Critics picks: A good year, but no leaders

'Diving Bell' a common favorite for THR reviewers


Top 10 films of 2007 as perceived by six film critics at The Hollywood Reporter only confirms what critics groups and nominations from guilds and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. already have demonstrated: 2007 was a year of many good movies but few great ones. So there are no clear front-runners here.

Only one film made all six lists. Julian Schnabel's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," a remarkable work about a seemingly unfilmable subject -- an immobilized man who writes his memoir by blinking an eye. Even so, only two critics made it the top choice. Other top choices were "Zodiac," about the journalists and detectives who searched for a Bay Area serial killer; "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," a serio-comic thriller about a botched robbery; "No Country for Old Men," a bloody melodrama with philosophical underpinnings; and "The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford."

Three of the five top films deal with real-life events, which might lead you to look for more documentaries on these lists. They are there -- "Sicko," "No End in Sight," "Deep Water" and "In the Shadow of the Moon."

Studio films did not fare well. I included the most on my list -- "Ratatouille," "Michael Clayton," "The Bourne Ultimatum" and "Charlie Wilson's War." In the last two "Bourne" movies, Paul Greengrass -- whose "United 93" made five Hollywood Reporter lists last year -- has, in my opinion, redefined and redesigned the action-thriller genre. Both "Michael Clayton" and "Charlie Wilson's War" dove deep into political and ethical issues, one as a high-minded drama and the other as sophisticated comedy. And

Disney/Pixar's "Ratatouille," which was one of the best-reviewed movies of the year, only made one other list.

The studios do get represented through their specialty divisions. Fox Searchlight has "The Savages," "Juno" and "Once"; Miramax handled "Diving Bell" and (produced with Paramount Vantage) "No Country"; Vantage bravely backed "There Will Be Blood" and "Into the Wild"; and Focus has "Atonement" and "Eastern Promises." "The Kite Runner" came from DreamWorks and Paramount Classics just as "Sweeney Todd" came from DreamWorks and Paramount. So perhaps the term "studio film" needs reappraisal.

In all, 34 films made these lists. A complete list by reviewer follows:

Kirk Honeycutt
1. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
2. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
3. The Kite Runner
4. Ratatouille
5. Michael Clayton
6. The Bourne Ultimatum
7. The Savages
8. No Country for Old Men
9. Charlie Wilson's War
10. Eastern Promises

Sheri Linden
1. Zodiac
2. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
3. The Savages
4. Deep Water
5. Syndromes and a Century
6. In the Shadow of the Moon
7. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
8. Control
9. The Water Horse
10. The Wind That Shakes the Barley

Frank Sheck
1. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
2. There Will Be Blood
3. No Country for Old Men
4. Sweeney Todd
5. Eastern Promises
6. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
7. Into the Wild
8. The Savages
9. Michael Clayton
10. Sicko

Stephen Farber
1. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
2. I'm Not There
3. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
4. The Kite Runner
5. The Lookout
6. Juno
7. Gone Baby Gone
8. Michael Clayton
9. The Wind That Shakes the Barley
10. Eastern Promises

Michael Rechtshaffen
1. No Country for Old Men
2. Atonement
3. Juno
4. There Will Be Blood
5. Blame It on Fidel
6. Ratatouille
7. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
8. No End in Sight
9. Once
10. I Don't Want to Sleep Alone

Ray Bennett
1. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
2. The Band's Visit
3. I Served the King of England
4. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
5. Atonement
6. Michael Clayton
7. The Bourne Ultimatum
8. The Savages
9. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
10. Zodiac