01 January 2009

The Good & Bad of 2008

Out of the 78 theatrical films I've seen last year, I'll attempt to do my own version of the Academy Awards - just with the huge lack of a beautiful prize for the winners to take home and pawn. Anywho, the following "Good" and "Bad" categories are not listed in any real form of order (except the first three for the "Good" category).


Slumdog Millionaire - Total surprise for me. Slumdog ended up being my favorite film of 2008 because it mixed all these elements, and all the story threads, into one coherent, wonderfully made film. The 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' storyline with the interrogation, the host and his misgivings; the life-time long connection between Jamaal and Latika; the answers to 'How did he know the answer to the question?'; and finally, the over-arching story of Jamaal and his brother Salim. Bring in the wonderful choice of music, and you have a fantastic movie that I will most definitely pick up the DVD for opening day.

The Dark Knight - It took three theatrical viewings to fully fall in love with this movie. With a year-long viral marketing strategy, me (and many others) were going into this with the expectation that it will be the best movie ever made in existence, so it's understandable to be letdown. What I also didn't expect was how much of the movie still surprised me, even though I read mass amounts of spoilers, watched every trailer repeatedly and looked at every new publicity photo. The Dark Knight's real strength is from the beautifully written screenplay by Christopher & Jonathan Nolan, which is personafied onscreen by the wonderfully talented cast. And all the buzz about Heath Ledger's Joker barely scratches the surface.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - Superior to the original in every fashion, Prince Caspian has a real sense of depth and danger, where there's real emotions and real characters in lieu of the cardboard cutouts from Wardrobe. Our growing leads have far more to do, and seem far more human than plot devices. Ben Barnes shines as the title character, and I'm anxious to see any other projects of his. Unfortuantely, this one appears to be the last Narnia movie to be made, but at the very least, it ended on a very high note.

Definitely, Maybe - I can dig some romantic comedies, and this is one of them. From the producers of the brilliant 2003 British flick Love Actually, Definitely, Maybe is beautifully written and also accomplishes a task I thought impossible: made Ryan Reynolds endurable. Reynolds has near killed me with his "comedy" antics (e.g., Just Friends), but he really turned me around with his radically different performance here. The talented Abigal Breslin (Nim's Island) is also astonishing, as she shows maturity far beyond her years. Also, good writing and acting aside, who wouldn't nominate a movie that has our main lead dating three beautiful women? (Rachel Weiz, Isla Fisher, and Elizabeth Banks) Oh, the perfect movie.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - When I first exited the theater, two thoughts were running in my mind: the first - 'That sure didn't feel like 148 minutes', and the second - 'That's the second time I thought Cate Blanchett was hot'. Not exactly the thoughts one has once they exist a movie on their Top list, but those were mine. Curious Case is a beautifully filmed movie, with a amazing performance by the beautiful (at least in this flick) Blanchett. The actual star of the movie, a one Brad Pitt (Troy) is serviceable in his leading role, but truth be told, I was more impressed by her performance. A very well written, acted, and directed movie, Benjamin Button is also very enjoyable, so it thus has the 'honor' of being on my list.

Pineapple Express - The best comedy of the year, Pineapple Express had me and my then girlfriend laughing hysterically and very loudly throughout the theatrical during its entire running time. The comedic duo of Seth Rogen (Knocked Up) and James Franco (Spider-Man 3) is unrivaled: these guys were bloody brilliant. I know plenty will disagree, but every ounce of this movie is perfection. The jokes were top notch, the actors were on their A game, and every minute of its two-hour running time just flew by like nothing at all.

WALL-E - Whenever that damn robot echoes his name, I get all emotional inside. And whenever he says "Eve-a?", I get all teary. Damn robots! Pixar/Disney has crafted a sublime animated feature that would be perfect even without the whole space ship/Earth storyline (even though it was brilliant). A movie for all ages to enjoy. Damn robots!

Wanted - A surprise love for me, Wanted was a terrific action movie. In a year without Bourne and a good Bond movie, Wanted was ecspecially welcomed. The entire first hour and twenty was great - really, but once our main character blasts into the fraternity, guns blazing: well, that was just plain friggin' awesome! It was beautiful! And as guns fly in the air, he throws his guns and grabs the in-flight guns and continues shooting, and repeats. Oh, and the best use of a keyboard ever! Wanted features as these great moments, and some really great dialogue (it was a blast hearing Mr. Narrator Morgan Freeman swear). In summation, Wanted was perfect; it was like Shoot 'Em Up, but with a narrative.

Zack & Miri Make a Porno - I don't believe there's any other comedy writer/director who can craft as real characters as Kevin Smith can. Nope, not even Judd Apatow. Apatow's stuff seem forced, whereas Smith's characters and dialogue seem realistic and naturalistic. The lovely Elizabeth Banks (Role Models) co-stars with Seth Rogen (Superbad) as two friends who go under a financial crisis, and they decide to get out of it by making a porno. As you can guess, during the course of this porno filming, they find that they truly love each other. This isn't some mushy Nicholas Sparks novel, this is the down-and-dirty, real life romance story, and if Clerks II showed up anything other than a perfect movie, it was that Smith has a amazing ability to tell stories of a romantic nature. Although not my favorite Smith film, it definitely is one of his finest.


10,000 B.C. - I'm not wasting my time on this one. Watch the damn movie and find out for yourself, or read some detailed, Mystery Science Theater 3000-ish review of it.

Hamlet 2 - Dreadfully bad, and not remotely funny. I was, however, mildly amused by the much talked about musical number "Rock Me Sexy Jesus", otherwise, the film was a complete letdown. Steve Coogan is not humorous in any form. In fact, the only time I laughed when he was onscreen was when he was blown up in Tropic Thunder - now that was awesome. If written in a different way, and starring none of these actors (well, Amy Poehler can stay), then Hamlet 2 might just have a chance of beeing a good movie.

The Love Guru - Mike Meyers was a God after Goldmember (I loved it), but this fell so completely flat, this was a giant disappointment. The only saving grace was a laugh I had during the final credits, in which Mini-Me (the actor) says something related to his height, and that gave me a nicce chuckle. Otherwise, this was a true, Titanic disaster. Stay away, I commend thee! Nothing but badness to see here. In fact, I'm pretty sure my humorless teachers can not only interest me more but also make me laugh. So, sod this flick. Meyers, your next film is a "make it" or "break it" for this audience member - better do something good.

Made of Honor - I tend to give romantic comedies a break, but this one I refuse. The screenplay was so atrocious, as was the supposedly "McDreamy" Patrick Dempsey, who is so one-dimensional even a animated character has more life in it. The jokes are, similar to the movie above, very, very flat. And, once again, I only laughed during a ending sequence, in which Patrick's character gets punched in the face (it was cathardic for me) but not before he says a smart-ass remark. At the very least, I got to look at the beautiful Michelle Monaghan (Mission: Impossible III) for a little while longer.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor - Honestly, I wasn't looking too forward to this. I was cautious once director Rob Cohen was announced as the dude in charge for this third installment. And hopefully, this will be the last. The first two films of the franchise were perfect, with a great mix of action, adventure and horror. This attempts to replicate the formula (with the laughs), but simply fails. Not even the awesomeness of Jet Li could save this movie, and that's saying something ('cuz having Jet Li in your movie automatically awards that movie points in my book). Also, the beautiful Maria Bello delivers one of the most God-awful performance of the year; even Jason Voorhees would run away from her.


Best Leading Man Performance: Robert Downey, Jr. – Iron Man

The Not So Good One: Mike Meyers - The Love Guru

Best Male Supporting Performance: Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight

The Not So Good One: Luke Ford - The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Best Female Lead: Angelina Jolie - Wanted

The Not So Good One: Jaime King - The Spirit

Best Female Supporting Performance: Rosario Dawson – Seven Pounds

Worst Female Supporting Performance: Maria Bello – The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Best Animated Feature: WALL-E

Best Action/Adventure: Rambo

Best Comedy Feature: Pineapple Express

Best Movie Based on a Comic Book: The Dark Knight

Best remake: The Day the Earth Stood Still

Worst remake: Prom Night

Best sequel (that's not Dark Knight): The Chronicles of Narnia – Prince Caspian

Best Musical: High School Musical 3: Senior Year

Best Director: Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight

Best Screenplay: Christopher & Jonathan Nolan, The Dark Knight

Best Original Score: The Dark Knight – Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard

Best Special Effects: Iron Man

Most Disappointing Movie: The Love Guru

The One Movie You’d Have to Pay Me $100 to See: Disaster Movie

What a bloody horrible comedy: The Love Guru

Movies I’d Like to see if my bloody theater actually showed them: Let the Right One In, Gran Torino, Frost/Nixon

Best Fight Scene of 2008: Jet Li vs. Jackie Chan - The Forbidden Kingdom

Best Ending: The Dark Knight

Worst Ending: Babylon A.D.

The biggest ‘this-isn’t-the-movie-I-paid-for-the-trailers-lied-to-me!’ movie: Max Payne

It Coulda been worse: Superhero Movie

Sexiest Girl in a Movie without acting skills: Eva Mendes - The Spirit

Sexiest Girl in a Movie with acting skills: Freida Pinto - Slumdog Millionaire

Worst Action/Adventure: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Worst Comedy Feature: Ghost Town

Worst Movie Based on a Comic Book: The Spirit

Worst sequel: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Worst Musical: Mamma Mia!

Not-so-great Director: Frank Miller, The Spirit

Best Episode of Smallville: “Bride” (S08E10)

Best Episode of Supernatural: “Lazarus Rising” (S04E01)

Best Episode of Heroes: “It’s Coming” (S03E09)

Best Episode of Chuck: “Chuck vs. the First Date" (S02E01)

Best Episode of Kyle XY: "To C.I.R, With Love" (S02E14)

Best Theatrical Poster: The Dark Knight - the Joker with all the debris falling around him, gun at his side.


jeremythecritic said...

Just like you it took me exactly three viewings to love The Dark Knight. In the movie's defense I went in expecting the greatest film ever made also. I'm completely with you on Slumdog and was thrilled to see you include Definitely, Maybe. A guy whose biggest problem in life is choosing between those 3 women and I still rooted for him. Reynolds did a great job.

Great lists! And yeah 10,000 B.C. was painful.

thebonebreaker said...

Outstanding list Andrew!

Of course, we have our differences, but that's to be expected.

I am looking even more forward to Slumdog Millionaire now [I would have seen it anyway, just becasue of Boyle]

I haven't seen Pineapple Express yet - comes out on DVD tomorrow though! [I gave Zohan best comedy, as I had not yet seen this one, which I expect to be better]

I have heard so many BAD things about The Love Guru [the worst called it a cinematic abortion!] that I doubt if I will EVER see it!

Again, great list!!