No Awards Here… Nope!
The So-Called Experts Weigh In

What does it mean to publish a list of the “Year’s Best Movies”?

First off, you’ve got the whole problem of defining “Best.” Does it mean “the most entertaining”? The “most artistically rewarding”? The “most politically correct,” depending on your relgio-political persuasion? Are you after simply the “most popular”? (That’s an easy one. Just look at boxoffice results.) Christianity Today Movies has come up with a unique solution to the dilemma by publishing three lists: the Critics’ Choice Awards, the Most Reedeming Films list, and the Readers’ Choice Awards. It’s like a definitions smorgasbord, and everyone gets served.

Remy the Rat in Ratatouille

Some magazines appeal to their in-house Big Name experts to offer up authoritative lists. Some journals derive their lists by compiling votes from their contributors—much like the approach used at CT Movies. I will soon be casting my own votes with the Faith and Film Critics Circle, which uses a weighted vote-casting system to come up with composite scores and resulting rankings.

And that leads to the second problem: Who’s doing the voting? What qualifies someone to make such assessments? Why does it seem that the same seven or eight films keep coming up roses in every category of nominations? Do affinity groups really have that narrow a range of tastes? The Oscars would certainly suggest that they do.

Here are some considerations that I posted over at Arts and Faith:

  • There were 611 theatrical releases in 2007.
  • Of these 611, I actually saw 128 in their entirety. (Of these 128, I reviewed 92.)
  • Of the remaining 485, I edited detailed reviews of another 168. (At least a dozen of these 168 appear on various year-end “best” lists.)
  • One film that nearly made my list of favorites for the year, Steel City, ranked 510th out of those 611 in terms of box office. It sold a total of 1,526 tickets.

So out of 611 releases, I am reasonably familiar with 294—less than half of the films released during the year. And I’m reasonably well informed, by critical standards. This is why I’m reluctant to offer an opinion about which were the “best” films of the year. All I can really talk about with much assurance is which films were the best (by various standards of measure) of the films I actually saw.

Bottom line: take it all with a grain of salt…

So without further ado, here are selections from several of our staffers. I think you’ll see that the very subjective criteria used to derive these lists represent a wide variety of thinking. And every one of these films (except Once!) has been reviewed at PtP. Search away!

Jeff Walls’ Top Ten

  1. Grindhouse
  2. American Gangster
  3. Bridge to Terabithia
  4. Michael Clayton
  5. The Lives of Others
  6. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
  7. The Lookout
  8. Once
  9. Zodiac
  10. Transformers

Mike Smith’s Top Eleven (?!?)

  1. 300
  2. Enchanted
  3. No Country for Old Men
  4. The Last Mimzy
  5. The Lives of Others
  6. Atonement
  7. Things We Lost in the Fire
  8. You Kill Me
  9. The Host
  10. Avenue Montaigne
  11. After the Wedding

Greg Wright’s “Ten Films I Liked the Best”

  1. The King of Kong
  2. Gone Baby Gone
  3. Enchanted
  4. Feast of Love
  5. Pete Seeger: The Power of Song
  6. Deep Water
  7. Ratatouille
  8. The Dead Girl
  9. Atonement
  10. Juno

Greg Wright’s “Ten ‘Best Films’ That I Saw”

  1. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
  2. Gone Baby Gone
  3. There Will Be Blood
  4. The King of Kong
  5. Alpha Dog
  6. Enchanted
  7. Pete Seeger: The Power of Song
  8. The Dead Girl
  9. Ratatouille
  10. Juno

Greg Wright’s “Most Underrated Films of 2007”

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
  2. Feast of Love
  3. Alpha Dog

Greg Wright’s “Most Overrated Films of 2007”

  1. No Country for Old Men
  2. I’m Not There
  3. Into Great Silence

Jennie Spohr’s “Favorites”

  • Favorite Film: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
  • Favorite British Invasion: Hot Fuzz
  • Favorite Female Performance: Tie for Julie Christie in Away From Her and Marion Cotillard in La Vie En Rose
  • Favorite Male Performance: Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood
  • Favorite Movie to Get People Talking: For the Bible Tells Me So
  • Favorite Pleasant Surprise: Enchanted