Come on. You didn’t really think I would put a picture of Javier Bardem with that haircut here, did you?

My Top 20:

  1. No Country for Old Men
  2. Atonement
  3. Across the Universe
  4. There Will Be Blood
  5. Ratatouille
  6. Eastern Promises
  7. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
  8. Michael Clayton
  9. Juno
  10. Away from Her
  11. Sweeney Todd
  12. 3:10 to Yuma
  13. Persepolis
  14. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  15. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
  16. Lust, Caution
  17. I’m Not There
  18. Gone Baby Gone
  19. The Darjeeling Limited
  20. A Mighty Heart

note:  This list stops short.  **** films that are just off the list: Charlie Wilson’s War, Once, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.  ***.5 films that follow: Zodiac, In the Valley of Elah, Black Book and Hot Fuzz.

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  No Country for Old Men
  • Best Director:  Joel and Ethan Coen  (No Country for Old Men)
  • Best Actor:  Daniel Day-Lewis  (There Will Be Blood)
  • Best Actress:  Julie Christie  (Away from Her)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Javier Bardem  (No Country for Old Men)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Amy Ryan  (Gone Baby Gone  /  Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  No Country for Old Men
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Juno
  • Best Cinematography:  There Will Be Blood
  • Best Foreign Film:  4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
  • Best Animated Film:  Ratatouille

note:  It’s the first time since 2000 that the big four Consensus awards (Picture, Director, both Screenplay awards) also win Oscars.

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  No Country for Old Men
  • Best Director:  Joel and Ethan Coen  (No Country for Old Men)
  • Best Actor:  Daniel Day-Lewis  (There Will Be Blood)
  • Best Actress:  Marianne Cotilliard  (La Vie en Rose)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Javier Bardem  (No Country for Old Men)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Tilda Swinton  (Michael Clayton)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  No Country for Old Men
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Juno
  • Best Cinematography:  There Will Be Blood
  • Best Foreign Film:  The Counterfeitors
  • Best Animated Film:  Ratatouille

He’s an oil man.

Top 10 Films  (Top 1000):

  1. There Will Be Blood  –  #599  (#6)
  2. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days  –  #889  (#23)
  3. No Country for Old Men  –  (#18)
  4. Zodiac  –  (#24)
  5. Flight of the Red Balloon  –  (#64)
  6. I’m Not There  –  (#76)
  7. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford  –  (#77)
  8. My Winnipeg  –  (#104)
  9. Silent Light  –  (#113)
  10. Once  –  (#156)

note:  Because so much of the focus for the Top 1000 is on classic films, because they have had a longer time to sink into the critical consciousness, they have a separate list called the Top 250 of the 2000′s.  The first number is for those films that actually make their Top 1000, the second number in parenthesis is for their rank in the Top 250 for the 21st Century.  I don’t know their precise methodology, so I can’t explain why some films rank higher on one list than on the other.  But, since the Top 1000 is the more definitive list, a higher rank there is the trump.

Top 10 Films  (2007 Best Picture Awards):

  1. No Country for Old Men
  2. There Will Be Blood
  3. Atonement
  4. Michael Clayton
  5. Juno
  6. American Gangster
  7. Sweeney Todd
  8. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  9. Into the Wild
  10. The Kite Runner

Top 10 Films  (Awards Points):

  1. No Country for Old Men  –  2722
  2. There Will Be Blood  –  1927
  3. Atonement  –  1185
  4. Michael Clayton  –  1069
  5. Juno  –  937
  6. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly  –  917
  7. Ratatouille  –  776
  8. Sweeney Todd  –  617
  9. La Vie en Rose  –  613
  10. Into the Wild  –  580

The highest domestic grosser of several disappointing third installments on the year.

Top 10 Films  (Domestic Box Office Gross):

  1. Spider-Man 3  –  $336.53 mil
  2. Shrek the Third  –  $322.71 mil
  3. Transformers  –  $319.24 mil
  4. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End  –  $309.42 mil
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix  –  $292.00 mil
  6. I Am Legend  –  $256.39 mil
  7. The Bourne Ultimatum  –  $227.47 mil
  8. National Treasure: Book of Secrets  –  $219.96 mil
  9. Alvin and the Chipmunks  –  $217.32 mil
  10. 300  –  $210.61 mil

note:  Despite having the lowest #1 film since 2001, the top 10 this year have the highest combined gross of any year in history (though that would be shattered in 2009).  And Shrek the Third  is the closest #2 finisher since 2001.  Spider-Man 3 has the lowest percentage of the Top 10 list (12.41%) for a #1 film since the 70’s.  This is the first year that four films cross the $300 million threshold and to this date, Pirates is still the highest grossing #4 film.  Even though Spider-Man, Shrek and Pirates are the #1, 2 and 4 films of the year, all of them gross significantly less than the previous films in their series ($36 million for Spider-Man, $119 million for Shrek, $114 million for Pirates).  With six sequels, two television show adaptations, one novel adaptation and one graphic novel adaptation, this is the first time in which none of the Top 10 films are original to the screen.

The highest worldwide grosser of several disappointing third installments on the year.

Top 10 Films  (Worldwide Box Office Gross):

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End  –  $963.4 mil
  2. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix  –  $939.9 mil
  3. Spider-Man 3  –  $890.9 mil
  4. Shrek the Third  –  $799.0 mil
  5. Transformers  –  $709.7 mil
  6. Ratatouille  –  $623.7 mil
  7. I Am Legend  –  $585.3 mil
  8. The Simpsons Movie  –  $527.1 mil
  9. National Treasure: Book of Secrets  –  $457.4 mil
  10. 300  –  $456.1 mil

note:  Pirates has the highest international percentage for a #1 film since 1995 (67.88%).  Harry Potter does even better, earning 68.9%, while Alvin falls of the list, only earning 39.9% outside the States.  But Harry Potter is nothing compared to The Golden Compass, which barely earns $70 mil in the States but takes in over $300 mil internationally.  And Judd Apatow doesn’t travel at all – Knocked Up makes almost 68% of its money in the States and Superbad makes over 71% of its gross domestically.

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

Drama:

  • Best Picture:  No Country for Old Men
  • Best Director:  Joel and Ethan Coen  (No Country for Old Men)
  • Best Actor:  Daniel Day-Lewis  (There Will Be Blood)
  • Best Actress:  Angelina Jolie  (A Mighty Heart)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Tom Wilkinson  (Michael Clayton)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Saoirse Ronan  (Atonement)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  No Country for Old Men
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

So hip. So adorable. Ellen Page as Juno.

Comedy  /  Musical:

  • Best Picture:  Across the Universe
  • Best Director:  Julie Taymor  (Across the Universe)
  • Best Actor:  Johnny Depp  (Sweeney Todd)
  • Best Actress:  Ellen Page  (Juno)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Philip Seymour Hoffman  (Charlie Wilson’s War)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Cate Blanchett  (I’m Not There)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Charlie Wilson’s War
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Juno

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture:  No Country for Old Men
  • Best Director:  Joel and Ethan Coen  (No Country for Old Men)
  • Best Actor:  Daniel Day-Lewis  (There Will Be Blood)
  • Best Actress:  Angelina Jolie  (A Mighty Heart)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Tom Wilkinson  (Michael Clayton)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Cate Blanchett  (I’m Not There)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  No Country for Old Men
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Juno
  • Best Editing:  No Country for Old Men
  • Best Cinematography:  There Will Be Blood
  • Best Original Score:  Atonement
  • Best Sound:  The Bourne Ultimatum
  • Best Art Direction:  Atonement
  • Best Visual Effects:  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Best Sound Editing:  The Bourne Ultimatum
  • Best Costume Design:  Sweeney Todd
  • Best Makeup:  Sweeney Todd
  • Best Original Song:  “Falling Slowly” from Once
  • Best Foreign Film:  Persepolis
  • Best Animated Film:  Ratatouille

The Academy proves themselves morons by passing over the best Foreign film of the year.

Top 5 Foreign Films:

  1. Persepolis
  2. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
  3. Lust, Caution
  4. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  5. The Orphanage

This might be the most embarrassing year for the Best Foreign Film category in Academy history.  It’s not just that, for the first time since 1992, none of their nominees deserved a nomination, none of them being better than ***.  It’s not that it’s a terrible batch of films – none of them are bad, just none of them are very good – and three years – 1970, 1979 and 1982 have averages that are worse.  But, it’s that of the five best Foreign films of the year, four of them were submitted.  One of them, Lust, Caution, was declared ineligible because of insufficient contribution from the submitting country.  But the other three – the very good The Orphanage and the two best Foreign films of the year – Persepolis and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days – both even failed to make the semi-finals.  And made even more perplexing when Persepolis made it into the Best Animated Film nominees.  As for the final film – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – probably the most acclaimed Foreign film of the year – well, in spite of its Best Director nomination, it wasn’t eligible here because of the stupid Academy rule that limits each country to one nominee and thus when France submitted Persepolis, Diving Bell was out in the cold.  But, given the stupidity of the category, it probably would have been passed over as well.

The dress. Nuff said.

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  Ratatouille  /  Across the Universe
  • Best Line  (comedic):  “I robbed the second biggest bank in France using only a ballpoint pen.”  (Will Arnett in Ratatouille)
  • Best Line  (dramatic):  “I’m not the enemy.”  “Then who are you?”  (Tom Wilkinson and George Clooney in Michael Clayton)
  • Best Opening:  Across the Universe
  • Best Ending:  Across the Universe
  • Best Scene:  the evacuation from Dunkirk in Atonement
  • Best Use of a Song:  “Where Do You Go to My Lovely” in The Darjeeling Limited / Hotel Chevalier
  • Best Ensemble:  No Country for Old Men
  • Funniest Film:  Hot Fuzz
  • Most Over-rated Film:  Superbad  /  300
  • Worst Film:  Captivity
  • Worst Sequel:  Rush Hour 3
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Amy Adams in Enchanted
  • Sexiest Performance:  Keira Knightley in Atonement
  • Highest Attractiveness / Acting Ability Ratio:  Bryce Dallas Howard in Spider-Man 3
  • Best Guilty Pleasure:  Walk Hard
  • Best Soundtrack:  Across the Universe
  • Best Soundtrack (non-musical):  Juno
  • Read the Book, SKIP the Film:  Love in the Time of Cholera
  • Read the Comics, SKIP the Film:  Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
  • Star of the Year:  Tommy Lee Jones  (In the Valley of Elah  /  No Country for Old Men)
  • Coolest Performance:  Russell Crowe in 3:10 to Yuma
  • Best Teaser:  Ratatouille
  • Best Trailer:  Juno  /  Across the Universe
  • Best Tag-Line:  “Life made him tough.  Love made him strong.  Music made him hard.”  (Walk Hard)
  • Best Cameo:  Peter Jackson in Hot Fuzz
  • Sexiest Cameo:  Natalie Portman in The Darjeeling Limited / Hotel Chevalier
  • Best Animated Character Performance:  Will Arnett in Ratatouille  (Horst)

Look at me. I’m as cute and adorable as my aunt Julia. Even if my movie is very silly.

Other Notables That Didn’t Win Top Slots But Were Too Good to Leave Out:

  • the brilliant, true-to-the-book, much discussed ending of No Country for Old Men
  • the opening sex scene in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
  • the nude fight scene in Eastern Promises
  • the wonderfully sweet ending of Juno
  • every line uttered by Rainn Wilson in Juno
  • when Philip Seymour Hoffman explains that the wine is bugged in Charlie Wilson’s War  (or when he breaks the window again)
  • the ending of The Darjeeling Limited
  • all the other brilliant cameos in Hot Fuzz  (Cate Blanchett, Bill Nighy)
  • the sheer jailbait sexiness of Kristen Stewart in Into the Wild
  • the awkward hilarity of Death at a Funeral
  • the brilliant opening number “Good Morning Baltimore” in Hairspray
  • the double bitchy comeback of Michelle Pfeiffer in Stardust and Hairspray
  • the sheer idiotic enjoyability of Shoot Em Up
  • the young sexy discovery of Anna Kendrick in Rocket Science
  • the adorability of Emma Roberts in Nancy Drew

Film History:  AFI releases its second 100 Years, 100 Films list, with Citizen Kane still at the top.  The WGA goes on strike.  Spider-Man 3 sets a new opening weekend record of $151 million (this record will last just over a year).  It also sets a new record for any film grossing over $200 million by earning a whopping 44.7% of its final gross in its opening weekend (this record will last for 2 1/2 years).  It sets a third record by taking in 83.3% of the total weekend gross for all films in its opening weekend (that record still stands).  4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes while Lust Caution wins the Golden Lion at Venice.  Padre Nuestro wins the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.  Juno wins Best Picture and Actress at the Independent Spirit Awards while The Diving Bell and the Butterfly wins Best Director.  No Country for Old Men wins Best Picture – Drama and Director at the Golden Satellites while Juno wins Best Picture – Comedy.  I Know Who Killed Me wins 7 Razzies including Worst Picture and Director.  Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni die on the same day (30 July).  Jane Wyman dies in September and Deborah Kerr in October.

Academy Awards:  The Coen Brothers become the first non-actors to earn four Oscar nominations for one film and they win three of them.  Cate Blanchett is nominated for Actress and Supporting Actress (and loses both) – making it four nominations in four years.  For the third year in a row, no film has more than 8 nominations – the longest such streak since 1945-47.  For the second year in a row, all five Best Picture nominees win an Oscar – the only time this happens two years in a row in the 5 nominee era (this in spite of the fact that in both years, the 5 films combine to only win 9 Oscars – the 5th lowest count of the 5 nominee era).  The Diving Bell and the Butterfly becomes the last film to date to get nominations for Director and Screenplay but not Picture.  There are two Foreign Film nominees from Eastern Europe for the first time since 1996 and two from Asia for the first time since 1993.  No Country for Old Men is the first Best Picture winner to get nominated for Cinematography in 5 years – the longest gap in Oscar history.  It is also the first Best Picture winner to get a Sound Editing (or Sound Effects Editing) nomination since 1997.  Kevin O’Connell earns his 20th (and to date, last) Oscar nomination and loses for the 20th time.

This is one of the best years for Best Picture – the only one besides 2002 when all five pictures are **** films.  There were a couple of bizarre omissions (Joe Wright for Atonement, the visual effects of Harry Potter not even making the semis, going with Norbit for Makeup over Harry Potter and Sweeney Todd, the Best Foreign Film fiasco explained above).  But all in all, it was a very solid year, and they got Best Picture right, along with a number of other awards.  They, rightfully, in my opinion, went with Golden Compass for Visual Effects over Transformers.  The one really odd choice was nominating Surf’s Up, one of the weakest animated films of the year.

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Foreign Film for The Counterfeitors
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Makeup for Norbit
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Actress for Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  Norbit
  • Best Eligible Film with No Oscar Nominations:  Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
  • Best Foreign Film Submitted But Not Nominated:  Persepolis (see above paragraph)
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Foreign Film
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Actor
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Sound Editing, Original Song, Animated Film

Golden Globes:  The Diving Bell and the Butterfly becomes the first Foreign Film nominated for Director and Screenplay since 1984 and the first foreign language film (as opposed to British) to get nominated for Director and Screenplay and the first to win Director.  Atonement is the first film in four years nominated for the big 5 awards (Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Actress).  It becomes the fourth film in six years to lead all films in nominations and win Best Picture, but not Director or Screenplay (joining Chicago, The Aviator and Babel).  For the second year in a row, a film loses Best Picture – Comedy / Musical (Juno) ands up an Oscar nominee for Best Picture over the winning film (Sweeney Todd).  No Country for Old Men becomes the fourth film a row to go on to win the Oscar without winning the Globe – the only streak longer than two years in the Globe’s history.  For the second year in a row, four different films win Picture (Atonement, Sweeney Todd), Director (Diving Bell and the Butterfly) and Screenplay (No Country for Old Men).  Atonement has the most noms (7) and points (335), with only Charlie Wilson’s War beating 4 noms (with 5) and no film winning more than 2 awards.  No Country for Old Men is the only film aside from Atonement to earn Picture, Director and Screenplay noms.

Awards:  The critics awards are dominated by No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood.  The Coen Brothers win Picture, Director and Screenplay in New York and Chicago (as well as Supporting Actor for Javier Bardem).  They win Picture and Screenplay at the National Board of Review while they win Picture (and Bardem wins) in Boston.  They win nothing in LA or at the National Society of Film Critics.  Instead, Blood wins Picture, Director, Actor and Art Direction at the former and Picture, Director, Actor and Cinematography at the latter.  Daniel Day-Lewis and the Cinematography also win in New York while it’s just Day-Lewis in Chicago.  In the end, each film wins 11 awards.  There are other dominating films – Amy Ryan wins four Supporting Actress awards for Gone Baby Gone, Julie Christie wins three Best Actress awards for Away from Her while Ratatouille wins three Best Animated Film awards (and one Screenplay award) and 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days wins 3 Best Foreign Film awards (and one Supporting Actor award).  No Country goes on to break the critics curse; while it is the 7th film since Schindler’s List to win at least three critics awards for Best Picture, it is the first one to go on to win Best Picture at the Oscars.  No Country‘s 330 points from the NYFC is tied for the 6th highest ever while Blood‘s 310 points from the NSFC is the 3rd highest mark to date.  No Country mirrors Silence of the Lambs – winning big in New York and Chicago, winning Picture at the NBR and Boston and getting nothing from LA and the NSFC but going on to win the Oscar (but losing the Globe to a film with the most nominations that wins nothing else at the Globes).

No Country for Old Men becomes the first film since 1999  to sweep the DGA, WGA, PGA and SAG Ensemble.  For the first time since 1995 (the first year of the SAG Ensemble), only one film is nominated for both the PGA and the SAG Ensemble.  It also the first film in 5 years to win the SAG Ensemble and win another award at SAG.  Ratatouille sets new guild records for an animated film with 6 wins, 10 nominations and 385 points.  The Diving Bell and the Butterfly becomes the first film since 2000 to earn PGA, DGA and WGA noms and not go on to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture; it also the first film since 2000 (and last to date) to earn a DGA nom and go on to earn a Best Director nomination at the Oscars but not Best Picture.  Joining No Country and Diving Bell with DGA, WGA and PGA noms are There Will Be Blood and Michael Clayton while Into the Wild earns DGA, WGA and SAG Ensemble noms.  Michael Clayton and Into the Wild both get three acting nominations at SAG – Actor, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress – and they both lose all three.  SAG only agrees with the Oscars on 15 noms (worst in 4 years), on 2 wins (worst in 5 years) and on 3 of the 5 Best Actor noms (worst in 7 years).

Atonement ties for third all-time at the BAFTAs with 14 nominations, including the big 5, but only wins Picture and Art Direction.  No Country for Old Men becomes the first film to win Best Picture at the Oscars and Best Director at the BAFTAs since 1993 and only the second (after Platoon) to win Best Director without winning Best Picture.  Atonement leads during the longlist with 17 noms (getting 13 of those).  But Control, Lust Caution, Into the Wild and 3:10 to Yuma, while combining for 38 longlist noms, only earn 2 actual nominations combined (1 each for Control and Lust).  Atonement becomes the first film since 1997 to win Best Picture, but lose Best British Film to a film not nominated for Best Picture (This is England).  Atonement is joined in the Picture / Director / Screenplay races by No Country, There Will Be Blood and The Lives of Others.

No Country for Old Men becomes the second film in a row to win Picture and Director at the Broadcast Film Critics Association but not Screenplay (because of only having one Screenplay category, both The Departed and No Country lost to the eventual Oscar winner of Best Original Screenplay).  The only other film nominated for Picture, Director and Screenplay – Into the Wild – loses all 7 of its nominations (a record that would be passed two years later).  The BFCA has one of its worst years as an Oscar predictor; while all of the eventual Oscar nominees earn Picture nominations, of the 5 films nominated for Picture and Director, only two earn Oscar nominations for Picture (No Country and Atonement), with Into the Wild, Sweeney Todd and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly ending up out of the running.  With her fourth and fifth nominations, Cate Blanchett takes the lead in all-time points at the BFCA.

Best Director:  The Coen Brothers easily take home the Consensus Award, as well as the NYFC, CFC, DGA, Oscar, BAFTA, BFCA and Satellite (only losing at the Globes).  In second is Paul Thomas Anderson with LAFC and NSFC wins and DGA, Oscar and BAFTA noms.  The rest of the consensus nominees are Julian Schanbel for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (BSFC, Globe, Indie Spirit wins, DGA, Oscar, BFCA noms), Tim Burton for Sweeney Todd (NBR win, Globe and BFCA noms) and Joe Wright for Atonement (BAFTA, Globe, BFCA noms).  My own top 5 are the Coens, Wright, Julie Taymor for Across the Universe, Anderson and Sidney Lumet for Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (BFCA, Satellite noms).  My 6 through 10 are David Cronenberg for Eastern Promises (Satellite nom), Burton, James Mangold for 3:10 to Yuma, Tony Gilroy for Michael Clayton (DGA, Oscar noms) and Ang Lee for Lust Caution (Satellite nom).

Best Adapted Screenplay:  No Country for Old Men easily wins the Consensus Award, taking home the WGA, Oscar, Globe, NYFC, NBR and CFC (and earning BAFTA and BFCA noms).  It’s followed by The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (BAFTA win, Oscar, WGA, Globe noms), There Will Be Blood (Oscar, WGA, BAFTA noms), Atonement (Oscar, Globe, BAFTA noms) and Into the Wild (WGA, BFCA noms).  My own winner is No Country for Old Men, followed by Atonement, There Will Be Blood, Oscar nominee Away from Her and Globe and BFCA nominee Charlie Wilson’s War.  My 6 through 10 are Persepolis, A Mighty Heart, Gone Baby Gone, Sweeney Todd and 3:10 to Yuma.

Best Original Screenplay:  With two critics wins (NBR and CFC) and wins at the WGA, Oscars, BAFTAs and BFCA (plus a Globe nom), Juno runs away with the Consensus Award.  It’s followed by The Savages (LAFC and NSFC wins, Oscar and WGA noms), Lars and the Real Girl (NBR win, Oscar, WGA, BFCA noms), Michael Clayton (Oscar, WGA, BAFTA, BFCA noms) and Ratatouille (BSFC win, Oscar nom).  My own winner is Juno, followed by Across the Universe, Ratatouille, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead and Michael Clayton.  My 6 through 10 includes much more overlooked scripts: Eastern Promises, The Darjeeling Limited, Four Months Three Weeks and Two Days, The Savages and Once.

Best Actor:  Daniel Day-Lewis didn’t quite win as many awards as Forrest Whitaker had the year before, but it was close.  He only missed out on the NBR and the BSFC, winning everything else.  In a distant second is George Clooney for Michael Clayton, with the first of three consecutive odd-numbered wins at the NBR, and nominations from the Academy, SAG, Globes, BAFTA and BFCA.  In third, with those same five nominations, is Viggo Mortenson for Eastern Promises.  They’re followed on the Consensus list by Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd (Globe – Comedy / Musical win, Oscar, BFCA noms) and Ryan Gosling in Lars and the Real Girl (SAG, Globe – Comedy, BFCA noms).  My own top five are Day-Lewis, Clooney, Johnny, Viggo and James McAvoy for Atonement (Globe and BAFTA noms).  My 6 through 10 are Oscar nominee Tommy Lee Jones in In the Valley of Elah, Russell Crowe in 3:10 to Yuma, Tom Hanks in Charlie Wilson’s War (Globe – Comedy nom), Josh Brolin in No Country for Old Men and Gordon Pinsent in Away from Her.

Best Actress:  Julie Christie wins her second Consensus Award for Away from Her – 42 years after winning her first for Darling.  She wins the NYFC, NSFC, NBR, SAG, Globe – Drama and BFCA and earns Oscar and BAFTA noms.  Marianne Cotilliard wins the Oscar, BAFTA, Globe – Comedy/Musical, LAFC and BSFC and earns SAG and BFCA noms for her performance as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose.  Ellen Page wins the final critics award (Chicago) and earns noms from all five award groups (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe – Comedy/Musical, BFCA) as Juno.  In another title role, Cate Blanchett also earns all five noms for Elizabeth: The Golden Age.  In the fifth slot is Angelina Jolie, with SAG, Globe and BFCA noms for A Mighty Heart.  As much as I adored Page, my winner is Jolie.  She’s followed by Page, Keira Knightley for Atonement (BAFTA, Globe noms), Christie and Amy Adams in Enchanted (Globe – Comedy/Musical, BFCA noms).  My 6 through 10 (a very good 6 through 10) are the un-nominated Naomi Watts in Eastern Promises, Cotilliard, Oscar nominee Laura Linney for The Savages, Anamaria Marinca for her painful performance in 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days and Blanchett.

Best Supporting Actor:  When No Country for Old Men won the SAG Ensemble Award, Josh Brolin insisted on talking, noting that Javier Bardem always got to talk because he was winning every award.  While not every award, he easily wins the Consensus by taking all five awards groups (SAG, Oscar, Globe, BAFTA, BFCA) and three critics (New York, Boston, Chicago).  Casey Affleck would win two of the other critics (NSFC, NBR) and earn SAG, Oscar, Globe and BFCA noms for The Assassination of Jesse James.  Tom Wilkinson would have to settle for noms from all five awards groups for Michael Clayton.  The final two slots would go to Philip Seymour Hoffman for Charlie Wilson’s War (Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA noms) and Hal Holbrook (SAG, Oscar, BFCA noms) for Into the Wild.  In spite of Bardem’s brilliance, he actually comes in third on my list, behind Wilkinson and Tommy Lee Jones for No Country for Old Men (SAG and BAFTA noms).  My last two are Hoffman and Albert Finney for Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.  My 6 through 10 are Holbrook, JK Simmons as the dad in Juno, Affleck, Robert Downey in Zodiac and Max Von Sydow in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

Best Supporting Actress:  Amy Ryan takes home the Consensus Award for Gone Baby Gone by winning the NYFC, LAFC, BSFC, NBR and BFCA (and SAG, Oscar and Globe noms).  Cate Blanchett comes in second for I’m Not There (the other two critics wins, Globe win, SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, BFCA noms).  Then comes Oscar and BAFTA winner Tilda Swinton for Michael Clayton (SAG, Globe and BFCA noms).  The last two spots are Ruby Dee for American Gangster (SAG win, Oscar nom) and Saiorse Ronan for Atonement (Oscar, BAFTA, Globe noms).  My top 3 are Blanchett, Ronan and Swinton, followed by the un-nominated Romola Garai in Atonement and Marisa Tomei in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.  My 6 through 10 are Ryan, BFCA nominee Vanessa Redgrave (Atonement), Olympia Dukakis (Away from Her), BAFTA nominee Kelly MacDonald (No Country for Old Men) and Allison Janney (Juno).

The movie I wish I had made.

Under-appreciated Film of 2007:

Across the Universe  (dir. Julie Taymor)

I have said this before and I will say it again.  If you don’t believe that the Beatles are the greatest band in the history of rock and roll than you are wrong.  Bob Dylan has filled books with anthems and Bruce Springsteen might actually be the best and most prolific short-story writer this country has ever produced depending on how you approach his work.  But to fill an entire film like this, not just with songs, but with names, with lines, with characters, with images, with poetry creeping out of every corner is a reminder that it is not hyperbole to say those were four lads who shook the world.  In less than a decade, they gave out to us 13 albums containing some of the best (“Help”), most beautiful (“Here Comes the Sun”), most poetic (“Eleanor Rigby”) and most rocking (“I Saw Her Standing There”) songs in rock and roll history.  They gave us songs that were great fun (“Can’t Buy Me Love”), great rock (“A Hard Day’s Night”), with humor (“Norwegian Wood”), politics (“Piggies”), quirks (“Octopus’s Garden”) and depth (“The End”).  And not a single one of those examples is among the 30 songs that form the basic underlying structure to Across the Universe.

And if this film were just a Beatles musical that would be good enough.  If it just had the performances in this film that would be great, because, like with any great covers, each one of the songs in this film re-imagines the initial version and gives us something completely new and original.  But there is the rest of the film, built around the songs.  There is a journey through a tumultuous decade, with two rock legends brought to life in both looks and music, with our stand-ins for Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.  And the appearance of a Hendrix stand-in is rather appropriate; I remember an interview with Paul McCartney where he talked about seeing Hendrix in a club the night Sgt Pepper’s was released and Hendrix did a cover of the title song.  That Hendrix would care about the Beatles music so much that he would already be able to play the song that same night said one thing; that he completely re-made it into his own fashion said something even more to McCartney.

But look at how the Sixties come alive.  From the Cavern Club (I recognized it as looking just like it when I first saw the film, not knowing that it was, in fact, the actual club) to the Detroit riots, to Vietnam, to the Columbia sit-in, and then circling back to Beatles history itself, ending on the rooftop, just like we think of the Beatles in those final days.  There is the progression from booze to pot to LSD, the pull of love and war, every stage of the Beatles coming to life throughout the film.

And it’s not just that the songs work so well.  It’s that, with not a lot of bridging dialogue, they actually tell the story.  In old musicals, the action would stop when people would sing a song.  Unless it was about how they were falling in love, most songs in early musicals didn’t actually move the action of the film forward much.  That was what rock opera came in to do – the use music to continually move the action forward.  But in Across the Universe, the songs themselves actually do that.  The Beatles songs actually tell stories, create characters (not just the main six – Jude, Lucy, Max, Sadie, JoJo, Prudence – but also minor characters like Dr. Robert and Mr. Kite).  We get references to songs that never appear (when Jude first leaves Liverpool, the dock paymaster says he didn’t imagine himself there when he was 64 and Sadie mentions that Max might have killed his grandmother with a hammer – we all know it would have been silver if he had) and moments in Beatles history (Jude cuts up the green apple, but then creates the strawberry label).  And key character names invoke the big songs at key moments – drawing Prudence out of her closet and into the world with a gorgeous “Dear Prudence”, bringing Jude back to America with “Hey Jude” (with an especially good point for the key speeding up moment as Jude actually arrives) and the great Bono version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” in the end credits.

Then there is the terrific ensemble cast.  It’s one thing to look at films in 2007 like No Country for Old Men with established actors (Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Woody Harrelson, Kelly MacDonald) or Juno, with young up-and-comers surrounded by great comic actors (J.K. Simmons, Allison Janney, Jason Bateman).  Across the Universe is built around six characters and of the six actors, only one of them, Evan Rachel Wood, had been in more than anything than a small performance on film before.  Yet, they perfectly inhabit their characters, acting through song.  And for the two complete newcomers – Martin Luther McCoy and Dana Fuchs – they have the added difficulty of being asked to essentially play icons.  Yet, none of the performances waver for a second, all of the lines are perfect and every character blends smoothly with every other one.

There are other parts of the film too, dealing with some of the songs – things that I touched on in my first review and I don’t want to repeat myself too much.  So let us come to the ending.  It’s not just the brilliant use of one of the best of all Beatles songs.  It’s not just the double way in which the song is approached – at first as an anthem, and secondly, as a desperate prayer – in the same performance no less.  It’s the way it concludes, with Jude falling away from the microphone, only to meet Max’s eyes – that absolutely perfect look between them, as Jude realizes he needs to turn around.  And she is there, so close, yet with an uncrossable barrier between them.  Even at the end, there seems to be something in the way.  But we get closer and closer to each one.  They are together in their eyes, in their hearts, and that physical gap between them is no longer there in what we can see.  And we get the proper ending this story deserves and we fade out with those wonderful words that John Lennon wrote that we all need to remember.  All you need is love, all you need is love, all you need is love.  Love is all you need.

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