Monday, August 28, 2017

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Picture 2007

The Contenders:

Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men (winner)
There Will Be Blood

What’s Missing

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.

My Choices

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.

Final Analysis


  1. Yes! No Country for Old Men is my top movie of '07, as well. I'm also in agreement There Will Be Blood is number two by a not very wide margin. After that, I think the Academy is off their collective rocker. I found Atonement boring, but hey period drama so it's right up their alley. We're in agreement that Juno and Michael Clayton are solid, but not among the year's best. I love Gone Baby Gone and El Orfanato. I think GBG might have gotten more love had it not been Ben Affleck's directorial debut. He wasn't a particularly liked actor at the time.

    1. I think Affleck might still be disliked--witness Argo winning Best Picture in 2012 and him not being nominated for director.

      I didn't mind Atonement. I think it's a good period piece, and I like the story quite a bit, although I agree it's pretty slow. The other two don't belong here at all.

      I think my five nominations would be:
      No Country for Old Men
      There Will Be Blood
      El Orfanato
      Gone Baby Gone

      and a film to be named later. My heart goes with Hot Fuzz but my head says The Assassination of Jesse James or The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

  2. To be honest Atonement would be my choice but I have no problem with No Country winning. It's an excellent film, masterfully directed with several fantastic performances but then I think the same about Atonement.

    Otherwise I'm close in my agreement with your placement especially with the overpraised Juno, which to me was worth watching strictly for Allison Janney & J.K. Simmons, and the forgettable Michael Clayton. The one place we deviate is There Will Be Blood which I detested.

    Love the mentions of 3:10 to Yuma & Death at a Funeral both of which would make my list. The only film I can think of that you didn't speak of is Zodiac, a dark murky film but compelling.

    1. I didn't mention Zodiac because I haven't seen it yet. It's the only film I haven't seen of Fincher's feature-length films (I think), but I'll get there eventually.

      I did like Atonement, but I found it slow. It wouldn't make my top five for the year, but I like it pretty well and it probably would make my top ten.

      And yeah, that sums up my position on Juno. It's all about Allison Janney, who I wish did more film work, and J.K. Simmons, who I think is always compelling on screen.