The Geeks of Doom’s reviewer extraordinaire, Dr. Royce Clemens, gives us the lowdown with his views on the best this movie season has had to offer so far.
Best Film: HOT FUZZ
In a year and an age where looking cool and making money was tantamount, ONE MAN was still stoked to be at the movies. That man’s name was Edgar Wright and his film was Hot Fuzz. The man behind Shaun of the Dead and the Don’t trailer in Grindhouse gave us the tongue-in-cheek story of London Super-Bobby Nicolas Angel, who is such an awesome police officer that he makes everyone else in the department look bad and is IMMEDIATELY transferred to the sleepy village of Sanford, where the murder rate is extremely low, but the Lethal Accident rate is uncommonly high.
I’d be willing to wager, were one ever to meet Mr. Wright, one could sense his love of film radiating from him much like an aura. He too has the habit of referencing his favorite movies, but instead of incorporating them into narrative
(Tarantino) or grinding the film to a halt in a shallow attempt to show us all the stuff he’s seen, (Roth) Wright imbues the characters with his film’s manic energy until it looks like kids playing POINT BREAK in the backyard. The fun is completely contagious.
When one goes to the movies long enough, one becomes convinced that it’s all about the green for everyone. That they don’t care about the art or their own reputations just as long as we follow suit into the theatres like good little sheep. It’s so refreshing to see a movie by someone who still believes!
Best Male Performance:
Samuel L. Jackson — BLACK SNAKE MOAN
In the second best (and most atypical) film of the year, Samuel L. Jackson stars as Lazarus, a Memphis bluesman turned farmer whose wife has left him for his brother. One day he sees a half-naked and beaten white woman on the side of the road (Christina Ricci). He takes her in and nurses her to health
only to find that she’s a nymphomaniac. Lazarus takes the step of chaining her to the radiator in his tiny shack to get her out of her psychosexual proclivities cold turkey, claiming attempts of “curing her of her wickedness.”
Now what has been set up in the trailers as a button-pushing exploitation picture, preying on race, sexuality, and religion actually comes about as a story of salvation and redemption, as two fundamentally fucked up people fix each other in unconventional ways. In a way, they actually BECOME the kind of people we hear about in blues songs, with Ricci as the woman doing wrong all over town and Jackson as the solemn done-wrong singer himself. And Jackson proves in Black Snake Moan that he is the equal to Jack Nicholson inasmuch as he can make paycheck movies playing himself, and then make the little out of the way flicks with an actual character, where he can knock us all on our asses with his slow burns, astonishing range, and powerful moving depth.
And his version of STACK-O-LEE is pretty fuckin’ cool”¦
Best Female Performance:
Ashley Judd — BUG
Almost the polar opposite to the same story of Black Snake Moan, William Friedkin‘s Bug is about two people clinging to each other, doing unbelievable psychic and physical damage and needing it all the way. Where BSM was about healing, abandon all hope, ye who enter Bug.
Ashley Judd plays waitress Agnes, whose last thread of hope is nothing but a distant memory. She is in complete freefall, plummeting into the hell that is Michael Shannon‘s Peter, a Gulf War vet with severe mental problems. Because Peter is so nice to her and so sure of himself in a world so uncertain, Agnes follows him into madness. And Judd plays her as a thinly veiled jumble of loneliness and desperation.
Remember about fifteen years ago when RUBY IN PARADISE came out and we were all buzzing about the lil’est Judd? She finally made due.
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo — 28 WEEKS LATER…
Ummm”¦ I thought sequels were supposed to suck. Instead of rehashing the same damn story yet a second time, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo‘s sequel to Danny Boyle‘s 28 Days Later raises the stakes in scale, scope, character development, political relevance, and plain ol’ visceral scares.
I was concerned when the digital video that was the cornerstone of the groundbreaking first film was replaced by official Fox backing and Panavision. My fears were baseless as the Spanish Fresnadillo retained the immediacy and actually built upon it, broadening the iris with a clear sense of intimate kinetics and transparent geography in the bigger scenes. Even the fact that it is film as opposed to video works to its advantage. The conceit behind 28 Weeks Later is that everything is supposed to be back to normal, only to be found that it isn’t. The expense film brings to it conveys the sensation of a Fixer-Upper Utopia gone terribly, horribly wrong.
I’ll let ol’ Juan Carlos make Hot Spanish love to my sister all he wants. Let it never be said that I didn’t do anything nice for her.
Best Dialogue Exchange:
Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillippe in BREACH
“My Uncle was a Deacon.”
Now it’s time to join the Varsity.”
Rather than chuck a shout-out to an entire screenplay, why not look at a single two-line exchange from a movie that tells a story in and of itself? For this one, I’m looking at Billy Ray‘s tense true-story spy thriller Breach.
Chris Cooper plays FBI Agent/National Traitor Robert Hanssen and Ryan Phillippe plays Eric O’Neill, a wet behind the ears agent sent in to snoop and look for evidence of Hanssen’s flawed patriotism. One thing Hanssen prides himself on is his devout Catholicism and asks the spiritual status of O’Neill. O’Neill replies and what follows sets the dynamic for the entire film. Cooper’s sneer and judgmental tone tells Phillippe how it is and THEN some: “I am completely”¦ And wholly”¦ beyond reproach.”
Best Action Sequence:
I, for one, did not whine and moan about how Quentin Tarantino‘s Death Proof half of the Grindhouse double feature was “talky” or “boring.” Show some respect for the craft, will you please? The only way one can win a game of chess is to see the whole board.
We have our villain? Check.
We have our group of vulnerable-yet-tough-as-nails women? Check.
THEN LET THE FUCKING GAMES BEGIN!
The long dialogue portions got inside the heads of the characters and made things more tense when the EPIC fucking car chase came around. It was during this that I found the fundamental difference between Death Proof and the film that preceded it — Robert Rodriguez‘ Planet Terror. Rodriguez made a movie about how cheesy Grindhouse movies were back in the day, like he was somehow above them. It was campy and cute, but got old real quick. Tarantino made a Grindhouse movie, plain and simple, and what made those movies golden was that the filmmakers thought the movies they were making were genius.
And the best part of the chase?
Look, ma! NO FUCKING COMPUTERS!
Best movie NO ONE liked but me:
It’s a giant crocodile eating people.
You can tell me that it’s exploitative and cheesy and predictable, but I”¦ I just don’t care!. I do not give a solitary Tinker’s Damn.
It’s a giant crocodile”¦ eating people!
You”¦ you want more?
JESUS you fuckers are pushy“¦
Pathetic list. How about jumping outside the hack n slash genre and open your mind to other movies for once?
Comment by Blah — June 22, 2007 @ 1:42 pm
Are you serious, Blah?
Last I checked four of the six movies — Hot Fuzz, Breach, Black Snake Moan, and Death Proof — were nowhere near the hack and slash genre.
So judging by your close-minded criteria, two horror movies on a list of six diverse movies is myopic, yes?
Comment by Dave3 — June 22, 2007 @ 1:54 pm
wheres spider man 3?
Comment by spiderman3 — June 22, 2007 @ 1:55 pm
Where on that last is “This is england” thats probably one of the best british films to date. agree with hot fuzz that was awesome
Comment by andrew scarrott — June 22, 2007 @ 1:58 pm
Nice list. I agree wholeheartedly with Primeval. To the rest of you. Eat a dick. Thats his opinion.
Comment by Certain — June 22, 2007 @ 2:00 pm
So…Primeval is Lake Placid?
Comment by bumblebee — June 22, 2007 @ 2:07 pm
Spiderman 3? Are you f*** kidding me?
This is a good list, but some films I would add, personally.
I liked knocked up and I would also suggest that it should be on the list for creating a new type of comedy. It’s also on the top 250 list on IMDB, which has to mean something
Comment by tygerclaw — June 22, 2007 @ 2:23 pm
No ‘Knocked Up’?!?!
Comment by Squill — June 22, 2007 @ 2:25 pm
Could’ve listed actual good movies.
Comment by Mzrc — June 22, 2007 @ 2:29 pm
Grindhouse was great, but Planet Terror was a grindhouse movie. Exploitation, girls, explosions, blood everywhere, and never taking itself so seriously. Death Proof was just another Tarantino movie (one I loved, but another one nonetheless).
And a filmmaker’s ego does not enter into the equation of a grindhouse film. I don’t see many Ed Wood movies considered grindhouse, after all.
Comment by RandomTask — June 22, 2007 @ 2:33 pm
Comment by manta — June 22, 2007 @ 2:33 pm
No mention of 300 ???
I think you didn’t see that movie
Comment by rilarios — June 22, 2007 @ 2:37 pm
No mention of 300!?!
Which is by far the best movie of 2007 yet!
Comment by JR — June 22, 2007 @ 2:38 pm
Great list! i would have liked to see 300 and knocked up on here as well, but at least u have hot fuzz and 28 weeks later. those were prob my top picks of the year.
Comment by 127.0.0.1 — June 22, 2007 @ 3:04 pm
Im here to say, the “Death Proof” half of grindhouse was about as lame as watching paint dry, I mean – blah blah blah – stunt guy -blah blah blah blah blah blah – stupid chicks -blah blah blah blah blah blah blah – car chase – finish is NOT a horror movie, or suspense, or WHATEVER kind of movie, it was like a big long dialogue sequence, and LAME ASS, otherwise, good choices.
Comment by JUSTIn — June 22, 2007 @ 3:23 pm
Ahem, yes. Urm…
IT’S THE FIRST FRIGGIN’ HALF OF THE BEST OF 2007 MOVIES, IDIOTS!
Comment by Announcer — June 22, 2007 @ 3:43 pm
The main problem is that these are all bullshit maschismo movies, because apparently those are the only movies that count. Well for my money, The Namesake, Away From Her, and The Wind that Shakes the Barley were the best films released in America in 2007. Of course they don’t have a bunch of gay dudes in loincloths kicking other gays dudes asses. But they did have good acting, writing, directing, and a sense of purpose. My bad, I forgot to follow the stereotype.
Comment by Brandon — June 22, 2007 @ 3:44 pm
Hot Fuzz was pretty great. I honestly think Death Proof is number one though. I agree with you too that Tarantino made a true grindhouse flick. Good list.
Comment by diskgolf — June 22, 2007 @ 4:00 pm
Well, sir, I live in Iowa, so the finer works of Nair, Polley and Loach are lost to me for the time being, but quite possibly after I see them on DVD I shall want to include them on my list of the year’s ten best come December.
But a question, if you’ll indulge me…
How are BREACH, BUG, DEATH PROOF (with a mostly female cast) and BLACK SNAKE MOAN “bullshit, machismo movies?” Now if you replace the words “bullshit” and “machismo” with the word “studio,” then we may come to the heart of the matter. And lo, how I wish I lived in an urban area where the films you mentioned are accessible to me, that’s not how fate would have it for the time being.
Comment by Dr. Royce Clemens — June 22, 2007 @ 4:01 pm
I agree with 3 of these Hot Fuzz, and DeathProof were freeking brilliant. I loved Grindhouse and I did not find it “campy” but oh well. Black Snake Moan was cool too.
But I do have to agree with others too, WHERE THE HELL IS 300?
Comment by Collinsworth — June 22, 2007 @ 4:41 pm
Can anyone tell me what the following phrase found in the 28 Weeks Later summary means?
…broadening the iris with a clear sense of intimate kinetics and transparent geography in the bigger scenes.
Anyone who writes like that is a plonker.
Comment by Maxx — June 22, 2007 @ 5:42 pm
I’m glad “300” is not on the list. They pushed expectations through the roof, you’ve seen the effects in the trailers already and then in cinema, it really underperformed. While I might want to replace one or two movies from the list, “300” really doesn’t belong here.
Comment by fryke — June 22, 2007 @ 7:04 pm
Hey… I liked PRIMEVAL, too. I just thought I would tell you. :)
Comment by Andy Palys — June 22, 2007 @ 8:05 pm
I hate to tell you this, but the “look ma no computers” comment on death proof!? I worked on the fucking shot in post baby, and we busted our asses on computer to finish those shots on time. get your shit correct. Sure, it wasnt giant fucking robots placed into the scene, but we did plenty of wire removal, cleanup, colour correction.
“look ma, no research into my story”
Comment by bzerkr — June 23, 2007 @ 1:34 am
Nice list. I happened to like a few of those titles… ;)
Comment by Fable — June 23, 2007 @ 4:11 am
Cant believe you like Primeval …
Comment by got_u_shook — June 23, 2007 @ 7:43 am
28 Weeks Later on a Best list? I must have seen a different movie.
The one I saw qualified for my Worst list. No plot, no characters I gave a crap about, horrendous misuse of a frenetic camera style so it lost all impact, predictable and illogical ending. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Script, filming, direction.
Except for the helicopter scene, painful to watch.
No, not a Best in any regard.
Comment by Buelwicke — June 23, 2007 @ 10:21 pm
You ask what more we want from a movie than a giant crocodile eating people, yet you’re not satisfied with 300 uber-warriors vs. an army of 1,000,000? Get real.
Comment by carter1337 — June 24, 2007 @ 2:47 am
300? are u serious? 300 is the worst movie ever. SPecial effects sucked, those elefants were as high as a mountain. Don’t even mention 300. It’s not in top100.
Comment by Doru — June 24, 2007 @ 10:10 am
BREACH was an incredible movie. Chris Cooper’s performance was slam-dunk Oscar caliber.
Comment by Gerard Sorme — June 24, 2007 @ 12:01 pm
Good call Hot Fuzz was the best film of the year by far!
Comment by Pete White — June 25, 2007 @ 11:15 am
I agree with the most of the list- but Primeval was just fucking gay
Comment by Omar — July 16, 2007 @ 9:59 pm
Comment by Gail — July 26, 2007 @ 12:53 am
So make your OWN “Best Of” lists, you whiny little turd babies! “Waaah, where’s 300??? Waaaaah, why’s Primeval there? Oooooh, that’s just fucking gay…ooooooh, that’s just a bunch of machismo bullshit…” You fucking assholes…GET STUFFED!
Comment by Jim — July 27, 2007 @ 3:48 am
not a bad list, I suppose. but I don’t know how you couldnt list Plant Terror when you mentioned the easily inferior Death Proof. Nice list, though.
Comment by Adam — August 10, 2007 @ 1:24 am
Yeah Havent seen much of these movies but i would say that 28 weeks later was one of my favorite movies, some of you might not agree and that could just be your personal beliefs or the fact that you dont understand the plot of the story. what humans would do in such drastic situations, which will bring out the worst or best in people. great examples of both in this movie and in the first
Comment by Jaysin — August 11, 2007 @ 1:21 am
i have not really watched any ofue on how those movies but will like to have them in my movies collection. u any body have a cl
Comment by obi — August 22, 2007 @ 4:20 pm
where are: live free or die hard, the bourne ultimatum, transformers, spiderman 3, 300, beerfest, borat…damn man your list is the WORST ever…come to the real world boy
Comment by damn — August 24, 2007 @ 12:01 pm
First off, Borat was released in 2006, ya moron.
Secondly, Bourne, Transformers, and Die Hard were all released in the SECOND half of 2007, ya retard.
And finally, anyone who’d advocate BEERFEST for a best list of any kind except perhaps *best movies with the title BEERFEST* instantly invalidates their opinion… boy.
Comment by Dave3 — August 24, 2007 @ 12:54 pm
Yo, I LOVED Primeval!
It was fun, and Dominic Purcell is so so hot.
Comment by haley — August 24, 2007 @ 10:17 pm
I happen to like your list exspecialy Black Snake Moan, i think chritina ricci is an awesome actress who can do anything. And samual l jackson gives probably the best performence i’ve ever seen out of him. Keep up the good work, look forward to seeing your next list.
Comment by jennifer — August 25, 2007 @ 11:17 am
Primeval sucks, that cocodrile just looked STUPID where in your life have you seen a cocodrile turning fast as fuck!!!cocodriles are fast when they run straight but if they have to turn left or right they MUST stop, so that cocodrile looks fictional.
Comment by pepito — December 28, 2007 @ 3:42 am
Bug????………..HOLLY SHIT,,4 REAL DID YOU LIKE THAT CRAP???….NO PLOT, NO ACTING, NO NOTHING, JUST A PIECE OF CRAP. THAT MOVIE SHOULD BE ON THE LIST OF WORST OF THE YEAR.
Comment by pepito — December 28, 2007 @ 3:44 am
the grindhouse movies where bad ass but what about that hannibal movie wasn’t that 2007? That was as good as it gets and the saw movies are all great as far as guts and blood goes. And I’m sorry breach and primeval, as well as black snake moan sucked ass.
Comment by comnerd — April 9, 2008 @ 2:04 am