Monday, January 26, 2009

2008 Media Review: Top Movies

[The Media Review continues with the celluloid arts. If you haven't seen the movie mentioned, the link will take you to a trailer for it. How fun!]

MY TOP FIVE MOTION PICTURES OF 2008
5) The Dark Knight [The script has far too many problems to make this a great, great movie, but it was still a fine and entertaining motion picture nonetheless. It certainly lived up to my expectations.]
4) Slumdog Millionaire [The coincidences tilted it into the realm of fable, but this movie has so many wonderful moments. I cannot stop imitating the host. "Who Wants to Be... a Millunaire."]
3) WALL-E [There's something about act three that gets on my nerves. I can't put my finger on it, but it's too small a thing to make me forget the sheer poetry of the first two acts. I can't believe Disney and Pixar put this much money behind an art film.]
2) Doubt [An incredible script, actors who know when to be subtle and when to chew scenery, and a director who didn't get in the way of his genius DP. Michelle and I are still arguing over what really happened. I love that type of ambiguity.]
1) The Fall [Visually stunning, complex and heartbreaking characters, cleverly and imaginatively written, and I'm the only person I know who's seen it, thanks to the studio's complete inability to market this movie. Someone please see this movie so I can discuss it!]

MIGHT'VE MADE THE LIST IF I'D SEEN IT
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Gran Torino
Frost/Nixon

GOOD ENOUGH FOR TOP FIVE CONSIDERATION; WOULD'VE MADE THE LIST IF IT WAS A TOP TEN; PRESENTED IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
The Band's Visit [A marvelous fable from Israel. I wish I understood the simmering conflict between Israelis and Egyptians better, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the picture.]
Chop Shop [Kids like Alejandro are the reason Michelle and I are adopting. This may have the best opening sequence from any film in 2008.]
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days [Heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking. Though this movie's subject matter would suggest otherwise, I find it to be strongly pro-life. But it is a difficult, difficult film to watch.]
Cloverfield [No, really. It's really good.]
Transsiberian [Hitchcock is alive and well, and casting Woody Harrelson in roles where he doesn't get on my nerves.]

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
5) Young at Heart [Old people singing rock songs. What's not to love? Will make you rethink the way you listen to "Fix You." I dare you to watch the trailer and not immediately want to see this.]
4) Standard Operating Procedure [It's not about the Abu-Ghraib scandal--it's about the photographs of the Abu-Ghraib scandal. Errol Morris knows what he's doing, people. Can't believe this didn't get nominated for an Oscar. Not for kids.]
3) Encounters at the End of the World [Werner Herzog's documentary about the personalities that inhabit Antarctica is like a jazz musician riffing. Kind of pointless, kind of hard to follow, but still genius.]
2) War|Dance [Very much not the typical pity-the-poor-African-orphan documentary.]
1) Man on Wire [Exhilarating storytelling, even though you know how it's all going to pan out.]

BEST MOVIE FROM A PREVIOUS YEAR
Citizen Kane (1941) [Finally watched this for the first time, and now I understand what all the hype is about.]

BEST MOVIE WITH THE WORST TITLE
In Bruges [I watched this on a plane flying from London to Chicago, and it blew my socks off. Completely profane and entirely too bloody, but smack-you-on-the-head good in the plot/character department.]

FAR, FAR BETTER THAN THEY HAD ANY RIGHT TO BE
Kung Fu Panda
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
City of Ember

WORST
I thought about leaving Transformers on here, because it was bad enough to cover two years (certainly worse than Speed Racer or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), but then I remembered I watched The Happening, which really is as bad as they say. Especially when they get to that farmhouse with the old lady. "Why you eyein' my lemon drink?" will go down as one of the greatest bad lines ever written, spoken, or to have a spooky music cue afterward.

3 comments:

Mark Keefer said...

Good list.

Two bones. Madagascar 2. Either I'm missing something, or it sucked. I'm pretty sure it sucked.

I loved Speed Racer. I know I'm in the minority. Either I'm just being nostalgic, or the Wach Bro's really got it. The casting was great, and the world they created was fun. I know it was far from perfect, but I loved how they treated it. (the editing was excellent in the opening sequences too)

Adam said...

"Madagascar 2" surprised me, because I really don't care for the first one, but the kids talked us into going to the second one. I liked the overall themes of friendship and the commitment to family. I'm always on board when the moral of kids' movies ISN'T "Just be yourself!"

"Speed Racer" could've been one of the best, most inventive movies of all time. The world was indeed creative and mind-blowing. The script, however, was abysmal. Why are they shoehorning all this corporate takeover nonsense into what should be a fun movie about racing cars? A movie like that should never be boring, and that's exactly what it was for long, long stretches of time. Take all that stuff out, shorten the movie by an hour, and you're sitting on an instant classic.

Adam said...

Oh, and I didn't say "Madagascar 2" was great, I just said it was better than it had any right to be.