2007: The Year in Movies and Music

A year-end wrap-up of what we adored, what was ignored and what the new year will bring.

"My ambition for many years was to be involved in work that was utterly compelling to me, regardless of the consequences. But I worried a lot as a young man about where such and such a thing might take me; you're encouraged to think that way. You're supposed to build a career for yourself. But there's no part of me that was able to do that. And thank God I was able to recognize it before I sort of went gray with anxiety."

Far from building a career, he now sees himself starting all over each time he determines he can be sufficiently useful to a director and accepts a role. "It's absolutely new each and every time," he says. "For all that you carry with you as you get older — and if you've had the good fortune to work in films that people have seen and in some cases liked, you carry with you the burden of expectation — all that went before is meaningless. Absolutely meaningless. Because you're a baby. From the moment you decide to go to work again, you're a baby. You have to empty yourself if you're going to be any kind of vessel at all.

"I suppose that's the salvation of all of us. With all the kind of grandiosity that surrounds the way of life that actors lead, there's an insistent humility to the work itself, because you cannot do it unless you begin with nothing each time."

The beginner's mind: Some people meditate for a lifetime to find it.

Day-Lewis laughs. "I don't think I've achieved separation from the material world just yet," he says. "The loss of myself happens in a place that's very concrete." Right: in the movies.
 — Judith Lewis

Hit List
The top movies of 2007

It's that time of year again. Our six critics* don't always (or often) agree, but we've combined their top-ten lists (allowing for ties) to pretend like they do! So without further ado, the ten (or fifteen) best movies of the year, kind of:

1. There Will Be Blood

2. I'm Not There

3. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

4. Killer of Sheep, Southland Tales

5. Zodiac

6. Ratatouille

7. Colossal Youth

8. Eastern Promises, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

9. Regular Lovers

10. Hot Fuzz, Knocked Up, Manufactured Landscapes, Private Fears in Public Places

Honorable Mentions:

Into the Wild, Black Book, West of the Tracks, No Country for Old Men, Syndromes and a Century, My Kid Could Paint That, Grindhouse, Offside, Day Night Day Night, Away from Her, Once, Paprika, Lars and the Real Girl, The Host, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Honor de Cavalleria, The Band's Visit, Lake of Fire, No End in Sight, The Bourne Ultimatum, Terror's Advocate, The Savages, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Music and Lyrics

*Scott Foundas, J. Hoberman, Nathan Lee, Jim Ridley, Ella Taylor and Robert Wilonsky

2007: The Year in Music

Simply the Best

Best Drive-By Truckers Album: Bettye LaVette, The Scene of the Crime (Anti-). With the DBTs (and Wurlitzer wizard Spooner Oldham) in tow, the Detroit soul screamer does what Hood, Cooley and Isbell have always done: take the personal, make it political — and then make it rock. But LaVette is a singer, not a band; her voice is singular, radically individual and, on this career album, heroic.

Best Wilco Album: Goldrush, The Heart Is the Place (Better Looking). From Oxford, England, Robin and Joseph Bennett deserve better than the inevitable Wilco (or Flaming Lips) comparisons. But it's no slight on the hopeful, experimental, catchy and honest Place to say that it's the kind of record Jeff Tweedy once seemed to care about making.

Best Bob Dylan Album: Various Artists, I'm Not There (Sony). The absurd and noble failure of Todd Haynes' Zimmy flick had the unintended consequence of creating a soundtrack that actually captures what the film could not: The shape-shifting genius as interpreted by the shape-shifters to come long, long after him. And if you don't think punks should be singing gospel, you don't know John Doe — or Dylan.

Best Leonard Cohen Album: Elvis Perkins, Ash Wednesday (XL/Beggars). This young writer of songs about tragicomic sex and melancholic desire sounds like Sam Cooke in comparison to his unacknowledged father L. Cohen. (Elvis' real father is the late actor A. Perkins.) But on this beautiful series of dreamsongs, his surreal aim is just as true.

Best Bruce Springsteen Album: Jason Anderson, Tonight (Eca). From out of nowhere (actually, New Hampshire), this homage to the E Street sound captures the collective joy and ensemble exploration that made the Wild and Innocent true to its name. Anderson may yet be discovering who he is as a songwriter, but charting his progress will be one of the best things about 2008 — and about the many years to come.

Best Pogues Album: The Ike Reilly Assassination, We Belong to the Staggering Evening (Rock Ridge). Chicago wise-guy Ike Reilly put on the best show in St. Louis that no one attended; he also made the best word-smart, half-cocked rock and folk album that nobody heard. What's more, he offered the most concise response to the current climate of religious railroading: "Fuck the train!"

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