Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sight and Sound (and my own) Best Films of 007

Sight and Sound Magazine's Best Films of 2007

Includes the list of at least two Filipino film critics--Alexis Tioseco and, heh, yours truly. My titles (in alphabetical order) below:

Death in the Land of Encantos (Lav Diaz)

Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg)

Foster Child (Brillante Mendoza)

We Own the Night (James Gray)

Zodiac (David Fincher)

That's just the list, with articles I wrote on each film linked when available; to read the brief comments I'd written for Sight and Sound (plus the lists of better known critics) you'll need to download the largish PDF file.

Just a minor cavil about the lists; I'd been made aware that my list should consist only of films released in 2007. Now I know the UK sometimes exhibits certain films late, and I'd actually submitted some titles hoping I can sneak in some that I saw in the Jeonju Film Festival, but nope; strictly 2007 was the reply. So I made my list accordingly.

Now that I flip over that massive (47 pages long) PDF file, I learned that people had submitted films from 2006, even works by Mikio Naruse (I love Naruse, but no way no matter how great a filmmaker he is did he make a film in 2007). The whole brouhaha made me want to raise a brow and ask: "what's going on here?"

But I'm being ungrateful. It's an honor to have been asked to make a list, and I'm proud--tickled bright pink--to be in the company of Geoff Andrew, Derek Malcolm, Adrian Martin, Olaf Moller, Tony Rayns, Brad Stevens, Alexis Tioseco. Our lists are very different, showing a vast range of taste and orientation, and that's all to the good; we need the variety.

Anyway--if I had to make a list of films I'd seen in 2007 that had possibly been released or had yet not been released in the UK in the same year (this being the rule I presume Sight and Sound is following, and that anything released in 2006 possibly qualifes), this is what it would look like (in alphabetical order):

Amazing Life of the Fast Food Grifters (Mamoru Oshii)

Away From Her (Sarah Polley)

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (Sidney Lumet) - Who knew Lumet had so much juice in him? I liked Dog Day Afternoon, I enjoyed Deathtrap (I know, I know--bite me), but this is possibly one of his best works, showing more grace and expressiveness, I think, than the entire oeuvre of the Coen brothers combined.

Bug (William Friedkin)

Colossal Youth (Pedro Costas)

Death in the Land of Encantos (Lav Diaz)

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel)

Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg)

Exiled (Johnnie To)

The Go Master (Tian Zhuangzhuang)

Heremias Book One: The Legend of the Lizard Princess (Lav Diaz)

Indio Nacional (Raya Martin)

Inland Empire (David Lynch)

No Country For Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen) - Not bad, easily one of their most entertaining. Can't take it more seriously than that, thanks to Bardem's effective but outlandish demon assassin--but it's a fun time in the movies, if your tastes go that way (and mine do, somewhat, for better or worse).

The Other Half (Ying Liang)

Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant)

A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman)

Rescue Dawn (Werner Herzog)

Salty Air (Alessandro Angelini)

Sweeny Todd (Tim Burton) - a triumph of emotional and visual textures, a wonderful realization by Dante Ferretti of Victorian London by way of Eddie Campbell. Johnny Depp plays Todd like a berserk Edward Scissorhands, a Dark Knight with a taste for straight razors, an Ed Wood with a real talent for mayhem; his singing is more acting than belting, a way of burrowing into his character to find the massive malevolence within.
There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)

Todo Todo Teros (John Torres)

We Own the Night (James Gray)

The Wind that Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach)

Zodiac (David Fincher)

And that's all she said--unless I have a chance to see Brian de Palma's Redacted, to check out for myself what the fuss about them is all about.


john marzan said...

Three of the 2007 Movies I like so far are:

1) Rescue Dawn
2) Ratatouille
3) Superbad

Noel Vera said...

I liked Rescue Dawn--maybe I should have included it on the list.

Here's what I wrote about it.

Noel Vera said...

Hell, why not include it. That's the nice thing about blogs--endless revisions.

celinejulie said...

Hi, Noel. Concerning your comments in Girish’s blog, I really wish I could see TODO TODO TEROS. I once saw a short film of John Torres called SALAT (2004), which has a very interesting style, though I think I have to see it more than once to be able to really appreciate this short film.

I also wish I could see more Filipino films. I have seen only three films in your list of “100 Best Filipino Films”. I have seen THE BLOSSOMING OF MAXIMO OLIVEROS, FIGHT FOR US, and RIZAL IN DAPITAN. There are still a lot of Filipino films that I should see.

As for your list of best films in 2007, I’m glad to see BUG, THE GO MASTER, and HEREMIAS in your list. HEREMIAS is sure to be included in my favorite film list. In my personal opinion, Lav Diaz, Raya Martin, and Khavn de la Cruz are parts of the most interesting filmmakers working nowadays. They are uncompromising.

I haven’t seen FOSTER CHILD, but I like MANORO and THE MASSEUR by Brillante Mendoza very much.

Noel Vera said...

Hi, celine, good thing you get to see all that! Available in America and the Philippines--I don't know if you can get it in Thailand--is Lino Brocka's two best films, "Insiang" and "Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang" at the Cinefilpino website. Maybe they deliver there.

These are all wonderful films but my absolute favorite of recent Filipino films (hell, of films, period) and very difficult to find (but didn't this screen in Bangkok Film Festival?) would be Pangarap ng Puso (Demons, Mario O'Hara, 2000). Should be available without subtitles as a VCD at

Noel Vera said...

And in fact, here it is:

Pangarap ng Puso.

I really wish it was subtitled. Part of the beauty of the film are the poems, and I think you miss something trying to see it without hunderstanding them (tho the actors' readings of the poems are I think wonderful).

Saber Hawk said...

Congratulations Noel! It is great to see two Pinoys in Sight and Sound Best Films of 2007.

Noel, I have read your list and commentary, and I agree with you that most cinemas here feature films that are blockbusters. Films that have low potentials are given limited screening dates.

Out of 21 films you listed, I was only able to watch 2, namely Bug and Zodiac. Both films are terrific and well made. My only concern is Bug. Bug may, how do I put it, not be "liked" by others because of its complexity and "uniqueness."

Noel, do you include animated films in your list like Persepolis and Ratatouille?

Anyway, I hoped I will be able to watch the others films you mentioned.


noel dear, out of topic---are you familiar with the palos films? as in have you seen a couple?

you may email me at

or answer here

Anonymous said...

hi noel,

i've been reading your reviews for sometime now, however, i didn't really have the courage to post any comments at all. until now. anyways, i absolutely agree with you, i adore pangarap ng puso (demons). it has got to be my most favorite film of all time. saw the film in vhs format in early 2002 and was blown away with how brilliant mario o'hara is, despite the limited budget. he is perhaps the greatest living filmmaker in the philippines right now, an opinion that i'm sure you share. just to bad that there are no intrepid producers to bankroll his projects.

Noel Vera said...

Saber Hawk: thanks for the kind words! On Bug's probable lack of popularity, not really worried about it. I like a lot of box-office flops, even critical failures. Keeping away from popularity issues helps keep things simpler for me.

As for Ratatouille, I'm afraid I'm not a big fan.

dr. myles--from your mouth to some monied producer's ear.

Anonymous said...

The two films I most enjoyed at the cinema this year are "Into the Wild" and "The Pervert's Guide to Cinema".

Anonymous said...

hi noel,

were you able to see the cinema one originals entries this december? maybe you spoke too soon re the best of 2007. there are a couple of films there that deserve serious consideration, especially the best picture awardee, confessional.

Noel Vera said...

Try my best to see everything but the logistics are difficult. No list is perfect--I'm always willing to see other stuff, and the nice thing about this blog business, instant revision.

john marzan said...

4) A Mighty Heart

Sachin said...

Hey Noel,

Foster Child was my fav. 2007 film and Slingshot was #3. Last year, Kubrador was in my top ten fav. list. And I admired Todo Todo Teros as well.

So I guess I have been lucky in finding these gold nuggets, thanks to the Vancouver Film Festival :)

Noel Vera said...

Vancouver's always had a better record at presenting Filipino films than Toronto. It showed Mario O'Hara's Woman on a Tin Roof and Demons, among others.

Sachin said...

You probably know about this Noel but I see the Vancity Theater is using your quote regarding Raya Martin :)

This is what I love about Vancouver's two theaters (the cinematheque & the new VIFF hall) that they show film festival films throughout the year. Do you know if works by these new Filipino film-makers is available in North America via the net? I assume these films do not really have distribution rights yet.

Noel Vera said...

That does it! I am officially a quote whore!

But I don't mind whoring for a film as lovely as Martin's, actually.

Sachin said...

That means you can now retire from seeing movies, pick up a wine glass and hold up your nose really high and look down upon other mere mortals like me who scurry about trying to catch as many films as they can :) Ofcourse, I am assuming you don't do the latter already.

Noel Vera said...

I'd love to do wine every day. When I die, I hope I don't go to heaven, I hope I go to Tuscany.

There or Batad, in the Benguet Province.

Ty said...

Great list! Zodiac was excellent.

Noel Vera said...

I think it's The Redemption of David Fincher. I don't like his earlier work.