1.12.2008

The Top Nine (Part Two)

#4: Juno



Like the rest of the world, I'm in love with Ellen Page and Michael Cera right now. The main character is sweet and biting like expensive chocolate, and her semi-almost-kind-of-ex-boyfriend steals every scene he's in. (Not that this surprises fellow Arrested Development fans - George Michael rules!)

Every character is quirky, but screenwriter Diablo Cody doesn't let them cross into that over-the-top realm, and she backs up every fun weirdness with emotions and actions grounded in reality.

Plus, it's got a killer indie folksy soundtrack. I know I wasn't the only person humming The Moldy Peaches at work this week.


#3: Across the Universe



Speaking of fabulous music, I spent two years of my life listening to The Beatles and nothing else. I know, I know. I'm a dork, but there it is. I may not be a child of the sixties, but The Beatles still mean an awful lot to me. Therefore, it was with extreme caution that I approached this movie. How dare someone make a movie using only Beatles music and then NOT EVEN HAVE THE BEATLES SING THE SOUNDTRACK?

Well. Julie Taymor sure showed me. Across the Universe was so crazy cool it actually made me rethink their music. She treated their material with a loving respect while simultaneously deconstructing and refashioning it in a spanking new psychedelic package that was, at the same time, very very familiar. Which sounds confusing, but really, it's near-perfect.

The opening shot of this movie was my favorite in years. It gave me goosebumps to hear Jim Sturgess - an incredible find - sing the most haunting version of "Girl" ever recorded.


#2: Becoming Jane



Here's another movie not on any critic's list this year. But why, I ask? I know I'm not the only woman sent into severe fevered lust by James McAvoy and Anne Hathaway's We Hate Each Other/We Love Each Other/We Have To Be Together/We Can't Be Together performance. Above all things, I am a romantic, and this movie was far and away the most romantic of the year.

The costumes, the cinematography, and the acting (Maggie Smith! James Cromwell!) were all top tier. And that's what's important in historicals, right? Well, that's what is important to me. And this is my list.

Jane Austen is always tricky territory because her fans are so passionate (cough, cough), but I wasn't bothered by the historical re-imaginings of the plot. I don't think it's wrong to wish that my literary heroine had at least one great love affair.

This is being released on DVD next month, two days before Valentine's Day. Appropriate, no?


AND MY NUMBER ONE FILM OF 2007 (!) IS . . .


#1: Sunshine



I suffer from extreme director lust. Spike Jonze, Sofia Coppola, Michel Gondry, Alfonso Cuaron, Wes Anderson, Pedro Almodovar - these names are enough to send me into ecstatic fits of happiness and agitation. But no film director means more to me than the wonderful, innovative, Director Supreme of My Universe: Mr. Danny Boyle.

I've been enamored ever since I secretly watched Trainspotting at one a.m. at a friend's house (my parents were strict about R ratings, and would never have let me watch it - unless it had been rated R for violence and not sex, and then in the American Way, they would have been totally okay with it). That night, sitting on her parents' retro cowboy-covered couch, the wheels in my brain turned and clicked, and I realized that Movies Can Be Art.

Boyle can do comedy (Trainspotting), romance (A Life Less Ordinary), thriller (Shallow Grave), family (Millions), and horror (28 Days Later...). And this year, Sunshine proved he can do science fiction too.

Sunshine is spectacular. It stuns and scares and saddens and I've never seen visuals like this before EVER. Some critics complained about the far-fetched plot, especially in the third act, but I don't think it matters. At all. The real shame is that this movie won't look nearly as impressive on a television set as it did in the theater - giant screen and surrounding darkness and thumping, pounding, pulsing score. I saw it twice in the theater, because I knew it would never, ever be this good on DVD.

But if you haven't seen Sunshine yet, by all means, you should still rent it. Watch it at night with your lamps down and the volume up. And remember to be easy on it, because it was born for the big screen.

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