Well this the the 3rd annual Mike McStay, "Best Films of the Year" list. As always I divide the list into 5 sections, The Best, The Worst, Surprise of the Year, Disappointment of the Year and WTF!,why was this film made?
A few things to add before we get to the list.
1. Like last year, i saw a lot of film from all over the world, So I will include the imdb link and where the film came from.
2. I, once again, included films that I liked in the disappointed and films that I did not like into the surprises of the Year. I made the list longer, so there are 25 films listed for each category. I thought that it would cover a lot more films.
3. A lot of the films have not had a theatrical run in Korea. So you will see a open in Korea date on the film. If it has already played or no date picked yet, I left it open.
4. Once again, the main award is the "Flynnie" Its a take on my first name "Flynn"
Well 2007 sure did have it moments, we saw robots, dragons and wizards go to war.
We saw a killer barber, A rat who wanted to cook and a girl who becomes a woman in Iran. We saw an illegal surgery, the story of on of the greatest Christian Church Songs and we saw real sex depicted in a film. We may have said good-bye to Spiderman and maybe hello to more Transformers. We saw more IMAX releases this year. We have also seen a writers strike that will see the slowdown in film within 2 years.
We also saw a lot of Korea films loose a lot of money at the box office. We may see higher ticket prices because of that.
Now lets start with the list. I will start with #25 and work my way to #1.
Kazakhstan's official submission in the Foreign Language Film category for the 80th Academy Awards (2008). Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film.
Now I had heard of the film and it sure sounded interesting. The story recounts the early life of Genghis Khan and I could not believe it. It was a well written and great cinematography in the film. I was able to watch the film with English Subtitles and it is definately worth a look when it comes to DVD.
#24 The Namesake
Once again a film I was not expecting a lot from ends up being one of the best films of the year. Please watch the scene about when the father tells his son why he named him Gogol. The film really tells about the differences between the 1st generation immigrants and their children that were born in the USA.
I was so happy to see Walt Disney go back to 2D Cartoons, even for the short time that it was shown in this film. If you could imagine one of Disney's princesses coming to 2008 NYC, then you have the idea of this story. Seeing her sing and watching the animals in NYC react to her was a great idea and came across great on the big screen.
#22 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
I really have no idea why I like this series, but I have and once again I loved the story in this film. It is a popcorn film but a very good one.
21. The Bucket List
Now when you put Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman together in a film,I thought it was a huge risk. We ll I was glad that I was so wrong on this. When 2 men find that they are going to die and make a list of things they want to do before they die. The film is a story of life and how we live it. Well worth a look when you decide to watch it.
#20. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Lately, I have hated all of Sidney Lumet's films. So when I heard the good press about this film, I was doubtful. Well, get ready for one heck of a ride, if you ever decide to watch this film. It was a great story and had one heck of a very sad ending.
Released in Korea Feb 2008 6th or 21. (I have 2 different dates for this film)
Now this film sure had a very interesting timing, a young girl becomes pregnant after having sex for the first time and then Jaime Lynn Spears announces her pregnancy. It was as art imitating life. The film has been nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year 2008 Oscar. Also Ellen Page has been nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. It is a very interesting story about a new life and what to do with it. The independent film has already broken the 100 million $ mark in the USA.
18. Rise of the Footsoldier
Now this is the film that American Gangster should have been. It takes a look at the rise and fall of U.K. gangster Carlton Leach. This film is not for children and shows a very rough outlook on life. Please see it when you can.
17. Amazing Grace
Opens 20 March 2008 (South Korea)
If you have attended Church, then you have probably, at one time, sang this song. The film is about the person who wrote this song. The film talks about how a group of men finally ended the slave trade in the U.K. I loved Albert Finney's take on the author of the song, John Newton.
Opens 21 February 2008 (South Korea) Nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year 2008
To be honest, I had no real desire to see the film. I kept hearing a lot of good reviews for it so I decided to watch it. Wow, what an ending, this film has. I will not spoil anything of the film for you. Watch the entire film and try not to leave.
15. Memories of Tomorrow or Ashita no kioku (Japan)
Nominated for Best Film Award of the Japanese Academy (2007) Winner for Best Actor Award of the Japanese Academy (2007) (Ken Watanabe)
The film has a very simple story. It is about a successful businessman's family life is shattered by an early onset of Alzheimer's. It was a film that you knew how it was going to end and at the end of the film I was still surprised by it. Film is available on DVD with or without English Subtitles.
14. 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days or 4 luni, 3 saptamani si 2 zile (Romania)
Opens 2008.02.28 (South Korea)
To be honest, I have no freaking idea why this film was not nominated for Best Foreign Language Film Category for Oscar this year and some crap films were. This is the 2nd year in a row that I have selected a film from Romania in this category, 12:08 East of Bucharest being last years selection. The film talks about a woman who assists her friend to arrange an illegal abortion in 1980's Romania. This film will not be for everyone but it deserves a look and a serious WTF to the Oscar for not nominating this film in The Best Foreign Language Film!
13. Grindhouse Well this film has 2 camps. Either you love this film or you absolutely hate this film. I chose the first and made this my #13 selection of the year. If you really want the Uber geek version of the film, may i recommend this.
Please see the film as it was originally released as 1 film. I loved the fact that I got to see Death Proof here in Korea and the audience wanted to see the other film also.
12. Eastern Promises When David Cronenberg does it right, it is worth a serious look and this film definately deserves it. I could not believe how much the Russian gangster Nikolai scared everyone around him.
11. Hot Fuzz
My review of Hot Fuzz
What I remember most about this film is, that I went to CGV and watched it with Korean audience. I was catching all of the jokes and the audience did not. After the film, one person asked me "Why Laugh?" I tried my best, but neither of us could understand the other.
10. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Their is an old Chinese saying about revenge. "He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves: one for his enemy and one for himself." That theme show up a lot during this film. If you like Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, then please rent the DVD, when it is released.
9. Exiled or Fong juk (Hong Kong)
Now talk about a gangster film! I had no idea what was next or anything. The film is about when, A friendship is formed between an ex-gangster, and two groups of hitmen - those who want to protect him and those who were sent to kill him. It was a great story and please try and find it on DVD.
8. Gone Baby Gone
I have always liked Ben Affleck, I do not know why. But I have usually liked his work even when a lot of people have not. So when I saw that this was going to be his first released film, as a director, I decided to check it out. I thought it was a great film and really surprised me.
7. Lust, Caution or Se, jie (China)
My Review of Lust Caution
I have seen the film 3 times now and I still do not think that I have caught all that the film was trying to show. Good luck on trying to find English Subtitles for this film. Please see the uncensored version of the film.
6. Reign Over Me
When Adam Sandler tries a serious role, it is usually not received well but critics to give him props for it. I could not believe that he went after this role and pulled it off. I actually believed him and wanted to see more of his back story.
Now, I thought that I would really not like this film. What a great film this was and especially the 2 DVD Unrated set. I saw a lot of the crazy things that I did as a teen and I really can't believe that, the names may have changed, but the real story is the same. I have no idea if we will ever be able to see this in Korea. I have no idea how anyone could even try and translate this.
Of all of the missed nominations, I could not believe that this film was not selected Best Foreign Language Film. I must give props to Harry for turning me on to this film. I was able to watch it in the original French with English subtitles. The unusually drawn animation tells us about a poignant coming-of-age story of a precocious and outspoken young Iranian girl that begins during the Islamic Revolution and ends with her leaving Iran forever. This is a great story and I think that all young ladies need to read her book and to watch her movie and see how one little girl became a woman.
When I saw that this film was coming to IMAX, I took a few fiends of mine, who had never seen an IMAX film before. This made them want to see more films in the IMAX format. I have it on Blu-Ray and regular DVD. It is well worth a viewing if you have not yet seen the film.
2. There Will Be Blood
Opens on 2008.03.21 (South Korea)
Nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role and a few more. If i had a vote on the academy ballot, this would be my vote on the 5 films that they would give me to vote on.
Daniel-Day-Lewis has always been very interesting to me, either I have loved his acting In the Name of the Father or really hated it The Last of the Mohicans. So I had no ideal about this film, that was until I saw it. This film deserves to be seen on the big screen and I have so far seen it twice and I still need to see it a few more times. I am still not sure that I have seen all that this film has to offer.
Now for the moment that I award the "Flynnie" to my #1 film of the year.
I thought that this Pixar film could be a so-so good one, I had no idea that it would become a great one. I have seen the film at the CGV about 10 times and most of it in a digital format. I just think that It was a well written and a great story that can be shared with the entire family.