty, the second entry in the National Treasure series, and the first Transformers. I found every single entry lackluster. It was an early lesson in dealing with disappointment for me as a film lover.

Not a "best of" list or a "favorite" list - but a list of the films and sequences (action, drama, comedy, & musical) that I think represent the best the year had to offer. So think of it as a strange mixture of favorite, best, and defining. Once you get to the top ten films, it definitely becomes more defined as a Top Ten list of the year. The number one film is my favorite of the year. 

Honorable Mentions: Hot Fuzz, I Am Legend, Michael Clayton

25. Flash Point (B)
24. Hot Rod (B)
23. King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (B)
22. Ratatouille (B)
21. 28 Weeks Later (B)
20. Eastern Promises (B)
19. Once (B)
18. Charlie Wilson's War (B)
17. 3:10 to Yuma (B)
16. There Will Be Blood (B)
15. Away From Her (B+)
14. Mr. Brooks (B+)
13. Alpha Dog (B+)
12. Black Snake Moan (B+)
11. The Namesake (B+)

THE TOP TEN
10. The Kite Runner (B+)
9. Rescue Dawn (B+)
8. The Lookout (B+)
7. Gone Baby Gone (B+)
6. The Host (B+)

5. American Gangster (A-)

4. Atonement (A-): Atonement begins like a Jane Austen novel about young upper class English aristocrats set in the 1930's and interrupted by a crime...A crime in which through a serious of misunderstandings and misremembering's of a young girl, the wrong person, James McAvoy's Robbie Turner, is imprisoned. In this sequence we also meet the wealthy Cecilia Tallis, played by Keira Knightley, who has finally come around to show her love for Robbie Turner, despite their class differences. In the second act, Robbie has been drafted out of prison to take part in the British Expeditionary Force in France to defend against Germany. Robbie and a couple other soldiers are separated from their division and trying to make their way back to the main forces across the French countryside and the devastation it has seen. Eventually they make their way on the BEF and French forces on the beaches at Dunkirk. It's here we get the famous one-shot take tour of the massive recreation. It's an overwhelming sequence that lives up to its reputation and sells the desperation and hopelessness better than I ever felt in Nolan's Dunkirk. It's a gut punch of a sequence, a grounded fever dream, to our lead who wants to get home and start his life back over. The final phase of the film shifts to Briony Tallis, the young girl (played by Saoirse Ronan) who makes the fatal accusation that seals Robbie's fate, who is now an eighteen year old nurse (played by Romola Garai) and trying to atone and assuage the guilt she feels for her actions as a young girl. I won't give away the ending here except to say I didn't care for it much when I originally saw it in 2008, but was greatly moved by it upon re-watch. Director Joe Wright has always been interested in framing his dramas as more than just dramas and the way he plays with the film as a novel (making perspective, memory, and fictions by the author a thing we must deal with) mirrors the plot and the themes that play out. It ends up becoming an intellectual and emotional journey that quite surprised me.

3. Zodiac (A)

2. No Country for Old Men (A): 

1. The Lives of Others (A+)


FAVORITE ACTION SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
The Very Good:
  • "Opening: Attack on the Cottage" -28 Weeks Later
  • "Beowulf Takes on a Dragon" -Beowulf
  • "Bourne Protecting Ross at Waterloo Station" -The Bourne Ultimatum (Commentary)
  • "Taking the Town Back/Supermarket Shootout" -Hot Fuzz
  • "Elevator Fight: John McClane Takes On Asian Henchmen" -Live Free or Die Hard
  • "Nighttime Shootout: From Hotel Room to the Streets" -No Country for Old Men
The Great:
  • "New York Shootout: Raid on a Drug House" -American Gangster 
  • "Tangiers Chase & Fight: Bourne vs. Desh" -The Bourne Ultimatum (Commentary)
The Best: "Abandoned Home Finale: Donnie Yen vs. Colin Chou" -Flash Point
Commentary: I believe this is Donnie Yen's masterpiece. Yes, his Ip Man stuff is far more iconic, but I believe this fight is probably the best beginning to end sequence he ever took part in. It certainly *feels* like a fight that embodies the spirit of Donnie Yen best. It begins with a shootout gone awry between Yen's cop and Chou's bad guy. They were making one of those hostage trades and it went wrong. As their teams are taken down it comes down to just the two of them, Yen in chase with a rifle and Chou being chased with a pistol. Chou enters an abandoned home plot, heads up to the second floor, and reloads his gun. When Yen approaches, catches him off guard, but realizes he's out of bullets, the two begin to fight. It's immediately clear, Yen and Chou mean business - their strikes are not being pulled and are at full speed. The fight upstairs turns into some grappling with Yen getting a couple key holds and knees to the face. In one of those holds the two spill over the balcony and down to the floor below. It's a brutal fall. As they get up, the fight enters a new phase with the extra room this wide open floor gives them. The style here is practical - they are swinging wild fists and mixing in some strong kicks as well, while always looking for a way to grapple. The editing is wonderful - giving us some longer more complicated shots, with close-ups of impacts, and other high-impact moves. Seriously, some of the punches and kicks here are as real looking as any MMA fight. After a while, Yen seems to only pick up speed once he begins bleeding from the nose - bouncing back and forth, throwing kicks and punches with great speed. Chou takes all the hits, but keeps coming. Yen counters with some excellent take downs, including a german suplex and hurricanrana - WWE style. The final beats of the fight sees Yen just deliver brutal punishiment to Chou with some boxing and a powerful kick. It ends with a chokeout. What makes this Donnie Yen fight scene so special? Three things: first is the crisp quickness in his striking form, second is the ability to combine that with both traditional and modern styles, and third is his willingness to let his fights be as brutal as they are supposed to be. Punches seem to really land, kicks seem to really connect, and takedowns have genuine impact. This sequence is a showcase for all three aspects and something generations will be watching as long as fight cinema is still a thing. For more on Donnie Yen's best action sequences click HERE.


FAVORITE DRAMATIC SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
The Very Good:
  • "Arresting Frank Lucas Outside of Church" -American Gangster
  • "Meeting in a Café: Come Back to Me" -Atonement
  • "Finale: Briony Tells of the Changed Book Ending" -Atonement
  • "It's Not Fair" -Before the Devil Knows Your Dead
  • "Discovering the Good Man HGW" -The Lives of Others
  • "A Coin Toss" -No Country for Old Men
  • "Ending: Two Dreams" -No Country for Old Men
  • "Food Critic Tastes Ratatouille & is Transported to Childhood" -Ratatouille
  • "I Drink Your Milkshake" -There Will Be Blood
The Great:
  • "Night Train Robbery" -The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
  • "One Take: The Desperation of Dunkirk" -Atonement
  • "Telling the Story of the Zen Master" -Charlie Wilson's War
  • "Christa Does Not Make It to the Other Side" -The Lives of Others
  • "Telling a Joke in a Culture of Fear" -The Lives of Others
  • "Playing a Sonata for a Dead Friend" -The Lives of Others
  • "Old Friend Meetup: Story About Vanity" -No Country for Old Men
The Best: "Moral Hazard: Opening Monologue from Ed Tom Bell" -No Country for Old Men
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE COMEDIC SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
*Didn't keep great track of this category initially

The Very Good:
  • "Glass Breaking: Gus Doesn't Get His Promotion" -Charlie Wilson's War
  • "Dave is Trippin' on Acid" -Hot Rod

The Great:
  • "Crowd Singing 'The Voice' Turns into a Riot" -Hot Rod

The Best: 
Commentary: 


FAVORITE MUSICAL SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
*Only one film I saw this year featured musical sequences!
The Very Good:
  • "That's How You Know" -Enchanted
  • "I Can Hear the Bells" -Hairspray
  • "The Ladies Choice" -Hairspray
  • "Nicest Kids in Town" -Hairspray
  • "You Can't Stop the Beat" -Hairspray 
The Great:
  • "Crowd Singing 'The Voice' Turns into a Riot" -Hot Rod 
The Best: "Falling Slowly" -Once
Commentary: n/a

BEST DIRECTOR
Nominees:
  • Joel and Ethan Coen No Country For Old Men
  • David Fincher Zodiac
  • Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck The Lives of Others
  • Ridley Scott American Gangster
  • Joe Wright Atonement
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE FILM ENSEMBLES
Nominees:
  • 3:10 to Yuma
  • American Gangster
  • Atonement
  • Away From Her
  • The Lives of Others
  • No Country For Old Men
  • Zodiac
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE MALE PERFORMANCES
Nominees:
  • Casey Affleck The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt The Lookout
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman Before the Devil Knows Your Dead
  • Phillip Seymour Hoffman Charlie Wilson’s War
  • Tommy Lee Jones No Country for Old Men
  • Daniel Day Lewis There Will Be Blood
  • James MacAvoy Atonement
  • Ulrich Muhe The Lives of Others
  • Gordon Pinsent Away From Her
  • Ulrich Tukur The Lives of Others
  • Steve Zhan Rescue Dawn
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE FEMALE PERFORMANCES
Nominees:
  • Cate Blanchett I’m Not There
  • Julie Christie Away From Her
  • Olympia Dukakis Away From Her
  • Martina Gedeck The Lives of Others
  • Keira Knightley Atonement
  • Laura Linney The Savages
  • Kelly McDonald No Country for Old Men
  • Christina Ricci Black Snake Moan
  • Saoirse Ronan Atonement
  • Amy Ryan Gone Baby Gone
  • Tilda Swinton Michael Clayton
  • Tabu The Namesake
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE SCREENPLAYS
(original or adapted)
Nominees:
  • American Gangster
  • Atonement
  • Charlie Wilson's War
  • Gone Baby Gone
  • The Host
  • The Lives of Others
  • No Country for Old Men
  • Zodiac
Commentary: n/a


BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Nominees:
  • King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
  • Lake of Fire
  • No End in Sight
Commentary: n/a


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Nominees:
  • Meet the Robinsons
  • Persopolis
  • Ratatouille
  • Shrek the Third
  • Surf's Up
Commentary: n/a

BEST FILM EDITING
Nominees:
  • American Gangster
  • Atonement
  • The Lives of Others
  • The Lookout
  • No Country for Old Men
  • Zodiac
Commentary: n/a


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Nominees:
  • American Gangster
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
  • Atonement
  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • The Lives of Others
  • No Country for Old Men
  • There Will Be Blood
  • Zodiac
Commentary: This is perhaps the most stacked year for cinematography of all-time.


BEST ART DIRECTION
Nominees:
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
  • Atonement
  • The Darjeeling Limited
  • The Lives of Others
  • There Will Be Blood
  • Zodiac
Commentary: n/a


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Nominees:
  • The Golden Compass: His Darker Materials
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
  • Spider-Man 3
  • Transformers
  • Zodiac
Commentary: n/a


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Nominees:
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
  • Atonement
  • Into the Wild
  • The Kite Runner
  • Ratatouille
  • There Will Be Blood
  • Transformers
Commentary: It might a little bit of a cheat here, but this win is for the roster of original songs written by Eddie Vedder for the film. They play throughout the film and essentially become the score for the experience so I think I'm within rights to do so. The tone and lyrics of Vedder's acoustic/folk song lineup here plays a perfect background to the young (idealistic & ignorant) protagonist who enters the wilderness fed up with society. One of my favorite soundtracks of all-time.


BEST SOUND DESIGN
Nominees:
  • 3:10 to Yuma
  • Atonement
  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • No Country for Old Men
  • Ratatouille
  • Transformers
Commentary: n/a


BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Nominees:
  • Atonement
  • Elizabeth: The Golden Age
  • Hairspray
  • The Lives of Others
  • There Will Be Blood
  • Zodiac
Commentary: n/a


BEST MAKE-UP & HAIR DESIGN
Nominees:
  • 28 Weeks Later
  • Atonement
  • Elizabeth: The Golden Age
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  • There Will Be Blood
Commentary: n/a

BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE
Nominees:
  • Black Snake Moan
  • Blades of Glory
  • Hot Rod
Commentary: n/a

MOST SURPRISING FILM
Nominees:
  • Atonement
  • Away from Her
  • Gone Baby Gone
  • The Lives of Others
  • No Country for Old Men
  • Zodiac
Commentary: When I saw this in 2007 I failed to connect with it. It was handsomely produced, but I just remembered it being long and dreary. When I visited it again for my World War II project I was shocked at how engaged I became in the story and how moving it was. It's amazing how our experiences of films can change as we grow older!


MOST DISAPPOINTING FILM
Nominees:
  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • The Darjeeling Limited
  • Elizabeth: The Golden Again
  • Evan Almighty
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Commentary: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End was my most anticipated film of 2007. The second entry into the pirate’s trilogy saw Dead Man’s Chest turn me into a fan of the franchise and produce a couple of all-time great adventure action sequences.. At World’s End was a long, boring, and complicated mess of a film. Not a single action sequence registered beyond satisfactory and the writers unfortunately decided there goal would be to see how many times they could get characters to change allegiances and betray each other. In the end it all felt meaningless and trivial. A shame.


MOST UNDERRATED FILM
Nominees:
  • The Host
  • The Lookout
  • Mr. Brooks
Commentary: n/a


MOST OVERRATED FILM
Nominees:
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • I'm Not There
  • Juno
  • Superbad
Commentary: n/a


WORST FILM
Nominees:
  • Ghost Rider
  • The Heartbreak Kid
  • Lions for Lambs
  • Reno 911!: Miami
  • Year of the Dog 
Commentary: No matter how hard I try to see movies that appeal to me, or that I at least believe I will have a chance to enjoy; there is always one movie during the year that separates itself from the pack and makes my movie going experience a chore. This year’s film is Year of the Dog. An unengaging film filled with political agendas and is instantly forgettable once you're done.


BEST COMPILATION OF WORK
Performances/Accomplishments (that I saw anyways):
  • Russell Crowe: 3:10 to Yuma, American Gangster
  • Phillip Seymour Hoffman: Before the Devil Knows Your Dead, Charlie Wilson's War, The Savages
  • James Marsden: Enchanted, Hairspray
Commentary: n/a


ERIC BANA AWARD
*Given for the best performance in a bad film (See 2004's Troy)
Nominees:
  • Casey Affleck The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Commentary: n/a


THE END!

"Plainview: I have a competition in me. I want no one else to succeed. I hate most people...There are times when I... I look at people and I see nothing worth liking. I want to earn enough money I can get away from everyone...I see the worst in people, Henry. I don't need to look past seeing them to get all I need. I've built up my hatreds over the years, little by little. Having you here gives me a second breath of life. I can't keep doing this on my own... with these, umm... people." -There Will Be Blood

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