Disclaimer: Not all these movies actually came out in 2007; this list represents the best movies I watched in 2007.

1. Stranger Than Fiction
This movie raises all kinds of philosophical questions, but does so in the context of a quirky storyline so that the philosophy doesn’t obscure the plot or ‘force’ itself on the viewer. Harold Crick, played by Will Ferrell, is an IRS agent whose life is rather uninteresting and driven by routine. He frequently hears a voice narrating his everyday activities and soon discovers that he is the main character in a novel about his own life. The plot thickens as the narrator begins making ominous predictions about Harold’s life. What I like about the film is that it captures the desire we all have to be part of a meaningful story – a story large enough to transcend the mundane moments of everyday living. It brings up questions related to fate and destiny: Are we in control of our lives? Is there a storyteller who is authoring the story of our lives? Outstanding acting and an engaging storyline combine to make this the best movie I watched in 2007.

2. Once
An Irish film made on a shoestring budget, Once is a modern day musical about two musicians whose lives intersect briefly for a magical week. Glen Hansard (frontman for the Irish band The Frames) stars as a Dublin songwriter who meets a young Czech woman (Margeta Irglova) while performing as a street musician. She turns out to be a talented pianist in her own right so they write and rehearse songs leading up to a climactic weekend together in which they record in a studio. What’s amazing to me about this film is the subtle way in which music is used to carry the storyline. I never once thought, “Oh here we go again with another song.” Rather, each song adds to the plot and captures the experiences of the characters. This movie is about the power of music to weave lives together; it’s also about learning to live in the moment when once in a lifetime circumstances present themselves. Very, very close runner up to Stranger Than Fiction.

3. In America
This 2003 film is about an Irish family (I’m starting to notice an Irish theme here) working toward a fresh start after the death of the youngest child. They emigrage to America where they live in a run-down apartment in New York City as the father attempts to make it as an actor. Redemption from the guilt and sorrow that torments them begins as the two young daughters lead the family in reaching out to a neighbor who they later discover is dying of AIDS. This is a poignant movie about a family growing closer together and finding peace as they open up their lives to befriend someone very different than themselves. Not too sentimental, this is a good uplifting film (at least at the end)!

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