No Country for Old Men (winner)
There Will Be Blood
2007 is one of those years with a lot of films that I like that aren’t really the sorts of films that get a great deal of Oscar buzz. Movies falling into that category include the remake of 3:10 to Yuma and movies like Bug, 1408, The Mist, The Man from Earth, Stardust, and especially Hot Fuzz. I’m Not There is a film I liked pretty well, one I like a little better than its critical response. Into the Wild, The Savages, La Vie en Rose, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly seem much more like “Oscar” movies and I could see at least a couple of these with a nomination. Eastern Promises is one that I think is really worth considering, and may have been a little ignored because it was directed by David Cronenberg. Why Gone Baby Gone was overlooked is a question I can’t answer, and I can say the same thing about The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Once may not have been long or serious enough (although Juno got in), a fate also likely suffered by Death at a Funeral. If I can only add one, though, I’m adding J.A. Bayona’s amazing El Orfanato.
Weeding through the Nominees
5. Juno is the movie that I think belongs here the least. Yes, it’s clever and fun, and Juno herself is the sort of character that catches people’s attention and sticks with them. I don’t really care that much, though, because I don’t think Juno is any better than just mildly good. It’s not a movie I have thought about revisiting because I have too many problems with the characters. This is despite the fact that I genuinely like a great deal of the cast. In a year with this many really good and great movies, there’s no excuse for this to be nominated.
4. Pretty much everything I just said about Juno could be said about Michael Clayton, a film that I watched and seem to have promptly forgotten in large part. I mean, I kind of remember it, but I don’t remember a great amount of detail from it, and that doesn’t speak well of the movie. Again, there are simply too many good movies from this year that were available for nomination—and too many that are “Oscar” movies that are better than Michael Clayton for me to really think it deserves to be here.
3. Atonement, a movie I liked very much, is the first nomination I understand, even if I don’t completely agree with it. It’s a good story and well told, and it also has the sweep of narrative that is attractive when it comes to Oscar nominations. Given the chance to build my own list of five movies, I don’t think Atonement would make it as a nomination, but it would at least be one I’d consider. It’s a nomination that I at least understand even if it’s not one that I completely support.
2. In a lot of years, There Will Be Blood would be my choice without a great deal of question. It just happens that it was released in the same year as one of my favorite films by my favorite directorial team, and it’s hard to overcome that. I won’t take issue with anyone who puts this at the top, because it’s a hell of a great movie. In this case, it really does come down to simply personal preference and which movie would I rather watch again. It’s a very, very small difference here, which is why I’ve put this below the fold as a winner that I would fully support.
1. When I look at my Letterboxd page, I have three movies from 2007 at five stars. One is There Will Be Blood. The second is El Orfanato. The third is my winner, No Country for Old Men. Of the three, El Orfanato is my favorite, but I think No Country is in most objective ways the best and most accomplished movie. I’d be pleased with any of those three winning, but in the final analysis, I consider No Country for Old Men one of the top-5 Best Picture winners of all time. I’d accept the other two, but I think this was the right choice.