Sakeriver Movie Awards for 2007

I wonder how many different ways I can say that I've been lazy lately? Less than two hours remain before the Oscars start (my traditional deadline for these awards) and I haven't even reviewed the last Oscar-nominated film we saw. But enough complaining--here we go.

Best Drama: Once

This was the only no-brainer this year. I simply loved this film. The combination of amazing chemistry between the leads and wonderful music just worked so well for me. Once was definitely my favorite movie of the year, and is now one of my favorites of all time.

Runners-Up: I Am Legend, The Namesake, No Country for Old Men

Best Comedy: Superbad

This category was a bit more difficult, since there were a number of strong contenders. Knocked Up and Juno were probably more well-rounded but in terms of sheer laughs, I think Superbad wins. And, surprisingly, there was a sort of tenderness at the heart of the film, under all of the swearing and toilet humor, an understanding of and nostalgia for the feeling of being a teenager that I really loved.

Runners-Up: Dan in Real Life, Juno, Knocked Up

Best Actor: Kal Penn (The Namesake)

Kal Penn really impressed me with this movie. Obviously, a big part of it was having a great script to work with. Still, for an actor who was previously best known for his roles in movies like Van Wilder and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle to deliver a dramatic performance that wasn't just convincing but was actually really good, that's an achievement, I think.

Runner-Up: Ryan Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl)

Best Actress: Ellen Page (Juno)

This was probably the hardest category for me this year, but not because there were a lot of choices. In fact, I couldn't think of a single particularly memorably performance by an actress in a leading role. I ended up going with Ellen Page because even though I don't think the role was much of a stretch for her, she was the first person to come to mind. And she did do a pretty good job. (I know, stunning praise.)

Best Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones (No Country for Old Men)

I think it's a real shame that Tommy Lee Jones's performance in No Country for Old Men was overlooked at this year's Oscars. Javier Bardem was certainly more noticeable in his turn as Anton Chigurh in that movie, but even though Bardem was certainly chilling and inscrutable, it was a little over the top. Jones, on the other hand, was just about perfect. He managed to do so much, and never overdid anything.

Runners-Up: Michael Cera (Juno), Irfan Khan (The Namesake)

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Garner (Juno)

In the supporting role category, this is the year for tight, unpretentious performances. Jennifer Garner was just spot-on as a woman looking to be an adoptive mother. It was a great example of how much can be done with just a subtle look, and how much more convincing it is to hold in an emotion rather than reach out and ask for a reaction from the audience.

Runner-Up: Kelly Macdonald (No Country for Old Men)

No Country for Old Men

I wish I could tell you that the reason I waited forty days to write this review was because I wanted to take time to really think it over and give you an honest review, untainted by initial glow. I'd be lying if I did, of course. Still, having had the time to reflect on it was useful. What I've determined is that this was a very good movie that, nevertheless, didn't have that great a story. The film is amazingly well put-together. Those people whose only experience with the Coen Brothers has been goofier movies like The Big Lebowski or The Hudsucker Proxy may be surprised at the lack of obvious Coen eccentricity, as well as the darker tone. Indeed, the stars of the film, Tommy Lee Jones as the weary sheriff, Ed Tom Bell, and Javier Bardem as the cold-blooded assassin, Anton Chigurh, seem positively restrained compared to the likes of George Clooney's Ulysses Everett McGill. Bardem, of course, has been nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, and it's no surprise--he creates such an intense, inscrutable character that it couldn't help but get noticed. For me, though, Jones was even better. He gave such a tight, unpretentious performance, it was just a joy to watch him. The rest of the cast was also quite good--Josh Brolin and Kelly Macdonald, in particular. Still, despite the fact that I loved the performances and the cinematography--as you may know, I'm a sucker for landscapes--the film as a whole left me feeling a little unfulfilled, particularly the way it ended. Actually, I think the closing scene may have been genius from a thematic standpoint, but in terms of providing a resolution to the story, the film just didn't deliver. Despite my objections, though, I have no qualms about giving No Country for Old Men top marks.

Viewed: 1/3/2008 | Released: 11/20/2007 | Score: A

IMDb Page | Purchase from Amazon