Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Best of 2008 Warm Up

The Boy industriously narrowed down his many choices for movie of the year to just three: The Dark Knight, Changeling and Burn After Reading.

He's got good taste, though those probably won't be my top three. What's interesting is that all three of those movies shift gears at some point and turn into something you don't expect from the outset. The Dark Knight is pretty straightforward until Harvey Dent becomes Two-Face, at which point it becomes something else. The Changeling starts like a mystery and ends as sort-of historical muckraking. Burn After Reading starts like a light comedy and, when one of the characters is killed, turns into a dark comedy.

As I review the list, I'd say that this was a pretty good year for movies. Now, I see a skewed set of films: I see a disproportionate number of foreign movies, micro-budgeters and documentaries--though this was a bad year for distribution of those films, I think, since way fewer of 'em made it to my local theater.

I'm really not interested in seeing drab rehashes of old concepts with new stars, but if you can bring some life to an old form, like putting Robert Downey Jr. into Iron Man, I'm there.

The biggest box office movie that I didn't see this year was #4, Hancock, and that's actually a bit of a regret. I like director Peter Berg. The biggest box office movie that I would've missed was #3, Indiana Jones and the whatever.

The next big BO movie I didn't see was Twilight. Ugh. My childhood love of the vampire movie started to wane about the time Anne Rice published Interview With A Vampire. Teenage girls have basically ruined the undead for me.

There are five movies in the 11-20 range I haven't seen. And four that don't really ping a lot of interest. I've heard good things about Marley and Me (from dog people) but I'm not really knocking down the doors to see Sex and the City, Mamma Mia, Wanted and Four Christmases.

You might think that if I saw 75 movies, then I'd have about 50/50 chances of seeing the rest of the list, but of course, that's not true: A great many of the movies I saw this year didn't make the list. And I have predictive ability as far as which little movies might take off. For example, the delightful little Bottle Shock grossed just over $4M while my best documentary pick, Young @ Heart grossed just under $4M. Man on Wire grossed under $3M! RockNRolla made $5.7M, apparently not benefiting at all from Guy Ritchie's high profile divorce to that singer.

Yet any of those films is objectively better by any standard than, say, 10,000 BC, which almost made it to the $100M mark. I know this without even having seen 10,000 BC.

Heh. Enough snark.

The problem I'm having with this year is that there were many very good films, but how many were truly outstanding? What's more, I've now seen Kung-Fu Panda about a zillion times, and it holds up pretty well, but Wall-E not so much. Not that it doesn't hold up, exactly, but that it doesn't seem to be a favorite. Horton Hears A Who is actually a lot more popular here.

Seeing a movie multiple times can change your opinion of it, of course. There was a lot of competent film making, but nothing that really pinned me to the back of my seat.


  1. My childhood love of the vampire movie started to wane about the time Anne Rice published Interview With A Vampire.

    I read that when I was 16. Love, love, loved it. Ha ha.

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  3. I like director Peter Berg.

    Have you reviewed The Kingdom? I thought the actor who played the Saudi cop was spectacular. And the opening credits were great--both from a design and content viewpoint.

  4. I thought Interview was dreary, though it admittedly (however unintentionally) presaged the vampire craze.

    "South Park" had a nice take on it.

    I thought I did review The Kingdom but it looks like it fell between my old review place and my blog.

    I thought it was pretty good.

    That actor who played the Saudi cop was in the Oscar-nominated Palestinian movie called Paradise Now, which is a surprisingly good film.


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