Picks and Pans Main: Top 10 Movies
In a sweeping British romantic drama spanning multiple decades, a young couple (Keira Knightley and James McAvoy) have their future imperiled when a child tells a single ugly lie. Elegantly adapted from Ian McEwan's prize-winning novel, Atonement is about the power of fiction to both hurt and heal. If this movie doesn't do for dreamboat McAvoy what Titanic did for Leonardo DiCaprio, we're all sunk.
Corporate thrillers don't come smarter, tenser or more entertaining than this one. George Clooney, who just keeps getting better onscreen, dug deep as a weary corporate fixer whose conscience catches up with him. And you had to love his killer "gotcha" moment in the climactic scene.
SWEENEY TODD THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET
There Will Be Blood is the title of another major new film, but it actually would have been more apt for this plasma-soaked musical. In a match made in macabre heaven, director Tim Burton was the perfect choice to bring composer Stephen Sondheim's Broadway musical about a murderous barber to the big screen. Johnny Depp, sporting a distinctive Cruella De Vil streak, warbled well and wielded a razor, the barber's murder weapon of choice, with scary authority.
In this bittersweet comedy, a sister and brother (Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman, both brilliant) finally learned to put a lifetime of bickering behind them when forced to care for their ailing elderly father. By turns bitingly funny and poignant, and often both at the same time, Savages always rang true.
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
When it came to WMDs this year, the single most frightening had to be the pneumatic air gun—built to be used on cattle—utilized by the psycho killer (Javier Bardem, who deserves every award he has already won, and will win, for the role) who stalked menacingly through this modern-day western. Based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy and directed with panache by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, this crime drama showed how irretrievably cracked the code of the old west has become.
Magnifique was the word for this delicious animated tale about Remy, a French rat who tenaciously pursued his unlikely dream of becoming a gourmet chef in a chichi Parisian restaurant. Like the savory creations Remy whipped up at the stove, Ratatouille used only the finest ingredients (vibrant animation, compelling characters and a hefty sprinkling of humor) to create a winner.
THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM
After a summer of disappointing three-quels, how terrific it was to have government-trained assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) return in top form for his third attempt at regaining his lost memory. Ultimatum reminded fans just how edge-of-your-seat thrilling and suspenseful a chase scene can be.
THE LIVES OF OTHERS
This haunting drama about the effect on regular citizens of covert government spying during the East German era turned into a huge art-house hit and deservedly nabbed an Oscar for Best Foreign Language film.
BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD
Not only didn't crime pay; it cost dearly in a corrosive crime drama about brothers (the incomparable Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke) who plan a robbery that then goes tragically wrong.
LARS AND THE REAL GIRL
If Frank Capra were making movies today, he just might have made this gentle comedy about a sweet but troubled fellow (Ryan Gosling) dating a life-size doll.