The final word on the best DVDs of 2007


Published: Thursday, January 3, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 2, 2008 at 3:39 p.m.

There were a lot of great movies this year, so let's get right down to business.

Best Action Movie of the Year - "Live Free or Die Hard": Bond is the ladies man, and Bourne is the super assassin, but John McClane is just a working-class hump with problems like you and me. That makes it all the more enjoyable when he does stuff like blowing up a helicopter by hitting it with a car.

Best Horror Film - "The Descent": Dark, dreary, tense, claustrophobic, grim, grotesque, frightening, savage...this movie is all of these things. Best of all, it is scary. I'm not prone to jumping in my seat when I get startled (in fact, the last time it happened was in 1986, for "Aliens") but "The Descent" made me jump out of my seat.

Best Comedy - "Hot Fuzz": This was a good year for comedies, with "Borat," "Knocked Up," "Blades of Glory" and "Superbad" all getting some big laughs. But for my money, "Hot Fuzz" was the best of them all. It's not just funny one time, but gets funnier the more it is watched. One of my personal faves of the year.

Best Family Film - "The Last Mimzy" and "Meet the Robinsons": This was a year dominated by big family films like "Shrek the Third," "Surf's Up" and "Ratatouille," but here are two whip-smart, funny and engaging films that work just as well for grown-ups as they do for kids.

Best Addams Family film - "The Host": In reverence to the weirdest TV family of all time, this award goes to the movie that combined strangeness with family values. This Korean monster movie fits the bill perfectly, as a disjointed family has to come together to rescue a little girl from the most ghastly-yet-impressive monster of the decade.

Best Mayan-Language Film - "Apocalypto"

Best Naked Shower Fight of the Year - "Eastern Promises": I know a lot of viewers out there were thinking "Cheerleader Shower Fights XII" was a shoe-in for this award, but it proved no match for the barbaric intensity of Viggo Mortensen and his disappearing towel.

The Conan Award, for Tough Guy of the Year - King Leonidas, King of the Spartans in "300": Not many guys can be macho while wearing sandals, but somehow Leonidas (Gerald Butler) makes it work.

Villains of the Year: Ordinarily, it's hard to find one amazing movie villain per year. This year, we have two that were so outstanding they deserve special commendation. Forest Whitaker was frighteningly convincing as Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland," and Imelda Staunton was picture-perfect as the loathsome headmistress in "Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix."

The James Brown Award, for the Hardest Working Man in Show Business - Will Arnett: If you don't know who Will Arnett is, you will soon enough. In 2007, he starred in several comedies playing a similar role: "Blades of Glory"(he played an arrogant jerk), "Lets Go to Prison" (arrogant jerk), "Hot Rod" (arrogant jerk) and "The Brothers Solomon" (moronic jerk). Plus voice work in "Grindhouse" and "Ratatouille." Based on this pithy breakdown, Arnett might come across as one-note, but it's a note he plays with hilarious nuance. Akin to bass guitar legend Geezer Butler, he only plays three chords, but he only needs three chords.

Best DVD's of 2007: Despite the greatness of all the films I've mentioned already, I really have saved the best for last. The criterion for selecting the best DVDs of the year was quite simple: If I could only own five DVDs from the year, which ones would I pick? Which were the five films I would be most likely to watch time and again over the years?

5. "The Prestige": Christian "Don't call me Batman" Bale and Hugh "Don't call me Wolverine" Jackman engage in an epic battle of wits as rival stage magicians in this puzzle box of a film. Told in elaborate flashbacks-within-flashbacks, "The Prestige" is a meticulously crafted magic trick, designed to wow and mystify the audience.

4. "Casino Royale": Quite simply the best James Bond movie ever made. Not only does this movie re-invent the man and the franchise for a whole new era, but it does so with such panache that the Pierce Brosnan films instantly seem as corny and dated as the Roger Moore films.

3. "Pans Labyrinth": This movie is a savvy yet somber blend of dark fantasy and depressing wartime drama. A young girl escapes her horrible home life through a mystical quest in a bizarre world parallel to our own; but is it all in her head, or has she really gone down the rabbit hole? Director Guillermo Del Toro has made the most visually stunning movie of his career, no small feat considering he is a director known for his stunning visuals.

2. "Little Miss Sunshine": A dark comedy about a wildly dysfunctional family driving its youngest member to a beauty pageant that she has absolutely no chance of winning. With the perfect blend of tragedy to enhance the comedy, this is a one-of-a-kind movie that everyone should take the time to watch. Yes, this means you.

1. "The Departed": Not merely one of the best DVDs of the year, but one of the best DVDs of any year, and one of the best crime movies ever made. Director Martin Scorcese (who also directed the best crime movie of them all, "Goodfellas") takes an amazing complicated story of cops infiltrating the mob, and the mob infiltrating the cops, and boils it down into a masterpiece of precision. There is a lot going on, but it is never hard to follow - the only problem is keeping up with a story that moves so quickly, and involves so many intriguing characters.

That's it for 2007. It was a tremendous year for good movies, but then again, every year is a good year, if you know where to look.

High praise and caustic rebukes to Rewindcolumn@hotmail.com.

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