Movies 2007: The rest of the best

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(Photo courtesy Columbia Pictures)

The year in movies was good enough that my top 10 list actually goes up to 15. Here's the rest:

11-13) Knocked Up, Superbad and Juno. Taken together, these three smart, raunchy comedies make a de facto trilogy about young people grappling with sexuality and maturity, with actor Seth Rogen appearing in both Knocked Up and Superbad (which he co-wrote), and Michael Cera starring in both Superbad and Juno. Despite some overly hip dialogue, Juno turns out to be the warmest of the threesome (with a terrific starring performance from Ellen Page), Superbad the funniest and Knocked Up the most accomplished, but all three make you feel good about the future of screen comedy.

14) In the Shadow of the Moon. For the year’s most inspirational film, director David Sington interviews all the surviving Apollo astronauts (except for the reclusive Neil Armstrong) for a stirring history of America’s trips to the moon. Improving on the snarky tone of The Right Stuff, Sington finds archival gems and lets the astronauts speak for themselves (especially the charmingly candid Mike Collins). The documentary has a bittersweet quality as it pays fitting tribute to NASA’s accomplishment while making us wonder if mankind will ever exceed its potential again.

15) Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. Affirming that no actor today is better than Philip Seymour Hoffman, the Oscar winner’s conniving turn as a manipulative, cuckolded brother elevates an already strong script to the level of a noir classic. Octogenarian director Sidney Lumet finds new life in crime film conventions and turns Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead into one of the darkest family dramas you’ll ever see.

But wait! There's more! Special mention must go to three of my favorite film experiences of 2007. Seeing Grindhouse at the Plaza Theatre packed with hollering movie geeks was the exactly right venue and audience for appreciating Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's homage to schlock cinema. (Arguably Nicolas Cage's best screen performance in 2007 was his cameo in the faux trailer for "Werewolf Women of the SS.") Similarly, the digital 3-D experience (complete with glasses) of Meet the Robinsons and Beowulf enhanced both films significantly and proved to be a real hoot. Movies should always be so fun.

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