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Monday, January 28, 2008

Diablo Redux on Letterman

Diablo Cody returns to Late Night to talk with Dave Letterman about being an Oscar nominee, what success has done to her, and the Starbucks at Target in Robbinsdale as inspiration for writing her screenplay JUNO.

The now famous, Diablo Cody developed many of her professional skills and interpersonal negotiations from being a stripper. I can say, even before she wrote JUNO she was plying her ability to manipulate people attentions for her to the maximum effect. She will admit to this fully.

At the magazine I work for we had an incident where we sent a photographer out to shoot a photo of her during the time of her “Candy Girl” book release. She was working at City Pages and had a desk there, so she wore fishnets and stripper lingerie and stuck a provocative pose – camera down low, one leg up, bottie hitched high. A lot to see...

Before our photographer left, she begged, pleaded and promised, in order to get him to give her copies of the photos “just for her personal use.” Within hours those digital photos were up on her blog site and she was spreading vicious gossip about our magazines art director -- most of it invented with a National Inquirer like tone.

The hot pose story spread like wildfire with both the StarTribune (gossip clumnist CJ) and The Rake magazine doing stories about the story. That’s one of Diablo’s biggest talents – she’s a self-marketing team onto herself and could teach a few of the handlers in LA some tricks. At that time, I wrote an quick message to Diablo telling her the trouble she caused the photographer because it violated our contract with him when he gave her a copy and then that she used it was yet another instance. She immediately removed the photos from her web site and apologized for her indiscretion in the matter, insisting, “I am a professional.”

By this time, however, Cody’s purpose had been achieved to double and triple her exposure and get everybody talking even if it involved some double-crossing to get there. I think she is very smart.

There is bound to be a lot of resentment and envy from fellow scribes for Cody’s actions and her stellar rise. Screenwriters’ never get the attention she has been able to garner and, likewise, screenwriters are not the most generous of folks when it comes to ego. Mind you, we do often get shafted and treated poorly by directors, producers and the industry in general. I am in sympathy. Especially in these times of the strike, when a great big shaft is being perpetuated against us.

I’d say there is a dimension to “Diablo Cody phenomena” that transcends her as an individual. Cody’s is the American rags-to-riches story so many in Hollywood like to glorify. Sure, here in Minnesota we have fairytale fantasies but perhaps it is the weather that prevents us for going about thinking we can act them out and live them. LA and California has no such pragmatic restraint.

More than anything else, the Diablo Cody fee-nom is related to the place Hollywood is in today. There is a perception that due to the internet, the business of entertainment and making movies is slipping away form the studio execs and their old-world models of filmmaking. They are grasping at straws, trying to find the next great, best thing that will walk in their doors. And Diablo being an irreverent, mouthy, self-promoting, PC generation standout is, for the moment, a dream come true.

But, no question, Cody did jump the stack. A lot of writers have been humping the LA treatmill for years and none have come near the stardom, celebracy, and attraction that Diablo has suddenly found herself inside. JUNO, her first screenplay has won her an Oscar nomination and she seems to be leading the polls. Not too many people are going to like she moved to the front of the line. The popularity polls don't vote for Oscars, the screenwriters' and members of the academy do. Her bubble will burst. As much as America likes to create sensational stories of the rise to fame, it just as quickly likes to expose and undermine them.

I don't use any of it against her. Diablo Cody is an entertainer. And so is everybody else working in the industry in Hollywood and New York. I think she has fun with the game and more of us should also. Compared to the droll hatred and self-righteousness of Robert Towne (even if he is a better screenwriter) I'd take Diablo any day over Towne. Cody's rise does not have much to do with great screenwriting but even she cannot live on her personality and instinct for the jugular alone.

Diablo Cody still has to sit down and write an interesting story and good dialogue and she does better at that than most first-timers. She's not a genius but this is not an industry for them. Afterall, look at all the brilliant writers in the 30s and 40s who went to Hollywood and got nowhere. It wasn't that they weren't great, it was just that they were in the wrong town.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Minnesotan Sarah Pillsbury's Film Plays Sundance

Minnesota producer Sarah Pillsbury's newest film QUID PRO QUO opened at the Sundance Film Festival this week. Based on writer/director Carlos Brooks take on the scarier side of weird, able bodied people with paralysis envy, the film played on Sunday (1/20) in the Library Center Theater.

QUID PRO QUO is produced by Pillsbury and her long-time producing partner Midge Sanford whom together go back to the 1985 Madonna vehicle, Susan Seidelman's DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN, Tim Hunter's RIVER'S EDGE the next year and John Sayles' EIGHT MEN OUT in 1988.

After attending Yale University, Pillsbury went to Los Angeles and continued her studies at UCLA. The first film she worked on was David Lynch's EASERHEAD in 1977. Pillsbury then co-produced BOARD AND CARE for which she won an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film. Since her first award Pillsbury has gone onto to win a Independent Spirt Award and Emmy.

Carlos Brooks grew up in Bellevue, Washington and studied film at USC and credits his admiration for music and particularly for singer/songwriters for his decision to become a film writer/director. In an interview with Indiewire, Brooks explained, "If you are constrained by any kind of budget (even if it's only the 20 minutes before the security guard arrives), directing a film is like writing while running for your life from a bear. Even the low points have a certain urgency. After doing it once, I knew I never wanted to be anything but a director. So I spent a lot of time studying and practicing how to write a good screenplay."

Billed as dramatic thriller, QUID PRO QUO is about a semi-paralyzed NPR-styled radio reporter (Nick Stahl) who, while investigating a story on paralysis discovers the strange subculture of paralysis inducing denizens. In the process of uncovering the story meets Fiona (Vera Famiga) who may have a connection to the accident that caused his injury and killed his parents. Stahl will also be seen on screen this week in Park City in Zac Standford's scripted film SLEEPWALKING that also stars Charlize Theron, Dennis Hopper, and Woody Harrelson.

In an interview with The Reeler, Brooks said about his script, "I've always wanted to write a detective story, and what this really is is a detective story in disguise. It's an investigative journalistic piece, and the best detective stories are the ones where the detective ultimately realizes he's been investigating himself."

QUID PRO QUO will be released by Magnolia Films Releasing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oscar Noms This Morning

Best Motion Picture
“Atonement” (Focus Features)
A Working Title Production
Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster, Producers
“Juno” (Fox Searchlight)
A Dancing Elk Pictures, LLC Production
Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick and Russell Smith, Producers
“Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)
A Clayton Productions, LLC Production
Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Fox and Kerry Orent, Producers
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
A Scott Rudin/Mike Zoss Production
Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
“There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
A JoAnne Sellar/Ghoulardi Film Company Production
JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Lupi, Producers

Achievement in Directing
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (Miramax/Pathé Renn) Julian Schnabel
“Juno” (Fox Searchlight) Jason Reitman
“Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.) Tony Gilroy
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
“There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) Paul Thomas Anderson

Adapted Screenplay
“Atonement” (Focus Features)
Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
“Away from Her” (Lionsgate)
Written by Sarah Polley
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (Miramax/Pathé Renn)
Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
“There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson

Original Screenplay
“Juno” (Fox Searchlight)
Written by Diablo Cody
“Lars and the Real Girl” (MGM)
Written by Nancy Oliver
“Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)
Written by Tony Gilroy
“Ratatouille” (Walt Disney)
Screenplay by Brad Bird
Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird
“The Savages” (Fox Searchlight)
Written by Tamara Jenkins

Best Documentary Feature
“No End in Sight” (Magnolia Pictures)
A Representational Pictures Production
Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
“Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience” (The Documentary Group)
A Documentary Group Production
Richard E. Robbins
“Sicko” (Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company)
A Dog Eat Dog Films Production
Michael Moore and Meghan O’Hara
“Taxi to the Dark Side” (THINKFilm)
An X-Ray Production
Alex Gibney and Eva Orner
“War/Dance” (THINKFilm)
A Shine Global and Fine Films Production
Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine

Best Foreign Language Film
“Beaufort” A Metro Communications, Movie Plus Production
“The Counterfeiters” An Aichholzer Filmproduktion, Magnolia Filmproduktion Production
“Katyń” An Akson Studio Production
“Mongol” A Eurasia Film Production
“12” A Three T Production

Achievement in Cinematography
“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (Warner Bros.) Roger Deakins
“Atonement” (Focus Features) Seamus McGarvey
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (Miramax/Pathé Renn) Janusz Kaminski
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Roger Deakins
“There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) Robert Elswit

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
George Clooney in “Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)
Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Johnny Depp in “Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”
(DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Tommy Lee Jones in “In the Valley of Elah” (Warner Independent)
Viggo Mortensen in “Eastern Promises” (Focus Features)

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Casey Affleck in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (Warner Bros.)
Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Charlie Wilson’s War” (Universal)
Hal Holbrook in “Into the Wild” (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment)
Tom Wilkinson in “Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)

Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (Universal)
Julie Christie in “Away from Her” (Lionsgate)
Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose” (Picturehouse)
Laura Linney in “The Savages” (Fox Searchlight)
Ellen Page in “Juno” (Fox Searchlight)

Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Cate Blanchett in “I’m Not There” (The Weinstein Company)
Ruby Dee in “American Gangster” (Universal)
Saoirse Ronan in “Atonement” (Focus Features)
Amy Ryan in “Gone Baby Gone” (Miramax)
Tilda Swinton in “Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)

Best Animated Feature Film
“Persepolis” (Sony Pictures Classics) Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
“Ratatouille” (Walt Disney) Brad Bird
“Surf's Up” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Ash Brannon and Chris Buck

Achievement in Art Direction
“American Gangster” (Universal)
Art Direction: Arthur Max
Set Decoration: Beth A. Rubino
“Atonement” (Focus Features)
Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood
Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
“The Golden Compass” (New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners)
Art Direction: Dennis Gassner
Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
“Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Art Direction: Dante Ferretti
Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
“There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Art Direction: Jack Fisk
Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Achievement in Costume Design
“Across the Universe” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Albert Wolsky
“Atonement” (Focus Features) Jacqueline Durran
“Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (Universal) Alexandra Byrne
“La Vie en Rose” (Picturehouse) Marit Allen
“Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (DreamWorks and Warner Bros.,
Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount) Colleen Atwood

Best Documentary Short Subject
A Lieutenant Films Production
Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth
“La Corona (The Crown)”
A Runaway Films and Vega Films Production
Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega
“Salim Baba”
A Ropa Vieja Films and Paradox Smoke Production
Tim Sternberg and Francisco Bello
“Sari’s Mother” (Cinema Guild)
A Daylight Factory Production
James Longley

Achievement in Film Editing
“The Bourne Ultimatum” (Universal) Christopher Rouse
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (Miramax/Pathé Renn) Juliette Welfling
“Into the Wild” (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment) Jay Cassidy
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Roderick Jaynes
“There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) Dylan Tichenor

Achievement in Makeup
“La Vie en Rose” (Picturehouse) Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald
“Norbit” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount) Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji
“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” (Walt Disney) Ve Neill and Martin Samuel

Best Original Score
“Atonement” (Focus Features) Dario Marianelli
“The Kite Runner” (DreamWorks, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Participant Productions,
Distributed by Paramount Classics) Alberto Iglesias
“Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.) James Newton Howard
“Ratatouille” (Walt Disney) Michael Giacchino
“3:10 to Yuma” (Lionsgate) Marco Beltrami

Best Original Song
“Falling Slowly” from “Once”
(Fox Searchlight)
Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
“Happy Working Song” from “Enchanted”
(Walt Disney)
Music by Alan Menken
Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
“Raise It Up” from “August Rush”
(Warner Bros.)
Nominees to be determined
“So Close” from “Enchanted”
(Walt Disney)
Music by Alan Menken
Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
“That’s How You Know” from “Enchanted”
(Walt Disney)
Music by Alan Menken
Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

Best Animated Short Film
“I Met the Walrus”
A Kids & Explosions Production
Josh Raskin
“Madame Tutli-Putli” (National Film Board of Canada)
A National Film Board of Canada Production
Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski
“Même Les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)” (Premium Films)
A BUF Compagnie Production
Samuel Tourneux and Simon Vanesse
“My Love (Moya Lyubov)” (Channel One Russia)
A Dago-Film Studio, Channel One Russia and Dentsu Tec Production
Alexander Petrov
“Peter & the Wolf” (BreakThru Films)
A BreakThru Films/Se-ma-for Studios Production
Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman

Best Live Action Short Film
“At Night”
A Zentropa Entertainments 10 Production
Christian E. Christiansen and Louise Vesth
“Il Supplente (The Substitute)” (Sky Cinema Italia)
A Frame by Frame Italia Production
Andrea Jublin
“Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)” (Premium Films)
A Karé Production
Philippe Pollet-Villard
“Tanghi Argentini” (Premium Films)
An Another Dimension of an Idea Production
Guido Thys and Anja Daelemans
“The Tonto Woman”
A Knucklehead, Little Mo and Rose Hackney Barber Production
Daniel Barber and Matthew Brown

Achievement in Sound Editing
“The Bourne Ultimatum” (Universal)
Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Skip Lievsay
“Ratatouille” (Walt Disney)
Randy Thom and Michael Silvers
“There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Matthew Wood
“Transformers” (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro)
Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins

Achievement in Sound Mixing
“The Bourne Ultimatum” (Universal)
Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland
“Ratatouille” (Walt Disney)
Randy Thom, Michael Semanick and Doc Kane
“3:10 to Yuma” (Lionsgate)
Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Jim Stuebe
“Transformers” (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro)
Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin

Achievement in Visual Effects
“The Golden Compass” (New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners)
Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood
“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” (Walt Disney)
John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier
“Transformers” (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro)
Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Has Sundance Lost It Soul?

This is a question that is annually asked and only answered in service to the interests of the current wave of festival participants.

I must say, this year when I received my Sundance gift catalogue, nearly a hundred pages of clothing, jewlery and gift items you can purchase with a "branded" Sundance identity I though to myself, "Okay, this is the end. I give Sundance three years"

The thing about the Sundance catelogue is that it very accurately reflects the "old soul" of Sundance. The products, especailly the clothing and jewelry, are classic vintage Sundance cowboy western hippie wear.

In the last few years it has become fashionable to wax nostalgic for the old Sundance, "When John Sayles and John Cassavetes films were shown there." In truth there is no idyllic past for Sundance. Even in the early days when Redford tried to impose a somber, politically correct and boorish aesthetic it failed miserably. There were all kinds of factions trying to define "what type of film" should be shown in Park City. This lead to stratification, infighting, and charges of control by a tight knit group of insiders operating in their narrow self-interests.

There was a saying that in order to get into the labs or have an indie film considered for the festival, the characters had to be wearing bib-overalls, chew straw out of the side of their mouth, be downtrodden and oppressed by the man and more simply reflect Redford's passion for the western rural vision he looked at through rose colored glasses.

If those waxing nostalgic for that time and want that aesthetic, it is a good thing the festival spun out of control.

What we've seen evolve since the early days of 1978 happily widely diverge from these narrow restrictions and show more different types of films than Sayles and Cassavetes. What Sundance has showcased in those years is hugely desperate movements from gay militant cinema by Todd Haynes, Tom Kalin, and Gregg Araki to pulp film movement of Quentin Tarantino to "Half Nelson", and Craig Brewers' "Hustle & Flow." Despite the stereotype by some who've never been to Sundance that it is made up of only "coming-of-age" movies, its dramatic features and documentaries each year are widely diverse even if the buyers don't want to buy them.

What is probably more disappointing than the few than a dozen films that get theatrical distribution with major releasing companies is that out of Sundance and all the other film festivals showing new indie films, a distribution channel hasn't opened up for the 250+ films at Sundance that could be marketed in a variety of fashions to niche audiences. People like to herald Slamdance for being alternative when there are more alternative films inside Sundance than Slamdance could ever hope to unreel.

Let's hope Sundance has lost the soul of the late 1970s when the narrow, boring and misguided mission was still in its infancy. The best thing Sundance can hope for is to be a reflection of the unproven talent of new and emerging filmmakers around the country and the world. Each year Sundance should begin with a open slate and try to capture the mood of the indie filmmakers in the time. Frankly, that's the only choice it has because seeking a nostalgic past can never inspire a film about filmmaking today.

Redford's hippie cowboy western aesthetic is dead. RIP!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


One cannot help but note how quickly people have backed away from Minnesota connected films simply because of their wide-spread success. An age-old inferiority complex here in the midwest causes us to winch when any Minnesotan achieves a level of success. The locals want to accuse them of "selling out," "being aesthetically compromised" or the makers "forgetting where they came from" or worse accusations -- all based on envy and petty jealousy.

Yet the success of these films: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, JUNO and INTO THE WILD can have a huge impact on Minnesota filmmaking for years to come. As a result two follow-on films by the Coens and Cody are already slated to be filmed in Minnesota in 2008 with another by Garrison Keillor that should reach wider theatrical audiences - the state is experiencing a new level of national productions. Unlike the past with GRUMPY OLD MEN or MIGHTY DUCKS, new productions coming here have Minnesota talent, stories, and creators connected to them. And, let the bashful be damned, we should not be ashamed if these films can make money at the box office. Worshipping failure is no virtue.

After reading the City Pages critics choices of best films in 2007, I almost decided not to make a list because of their pretentious posturing and overt attempt to appear B-list smart when they are just acting morons. Their top films list makes one wonder why they write lists at all. CP film writing has dropped to the depths of bad this year and along with massively decreased coverage in the daily rags this signals a very bad note for the future of Minnesota film writing and criticism.

The top films in all the award races and international film festivals this year have the mark of Minnesota on them and we ought to celebrate even if it is in our character as Minnesotans to stare down at our shoes, not think very highly of ourselves and critique our films by mumbling, "It could be worse."

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, Coen Brothers just get better and better at mastering the filmmaking form while retaining their distinctive humor, perspective and glibness of vision and they keep coming back to what is true to them as evidence the film they will be shooting in Minnesota next year based on their father;

INTO THE WILD, Sean Penn and Minnesota producer Bill Pohlad hit the mark with this adaptation of the best selling book by the same name. Although people wanted the film to vilify the parents in backstory and make grand statements about the past, Penn resists and let the story remained particular to playing out the drama;

JUNO all the critics want to resist the appeal of her film because of the hype surrounding first-time screenwriter Diablo Cody but put it all aside and your posturing too, this is a really decent film in a year when a fresh new look for indie drama is needed -- a hundred times better than previously hyped small indies Little Miss Sunshine, Sideways and Napoleon Dynamite all vastly inferior films

LAKE OF FIRE, a must see documentary on the culture war surrounding the abortion rage that has devolved into senseless irrational infidel accusations and bloody murder all around - the actions of religious extremist sounds like terrorism and it is;

DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY, 80s abstract artist and New York East Village inhabitant Julian Schnabel began his filmmaking career auspiciously with a bio-pic based on the life and death of graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat has hit his stride with this brilliant adaptation;

12:08 EAST OF BUCHAREST, a hilarious satire from Romanian helmer Corneliu Perumboiu; who thought two Romanian films would be up the same year on a "best of" list;

AWAY FROM HER, in which Julie Christie breaks hearts as a woman afflicted with Alzheimer's. An auspicious feature-directing debut by sweet and talented Canadian actress Sarah Polley.

SIMPLE THINGS, a Russian film by first time director Alexei Popogrebsky about a aging doctor and a former Soviet-era film star who are struggling to survive in Putin-era Russia, filmed in a Mike Leigh-style realism;

4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS, Cristian Mungiu's girtty story set in the time of Ceausescu's dictatorship marks an exciting new beginning for Romanian cinema and tells the story of a young couple who set out to obtain an illegal abortion in the dreary and uptight 80s;

THIS IS ENGLAND, a British film by Shane Meadows depicts the coming of age of a Bit skinhead with only a slight resemblance to American History X, it was hailed in England as best indie in 2006 but did not reach the U.S. until 2007;

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, Julie Taymors treatment is how musicals should be made and although I'M NOT THERE Todd Hayne's homage to the multi-personalities of Bob Dylan is worthy of note for reinventing the bio-pic form, the flawed guey Americana segments with Richard Gere position at the dramatic apex of the film blew it out of contention.

My 2007 list should be qualified with the proviso that I focus primary in up and coming indie filmmakers who are making dramas that tell stories and while I enjoy abstract, avant-garde, shorts and animation, they are not on this list saved for another category of filmmaking.

Reading New Years resolutions, one I appreciated a lot was Ty Burr writing in The Boston Globe, "Look for interesting filmmaking in places it's not supposed to be. On the Internet, handhelds, cellphones, the sides of buildings. Maybe even in movie theaters."

ALSO WORTHY OF MENTION: Send a Bullet, Persepolis, No End in Sight, Casa do Alice, The Kite Runner, Once, Black Book, There Will Be Blood, Atonement, My Kid Could Paint That, and Zodiac.