Sunday, December 30, 2007

1. "Zodiac." David Fincher's film is a police procedural a la Picasso -- all of the known cliches rendered in a penetrating, startling new light.

2. "No Country for Old Men." Following Cormac McCarthy's novel almost to the letter, the Coen brothers' Texan crime opera plays like one of their own originals.

3. "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." Julian Schnabel immerses us so deeply in the courageous bid of a stroke-paralyzed fashion editor to write his own story we feel as if we are helping him type.

4. "There Will Be Blood." This ruthlessly uncompromising saga of an oilman demented with success yields a stunning performance from Daniel Day-Lewis as a sort of Luciferian Citizen Kane.

5. "Once." One delicate song, played in the Dublin streets, draws two good-hearted souls to love each other -- and we can't help feeling the same.

6. "Juno." Diablo Cody's whimsical romance about a teenager who finds love after pregnancy may be postmodern in its witty language but not inside its big, fuzzy heart.

7. "The Host." The wildcard experience of the year -- a sort of thinking person's disaster movie in which a Korean family contends with a man-eating river monster.

8. "Eastern Promises." David Cronenberg's film noir is -- at its chilly heart -- an affecting love story between two lonely souls.

9. "Waitress." Never did pregnancy, short-order cooking, gal friendship and the baking of pies come together in such a sweet, charming recipe.

10. "I'm Not There." A kaleidoscopic portrait of Bob Dylan, using six characters as metaphorical representations of the singer-songwriter's complex persona, was a Dylanesque masterstroke of its own.

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