Tuesday, June 16, 2015

4 Ways a Best Picture Bloggers Roundtable: 2007

It's Tuesday, and time for another episode of 4 Ways a Best Picture, where our incredibly awesome panel of bloggers discuss in detail the four films that won a Best Picture type Oscar (Best Picture, Animated Film, Foreign Film, Documentary Feature) in a particular film year.  This week we discuss the year that was 2007.

Once again, here is our panel:

Britt from Rambling Film
Drew (me, duh) from A Fistful of Films
Jeffery from jdbrecords
Wendell from Dell on Movies

Let's get right into this!

Drew:  Let's talk about Taxi to the Dark Side.

Britt:  I'm counting on our discussion to help me settle on a rating, because I can't do it myself.  This doc made me so uncomfortable.

Drew:  Eek, I'm not sure I'll be able to help.  Like, I wrote down, "this made me fucking sick" and that's really all I retained from this.  Uncomfortable is the perfect way to describe this film.

Jeffery:  I am with you how brutal and sickening the film is and its footage.

Kevin:  I tried to watch this doc years ago and couldn't finish it.  And not really from discomfort but, honestly, because I just find it a bit boring.  Then, I gave it another try for this and made it through.  It took me three days to finish.  I literally can't fathom how someone could sit and watch this straight through.  Maybe a theater is needed for the construct of force.  I am baffled by how boring this movie is at times.

Drew:  I never found it boring, to be honest, but this was certainly hard to watch straight through (which I did) because of how horrific it all is.

Kevin:  Maybe my own horror was subconscious and I just thought it was boring.  Maybe it was mood.  I just had trouble staying with this thing both times.  I did make it through and found some greatness in it though.  The indictment of the Bush Administration in this thing is superb.  Dick Cheney truly terrifies me.  This film is incredibly similar to Errol Morris' Standard Operating Procedure, which focused solely on the infamous photographs taken at Abu Ghriab.  Did anyone else see that one?  I liked it a lot better.  Much more focused.  Same exact goal.  Expose the sickness of our military under W.  And I feel so sorry for those MP's, man.  I know the "just following orders" thing has a bad name.  But this movie does a great job also of getting the perspective of the young soldiers taken into this twisted world of torture. 

Britt:  I never saw that other doc.  This one just made me hate humanity.  It also reminded me about the time this was actually happening and I stumbled upon some site making fun of all of this and making memes out of the pictures.  It made me even angrier.

Kevin:  I definitely felt plenty of anger towards and fear for humanity.  It is shocking what some people will do.  And now strong Mob Mentality is in times of war.  These young soldiers were afraid and, even worse, had no idea what they were doing.  To make it worse, the top brass all the way up through Rumsfeld, Cheney, and W himself were not only okay with this but made policy to make it all okay...for them.  Not the poor MP's who lost everything. Man, this shit pisses me off!!!  I applaud director Alex Gibney for going all out in both the graphic depictions of these atrocious tortures (some scenes I wanted to turn away from).

Drew:  Yes, that scene where they showed how Cheney and W manipulated wording within procedural documents in order to make these forms to torture 'allowed' was mind blowing and truly eye opening.

Kevin:  I also applaud him for being so thorough.  I don't like him much as a narrator though.  That hurt this movie for me.

Jeffery:  I appreciated the coda with the director's father.  Made an impact.

Drew:  And I'm right there with you Kevin, with regards to the honest depiction of mob mentality here.  It really explored the mental state of almost unawareness that a lot of these young soldiers were in as they were getting themselves deeper and deeper into actions they, under clear-headed circumstances would most likely be appalled by.  That being said, there is a line you cross where there are no excuses any longer, and I think when the dust settled they sadly had to come to terms with that.

Kevin:  Definitely.  Hindsight's a bitch.  I still feel for them.  This is what happens when you send a bunch of young guys into a situation so undefined and unprecedented.  Guys who had no real training in interrogation.  Appalling!  And Gibney did a great job of making it clear that this went right to the top.  "The brass knew," as one guy said.  Dick Cheney makes me sick to my fucking stomach.  What a backwards sick son of a bitch.  How incompetent can a US President be to let that man have so much power?  Veeps never have as much as that guy.  And those poor soldiers, despite the evil role they played, still had to take it up the ass for these rich politician assholes.

Jeffery:  Cheney and Rumsfeld were the absolute worst.  There is still a lot that could be better with current admin but man, good riddance!

Drew:  Well, we are talking about George W Bush...

Kevin:  Precisely.  I lived through it.  No news to me.  It just still makes me so sick every time I see something from like this from that era.  I'll have even stronger words when we discuss Inside Job.

Drew:  Yeah, the era of 'Dubya' will go down in history as a very, very dark time...which is odd considering he's an idiot and idiots are funny.

Britt:    I got into a discussion once with a friend who was a big 24 fan and he was trying to justify torture to me.  I wonder now if he ever saw this.  Kev, you are definitely right about Cheney. My God.

Kevin:  Interrogation can be valid and valuable.  When you take it to the level of physical and sexual abuse and humiliation, it is just plain inhuman.  The worst part is that our government has drawn such a fine line to the point that in the early aughts there was no line.

Drew:  Yeah, there was clearly no line here.  For me, this brought the human race back hundreds of years...I mean, we were supposed to be past collectively treating other human beings like they were garbage, beneath us.  It was disgusting, and brought to mind the atrocities of slavery and racism and everything our country has supposedly been trying to get beyond.

Kevin:  Supposedly is the key word there.  It's hard to even think about how much our country still needs to evolve.  The whole world, for that matter.

Britt:  #TaxiToPuttingTheHumanRaceBack1000Years

Drew:  LOL

Jeffery:  The doc is well-structured and by focusing on Dilawar gives it resonance.  Difficult movie but important subject matter (super timely and risky for its era) presented strongly.

Wendell:  This was tough to watch.  Everything about it made me feel bad on multiple levels.  The stuff with Cheney & W is just disgusting.  It's sad how many people just bought in to the line of thinking that created this situation.  What makes it doubly tough is that I am a former soldier.  I was in the US Army from 1989-1992.  I was not an MP, or had any dealings with interrogation, but had I found myself in one of those rooms with a POW, I might be the one in the doc.  The reason is simple.  It's not that I subscribe to such heinous methods.  It's that I fully understand their mentality.  From day one as a soldier it is instilled in you that the people above you know best.  You're taught that the people who run things are only doing what's needed to serve our country.  An intrinsic trust of those with more rank than you develops.  Not falling in line means not doing what your country needs you to do.  Not doing what your country needs is a punishable offense.  Depending on the infraction, that punishment could be death.

Kevin:  You speak the truth man.  I come from two Navy men, both of my grandfathers.  Have several friends who served, even in the last decade.  I've had plenty of conversations about how serious it gets.  You fall in line or you're out.

Wendell:  All of these things ate swirling around in a soldier's head and incorporated into their decision making process.  They have trouble understanding that they did anything wrong because everything they've been taught tells them they did right.  Fall in line or you're out is a much more concise way of saying it.  Thanks.

Kevin:  Well I wanted to let you tell how it really is.  I only know it second-hand.  I appreciate you sharing this, man.  Can't imagine how much a soldier's judgment gets messed with.

Wendell:  Glad to.  The movie itself gets its message across rather effectively.  I have to applaud it for that and for taking such an unflinching look at the situation.

Britt:  Thanks for that input, Dell.  I still can't even wrap my mind around this.  I don't know what to grade it.

Wendell:  No problem, Britt.  Happy to help in some small way.

Drew:  Yeah, Dell, I appreciate you sharing with us your own experience because it certainly helped color in some areas of the doc and give it added context.  A lot of times we can be overly judgmental of things we don't understand, so I appreciate you helping us understand it a little better.

Kevin:  I'm giving it a B.  Really well-made, well-shot, intensely real.  I had to slog through it though.  It sort of drags for me.  And so harsh.

Drew:  B+ from me, simply because I don't like the way it made me feel.

Wendell:  Made me feel pretty rough, too.  B+ is where I'm landing, too.

Britt:  B- then.  It was very well made, so I don't want to let the uncomfortable factor effect my grade *too* much.

Jeffery:  A-


Drew:  Now, let's talk about The Counterfeiters, or how another film about The Holocaust won an Oscar.

Kevin:  For me, this movie defeats itself.  For every one thing it does right, it does something wrong.  The most prime example of that is the odd visual aspect of this movie, the cinematography.  Sometimes its beautifully staged, steadicam work, other times its grainy, shaky handheld.  The abrupt switches in style did not work for me on this one.  I sort of get where they're coming from, outside vs. inside the concentration camps.  But it wasn't necessary and was totally noticeable.  My wife watched this one with me and even she noticed the differences between scenes.  Also, I never felt the power of this thing.  The screenwriters devised this great ending, then rushed into it too quickly for the audience to figure it out for themselves.  The end came way too abruptly.  I wanted to ugly cry face but I didn't.  I almost felt a Wow! moment for a few seconds, then it was gone, and my wife was asleep.  These really, though, now that I'm thinking about my overall experience with this movie, are minor gripes.  I enjoyed watching this movie.  I was entertained and moved enough, but those few odd missteps kept it from being great for me.  And, looking at the field, this is the only one I’ve actually heard of.

Jeffery:  The mix of harshness and lightness suited the storyline and film well.  At times it reminded me a little of Full Metal Jacket.  The colors were very washed out, faded.  The story was fascinating (hadn't known about it before).  I did feel somewhat distant from it all (as I have with many of these Foreign Language winners), not sure why.  Perhaps it's somewhat chilly presentation.

Britt:  Yet another Holocaust film, but I did like this one.  It was a little uneven, like it just needed a bit more polishing.  The story itself was fascinating though.  And it managed to feel a bit different from all the other Holocaust films out there.

Drew:  I feel like I have so little to say about this, but I had such a non-reaction to this film.  It made me feel absolutely nothing.

Kevin:  Same here, Drew.  There wasn't enough to grab onto.  But I also agree with Britt.  It does feel different than most Holocaust movies.  It has the harshness but also some lightness.  The con artist counterfeiting stuff was really interesting.  The whole idea behind this movie is fresh.  I think the abrupt ending just sort of ruined it.  It's like I was on my way to feeling something and then...nothing.  I do like the lead actor, or as I like to call him "The Austrian Jackie Earle Haley.

Drew:  It felt fresh in conception and yet the construction of this film was so pedestrian.  This needed a director with more vision.  Just comparing the 'style' and direction of this film with the year before and the quality of filmmaking is so different.  This felt almost 'made for TV' (plus a penis).  Nothing felt cinematic to me.

Kevin:  I don't know.  The opening scenes were really beautifully decorated and well-shot.  A lot of good acting here.  I didn't get a made-for-TV vibe but I did totally get a director without a clear vision vibe.

Drew:  When I saw 'made for TV' I don't mean visually (at least not entirely, because in part, I do) but more in the way the story is handled.

Kevin:  Oh ok.  I hear that.  The story definitely felt rushed and incomplete, especially in the end.

Drew:  It feels so safe and almost 'light' despite themes presented.  So 'by the numbers', as if the director were filming this 'according to script' and not truly feeling the material.

Kevin:  Yes! That sums up the gripes I opened with.

Wendell:  Kevin hit it on the nose.  Something happens that works followed by something that doesn't.  And it totally feels like a movie that won an Oscar just because it's about The Holocaust.  Unlike other films on the subject, it seems to go out of its way to soften any blows it might land.  Definitely doesn't carry the emotional weight I was expecting.  Anyone else confused by what exactly happened at the end, or is it just me?  Was he back in the same place with the same woman from the beginning, or was I just really tired?

Kevin:  I straight up don't even remember that at all.  That's probably a bad thing.

Britt:  It was the same place, I believe?

Jeffery:  I loved the ending (great last line) on the beach.  I agree that the story felt a little uneven.

Kevin:  I’m going B- on this one.

Drew:  C, for pretending to try and then, well, not.

Wendell:  C will do it for me, too.

Britt:  B- from me as well.

Jeffery:  This is a solid B for me.


Drew:  So was Ratatouille another Pixar slam-dunk?  In my eyes, yes.  Some will balk that Ratatouille merely hits a series of tropes that the modern animated film strives to hit, but it does so with such grace and effortless charm that I can't help but be consumed by this film.  It's absolutely delicious!

Kevin:  I think that's what's so great about this movie.  It's a return to that sort of traditional, fun animated movie of my childhood.  It's simple.  Or effortless, as you say.  Man, this movie is fun to watch!  I have to admit.  Pixar made me an animation snob.  I've seriously bashed every non-Pixar animated movie we've discussed and given all the Pixar movies at least an A.  They’re just that much better.  Anyway, Ratatouille was made for me.  I love good food.  I love good humor.  I love underdog stories.  I love the way Brad Bird shoots his movies.  It's unlike any animation ever.  Most of all, and this is the kicker for me, I love Michael Giacchino's scores.  The music in this movie if fucking world-class brilliant.  In two weeks, we'll talk about Up, where he does it again.  I'm like almost ugly face crying just thinking about it.

Jeffery:  Beautiful animation, inventive ideas and a cool score by Michael Giacchino.

Drew:  Lol, I practically am Remy.  I'm the hairy foodie among my friends.  Like you, Kev, this movie was made for me.  Thankfully, my friends don't find it disgusting when I cook for them.

Kevin:  I am the friend who cooks as well.  My wife hates to cook.  Lucky for her, I love it.  #hairyfoodiesunite

Drew:  Same here.  My wife has cooked me two meals in our twelve years, one of which I taught her, the other out of a box.

Kevin:  Sounds like we married the same chick.  My wife cooks chicken parm (very messily), which is pretty good.  And rice sides.  That's it.  Haha!  I joke that if I didn't cook for here she would just eat cereal three times a day.

Drew:  Oh my God, I think we did marry the same chick. When we got married she literally ate cereal for breakfast and lunch. I tell her I saved her from a life of boring food.  So, back to the rat at hand...I'm right there with you on Giacchino's scores.  He's a genius.  For me, Ratatouille is one of those films that doesn't have super emotional highs, unlike Nemo and Toy Story 3 and Up, but is remarkably consistent in tone and focus.  For me, it’s a perfect movie.  It broaches a lot of the same themes as film's like Nemo (in that whole 'anyone can do anything' kind of way), but it still feels wholly its own entity.  And, Patton Oswalt is just awesome here.  His voice was made for animation.

Jeffery:  Patton Oswalt does great voice work.

Kevin:  This movie really is fully solid.  It's never anything but watchable.  It leaves lasting images.  The action sequence with the ceiling fan and the old lady with the double barrel. The first time he cooks, fixing the sauce, ingredients flying in from all directions. The genius physical humor with the puppeteering.  Just solid stuff all the way through.  Entertainment: How It's Done.

Drew:  YES to that puppeteering scene!  That's pure cinematic love right there!

Wendell:  Being honest, the puppeteering makes no sense, but it still works wonderfully within the frame of the movie .

Drew:  Oh, it makes no sense, that’s why it’s cinematic magic. 

Wendell:  Agreed.  It most certainly is magical.

Drew:  One thing that I really respected about the way that Ratatouille handles its primary characters is that it doesn't simply dump Linguini as a mere means to an end but actually finds use for him within the realm of where he wants to be.  He may not be a good chef, but he has purpose, and so while he hides behind the talent of another throughout the majority of the film, Remy finding his triumph or validation at the film's end does not come at Linguini's expense, for they both find their home, thus proving that we can be a part of something we love, even if we don't have what it takes to be what we 'think' we need to be.

Kevin:  Well said.  There is room for the Linguini character to learn and grow and flourish in his own way.  He and Remy become a true partnership.

Wendell:  Fully agree with what you guys said about Remy and Linguini.

Britt:  Well I hate to be THAT person, but this one was quite unmemorable for me.  Despite loving food and loving to cook.  Maybe it's a guy thing.  My husband loves this movie and I'm very meh on it.

Drew:  There’s always that one in the group.

Britt:  I do have to give it props for getting an original screenplay nom though.  That's tough for an animated movie.

Jeffery:  Brad Bird is very creative.  The storyline felt so thin to me though.  I think the movie could have easily been a slim 90 minutes.

Wendell:  I'm pretty much in line with the rest of you on this one.  It's such a charming movie I can't help but fall in love with it.  I also like spending time in the kitchen.  Not a great chef or anything, but I dabble enough to be effective.  A lil more lucky because my wife is actually a better cook than I.  She just doesn't like it as much.  We split the duties pretty evenly.  All that said, this would not be my winner.  It's cute, charming, and really good, but Persepolis is on another level.

Drew:  As a narrative, I'd say you're right, but as a finished product, I disagree.  Persepolis has such a rich story, but Ratatouille is the whole package.  It's visual storytelling at its finest.

Wendell:  Ratatouille has all of Pixar's spit and polish, but doesn't grab me the way Persepolis does.  That one is visually striking in its own simplistic way, but more importantly, it's compelling.  Ratatouille is excellent, but doesn't really go any further than being cute.

Britt:  I never saw Persepolis, but I did see part of Surf's Up and Ratatouille definitely deserves a win over that.

Drew:  Fuck those penguins!  I really liked Persepolis, but there was an unevenness, which can come from such a passionate and personal story.

Wendell:  Yeah, not sure why Happy Surfing got a nom.

Drew:  Ratatouille is just so easy, so fluid, so focused.

Wendell:  I like that its uneven.  It gives you things to contemplate, things that stick with you.  Ratatouille goes down so smoothly and is so cut and dry, it lacks the same staying power.

Drew:  It stayed with me.  But I get what you’re saying.  They are two very different animals.

Wendell:  Definitely 2 different animals, but have to be judged against one another since they were competing in the same category.

Britt:  I'm not sure how Surf's Up got in there, honestly.  You'd think The Simpson's Movie would've made it.

Wendell:  Yes, The Simpsons was much better.

Jeffery:  I give this one a solid B.  Would have been higher had it not felt so dragged out.

Kevin:  Love this one.  Solid A.

Drew:  A+!  Like, for real.  When I say it's a perfect movie, I totally mean it.

Wendell:  I do love Ratatouille, just not my top choice of the year so I'm going B+.

Britt:  C+ just didn't work for me, but not a bad film by any means.  And you know what?  I'm going to eat cereal for dinner tonight.

Kevin:  And Britt just won the conversation.


Drew:  So, the Coen Brothers walk into a bar…and snag three Oscars!

Kevin:  First, I just want to say that 2007 was a badass year for movies.  Three of the greatest brooding "Westerns" ever made all in one year.  I was fortunate enough to see all three in theaters.  I'm talking, of course, about the gorgeous The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Paul Thomas Anderson's epic There Will Be Blood, and this one, the third masterpiece directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.  I love this movie.  I would give it the Oscar every year.  No movie like it has ever or will ever be made.  At least not any I'm familiar with.  It not only captures the genius of Cormac McCarthy's prose, but also the genius of the Coen Brothers, that dry wit that made them so successful in the first place.  I re-watched this movie for the fifth time just last night.  It's as awe-inducing for me as the first time.  And the ingenious violence in this thing.  Good God!  This flick is violent.

Wendell:  Ingenious violence? I'm good with that.  I love this movie.  The best part is that I like a little more with each successive viewing.  It was in my top 5 that year when I first saw it.  I saw it again right before the Oscars and moved it up to no. 2, behind There Will Be Blood.  The next time I saw it a year or two later I put it on even ground with TWBB.  Now, I nudged it ahead a bit, though I'm fine with anyone who sees the other as better.

Jeffery:  This is by far one of my favorite Best Picture winners.  As a chase movie, it's super tense and then it unwinds into a mediation on violence.

Britt:  I love this movie.  I was still on my Coen high when this came out (that dropped a bit when they got noms for True Grit) but this was strangely peaceful.  It was violent and intense, but very still.  I had a false sense of security during the whole thing.

Drew:  I’m going to be unpopular today.

Kevin:  To quote this masterpiece, Drew: “You don’t have to do this.”

Drew:  To quote this overrated flick, Kevin: “You can’t stop what’s coming…” 

Wendell:  LOL at the dueling quotes.

Britt:  Those quotes are perfect.

Drew:  I should start by saying that I do like this movie.  I actually really like it.  I do not find it perfect, and it mostly lies in two scenes and the fact that I adored the novel and when reading it was most moved by those two scenes and so the botchery that took place in the film regarding them puts me off a bit.  The overall tone of the film is quite perfect, so cold and stagnant and effortlessly tense, and McCarthy's novel is right there as well, but McCarthy does something to cut that tension and add a layer of human feeling/emotion that the Coen brothers outright tore out, and it kills the impact this film could have had for me.

Kevin:  This is actually one McCarthy I haven't read...because I saw the movie first.

Drew:  First, there is a scene in the novel where Llewelyn picks up a young hitchhiker.  What proceeds is pages of dialog between the two that actually makes Llewelyn feel like a real human.  It fleshes him out, gives him blood in those veins and draws us into him as a person.  By stripping that scene entirely from the story, the Coen's kind of relegated Llewelyn to a mere prop, a plot point, a void of a character who existed only to bring the plot to where it needed to go.  I feel nothing for him.  Nothing.  He's not real.  The second scene, and the most damning to me, is the final scene with Anton and Carla Jean, Llewelyn's wife.  In the novel, it is the moment that adds this sense of closure to the story, the completes everything, closes it with such grace and this overwhelming feeling of humanity pervading through.  It's in the film, but it's diced to pieces and feels so tacked on.  This scene should have felt like a moment, should have provided that emotional crux to every moment preceding, and yet it's so tonally in line with the rest of the cold delivery that it makes absolutely no impact.  It’s just there.  So much about this movie is, in a word, perfect, but these moments would have created a complete air of perfection.  They would have taken a really good movie and made it iconic, great, perfect.  So, it bugs me that people consider this one of the 'greatest Best Picture winners of all time' because it's not a perfect film...it's frustrating in a way because it could have and should have been, but the Coen's dropped the ball in two key moments that actually took something away from this story.  Atonement, There Will Be Blood and even Michael Clayton were better films.

Wendell:  How you feel about the ending plays a huge part in how you feel about this movie.  I thought it was sheer perfection.  No part of it didn't work for me.  My wife's experience was much like Drew's.  She was enjoying the movie, but then the ending happened and she was none too happy.  When I told her I loved it, she just rolled her eyes.  I understand the sentiment.  I disagree, but I understand.  I liked Juno and Michael Clayton, but not on a Best Pic level.  Would love to have seen Gone Baby Gone get a nom.  Always thought that was both phenomenal and criminally overlooked.

Kevin:  Like I said, I haven't read the book.  Mostly because I hadn't read it before the movie came out.  I like to do book first.  Because I haven't read it, this movie can be and is perfect.  Now, Llewellyn gets life in quite a few scenes.  1. On the couch with Carla Jean early on.  2. When he decides to take the dying man water.  3. The hospital scene with Harrelson's Carson Wells.  4. The lady by the pool.  We finally like him there.  Then, the Coen Brothers kill him off without even showing us.  That to me is genius.  It takes him out of the equation, because he is not the center of this movie.  Ed Tom is.  Llewellyn is a supporting character in this movie.  The movie only treats him like the protagonist because that's how the action moves along.  Ed Tom is where the meaning of the story comes through.  The ending of this movie is baffling.  It takes balls to call this movie perfect and to give it an Oscar for Best Picture.  I feel like I should go ahead and say now that I am a lifelong Coen Brothers disciple.  Their humor comes through in every one of their movies.  And it's just the kind I like.  Fargo is my favorite movie of all-time and has been since I was probably 16.  They have trouble doing wrong for me, even when they make worthless shit like Intolerable Cruelty.  The three other nominees you mentioned are all good.  Two are even great.  But Atonement?  Come on!!!  I would've have punched a hole through my TV screen if that had won. 

Britt:  I thought Lewellen's death was shocking.  At first I was irritated that it felt like an afterthought, but I realize now it fits.  And I kept thinking Bell was going to get shot, especially towards the end during his monolog.

Drew:  Um, Atonement is a fucking perfect movie, and I've read that novel as well and it's perfectly adapted, beautiful, poignant, earnest, crushing, heartfelt...UGLY CRY FACE...just PERFECT!  Best movie of 2007, for REAL!

Kevin:  I only remember the score.  And the one tracking shot of the war scene.  That is literally it.  I don't even remember what it's about.  I do remember liking it.  I won't dispute you that it's a great movie.

Wendell:  Not a fan of Atonement.  Just didn't float my boat.

Drew:  Um, DUDE...like...watch it again.  Tonight.  Now.  Like...right this minute!  Like I said, I really like this.  My grade is going to surprise you, considering my rant about its unworthiness, but nothing will change the fact that, good or not, this film is horribly overrated.

Kevin:  I just don't think so.  I think it was just a year with a shit ton of great movies, this one included.  The dialogue between Ed Tom and Garrett Dillahunt's Deputy character are perfection enough.  Such perfect, funny dialogue.  And that's before the silencer shotgun and the sawn-off.  This movie tightens like a fucking vice grip for two hours and then just ends.  I can't describe the feeling I had when I left that theater.  I guess it was awe.  I was almost catatonic.  But I can say the same thing for the other two I mentioned at the first.  The Assassination of Jesse James is my ultimate favorite of the year.  Then, Superbad.  Boom!

Drew:  LOVE Superbad!  My favorite comedy of the year (suck it Juno).  I knew my feelings would be unpopular or against the norm this week.  And...I don't think Bardem's performance was Oscar worthy, to be honest.  He played the character perfectly fine, but the stripping of that last scene kind of killed what 'could' have been for me.

Kevin:  Lol.  But then I love Juno too.  Its gimmicks just wore off a bit over the years.

Drew:  Oh, I really like Juno too, but Superbad is just as good every time and doesn't rely on snappy 'gimmicky' dialog to make it work.

Wendell:  Bardem was more than Oscar worthy.  He gave us one of my favorite movie villains of this century.  Everything about was just creepy as hell.  He was so unsettling.  He was so good, here, I was a little pissed about what he did as the bad guy in Skyfall.  And I love Skyfall.  

Britt:  Bardem was perfect .  He deserves an Oscar just for that awful haircut.

Jeffery:  Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Brolin are perfect.  The cinematography and atmosphere are tops.

Kevin:  Bardem won for two scenes: the piece of brilliance with the gas station owner and the scene where is stitched is shotgun wound up.  Pure genius!  Superbad is as fresh even now as the day it was released.  That is a timeless teen comedy.  I love Bardem's win.  Affleck should've been a lead nominee.  And won.  Although I love Day-Lewis' work as well.  Nobody was beating that dude.  Hell, I think the casting of Bardem alone is worth an Oscar.  And, Drew, I promise I'll re-watch Atonement soon.  My wife just told me we have it on DVD.  It's just put up somewhere.

Drew:  LOL, Affleck should have won in Lead, even over Day-Lewis...over anyone...like, he was astonishing.  THAT is a star making turn.  Too bad he's done nothing with that star since...

Kevin:  I agree.  I was referring to how seriously nobody but Day-Lewis had a chance.

Drew:  LOL, and I want a full report when you revisit Atonement and you either conclude that I’m insane or that I’m exactly correct!

Kevin:  I don't know if I'll ever get to that point.  I love so much about so much about the year 2007 in movies and in my life.  But I'll try.  To quote Frank Sinatra: "It was a very good year."

Drew:  Oh, it was…it really, really was!

Britt:  2007 was an excellent year.  Atonement is perfect, There Will Be Blood was perfect.  And YES to Superbad!  I liked Juno too, but you're right that Superbad just holds up better.  I never did see Michael Clayton, though.

Wendell:  Just looking over the list of 2007 releases and wow.  It was outstanding.  Found a few excellent foreign entries, too, further diminishing that winner for me.  We had The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, La Vie en Rose, The Orphanage.  Just such a rich year.  And I still love No Country for Old Men and Bardem's performance.  Since I do have it right there with There Will Be Blood, I won't quite go the full monty, but close enough: A.

Kevin:  A+ for No Country for Old Men.  A+ for the year in movies 2007.  A+ for The White Stripes at Bonnaroo.  A+.

Drew:  LOL...despite my issues with what wasn't there, what was there was still damn good, so I'm at an A-.  See, I wasn’t too harsh.

Britt:  No Country is an easy A for me.

Jeffery:  A+


YEAR SCORE: 289/400


1) No Country for Old Men (92 Points)
2) Ratatouille (76 Points)
3) Taxi to the Dark Side (70 Points)
4) The Counterfeiters (51 Points)

Closing Comments

Drew:  So all in all, this was a decent batch of winners.  I could live without the Foreign, but the rest were very well made and respectable wins.

Wendell:  Not bad. The Foreign was a point of contention for me, too.  I like at three movies better that weren't even nominated for the category:  The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, La Vie en Rose, and The Orphanage.  As usual, AMPAS played it safe and went with the Holocaust movie.

Drew:  4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days was horrifically snubbed.  It's a BRILLIANT and devastating film.

Wendell:  Oh yeah...can't believe I didn't mention that.  What a brutal movie.  I was going to say Diving Bell should have won, but 4 Months is where it’s at.

Drew:  Yeah, that movie ruined me.  Such a powerful film.

Britt:  How did I forget that too?  Yes.  4 Months should've been the winner.  That film was heavy.  But I can't complain about this batch.  There's some good films here, No Country being the best.

Kevin:  I never saw 4 Months but remember all the praise it got.  Crazy how Oscar lets that stuff get by.  2007 was just a solid year, with a lineup of solid Best Picture nominees all around.  No Country and Ratatouille are both masterpieces as far as I'm concerned.

Jeffery:  This was a great year for film. The Best Picture was one of the best in a long time.

Let's Get TRENDY

Our hashtag for the week comes courtesy of a bonding conversation between Kevin and myself over Ratatouille...so let the #HairyFoodiesUnite!  Talk us up on Twitter and be sure to leave your comments below!


  1. There Will Be Blood is still my personal pick for Best Picture, but No Country For Old Men was a very deserving and un-Academy like winner. I say it's very un-Academy of them to award it because it's violent, cynical, and with an unsure ending. Quite the opposite of their usual mold and I love that they took a chance.

    Regarding the Foreign Language category, however, I haven't seen The Counterfeiters. But I'm curious about the whereabouts of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and The Orphanage in that category. I'm guessing because one is about abortion and the other is horror, they said "no thanks".

    1. If I remember correctly, I think that 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days suffered the same fate as Blue is the Warmest Colour and Cache in that their release dates in their home country came too late in the year and thus they were Oscar ineligible.

  2. Since we have these one day at a time it easy to forget who is steering the ship from discussion to the next, but Kevin was killing it for '07.

    1. Thanks, man. '07 is just such a good year. It also helps a bit that I'm able to get into the conversation earlier in the day. I'm off and not too busy in the mornings when Drew hits us up. Anyway, all of you have had so many great things to say throughout this. I am totally humbled to get to talk movies with this crew.

    2. This really has been a great experience all the way around, getting to shoot the shit about good, great and awful movies with you guys!

    3. Definitely! I'm having a ball taking part in this.

  3. Ratatouille is a near-perfect film and for a long while I had it placed above Nemo in my list of favorite Pixar films (that exists in my head and changes daily). It's such a terrifically original concept and is executed flawlessly, even if the story is a bit lumpy. And the voice work is really just beyond - I can't believe NONE of you mentioned Peter O'Toole's brilliant shoulda-been-Oscar-nominated work as Anton Ego!

    Taxi to the Dark Side is indeed sick-making, and incredibly important, brave piece of work, but something always feels slightly off to me about Gibney's docs. Don't quite know what it is.

    The Counterfeiters is fine. I'm with Kevin that for everything it gets "right" it gets something equally "wrong", but overall I liked it far more than I expected.

    No Country, though. Again I like what Kevin said: It tightens like a vice grip for two hours and then just fucking ENDS. I like it mostly for how it is completely unexpected coming from the Coens: It's just SO bleak and uncompromising, two things I hadn't really associated with their work before, at least not at this level. It's incredibly well-made. But I feel absolutely no connection to it AT. ALL. It's a problem I had with most of the Best Picture nominees this year, which is all the more disappointing since 2007 was such a tremendous year. No Country is such a cold and remote film, and that keeps it from true greatness for me. I can see why it won (total snapshot of the mood at the time), and I'm certainly glad it beat the ridiculously overrated, pretentious There Will Be Blood. I think at the time, I was even advocating for it to win.

    But now, eight years on, the rightful winner is clear, and it's not the one I thought it would be: Juno. Damn if that film doesn't keep on revealing more and more with each viewing and as time goes by. I grow more and more impressed by the wisdom and warmth of Diablo Cody's screenplay, the flawlessness of literally the ENTIRE CAST (Page, obviously, but also Garner! Janney! Simmons! Cera! Even Bateman!), and the purposefully light touch of Jason Reitman in the director's chair. People continue to deride it as a catchphrase machine, but there is a shocking amount of heart present, and it has grown exponentially in my estimation in the years since I first saw it. While every other film in the 2007 BP lineup holds the audience at a remove, whether by accident or by design, Juno looks the audience square in the eye and wraps its arms wide around them, and then whispers a funny joke in its ear. It's a warm, funny, insightful, smart, well-made film: It's the whole package, and the most deserving winner of this lineup.

    Although if I had my way, it would be either Diving-Bell and the Butterfly or The Orphanage.

    1. Brother, now you got me wanting to watch Juno. I was so elated with the experience of that movie. It is totally warm and funny and lovable.

      I don't agree with you on There Will Be Blood. I definitely take No Country over it, but I don't find it overrated. It is an amazing cinematic experience on pretty much every level.

      Love your input on this, man.

    2. I'm so in love with your Juno affections! I, too, want to rewatch it now.

      And like Kevin, I love your input (on like everything)!

    3. I didn't even LOVE Juno the first time I saw it. I thought it was just a bit too snarky. But time has revealed it to be far more mature than I initially thought... much like its heroine, in a way! Whoda thunk?

    4. Whoda thunk is right! Love it though. I may even watch it tonight. It's never been less than wholly watchable.

  4. As always really enjoyable discussions. I'm two for four here, haven't seen the doc nor the animated feature.

    I agree with the general consensus about The Counterfeiters, it had some good bits and the story it told was fascinating but overall it didn't cohere in a truly meaningful way, this certainly couldn't have been the best international picture of the year!

    While No Country for Old Men wouldn't have been my choice to win, I preferred Atonement by quite a bit, it is the winning picture I've liked the best since Gladiator. It's full of great acting by the whole cast but that chilly remove both helps and hurts the film and the ending while it made sense in a way did have a drifting off feeling. Still it is an oasis in the winner circle for me after many rough years and several others which will follow.

    1. Yeah...compared to what we've been dealing with (and will continue to deal with), it's a notch above, for sure!

  5. Ratatouille and No Country for Old Men are great but for me, the best film of 2007 is I'm Not There.

    1. I love the innovative feel of I'm Not There. I don't think it's a perfect movie at all, but it's so clever and unique, so for that I'll always respect it.

  6. I've only seen Ratatouille and I adore that movie! Reading this made me want to rewatch it soon. As for No Country for Old Men, I don't really want to see it, it just doesn't appeal to me, like at all. And Drew, I agree Atonement is such a perfect film. Beautifully shot, heart-wrenching story and impeccably acted, what's not to love?

    1. No Country is very dark and very violent, but it's essential viewing for cinephiles, so I recommend eventually seeing it, for sure.

      And yes, Atonement is everything!

  7. Ratatouille is just SO GOOD. Probably my second favorite Pixar film behind Finding Nemo. It might be effortless, but it's brilliant!

    I hate to be THAT guy, but I actually liked Surf's Up...even more than The Simpsons Movie. :P

    No Country for Old Men continues to grow on me. Drew, your take on it makes complete sense, though. I think what the Coens did was still masterful, but I totally get where you're coming from. In fact, I have similar reservations towards The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, which feels like a masterpiece at times when watching it, but is so cold and distant overall that it leaves almost no lasting impact. I've seen it 2 or 3 times, and I've never gone higher than an A-.

    I still need to check out Taxi to the Dark Side and The Counterfeiters. Based on your discussions, I'm not sure I'm looking forward to either, but for different reasons.

    1. LOL, Surf's Up was better than Happy Feet!

      Yeah, I'm with you on No Country for Old Men. I don't even think it makes my Top 12 of 2007...and it's a good film, but the film year as a whole was better. I preferred Jesse James, but I think that's a film that used it's coldness to better effect, especially in the near documentary feel.

      Yeah...be prepared for the two you have left to see.

    2. Taxi to the Dark Side is on Youtube. Makes it easier to find, but definitely not any easier to watch.

    3. Yeah, I don't think anything could make that an easier watch...unless you're a terrible person.

  8. I have to say I love "No Country For Old Men"-I think it is brilliant but I also love "There Will Be Blood"-I am also happy that Day Lewis won because I found his acting a tour de force which it is normally anyway. I would love to see that documentary-it sounds quite interesting and right up my alley since I always felt Cheney is a dangerous thug and Bush a stupid thug. I have not seen the animated film but I have been known to eat my toast and honey for dinner even though I can cook. I also am giggling because it seemed you almost talked more about your wives not cooking than the film:) I loved La Vie En Rose and I have no real desire to see "The Counterfeiters" because the holocaust sometimes feels like it is rammed down our throats. I will probably get blasted for that comment. It is horrific what happened and should never, ever be forgotten but if one ever mentions something about not liking a holocaust film or not wanting to see it, you almost feel guilty because it is politically incorrect. Drew you ill hate me fore this but "Atonement" had a great story but it was sooooooo boring I fell asleep and so did the 3 other people I went to the movies with to see this film. I get the reason for the title and it was a great story if, to me, done better. It seems another one of those pictures like "In The Bedroom" and another i can't recall-the same style which leaves me flat...right on my bed sleeping:)

    1. LOL, I love that half of the Ratatouille conversation revolves around who does the cooking in the family!

      I won't begrudge your feelings towards Atonement and In the Bedroom, two of the greatest films of the aughts.

  9. I remember being so worried that this ceremony would be cancelled on account of the writer's strike. It was an interesting race.
    I found the characters in The Counterfeitersvery compelling and enjoyed the movie very much.
    As for No Country, I do think that it's nearly perfect. The Coens take a much colder approach to the novel and the characters are more symbols than actual characters and put the focus on their reflection on fate, mortality, and aging. I love the final scene more every time I see it.

    1. I think, honestly, that if I had been able to remove myself from the 'hype' and the 'source' for No Country for Old Men, I'd see it for what it is and not what I expected it to be.

  10. I don't have time to finish reading this post right now (and reading the first section is making my blood pressure shoot up), but I'll comment on what I've seen so far. :-) No Country for Old Men is amazing, by the way. I can't wait to read everyone's thoughts on it.

    Can you believe I'd never heard of Taxi to the Dark Side? I have contradictory reactions. I feel I couldn't sit through this. And I think I need to watch it with my homeschooled teens ASAP. It's an important (and ugly) part of our history.

    One thing I've spent a LOT of time discussing with the teens is the whole issue of why decent people do horrible things and the importance of resisting authority when it's appropriate. The latter point is something I wish all teens were taught, but the public schools probably won't go there. We watched Compliance and discussed the infamous Milgram Experiment, the Stanford Prison Experiment, some of the events which occurred while the U.S. was fighting in Vietnam, and so forth. We also watched a Ted Talk by the guy who spearheaded the Stanford Prison Experiment -- he talked specifically about his take on Abu Gharib.

    I never knew Wendell had been in the army. Kudos to him for his service and for sharing his perspective on the issues you were discussing.

    I'll be back soon.

    1. Eek, well I'm sorry we made you anxious...that certainly wasn't the intention of this post! But I love your thoughts on discussing this situation with your children. It's a really important and timely topic.

    2. No worries ... I get that reaction almost every time I read the news or even think about George W. Bush & Co. :-) I bounce back quickly.

      I hope traditionally schooled teens are discussing these issues. I have no idea whether that's the case.

    3. Yeah, I hear you on that.

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