Top Ten Preparation, Part IV: Comedies

Click the links for Part I, Part II, and Part III.

I have to add another film to my top ten candidates: Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman’s wonderfully true-to-life comedy, Juno. And that’s handy, because comedy is exactly what I want to talk about in this chapter of my ongoing quest for the Top Ten Movies of 2007.

I see two, equally valid ways to evaluate a comedy. You can take into account everything you would in a drama–fully-realized characters, a well-designed story, an interesting world-view–as well as the fundamental issue of whether it made you laugh. Or you can forget all about that other stuff and just ask if it made you laugh hard and consistently from beginning to end.

With both criteria in mind, I try to include two comedies in my Top Ten list. You can think of them as Best Comedy and Funniest Comedy.

This year, two excellent, funny, true-to-life movies about unwanted pregnancies dominate the Best Comedy subcategory–Knocked Up and the aforementioned Juno. That’s a very tough call, but I’m going to have to go with Juno. It’s funnier, and with it’s lack of Hollywood gloss, it’s more down-to-earth.

But what about Adam’s Apples–another fine Best Comedy candidate. I’m hesitant to put it on the Top Ten for reasons that have little to do with quality. It’s now 19 months since I saw the film at the 2006 San Francisco International Film Festival. Can I really compare it to Juno, which I saw last week? So, on those admittedly unfair grounds, I’m eliminating Adam’s Apples from the competition. And although it’s not a comedy, I’m eliminating Venus for similar reasons–I saw it about 16 months ago at a press screening for the 2006 Mill Valley Film Festival.

While writing this, I’ve realized that I accidentally left two of the best comedies of 2007 off the list: Death at a Funeral and Dan in Real Life. Dan would fall into the Best Comedy category, but it’s definitely not as good as Juno (or Knocked Up or Adam’s Apples, for that matter), so I won’t worry about it.

No other flick this year made me laugh as much as Death at a Funeral, even though Hot Fuzz came close. (What is it about British comedies?) So Hot Fuzz gets dropped from the list. When I reviewed it in May, I stated that “If Hot Fuzz doesn’t make my Top Ten list as the funniest film of the year, 2007 will be the best year for comedies in a very long time.” I stand by that.

The list is now down to 13–despite adding three additional titles since Part III. Here’s the current tally:

  1. Golden Door
  2. La Vie En Rose
  3. The Lives of Others
  4. Knocked Up
  5. Ratatouille
  6. Ten Canoes
  7. No End in Sight
  8. The Savages
  9. Death at a Funeral
  10. Lust, Caution
  11. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
  12. Atonement
  13. Juno

On to Part V.