When I was a senior critic at Filmcritic.com, I got the chance to do top 10 lists and year-end stuff. But now that I'm older (and have the responsibility of managing a blog), I figured that we could expand our horizons.
To that end, this isn't going to be a year-end rehash of the best movies of 2008 because my reviews pretty much tell you what I thought was great and what sucked rocks. Second, there's still stuff I need to see. What if The House Bunny was the trascendent movie experience of '08, and I don't include it on my list? Then, I look like a schmuck forever because I decided to read a book or go for a walk.
So, here's a list of the things that caught my attention in 2008. Enjoy the first of several installments...
Three Movies to See Right Now: Frost/Nixon, The Wrestler, Slumdog Millionaire.
Three Movies That Didn't Live up to the Hype: Rachel Getting Married, Doubt, Milk.
Three Movies to Rent Right Now: In Bruges, The Dark Knight, The Visitor
Best Recurring Theme: Marisa Tomei going topless. This is the second consecutive year that Tomei has been nude in a movie that's absolutely great (Before the Devil Knows Your Dead and, this year, The Wrestler). Think of it two ways: Marisa Tomei being nude is saving American cinema! Also, isn't it refreshing to say a healthy, natural 43-year-old prance around instead of some Cinemax, surgically-enhanced tart? It's OK to grow old naturally, folks. Put the saline implants down!
Second-Best Recurring Theme: Action movies that don't suck my will to leave. Thanks to Christopher Nolan, Jon Favreau, and the folks at The Hulk. Sam Raimi, pay attention. This how you direct an action movie.
Best Performance in a Crappy Movie: Elizabeth Banks, Zach & Miri Make a Porno. Director/writer Kevin Smith and I grew up in the same area (Monmouth County), so maybe I keep seeing his stuff out of some local obligaton. But he hasn't made a great movie in years, and his latest attempt is a lazy, predictable romantic comedy with lots of T&A to replace the edge. The only human aspect of the movie is Banks' sweet performance as a woman who slowly and convincingly falls in love with her roommate/best friend (Rogen). It's a genuine, winning performance in a movie that doesn't deserve it.
The Please Stop Award: Please stop, Sean Penn. Stop acting like you're lifting a safe over your head...Also, please stop, Robert De Niro. It's OK to say no to a script every once in a while. Twenty years ago you would have thrown the script for What Just Happened in the trash. Now, you're starring in it? Ugh...
A DVD for the Pantheon: Sideways. It gets better with each and every viewing, as do the performances. How good an actor is Paul Giamatti? Every time I watch the movie, and I see another aspect of his Miles come to life. How did he not get nominated for an Academy Award that year? Plus, I never get tired of seeing M.C. Gainey and his flaccid penis. Good times.