They may not be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award in this year's ceremony, but for Ratatouille, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Simpsons Movie and Knocked Up, it was an award-winning 2007 of a different kind.
They are among the top 10 in Forbes.com's inaugural Forbesies Awards, our look at Hollywood's true winners for the year based on critical response and box-office performance. How'd they do? The envelope, please.
Based on our measures, Disney/Pixar's Ratatouille was the top film of the year, Universal Pictures' The Bourne Ultimatum was No. 2 and The Simpsons Movie from News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox was third.
To arrive at the numbers--the nominating process, as it were -- Forbes.com first looked at films released in North America for calendar year 2007 as found at box-office reporting service Box Office Mojo.
From there we took every film that grossed $1 million or more at the North America box office (a universe of nearly 240-plus films) and charted where they ranked in worldwide box office, according to figures from Box Office Mojo and Exhibitor Relations Co. We then looked at how the film did with critics, using measurements from MetaCritic.com.
Each film received a point for its rank in the category. (A finish in the No. 1 spot yields one point; No. 2 yields two points, etc.) The scores were then added together, and the film with the lowest combined number finished on top, indicating consistent placement in the upper tiers of each grouping.
For Ratatouille, which is nominated for a Best Animated Feature Film Oscar, its ascension to the top spot came as a result of its worldwide box office of $620.4 million, placing it No. 6 overall in that category for 2007, and its No. 1 finish among films in terms of its MetaCritic score, where it compiled a 96.
The return of Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum also proved a potent mix, chasing its way to the No. 2 slot in the Forbesies list with $442.7 million in global box office (No. 9 overall in the worldwide rankings) and a No. 6 finish in the MetaCritic comparisons based on its overall 85 from the site.
The Simpsons Movie was third, with an overall score of 18. U.S. television's longest-running sitcom showed its established muscle globally, with $526.5 million (No. 7 overall). The longtime critical favorite lost none of that steam from theatrical reviewers, finishing No. 11 when factoring in its MetaCritic score of 80.
Included in the top 10 are five sequels, including Bruce Willis' return as John McLane in 20th Century Fox's Live Free or Die Hard (No. 6; score: 31); that big-screen version of a long-running TV show (The Simpsons); and the live-action theatrical debut of a toy franchise (No. 9's Transformers from Paramount/DreamWorks; score: 34).
But there were films that didn't have the luxury of a built-in following.Take Judd Apatow's Knocked Up (No. 5 with a 27 score) from Universal Pictures. It did stellar North America box office ($148.7 million) and a solid $70 million internationally (about equal to what Apatow's previous directorial effort, 2005's The 40-Year-Old Virgin, did outside North America). Its $219 million worldwide cume put it at No. 21 overall.
But its ability to also score with critics helped knock it into the upper tier, landing at No. 5 overall, with a MetaCritic score of 85.
In addition to box office and critical heft, time of release emerges as a running theme for titles at the peak.
There's a long-held theory that for the Oscars, a later-in-the-year release date helps a film's nomination chances, keeping it top of mind as Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voters are filling out their ballots. (Three of the five Oscar Best Picture nominees this year opened in December; the other two in October and November.)
Not true in the case of the Forbesies. Summer-focused release dates in North America and certain parts of the world -- when there are more available audiences during the week with schools out, and potentially more available dollars for repeat business -- was essential.
Nine of the top 10 films opened in North America in the late-spring to summer window, which Hollywood views as its summer period.
To be sure, some films that bowed late in the year in planned limited releases, such as Best Picture Oscar nominee There Will Be Blood, were at a bit of a disadvantage due to the timing of their opening.
However, a Nov. 21 opening for Disney Pictures' Enchanted gave the film enough room to make its way into a tie for seventh place with Sony's Spider-Man 3. (Another film with an impressive end-of-2007 performance, given its December 14 debut, was Warner Bros.' Will Smith starrer I Am Legend, which just missed the cut, coming in at No. 11 with an overall score of 36.)
For those looking ahead, it's still early days in 2008, so current titles on the leader board, including Cloverfield and 27 Dresses, need to wait just a bit longer to see if their creators will be clearing spots on their mantles next year.