As we stumble into 2008—the decade’s long-awaited Luke Skywalkerian year of New Hope—let’s pause for a moment of reflection on the 365 days and 17,988 movies, big and small, that are even now fading away into history as the world holds its breath for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. But if we tidied up the year into its “best” films, we’d be leaving future anthropologists a near-random and fruitless list that would shed zero light on life in Northern America in the seventh year of the second millennium Anno Domini. After all, Live Free or Die Hard would have kicked as much ass in 1995 as it did this summer. Instead, let’s disinter the tradition the IE Weekly started last year (http://www.ieweekly.com/cms/story/detail/reel_life__a_2006_top_10/400/) where we’ll curate a mini-film festival out of the flicks of 2007 that will enlighten my android granddaughter Quberta when she gets bored enough to ask her granny what the deal was with 2007.
Kickin’ It Old Skool—Gen Xers, still cowed by the slacker label slapped on us by our parents, haven’t claimed our share of political power (and as cocky Gen Y ascends, the window closes). And this regressive year found us clinging to nostalgia—or more aptly, found the suits thinking they might keep us distracted by recycling the fads from our youth. Instead, they found out we’re still too apathetic and anti-pandering to shell out for Jamie Kennedy break-dancing and beat-boxing, and even the generations below us knew better than to support such dreck. Excepting the hair metal and leggings. Also rans: Transformers, TMNT, Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Bee Movie—Once, we might have thought Colony Collapse Disorder referred to Roanoke. But the animators behind Bee Movie presaged this year’s sharp drop in our favorite bumbly arthropods by imagining what would happen if all bees went on strike. The result: no flowers, no food, and a graveyard that once was Central Park. In short, everything bee-sterics had been panicking about since spring. Also ran: The Australian horror-comedy Black Sheep that argued our genetically mutated breeds could turn into—gasp!—carnivorous werelambs!
Delta Farce—After 2006’s baby steps towards confronting 9/11, this year damn near hemorrhaged Iraq War movies, most of them less popular than the war itself. At least G.W. took solace that anything he bungled, Larry the Cable Guy did worse—heck, Bush might not know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites, but he at least knows Mexico is half a globe away from the Middle East. And he sure as hell never stood on an aircraft carrier in front of a banner declaring “Got-R-Done!” Also rans: Redacted, No End in Sight, Lions for Lambs, and a whole mess of others like Charlie Wilson’s War and The Kingdom that were about Iraq even if they technically weren’t.
Knocked Up—Babies, babies, babies! Critics debunked feminist author Susan Faludi’s new book The Terror Dream, for insisting that the fall of the Twin Towers led to a rise in motherhood, but she might have been on to something looking at this year’s spermination-obsessed flicks, including Judd Apatow’s wise-cracking, but level-headed comedy. While the birth of Shiloh the Chosen One was 2006, at least wee momma Jamie Lynn Spears had plenty of movies to choose from when she needed some catharsis. (She chose Juno, the best of the lot.) Also rans: Bella, Waitress.
Air Guitar Nation—Football, baseball, and basketball movies are so played out. Actual sports? Whatever, jocks. We live in Nerd Country now. Alexandra Lipsitz’s cheeky documentary followed the competitive travails of two American air guitarists named C-Diddy and Bjorn Turoque who proved that fake sports still take real talent. Also ran: The arcade dramatics of The King of Kong.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry—Political correctness is so ’90s. 2007 is the year Brokeback’s gay pride got drowned out by retrograde gay panic like this lame Adam Sandler vehicle that was evolved enough to balance out its 90 minutes of rampant homophobia with five minutes of limp lip service to accepting our brothers in each other’s arms. As gay marriage is inevitable, Quberta will be just as confused that we once voted it down as we are today about the fight for suffrage. Also rans: Wild Hogs, Blades of Glory.
Sunshine—Global warming, schmobal warming. This taut and mesmerizing thriller imagined instead that the earth was slowly freezing to death and it’s up to a crack team of scientists and astronauts to kick start the sun’s engine. This moody Danny Boyle flick was the most unnerving of this year’s eco-horrors, a packed category that included the prehistoric gasoline fume ghost that tore up a lodge of Arctic oil drillers in The Last Winter, and I Am Legend’s vision of a depopulated New York that had fallen victim to a super bug.
The Golden Compass—Thanks be to Christopher Hitchens that after years of mouthing along silently with the rest of the Family Values devout, in 2007, atheists found their voice. Hitch and Dawkins empowered the adults; for the kiddies came this grandiose fantasy flick about a precocious girl battling a shady cabal with more than a passing resemblance to Christianity that was the antidote to the cuddly sanctimony of the Narnia franchise (whose Aslan/Jesus will roar again this spring). Also ran: If you really want to rattle the faithful, make them watch the treacly and half-assed Evan Almighty every day for a week. They’ll be begging for that pagan Harry Potter in no time.
SICKO—Michael Moore’s incendiary doc struck a chord with an America on the verge of splitting into H.G. Wells’ Eloi and Morlocks, where the rich feast on organic apples and yogurt while the poor can’t afford so much as an annual dentist visit. But while we chuckled and winced as those without insurance stitched up their own cuts, Moore’s delineation of our culture of indentured servitude to debtors and corporations cut us to the bone. Also ran: Maxed Out, What Would Jesus Buy?
300—Okay, so 2007 sure was a lot of doom and gloom, but we were at least reassured that no matter how tough times got, our (mainly white and mostly animated) men could still romper stomp serious damage to our enemies. Hell, Beowulf even slayed two giant beasts and nailed Angelina Jolie. Still, if I had to trade all of Pathfinder’s Vikings for just one perfect American hero, I’d go with John McClane, who in Live Free or Die Hard single-handledly saved the US of A from what Quberta will agree was our biggest threat: Ourselves.