9 December 2007


It's that time of year again, and every magazine, journal and film critic is compiling and publishing their list of the best films. You will have noticed that the lists being published by critics in the States include films like 'No Country for Old Men' and 'Charlie Wilson's War' which have not even appeared on UK screens. January looks set to be one of the busiest release schedules in a long time with many interesting prospects finally being distributed. Though my list would have probably looked a lot different had I the good fortune to see many of the aforementioned films, I just have to overlook the ridiculous fact of a delayed release schedule and get on with my list of the ten best films of the year:

1. ZODIAC (Dir. David Fincher, US)

This is Fincher's masterpiece and a film he can call his own; without a doubt the best film of the year by far and one of the finest mainstream Hollywood films made in the last 10 years; still waiting for the directors cut of the film

2. BLADE RUNNER: THE FINAL CUT (Dir. Ridley Scott, 1982, US)

The greatest science fiction film of all time and one of the finest Hollywood 'art' films ever finally gets the digital treatment - some of the most memorable and evocative imagery committed to celluoid; a sheer joy from beginning to end from one of Britain's finest film auteurs

3. EKLAVYA: THE ROYAL GUARD (Dir. Vidhu Vinod Chopra, India)

Amitabh Bhachan delivers one of his finest performances in many a years as a weary royal guard who learns the power of forgiveness and parental duty; beautifully shot in Rajasthan and has been selected as India's official Oscar entry - a small gem of a movie

4. THE LIVES OF OTHERS (Dir. Von Donnersmarck, Germany)

Brilliantly performed political thriller that explores the notion of ideological acquiescence in a cold war communist context; beat out Pan's Labryinth to win the Best Foreign Film Oscar

5. INTO THE WILD (Dir. Sean Penn, US)

Sean Penn's unexpected directorial evolution as a noted and worthy film maker who uses the road movie genre to delve into understated emotions of loneliness and self worth - Hal Halbrook's moment in the film is one of the most powerful acting jobs of the year

6. THIS IS ENGLAND (Dir. Shane Meadows, UK)

Shane Meadow's unsentimental and provocative tribute to 1980's skinhead culture and a frighteningly contemporary exploration of racism and its relationship with British working class lives - his work now stands alongside that of Micheal Winterbottom

7. APOCALYPTO (Dir. Mel Gibson, US)

Breathtaking cinema that manages to combine Herzogian principles of Jungle lawlessness with postmodern action adventure elements - this is effectively an extended chase movie but also Mel Gibson's interpretation of Homer's The Odyssey; the final shot is simply amazing

8. BABEL (Dir. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, US)

Many dismissed this as middle class wish fulfillment liberal nonsense but guilt and the appeal for understanding and tolerance between cultures and worlds is something only cinema has the capacity of conveying

9. TELL NO ONE (Dir. Guillaume Canet, France)

By far the best thriller of the year and a film that manages to preserve it's enigmatic plot twists with an outstanding degree of confidence; Hollywood should take heed because the best mainstream thriller's are coming from France - Hitchcock would be proud

10. RATATOUILLE (Dir. Brad Bird, US)

Was never really a fan of digital animation until this magical and charming film came along; for me this is the best animated Hollywood feature film of the last 10 years - a return to form for Pixar and one of the most beautifully designed and visually inventive films of the year

15. 3:10 TO YUMA
17. OCEANS 13

HITMAN - Could this be the worst film of the year?

I had never really been looking forward to another big screen video game adaptation but I was well aware that Hitman was in production. I watched Hitman at one of the local cinemas and when I turned up I had in mind to watch another film but seeing that I had some time to kill I decided to take a gamble. The choice on offer at this hi tech postmodern multiplex was scandalously poor. Not one world cinema film was being shown nor did I come across anything remotely marginal or interesting, apart from The Assassination of Jesse James but it was the timings for that particular film were frankly crap. It seems diabolical how you can have Spiderman 3 playing in an infinite number of screen and yet here you have what is being regarded as one of the film's of the year playing in one measly pathetic small screen. I had no choice other than to walk away in disgust but I didn't. I don't know why though. Maybe I just needed to watch something. Anyway, Hitman eventually got started after nearly 40 minutes of annoying adverts and trailers, and as it turns out the trailers were better than the film. Unfortunately, I simply cannot be bothered providing a synopsis for what may be the worst film of the year. Whilst watching Hitman I could literally feel cinema coming to an end because how something as superficial and simply DUMB as this could secure financing and worldwide distribution is really beyond my comprehension. Films like Hitman are an example of cinema that is devoid of any real meaning or originality or emotion. It is a cinema of absence. The easy thing to do would be to label the film as disposable trash but it's actually one of the few films I have seen this year that gave me a headache! The visual motif of a barcode across the bald head of the actor Timothy Olyphant is not creative, nor is it stylistically impressive or visually exciting, it's like something designed and thought up by a ten year old school kid whilst doodling in his exercise book. The film seems to self destruct before it gets started with a terribly overdone flashback style montage of some monks carving barcodes into the back of the heads of some ghostly looking children who are being groomed to become some of the world's most dangerous and terrifying hitmen ever seen and who will all grow up to look like the baddie out of Die Hard 4 who was also one of the angry cowboys in the Deadwood TV series. Timothy Olyphant is not an actor, nor is he a star in the making, he is a supporting TV actor who has no range whatsoever. It comes of no surprise that Hitman is doing well commercially and will spawn a number of similarly dreadful straight to DVD sequels. Nothing works in this film, not even the European locations, and it has the distinct feel of a really bad made for TV movie. The worst sin is committed by the actor Dougray Scott (once touted as the next James Bond) who runs around trying to act and appear menacing. This is one to avoid.