best of 2007: best documentary, best director

The Oscars are barrelling down on us — the ceremony is tomorrow — so it’s time to close out Movie Year 2007. Here are the last of my picks for the best of the year.

After the jump, the top 5 best documentaries and best directors of 2007.

1. Sicko: Here’s a film that could actually change the world… or at least the American part of the world. If the U.S. joins the rest of the civilized human race in offering single-payer universal health care any time soon, we’ll have to thank Michael Moore for opening the eyes of Americans, most of whom have had no idea how underprivileged they are. [buy at Amazon]

2. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters: A contest over a record high-score for a video game becomes something far more riveting: an exploration of the nature of competition, of how far some men — and they are all men here — will go to win. [buy at Amazon]

3. Meeting Resistance: Eight Iraqi “insurgents” explain why they have no choice but to resist the American occupation of their country. It’s an astonishingly humanizing portrait that will affect what you think about the war, no matter where you stand.

4. War Dance: Children in war-ravaged Uganda dance to save their souls. This is a stirring tribute to the human spirit and its ability to rebound after the worst of traumas. [preorder at Amazon]

5. Zoo: Eerie and deeply disturbing, this surrealistically moody exploration of the weirdness of bestiality, inspired by the terrible story of a Washington State man who died horribly as a result of having sex with a horse, reporoduces, as far as we on the outside can tell, the mindset of someone in the grips of such a fetish. [buy at Amazon]


1. Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: It’s sure to beome a blueprint for other filmmakers: Burton’s genre-blending — horror, comedy, musical — is fearless and assured. [buy the soundtrack CD at Amazon]

2. Michael Moore, Sicko: In an era when concepts of journlalistic objectivity have been perverted into a defanged feebleness, Moore isn’t afraid to be passionate, pointed, and embrace a point of view. [buy at Amazon]

3. Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men: Their thesis on the randomness of both cruelty and kindness is a startling experience, depicting violence and fury in a uniquely still and measured way. [preorder at Amazon]

4. Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood: In a dramatic departure from his previous film, Anderson brings a grand, epic sweep to one man’s descent into irredeemable egocentrism. [preorder at Amazon]

5. Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: In one of the most intimate films of the year, Schnabel puts us in a most extraordinary position — inside the head of a cinematic protagonist in a way we’ve never quite been before.

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