Major scribes discuss their 2007 favorites


"Of the few that I have seen this year, 'Michael Clayton' (Warner Bros.) and 'No Country for Old Men' (Miramax) come to mind. The quirkiness of 'No Country' is certainly attractive to me. And 'Michael Clayton' is just very intelligent."
-- Robert Towne ("Chinatown," 1974)

"(Focus Features') 'Eastern Promises,' which I don't hear anybody talking about, was a really good script. It sort of looks like a standard crime story, but the twists in it are really unexpected, and the characters are really strong. And I think writers will notice -- but I don't think anyone else will notice -- 'Superbad' (Sony). It's hard to do a comedy like that. You go, 'Oh, well, it seems sort of underplotted.' But there's actually a tremendous amount going on, and to be able to keep those balls in the air and to balance your dick jokes with your heart is a tough thing to do."
-- John August ("Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," 2005; "Charlie's Angels," 2000)

"'No Country for Old Men' because I think it is so brilliantly crafted. And it's not a genre that normally gets acknowledged -- whenever there's violence, it tends to get ruled out. My other favorite is 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' (Miramax). The combination of Ronald Harwood's screenplay and Julian Schnabel's direction -- they manage to bring something alive. I mean, it's a guy in a bed who can only blink. It doesn't automatically leap off the page, and yet somehow they've managed to fashion an incredibly moving story out of it."
-- Jeremy Brock ("The Last King of Scotland," 2006)

"I really liked this movie 'Hannah Takes the Stairs' (IFC). I thought it just felt very personal, and I loved the energy that went into it. It's something so seemingly nonchalant, but at the same time, it's so well put together."
-- Noah Baumbach ("Margot at the Wedding," Paramount Vantage; "The Squid and the Whale," 2005)

"My favorites that I have seen so far are (IFC's) '4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,' 'No Country for Old Men' and 'The Assassination of Jesse James' (Warner Bros.). All three of these movies brilliantly create the world of their story in great detail, and they all have characters that appeal to me. 'Jesse James' has a poetic quality to it, and it just lingered with me for days after I saw the film. And '4 Months' is a tiny, little personal story with this enormous suspense. It's just riveting."
-- David Arata ("Children of Men," 2006; "Spy Game," 2001)

"On an airplane, I saw Sarah Polley's movie 'Away From Her' (Lionsgate), which I liked very much. I was literally flying to Toronto to do press on my film, and I had heard of her film for lots of reasons, but particularly because people would reference it and say, 'Oh, it's another movie that deals with putting a family member in a nursing home facility,' although it's a completely different riff on the same subject. I'm sure it was all bastardized on the airplane, but I thought the heart of it was really beautiful."
-- Tamara Jenkins (Fox Searchlight's "The Savages")