The Hottest, Ass-kickin'est Movies of 2007

It's that time of year again. Our six critics* don't always (or often) agree, but we've combined their top-ten lists (allowing for ties, including a four-way dead heat for tenth) to pretend that they do. So without further ado, the ten (or 15) best movies of the year, kind of.

(*Scott Foundas, J. Hoberman, Nathan Lee, Jim Ridley, Ella Taylor, and Robert Wilonsky.)

1. There Will Be Blood

The Texas tea bubbles up from the ground like primordial blood at the start of Paul Thomas Anderson's turn-of-the-century oil-prospecting epic (which won't open in most parts of the country until January and stars Daniel Day-Lewis). Nearly three hours later, the blood spilling across the floor of a Beverly Hills bowling alley looks suspiciously like crude. In between, we are held rapt by a big, bold, iconic story of the greed that drives some men to greatness and just as often proves their undoing. (Reviewed in this issue.) (Foundas)

2. I'm Not There

Semiotics, symbolist poetry, and Velvet Goldmine are not without their uses when contemplating the intricacies of Todd Haynes' deconstructed biopic — not to mention everything ever written about Bob Dylan. But for this non-Boomer, having lived through none of the era chronicled, knowing little of Dylan's life, and caring not much more for his music, I'm Not There struck me — hard — as an emotional experience unencumbered by historical baggage. (Lee)

3. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

The title of Romanian director Cristian Mungiu's Cannes Film Festival prizewinner refers to the length of a pregnancy — specifically, the one a college student named Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) seeks to terminate in a midsized Romanian town circa 1987, when Ceausescu is still in power and abortions are illegal. Those who accused Judd Apatow's Knocked Up of being a thinly veiled family-values polemic may find 4 Months more to their liking, but it becomes clear early on that Mungiu is less interested in the life-versus-choice debate than in the way people living in a socially repressive society adapt to circumstance. (Foundas)

4. Killer of Sheep

Poetic in the best sense — the exaltation of bedrock existence through concrete detail closely observed — Charles Burnett's 1977 film about a Watts (Los Angeles) family man making ends meet with a literal dead-end job proved to be the triumph of the year in its long-delayed theatrical release. Uncommercial, eh? Milestone's successful distribution showed that its audience was narrowly focused, all right — to roughly anyone who's ever come home beat and soul-sick from a day at work. (Ridley)

4. Southland Tales

Muddled. Self-involved. Overbearingly ambitious. Insufferable. Funny how the critical mud slung at Donnie Darko on release has the same consistency as the shitstorm that raged against Southland Tales, yet another — how dare he!? — ultra-convoluted sci-fi satire from the incorrigibly precocious Richard Kelly. Southland Tales looks and feels more like life in 2007 than Juno, In the Valley of Elah, and Michael Clayton combined. (Lee)

5. Zodiac

Obsessed with codes, graphs, symbols, and technology, David Fincher returns the serial-killer genre to its roots. This is a movie for number crunchers, systems analysts, archaeologists of the analog era, and anyone interested in how we came to inhabit the cognitive chaos depicted in Southland Tales. (Lee)

6. Ratatouille

Not just a gourmand rat or a beautifully animated French kitchen but, as with Brad Bird's other work of genius, The Incredibles, Ratatouille makes a witty argument for passion and cooperative excellence. (Taylor)

7. Colossal Youth

In this heroic film by Portuguese director Pedro Costa, a Cape Verdean immigrant named Ventura wanders dazedly between the gutted-out remnants of his former residence in a Lisbon housing tenement and a couple of prospective new ones, crossing paths with a succession of fellow travelers whom he refers to as his "children." Difficult to describe but impossible to forget, Costa's film is like a waking dream. (Foundas)

8. Eastern Promises

Like A History of Violence, David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises could almost pass for an exceptionally well-made B movie — in fact, this gangster flick is a dark, rhapsodic fairytale set in a world populated by angels, devils, walking corpses, and human wolves — and most impressively by Viggo Mortensen. (Hoberman)

8. King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

Cynics will grouse that this isn't as important as Sicko or No End in Sight — when, yeah, it kinda is. Not because Seth Gordon's doc about two dudes vying for title of World's Best Donkey Kong Player in the History of Ever will change the world, but it might just change your life. Who doesn't want to be awesome, even at something totally pointless? (Wilonsky)

9. Regular Lovers

Parisian hotties riot in the street, smoke dope, boogie to the Kinks, fuck, mope, pose, lounge, and stare beautifully at the walls of beautiful apartments in Philippe Garrel's film. This, mes amis, is why cinema was invented. (Lee)

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.