If it's crap ... We'll tell you
The Brothers Bloom: A Fest pick for me. Doesn’t come out here until May of 2009 but I thought Rian Johnson’s new con-comedy has just as fabulous a script as his first feature (“Brick”). This guy knows how to write. Check out my festival review here.
Changeling: J. Michael Straczyniski from the world of geekery (“Babylon 5”, “The Amazing Spider-Man”) makes his way to the mainstream and does good. Sure, this is unrelentingly dark, but that’s not a bad thing for those who can take it. SO close to the actual events that you’ll have to double check for yourself just to believe it. Check out our Spill review here.
Defiance: Apparently, I was the only one of the crew so taken with this WWII resistance fighter movie but whatever. If I had to go by strictly by what Carlyle liked I’d have the Criterion copy of “Armageddon” in my library. "Defiance" is hugely dramatic at points and action packed the next. For some reason, this bothers some but for me it was a heapin’ helping of goodness.
Fighter: Another fest pick. Damn if those Danes didn’t know what they were doing this year. It’s like “Bend it Like Beckham” only with martial arts, and it kicks all kinds of ass while telling a good story. I look forward to see what lead actress Semra Turan does (or whose ass she kicks) next. Check out my festival review here.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall: This movie made me laugh my ass off. Sure, I don’t particularly like Russell Brand but he’s used to great effect here and Jason Segel makes for a somewhat awkward leading man, but that’s exactly why he’s perfect here in this film he also wrote. This would easily make my top 5 funniest movies of the year list, were I to do one (and I’m not...you guys get ONE top ten list a year. Be happy). Check out our Spill review here.
Gran Torino: So close, it missed the top ten by one Korean dude. What a shame, because other than the poor performance of Bee Vang, this old, grumpy, racist Clint Eastwood as a mentor to a young Asian kid film is top notch, sort of an “Unforgiven” for the “Dirty Harry” movies. Check out our Spill review here.
Happy-Go-Lucky: I normally cringe at most ‘precious’ English comedies but Mike Leigh’s new film had me completely charmed. It’s not just the never ending sweet babble from lead Sally Hawkins that wins you over, it’s her juxtaposition against Eddie Marsan’s incredible and nomination-worthy performance as her desperately in need of anger management driving instructor.
The Incredible Hulk: Almost a shame this had to come out in 2008 because it kind of got lost amongst the love for “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight”. This beats the holy hell out of Ang Lee’s “The Hulk” and stands toe to toe with a lot of the other great superhero movies. The only shame is, and you’ll know too when you watch the deleted scenes on the DVD, all the stuff the studio decided to cut out that would have made this, character wise, a much more rounded film. Still, Hulk does indeed smash. Smash good. Check out my DVD review here.
Just Another Love Story: Almost nobody but me that I know actually saw this at Fantastic Fest this year, but this twisty non-linear film noir from Denmark blew me out of my seat. Imagine “While You Were Sleeping” if the gender roles were reversed, it wasn’t a comedy (not that WYWS was funny), and it turned into a nail-biting thriller. And of course, no Sandra Bullock because nothing screams, not a nail-biting thriller, like having Sandra Bullock in your cast. Check out my festival review here.
Let The Right One In: Fuck “Twilight”. No, I didn’t see it. No, I’m not going to and I don’t need to, to tell you that this Swedish vampire film makes it, and pretty much every other vampire film for the last decade or so, completely irrelevant. Don’t go in expecting a blood-soaked horror thriller because LTRO is more of a artistic drama for most of it’s running time. That being said, don’t bring Mom either because the end...whoa. Check out my festival review here.
Milk: What else is there to say about “Milk” that hasn’t been said already? This is a fantastic biopic and Sean Penn shines to the point of being the only actor who has a real shot against Frank Langella this year for the Best Actor category. This only barely didn’t make my top ten and even then it was on a couple early drafts of it. BTW, don't believe that horse shot from the obviously-still-crazy Mickey Rourke about Sean Penn supposedly being a homophobe. I mean, really. Sean Penn? The most liberal guy in Hollywood? You're gonna have to try harder than that to steal the Oscar, Mick.
Revolutionary Road: NOT a date movie. Abs-frakking-lutely not, but if you want to see one of the best films about a deteriorating relationship since “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” than this is your movie. Leo turns in his first performance that made me view him as his actual age and Kate Winslet, as always, shatters you with her ability. Do not watch this one if you’re already depressed. Check out our Spill review here.
Role Models: Why didn’t anyone go see this? This should very well have been one of the most talked-about comedies of the year. Despite very low expectations for me initially, this had me laughing uproariously at points. That little black kid Bobb’e J Thompson? This may be his only moment in the sun but he gets up there and kills. "What the holy fuck you are you talking about, Willis?" Check out our Spill review here.
The Forbidden Kingdom: Damn right. Say what you will, haters, but this is one of the only worthwhile Jackie Chan films to come out in awhile and he’s playing his best character again, the Drunken Master. I know this was slanted for the younger kids but that doesn’t hurt it a bit. The kung-fu is kick-ass, the wire work superb, and the story is fun and harmless fantasy. I’d be glad to own the special edition of this one (hint hint Lionsgate). Check out our Spill review here.
The Good, The Bad, The Weird: The Koreans have got it going on lately in film. They do an awful lot of sort-of remakes of Western films but they bring so much different and crazy to the table that they become their own things. Such is the case with this one, which I saw at Fantastic Fest this year, loosely adapting “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” into this AMAZING action comedy. Seriously, this will blow you away. Do not miss it. Check out my festival review here.
Tropic Thunder: I actually go back and forth on this one. While I really enjoyed all the stuff here with Robert Downey Jr, some of the other character stuff left me dry upon re-watches. Still, it was certainly one of the most successful comedies of the year and one of the best DVD releases as well. Check out my DVD review here.
Wall-E: I can’t believe I have gotten any crap for not having this in my top ten. Yes, it’s wonderful and charming and brilliant and yada yada. It didn’t quite, for me, make it into my top PERSONALLY enjoyable films of the year. But almost. So here it is. Go see it with your significant other and let yourself shed a single tear for it’s beauty. That kind of sensitivity pays off later, trust me. Check out my DVD review here.