The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
This is a breakout year for Casey Affleck, who is astonishing as Robert Ford, an odd man with a sad case of celebrity worship. His hero is Jesse James (Brad Pitt), a man he has read about and compared himself with since childhood. He eventually becomes a member of the James Gang and finds himself in the position of eliminating the man he worships the most. The sick thing is, he sort of likes the prospects of such an act. Affleck delivers almost every line with a shy whine, a sound that might irritate if Affleck’s physical work weren’t so pitch perfect. Pitt is terrific as James, a full-blown celebrity full of rage, suffering from paranoia. As directed by Andrew Dominik and shot by Roger Deakins, this is a great-looking, bare-bones Western full of spectacular imagery. Sam Rockwell, Sam Shepard, Jeremy Renner and especially Paul Schneider all excel in supporting roles. With this and 3:10 to Yuma, 2007 has proven to be a great year for Westerns.