With all the excitement surrounding the blog's album countdown, I keep forgetting to do movie reviews, so to make up for it, here's some (too) short takes on the ten best films I've seen so far this year.
 Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix
Director: David Yates
Hey, it's not Prisoner of Azkaban, but it's still pretty good fun. The overall cast is the strongest part of this entry in the series, with all the new additions making a big splash, and the kids coming along nicely. I'd also like to single out the great finale in three parts. Way to take a pretty good film and bump it up to being a really good film. The only thing that kept it from being great was the middle third's heavy reliance on montages breaking the momentum.
Raz's Rating for the Potter gang:
Directors: Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino (with Rob Zombie, Edgar Wright, and Eli Roth)
While it may be completely retarded, it was also the most fun I had in the theater this year. The studio totally botched the advertising, because this one should've been a no-brainer; at least a $60 million domestic gross (It didn't even make half that). Absolutely as gory and exploitive as can be, it also featured some of the best make-up and stunts in recent memory; stuntwoman Zoe Bell becomes a legend before your eyes. Oh yeah, and Rose McGowan's ass is so perfect, it made me tear up. No joke.
Raz's Rating for gore, stunts, & booty:
Director: Greg Mottola
The best teen movies are the ones that don't sugar-coat the true high school experience. Superbad ranks along side greats like Cameron Crowe's twin towers of Say Anything and Fast Times at Ridgemont High as a story about kids that feels real, with enough heart to not only make you care what happens to the characters, but also to see yourself in them. All that plus it's fucking hilarious, continues Judd Apatow comedic dominance, and puts Jonah Hill and Michael Cera in front of the world, where they belong.
Raz's Rating for McLovin' (What up gangstas??!!):
 Rescue Dawn
Director: Werner Herzog
I know this is gonna sound harsh and a bit inconsequential but, who knew Steve Zahn could act?? Yeah, you get to see that actually happen, not to mention yet another of Christian Bale's classic performances; this time his transformation is so perfect and complete, it might finally get him noticed by the Academy. Herzog shot in the jungle, documentary style, and the result is breathtaking; you can tell the crew is stuck in the shit with the actors. Brilliant filmmaking.
Raz's Rating for another strange trip with emaciated Batman:
 The Bourne Ultimatum
Director: Paul Greengrass
A lot of people are quick name the third Jason Bourne the best of the Trilogy, and I wholeheartedly disagree - I believe that, despite being the best action movies since, um, ever, none of them are perfect and they all kind of equal out in the end. By all rights, this should be the best though, a perfect 10 that ends up an 8 because there's too much to complain about. An underused Julia Stiles. Not enough dialogue for Matt Damon. A cheesy, underwhelming end/beginning to the amnesia plot. But it's still the best action flick this year for your 10 bucks.
Raz's Rating for the best action hero since John McClane forgot his shoes:
Director: David Fincher
Like any good David Fincher film, Zodiac lingers with you. You see it, you think it's the tits, sure, and you tell your friends how good Gyllenhaal, Ruffalo, & Downey are in it. But you forget about it for while. Then the images keep creeping back into your daydreams, and you're just that little bit more afraid of the dark. You should be, because even Charles "Roger Rabbit" Fleischer (in one of the greatest cameos in film history) can make you lock your doors. Just keep telling yourself - it's just a movie.
Raz's Rating for amazing work by amazing artists, all around:
 The Lookout
Director: Scott Frank
The one film I actually reviewed this year is one that will stick with you because of the brilliant performances. The actors disappear into their parts, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Oscar-worthy portrayal of Chris Pratt going a long way to further cementing his place as the best young actor in Hollywood. Scott Frank made a cousin to Memento, but stuck it in a classic Howard Hawks box; the result is so effective, you forget it's his directorial debut.
Raz's Rating for Neo-Noir the way it's supposed to be:
 Hot Fuzz
Director: Edgar Wright
At this point, director Wright, writer/star Simon Pegg, and sidekick Nick Frost could make spoofs of Hallmark made-for-TV movies and probably have it be the best comedy ever. While Hot Fuzz isn't quite as consistently funny as Shaun of The Dead, it's better written and the movies being spoofed are done so in classically subtle ways. The entire film references over 50 films and TV shows according to IMDB, and the hysterical climactic shootout will have you doubled over in laughter.
Raz's Rating for shooting the gun in the air and yelling "Arrrghh!!":
Director: Brad Bird
When critics and fanboys talk the best directors of today, no one mentions Brad Bird, and that is a fucking crime. The man has now made three of the greatest animated films of all time: The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and this little gem. But what makes the films special is that he doesn't sacrifice palatable human emotion in favor of visual delights. He gives you both, like an American counterpart to Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki. And that's why you leave the theater feeling stuffed, with a smile on your face.
Raz's Rating for another perfect Brad Bird film:
 Knocked Up
Director: Judd Apatow
To try and nail down the variety of comedic influences that Judd Apatow has wrangled in Knocked Up is impossible because he's drawing from pretty much the entire field. At this point, Apatow is Comedy, and Knocked Up is one of the best film comedies of all time. Forget for a minute that the lead couple (Seth Rogen & Katherine Heigl) are a classic Odd Couple set-up, and think of his group of friends, and how they act like teenage boys. Now realize that these were the type of characters that you hated in the American Pie and Farrelly Brothers movies, but here you love them. And you love her sister and brother-in-law even more, beautifully drawn by Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd. Apatow has written a brilliant, honest movie, and is fortunate enough to be backed by a trusted crew of actors and actresses who fill these roles and make them real. Here's to them ruling the comedy landscape for years to come.
Raz's Rating for the best film of 2007 so far: