Now for a similar look back at the movies I really enjoyed this year. Including movies released and not released this year, I watched a lot of stuff, mostly on DVD. Unlike the music list, I also included movies that frustrated the hell out of me.
Movies I actually saw in a movie theater
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Into the Wild
Grindhouse was totally worth seeing in the theater. Two great mini-movies with hilarious fake trailers made for a kick-ass experience. And it only cost $8. Yet praising it now seems to knocked aside by pundits because it didn't do so well at the box office. Tis an annoying shame by people who have been brainwashed by how box office receipts equate quality of film.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Into the Wild and Southland Tales were movies meant to be first experienced on the big screen. I enjoyed them overall and took something positive away from them. I couldn't say the same with American Fork. It was a movie that looked fantastic, but was filled with one-note characters and its attempts at humor annoyed the hell out of me. On the upswing, its soundtrack introduced me to an incredible Kinks track that I had never heard before: "God's Children." So, I can't say it was a complete waste of time.
Movies I wanted to see in the theater, but didn't
No Country for Old Men
The Simpsons Movie
The Darjeeling Limited
No matter how awesome a movie looks in the trailer or how highly praised it is by people that I trust, sometimes I just don't make it out for its theatrical run. I hope to see them eventually.
Movies I claimed I didn't want to see, but saw them anyway a few weeks later
Hostel: Part II
I initially expressed zero interest in seeing movies with stylized torture scenes, but changed my tune when I started thinking about the kinds of horror movies I like to watch. I wanted to see if Eli Roth's Hostel flicks had a deep subtext that went beyond the splatter and gore. Turns out I was right, but I was still rather grossed out by all the splatter and gore. At least these movies made me think and squirm instead of making me jump at empty "gotcha!" moments.
Cult classics I didn't find all that great
Die! Die! My Darling
My Bloody Valentine
The Monster Squad
I understand seeing a beloved cult classic for the first time will not completely resonate with people. So, I don't blame anybody who doesn't understand what's so great about Student Bodies. I loved it when I first saw it and love it even more on repeat viewings. I could not say the same with Die! Die! My Darling, My Bloody Valentine, Creepshow and The Monster Squad. They simply just didn't much for me.
Highly-acclaimed movies that I disliked
A Simple Plan
I had heard incredibly high praise for Sam Raimi's A Simple Plan for years. When I finally saw it, I didn't go in with high hopes, but I was sure it would be good. What I saw was a film filled with slightly-likable to very-unlikable characters digging their graves deeper and deeper. Too painfully bleak for me. And the same can be said with The Prestige.
Highly-acclaimed movies that I really liked
28 Weeks Later
Hot Fuzz was probably the most enjoyable movie I saw on DVD this year. Paying homage to action movies, thrillers and murder-mysteries, Edgar Wright made another smart, highly-entertaining and heart-warming movie.
28 Weeks Later could have fallen into the black hole of so many sequels that feature none of the original cast, but it succeeds in its own ways. Dealing with the emotional impact of the Rage virus, as well as survival, this was more than a zombie munchfest.
Ordinary People still holds up really well as a snapshot of a family dealing with grief. For those dealing with the grief and those that aren't, its message rang very true for me.
Find of the year
What's Up Tigerlily?
I had never heard of this movie until a friend suggested it to me at a birthday party. I mentioned to her how much I loved those Taco Bueno commercials where they took actual scenes from Spanish soap operas and re-dubbed them with corny dialogue about mexican food. So seeing a Japanese crime thriller re-dubbed as a hunt for an eggplant recipe cracked me up from beginning to end.
David Lynch movies I watched this year
The Elephant Man
Finally seeing the movie I always confused with Elizabeth Taylor and riding horses, I set out to see some of Lynch's cream of the crop. I liked each one and I found Lost Highway to be especially good. It's so underrated it's almost criminal. I hope to see Wild at Heart eventually, once I finish the Twin Peaks box set and finally see Fire Walk With Me.
Documentary that's scarier than any fictional horror movie I've ever seen
Jonestown: The Life and Death of the Peoples Temple
This movie will not lift your spirits, but it's very well done. Incredibly personal with interviews from the few survivors, along with video and audio footage from the beginning to horrific end of Jim Jones' church, this documentary confronts the sadness and terror instead of shying away from them.
Enjoyable coming-of-age movies about the twilight of youth
The Last Picture Show
I've got a thing for movies that focus on the weird middle ground between youth and adulthood. So it makes sense why I liked all three of these movies. I don't know if I'll ever hold them in as high regard as I do with American Graffiti, but they were movies that struck a chord with me.
That's it for 2007. To 2008 and beyond!