Sunday, January 4, 2009

My favorite movies of 2008

Here are my top movies from 2008. Rather than do a top 10, I decided to do a top 17. The order is pretty much in order, but some days I remember a movie more fondly than the day before.

17 - Son of Rambow
This was a charming movie. Its one of those rare movies that kids and adults can enjoy. I was never one of those kids that tried to make a movie with my friends (I think very few kids actually do this), but the movie makes me wish I had. And the scene with the flying dog crashing into the teacher's class, as well as the callback a few minutes later in the teacher's lounge? One of the funniest scenes in any movie.
16 - Milk

A very good biopic. Sean Penn is one of the best actors working today. Compare his performance in this to his performance in Mystic River. Almost unrecognizable. And Josh Brolin was very good too.

15 - Role Models

This was much funnier than I had expected. And I feel like they cast against type. I expected Seann William Scott to be the slacker, and Paul Rudd to be the more responsible of the two. But it was the other way around. I like it when they do that in movies. And Jane Lynch is the funniest woman alive.

14 - Hellboy II: The Golden Army

I liked the first Hellboy, and I thought this was better. And funnier. I loved the scene where Hellboy and Abe Sapien drink beer and listen to Barry Manilow. And Seth MacFarlane stole every scene he was in as the voice of Johann Krauss.

13 - The Incredible Hulk

Totally made up for Ang Lee's Hulk (2003). The CGI bugged me a little, but I guess short of Lou Ferrigno with green paint and a wig, there is no other way to do the Hulk in a live action movie. I was a big fan of the TV series, so I loved all the nods to that show, especially the use of Joe Harnell's Lonely Man Theme. Now if they would just release the extended Edward Norton cut on DVD ...

12 - Mamma Mia!
Yeah, I'm gay for this movie. Don't care. I didn't listen to Abba growing up, so almost all of the songs were new to me. And I would rather see a good actor who can't sing than a good singer who can't act. The songs don't have to be radio friendly, but I need to believe the performances. And get off Pierce Brosnan's back, everybody! He didn't sound bad. The biggest problem with his performance of S.O.S. is that they used a close up shot of his face. They should have filmed that scene as a wide shot.
11 - Boy A

This was a great surprise. A young man is released from prison. We don't know what he did. He tries to start a new life with a new name and he is successful. He gets a job, he gets some friends, and he even gets a girlfriend. Then someone finds out who he is and his secret is out. Job? Friends? Girlfriend? All gone. This was a powerful movie.

10 - Trans-Siberian

The less you know about this movie going in, the better. A couple is taking the Trans-Siberian Railroad from Beijing to Moscow. They meet a couple who may or may not be drug mules. They meet a Russian police officer, played by Ben Kingsley, who may or may not be corrupt. There are several really good surprises in this movie that I didn't see coming.

9 - Frost / Nixon

This is one of those movies that is for you if you really enjoy good acting. Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Oliver Platt, Sam Rockwell, and Kevin Bacon are incredible. No one has portrayed Richard Nixon better.

8 - Wall-E

No dialogue for the first 45 minutes or so of this movie. Its like a great silent movie, except the silent movies did have dialogue, just printed as title cards. The robot Wall-E is a more interesting character than most live action characters. If only George Lucas had hired Andrew Stanton to direct the prequels ...

7 - Iron Man

A great comic book action movie. Seamless special effects. And another great performance by Robert Downey Jr. If you want to see more of that Downey Jr. magic, go rent yourself Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

6 - Zack and Miri Make a Porno

I'm a huge Kevin Smith fan. Last time he made a movie without Jay and Silent Bob, we got Jersey Girl. Not a bad movie, but not the type I want from Kevin Smith. Now we have the first great non-Jay and Silent Bob movie from Smith. The sequence at the high school reunion with Bobby Long and Brandon St. Randy is the best cameo since Chuck Norris in Dodgeball. And Craig Robinson totally steals the movie. A hilarious movie with lots of nudity.

5 - Gran Torino

This may replace Unforgiven as my favorite Clint Eastwood movie. I love his character's transformation from mean old man to kindly, protective father figure. And at 78 years old, he can still kick anyone's ass.

4 - Ghost Town

I love Ricky Gervais. If it weren't for him, this movie would have been just another Ghost ripoff. But Gervais has so many funny lines that you miss half of them because you are laughing so much.

3 - The Visitor

This movie is a treasure. If you haven't seen it, you really need to. But be warned: it will make you mad. I don't care what your political beliefs are. How can anybody justify the way things are as portrayed in this movie?

2 - The Dark Knight

How often does a movie actually live up to its hype? And what movie in recent memory has been hyped as much as this was before it opened? Its hard enough to take a superhero movie seriously, but they made a great crime drama as good and respectable as anything by Michael Mann, Martin Scorsese, ect. And Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker will be remembered 50 years from now. If he was still alive, there would be just as much Oscar buzz. When was the last time an actor was nominated for a role in a superhero movie?

1 - In Bruges
Definitely my favorite movie of the year. I love the combination of the comedy and the dark stuff. When you find out why the guys are hiding out in Bruges, its like a punch in the stomach. Then the movie gets funny again. And once Ralph Fiennes shows up, to movie goes to a whole new level. I have talked to people who didn't like this movie very much, and it really surprises me. How can anyone not enjoy this movie?

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