It's list-makin' time again, and to keep the annual ritual fun, I propose new ground rules: instead of a superlative-filled blurb, I'll quickly describe a favorite scene from my ten favorite movies of 2007. For more on why I loved each film, just click through to the review.
Honorable mention in this outstanding year go to: Syndromes and a Century, Ratatouille, Eastern Promises, Persepolis, Day Night Day Night, Angel, Atonement, Youth Without Youth, and Yella.
1. There Will Be Blood
In a film packed with great scenes, an early stand-out moment occurs when oilman Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) witnesses Eli Sunday's peculiar brand of faith healing for the first time. In his ramshackle Church of the Third Revelation, self-made preacher Sunday (Paul Dano) tongue-kisses an old woman's geriatric fingers and sweetly casts out the devil before slow-dancing with her to the music of the spheres. Quips Plainview: "Goddamn hell of a show!" Can I get an amen?
2. Secret Sunshine
Another church, another wounded soul. After single mother Shin-ae (Jeon-Do-yeon) suffers unspeakable grief, she finds herself at a revival meeting, wailing in ecstatic pain. The way she loses her newfound faith again is just another of the breathtaking turns in Lee Chang-dong's as-yet unreleased movie that are too good to spoil in a top-ten-list.
In the middle of night, between takes at the Dublin studio they rented for the weekend to make their demo tape, the girl (Marketa Irglova) plays one of her songs for the guy (Glen Hansard). She puts her head on his shoulder, and he makes his move: "Come to London with me." Her response separates Once
from all the other movies about aspiring artists you've ever seen: "Can I bring my mother?"
4. The Darjeeling Limited
A trademark symmetrical three-shot of the Whitman brothers, from the mirror's point of view: Jack (Jason Schwartzman) on the left, trimming his moustache, Peter (Adrien Brody) on the right, shaving -- and then, just like that, Francis (Owen Wilson) takes off the bandages he wore all movie long to great comic effect. His face is a mess, and his words resonate not just because of Wilson's real-life suicide attempt, but because they provide a healthy rejoinder to anybody who's still accusing Anderson of producing weightless quirk: "I guess I still got some more healing to do."
5. The Host
In a sweet moment of reprieve from a mutant monster's vicious attacks, the survivors of Bong Joon-ho's family of unlikely heroes hides in their riverside food stand... and their adorable abducted daughter (Ko Ah-sung) appears among them to share a cup of ramen.
6. Rescue Dawn
To pass the time in their viet cong prison camp -- and to take their mind of the maggots they're being fed -- Christian Bale, Jeremy Davies, and Steve Zahn play "stack the fridge." It's Zahn's turn. Bottom shelf, raspberry pie, a turkey with breasts the size of Jayne Mansfield's, a six-pack of Budweiser -- but German-born Dieter Dengler (Bale) can't help interrupting him: "I prefer the Bavarian stein, a quarter of a gallon, dark, cool, the foam lapping up and going over the side...." Zahn gets rightfully annoyed: "This is my fridge. The six-pack stays where it is."
7. Dans Paris
While Louis Garrell, channeling the young Jean-Pierre Leaud, is making his way through Paris bedding its beauties, heartbroken brother Romain Duris can barely get out of his own bed. Too depressed to even get dressed, he finds an old single of Kim Wilde's "Cambodia" and hums along to the catchy 80s synth pop -- in his underwear. Does it make him feel any better? We're not sure, but there's some life left in him yet. All together now: "oo-oo-ooh...." The scene's already up on YouTube
8. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Two unsuspecting phone company workers stumble in on Jean-Do Bauby (Mathieu Amalric), the editor paralyzed with "locked-in" syndrome, which allows him to move nothing but his left eye. "What use is a phone if he can't talk?" they want to know. "Maybe he's a heavy breather," one of them cracks, to the consternation of Henriette (Marie-Josee Croze), who promptly throws them out. But in the voice-over only we can hear, Jean-Do is laughing, too: "You have no sense of humor, Henriette."
9. Colma: The Musical
Crash! The Party!
It's been a great year for music in the movies, but nothing matched the bubbly charm of suburban teenagers Billy (Jake Moreno) and Rodel (H.P. Mendoza) setting off their car alarm and doing a goofy dance routine on top of their 1992 Honda Civic.
10. I'm Not There
By design, Todd Haynes's Dylan biopic aims to be more than the sum of its parts, and naming a favorite scene is almost as difficult as picking a favorite Dylan album. Still, the moments that stuck with me most were the breakup of Heath Ledger and Charlotte Gainsbourg, set to the withering anger and sadness of "Idiot Wind:" "Blowing every time you move your teeth / You're an idiot, babe / It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe."