2007 began with a blitz of thrillers like The Hitcher and The Messengers, then advanced to several sequels and three-quels before ending with several Oscar bait dramas.
Spider-Man 3 took the box office crown, followed by Shrek the Third, Transformers, and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. These popular pics made summer box office history as the first fearsome foursome of $300 million plus blockbusters.
Audiences got a wide choice of musical films like Hairspray, Across the Universe, Music & Lyrics, Once, the gory Sweeney Todd, and Amy Adams' star-making breakthrough, Enchanted.
Nicole Kidman was under fire for being overpaid ($15 million a picture) for box office disappointments like the fantasy The Golden Compass and sci-fi remake Invasion.
Some dramas succeeded (American Gangster, Breach) while other films, like The Astronaut Farmer and Things We Lost in the Fire, were quickly forgotten.
Many 9/11-terrorist themed films like Rendition, In the Valley of Elah, and Lions for Lambs couldn’t find large audiences, while the action-packed The Kingdom and star-filled Charlie Wilson’s War succeeded.
Audiences enjoyed hit comedies like Blades of Glory and The Simpsons Movie while high profile action films like 300, Grindhouse, and Eastern Promises pushed the violence envelope.
The Bruce Willis headliner Live Free or Die Hard found success in stepping down from an R rating to the popular PG-13, which expanded his already gigantic worldwide appeal.
Asian action imports like The Host and Dragon Wars continued a growing trend in a strong movie season that had more success than failure.
1. Ratatouille – One of the most sophisticated and entertaining animated films ever written and directed by Brad Bird (The Incredibles).
2. The Bourne Ultimatum – British director Paul Greengrass (United 93) and star Matt Damon take this quality series to a higher level.
3. Michael Clayton – George Clooney does it again in this legal thriller co-starring Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins) and Tilda Swinton.
4. Once – Great personal story with amazing music that’s sure to get an Oscar nomination.
5. Into the Wild – Solid drama based on the 1996 non-fiction book by Jon Krakauer about a man who abandons modern life for the Alaskan wilderness. Sean Penn directs an all star cast.
6. Atonement – Great period piece solidifying Keira Knightley’s talents while pushing James MacAvoy to leading man status.
7. Bridge to Terabithia – This family/fantasy book adaptation shows raw, honest emotion from gifted child actors Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb.
8. Waitress – The late Adrienne Shelly directed, co-star, co-wrote and wrote songs for this little gem, where Andy Griffith almost steals the show from female lead Keri Russell.
9. The Namesake – Kal Penn (House) reaches far beyond his raunchy Kumar character in this drama about a Bengali family adapting to life in the United States.
10. No Country For Old Men – Directors/brothers Joel and Ethan Coen helm this tough thriller, based on the Cormac McCarthy novel. Tommy Lee Jones stars as a local sheriff while Javier Bardem makes one memorable bad guy.
- 3:10 to Yuma – Excellent western remake stars Russell Crowe and Christian Bale.
- American Gangster – Ridley Scott (Gladiator) directs the dynamic duo of Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe in this crime drama based on actual events.
- Grace is Gone – John Cusack stars as a loving family man widowed when his wife dies serving in the military overseas.
- The Assassination of Jeese James by the Coward Robert Ford – Well researched story of actual events make this western a bit long, but worthwhile. Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck (Ocean’s 11) star.
- I Am Legend – Will Smith’s tour-de-force sticks in your memory.
1. The Comebacks – The source material inspired many audiences, but this sports spoof disaster only inspired audiences to leave the theater.
2. A Perfect Stranger – Disorganized movie filled with unnecessary dialogue and ridiculously predictable situations in a surprisingly weak script.
3. Epic Movie -Yet another group of comedy clips and spoofs poorly pieced together with hairline yarn.
4. Code Name: Cleaner – Cedric the Entertainer and Lucy Liu make a boring mess in this action/comedy.
5. The Heartbreak Kid – This surprisingly raunchy remake failed to recapture the success of There’s Something About Mary with Ben Stiller starring and Bobby and Peter Farrelly directing.
6. Norbit – Eddie Murphy’s scatter shot comic approach hurls a wide range of comedy all over the screen, which rarely sticks to audiences.
7. Daddy Day Camp – Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. takes over for Eddie Murphy in this loud, disappointing sequel.
8. Bratz – Don’t bother with this poor adaptation of the toy dolls.
9. I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry – Adam Sandler and Kevin James team up for this hurtful, stereotypical failure.
10. DOA: Dead or Alive – Familiar faces like Jaime Pressley (My Name is Earl television series) couldn’t save this unoriginal martial arts debacle.
Extremely dishonorable mentions are Hostel 2, Captivity, and the latest Saw installment.
The following year-end gems opened in a few big cities before the end of the year to qualify for the Academy Awards. These quality releases go wider in the winter months, so look for them.
The Great Debaters – Denzel Washington stars and directs in this drama, set in the 1930s, about an English professor who takes a small Texas debate team to the big time. Recent Oscar® winner Forrest Whitaker also stars. Based on actual events.
Juno – Ellen Page and Michael Cera (Superbad) give breakthrough performances in this teenage pregnancy drama/comedy, which also stars Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman.
The Kite Runner – Director Marc Forster (Finding Neverland) adapts the classic novel.
Happy new year and have a great 2008!