Keira Knightley, James McAvoy
This film is most interesting because it’s presented as the traditional British epic, complete with a foray into World War II (including what might be the most stunning Steadicam shot in movie history). Yet the only thing truly epic about Atonement,
directed by Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice
), is the scope of the characters’ emotional devastation. Keira Knightley and James McAvoy play class-challenged lovers Cecilia and Robbie, whose lives are ruined when Cecilia’s younger sister accuses Robbie of a crime he didn’t commit. He’s sentenced to prison, but winds up on the battlefields of France. Yeah, that does sound epic. Then again, it doesn’t happen until halfway through the movie and doesn’t last until the end. Nevertheless, the movie poses a fascinating question: Can one ever atone for a sin that destroyed somebody’s life? The exploration of the answer and the execution of the film are equally remarkable, making this adaptation of the Ian McEwan novel a top 2007 film.