These were all theatrical (film) screenings of non-current movies.

1. George Kuchar film program at Eyedrum
Mr. Kuchar himself talked about the films, which Andy projected for us on 16mm. I’d never seen any of the Kuchar brothers’ films before… a revelation!

2. Eraserhead (1977, David Lynch) at the plaza
Unbelievable on the big screen… no wonder it was a midnight cult flick.

3. “To Hell with Hitler!” at the plaza
Clay’s collection of WWII cartoon shorts for an appreciative audience.

4. What Is It? (Crispin Glover) at the plaza
More for the full in-person experience than the film itself

5. Phantom of the Opera (1925) at the Rome GA Film Festival
With live music by The Alloy Orchestra

6. Zorns Lemma / Lemon / Scorpio Rising at Emory
Extreme avant-garde flicks for an unappreciative audience… I was mesmerized both by the films and their reception.

7. Canyon Cinema program at Nashville Film Festival
A tamer version of the avant-emory screening, worth the whole drive to Nashville just for the Martin Arnold and Len Lye selections.

8. X: The Man With X-Ray Eyes (1963, Roger Corman) at the plaza
With live music by Pere Ubu

9. Forest of Bliss (1986, Robert Gardner) at Eyedrum
An entrancing feature, courtesy of programmer extraordinaire Andy

10. Four-way tie between my next favorite Emory screenings:
Written on the Wind (1956, Douglas Sirk)
Pather Panchali (1955, Satyajit Ray)
Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors (1964, Sergei Parajanov)
Story of Floating Weeds (1934, Yasujiro Ozu)

My Favorite Twenty New Movies in 2007

not sorted, just grouped by vague categories:

five miraculous foreign films:
Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako)
Black Book (Paul Verhoeven)
The Wind That Shakes The Barley (Ken Loach)
Dry Season (Mahamat-Saleh Haroun)
Chacun son cinéma (shorts by a buncha directors)

two critically-loved mid-year american masterpieces
Zodiac (David Fincher)
Ratatouille (Brad Bird)

three brilliant early-year action-comedies
Grindhouse (Rodriguez/Tarantino/Wright/Roth/Zombie)
The Host (Bong Joon-ho)
Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright)

oscar-season masterpieces
Atonement (Joe Wright)
No Country For Old Men (Joel & Ethan Coen)

glorious and unconventional musicals
Sweeney Todd (Tim Burton)
Once (John Carney)

fits both of the above categories:
I’m Not There (Todd Haynes)

difficult auteur-defense conflict pictures
Inland Empire (David Lynch)
Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg)

three that nobody cared about but me:
Sunshine (Danny Boyle)
The Screwfly Solution (Joe Dante)
Ten Canoes (Rolf de Heer)

next ten runners-up: The NamesakeOffsideAcross the UniverseThe Lives of OthersAway From HerPrivate Fears in Public PlacesInto the WildParis je t’aimeThe Simpsons MovieThe Diving Bell and the Butterfly

All seen on video for the first time, none are current releases, except maybe “The War Tapes” because I can’t remember if it played theaters here or not.

Top ten, in order:

1. Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974, Jacques Rivette)
far exceeds its reputation, a truly amazing film, like candy on my TV
2. Muriel (1963, Alain Resnais)
3. Dog’s Dialogue (1977, Raoul Ruiz)
one of my favorite short films ever
4. Pennies from Heaven (1981, Herbert Ross)
one of my favorite musicals ever
5. Three travel films by Chris Marker:
Sunday In Peking (1956 China)
Description of a Struggle (1960 Israel)
The Koumiko Mystery (1965 Japan)
6. Matinee (1993, Joe Dante)
7. Miami Vice (2006, Michael Mann)
a work of art unfairly lumped in with “dukes of hazzard” and other TV remakes
8. The War Tapes (2006, Deborah Scranton)
I cried tears of pure sadness
9. Army of Shadows (1969, Jean-Pierre Melville)
fewer tears, but still a shocking war story
10. Little Dieter Needs To Fly (1997, Werner Herzog)
third war movie in a row, this one considerably happier

Next ten, alpha:

Cabin Fever (2002, Eli Roth)
The Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel)
The Face of Another (1966, Hiroshi Teshigahara)
The Girl Can’t Help It (1956, Frank Tashlin)
Guys and Dolls (1956, Joseph Mankiewicz)
The Lady Eve (1941, Preston Sturges)
Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003, Thom Andersen)
The Tales of Hoffmann (1951, Powell & Pressburger)
Waiting For Happiness (2002, Abderrahmane Sissako)
Werckmeister Harmonies (2000, Béla Tarr)

Le Joli Mai (1963), Zazie dans le métro (1960), David Copperfield (1935)

honorable mention:
A Brighter Summer Day (1991, Edward Yang)
seemed like it lives up to its masterpiece reputation, but in the crummy version I watched, I think I lost a ton of plot details… will surely place higher when I see it again.

happy auteur discoveries:
John Ford (The Searchers)
Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot)
Shohei Imamura (Vengeance Is Mine)
Eric Rohmer (first two moral tales)

five more great musicals:
The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967, Jacques Demy)
The Music Man (1962, Morton DaCosta)
Fiddler on the Roof (1971, Norman Jewison)
Meet Me In St. Louis (1944, Vincente Minnelli)
Red Garters (1954, George Marshall)

the better-than-it-should-be award:
a tie between Hard Candy & Lord of War (both 2005)

the most awesome cult / b-movie award:
Brain Damage (1988, Frank Henenlotter)

the “ahh, I get it now” award:
L’Avventura (1960, Michelangelo Antonioni)
runner-up: Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959, Alain Resnais)

the saddest movie award:
The Road to Guantánamo (Michael Winterbottom)

the “child favorite that is, against all odds, still a favorite 20 years
later” award: a three-way tie!
Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990, Joe Dante)
Night of the Creeps (1986, Fred Dekker)
Little Shop of Horrors (1986, Frank Oz)

the “makes me feel cooler just for having seen it” award:
Pandora’s Box (1929, G.W. Pabst)

funniest movie ever seen on an airplane:
Jackass The Movie 2

Best Retrospective/Not-Current Films Seen Theatrically

#0. Out 1 (1971, Jacques Rivette) at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York
not so much a movie as an experience, too amazing to even join the rest of the list

1. Play Time (1967, Jacques Tati) at Emory
2. To Sleep With Anger (1990, Charles Burnett) at the film festival
3. An Autumn Afternoon (1962, Yasujiro Ozu) at Emory
4. La Ronde (1950, Max Ophüls) at Emory
5. Killer of Sheep (1977, Charles Burnett) at the film festival
6. Red Balloon / White Mane (1953/56, Albert Lamorisse) at the Midtown Art
7. Pierrot le fou (1965, Jean-Luc Godard) at the Midtown Art

all below had seen before, but was great to see again:
8. L’Atalante / Zero for Conduct (1933-34, Jean Vigo) at Emory
9. The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D (1993) at some multiplex
10. The 400 Blows (1959, Francois Truffaut) at the Plaza

or, “The WTF Awards

Not the worst movies I saw this year – those are better forgotten (ugh, Vibroboy) – but the ones that I should’ve enjoyed but didn’t, and so it’s probably my fault.

My Brother’s Wedding & When It Rains (both Charles Burnett)
It was Burnett’s big comeback year. I thought both “Killer of Sheep” and “To Sleep With Anger” were overwhelmingly great, but these two left me cold… “Wedding” seeming especially amateurish considering it was made after the gorgeous “Sheep”, and “Rains” just didn’t live up to my expectations being one of Rosenbaum’s ten favorite films of the 1990’s. Fortunately both are out on video now, with “Wedding” available in a brand-new director’s cut, so I’ll get to try them again sometime.

Mutual Appreciation
Magazines and blogs love “movements”, and as Film Comment is pointing out in this month’s issue, the “mumblecore” movement died pretty quickly. Judging from this uninteresting little movie, a mumblecore keystone, it should have.

W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism
I heard this was great from way back, and once it came out on DVD and everyone got to see it anew, they all agreed it was great. So what’s my problem? I love bizarre and perverse euro-art films, but this bored me.

Le Plaisir (Max Ophüls)
Each Max Ophuls movie I see I enjoy less than the last one. At least I didn’t dislike “Letter from an Unknown Woman”, and I learned to appreciate it more when watching the DVD extras afterwards. This one I still haven’t figured out. The central segment felt tedious, and I’m sorry this is the one Ophuls movie that I’ve shown to Katy.

It’s officially official – I do not understand anime.

Iraq in Fragments
Failed to find all the beauty that is supposedly within, still wondering if our film print was out of focus.

These are only runners-up because I should’ve known better:
The Good German (everyone said this Soderbergh flick was a dud, but I had to see for myself)
The Descent (halfheartedly-acclaimed horror that I halfheartedly liked)
Inferno & Pelts (Dario Argento continues to not ring my bell)

1. Children of Men

2. A Scanner Darkly

3. Slither

4. Princess Raccoon – joyous and musical and unbelievably strange

5. Brokeback Mountain – yes, I saw it in 2006

6. Borat!

7. The Fountain

8. A Prairie Home Companion

9. Shortbus

10. The Promise

You’ll have to click on the links to get more thoughts on the movies… took all my thoughts just to gather ’em all here and put ’em in order. Was much more impressed overall with the older movies I saw on video this year (see list below). The first two on this list were my “best of the year” and the others are just in place to fake a top ten. Better luck next year!

Honorable mentions to Guy Maddin’s and Isabella Rossellini’s My Dad Is 100 Years Old, John Carpenter’s Cigarette Burns, We Jam Econo, Joe Dante’s Homecoming, The Hills Have Eyes remake, The Science of Sleep, De Palma’s The Black Dahlia, Takeshi’s Takeshis’, Lady in the Water, and Miike’s Great Yokai War.

1. Black Narcissus – I enjoyed this so much that the review I wrote that night is raving nonsense. I did call it one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, so I’ll take my word for it.

2. The Double Life of Veronique – beautiful in a way that doesn’t even make sense… will have to see it again and again.

3. Spaced, season 1 – good thing I’m accountable to no one with my end-of-year lists, so I can put a TV series up here among all the movies. Watched the whole season twice, and I’d do it again… hilarious and brilliant.

4. Edvard Munch – such a powerful movie, it troubled my mind all year.

5. Scarlet Street – I almost want to lower its ranking to punish Fritz Lang for being so cruel to Edward G. Robinson. So very dark… best noir I’ve seen since Out of the Past.

6. F.W. Murnau’s Faust – c’mon, it’s Faust.

7. Moolaade – best movie on female genital mutilation I’ve ever seen.

8. Dazed and Confused – a good time, a very happy movie.

9. Tokyo Story – not as happy, but an emotional trip… gotta see more Ozu soon.

10. Kageroza – glad to see what Seijun Suzuki did during his “time off” from filmmaking.

11. Touch the Sound

12. The Philadelphia Story

13. Greed (The TCM reconstructed version)

14. La Strada

15. Wages of Fear

16. Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting – made the list as soon as the curator fell asleep and the disembodied narrator started whispering so as not to wake him.

17. Jean Renoir’s The Lower Depths

18. Petulia

19. Mr. Arkadin (corinth version) – Orson Welles in full-on crazy mode… a bunch of amazing scenes loosely stitched together with a ridiculous (and poorly dubbed) framing device. Too weird not to love.

20. Letter From Siberia

Honorable mentions to The Thief of Bagdad, The Newton Boys, Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge, the Judex silent serial, and Fritz Lang’s While The City Sleeps, among many others.

1. Satantango at the Belcourt in Nashville with Jimmy and Trevor. Nice drive, nice theater, and the kind of movie that changes my feeling about movies.

2. Tales of the Tinkerdee and Handmade Puppet Dreams at the Center for Puppetry Arts – Heather Henson presents some of her father Jim’s early works, and some brand new shorts by indie filmmaker puppeteers

3. Bright Leaves at Agnes Scott. The movie was on DVD, but we got two Q&As by director Ross McElwee.

4. Viva Pedro! at the Landmark – six Pedro Almodovar movies in a week. Got to see Matador, Law of Desire, Talk to Her, The Flower of My Secret, All About My Mother, and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and missed Bad Education and Live Flesh.

5. George Pal’s Puppetoons shorts at Lincoln Center with Justin and Trevor

6. Three Mira Nair movies at Emory with Katy, and a talk/Q&A with the director.

7. Pickpocket at Emory. It’s nice when an acclaimed classic lives up to its reputation.

8. Kill! at Emory. It’s nice when a movie I’ve barely heard of turns out to be a brilliant classic.

9. Warren Sonbert shorts at the Eyedrum. Another filmmaker I never would’ve heard about if not for local artist/programmer Andy Ditzler.

10. Spirit of the Beehive at Emory

Only an honorable mention allowed for 2046 at the High Museum since I’d just seen it three times last year.

1. Kingdom of Heaven (director’s cut) – Not even its May 2005 release date can save this from being the worst movie of 2006.

2. Art School Confidential – The bit at the end – about how the only way to be a successful artist is to be a fraud (the cop) or a notorious killer (our protagonist) – wasn’t worth the whole misguided, hateful, unfunny journey.

3. Hostel – Couldn’t justify filling my head with nightmares of dangling eyeballs meeting power drills. I will be shocked if the revenge ending was supposed to be taken seriously… seemed so sloppy that it felt like a loving tribute to bad plotting.

4. Hellraisers 7 and 8 – I’d heard they were bad, I knew they’d be bad, I watched them anyway. Put the word “Hellraiser” on anything and I’ll watch it. At least they were bad/fun, hence only the number four slot.

5. The Yes Men – Such an obviously funny subject, and from the directors of American Movie. So why does it feel so dull and hastily-compiled? Most unexpectedly crappy movie of the year.

Dishonorable mentions go to Dance of the Dead (for being worse than the Hellraisers, but with lower expectations), The Leopard (for being extremely tedious), Fritz Lang’s Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (for having the most ludicrous script and characters), and Walk The Line (for pointlessly hollywoodizing Johnny Cash’s life)