Monday, February 16, 2009

Top Ten Movies of the Year - The Steven Edition

The Oscars are next week. I've been watching the show every year since "Unforgiven" won Best Picture, but this is the first time I'll be watching it live from the West Coast - a full three hours earlier! Exciting, right? Anyway, I think so.

Anyway, in anticipation of the Oscars, I am encouraging my friends and roommates (Brian, Angel and Patrick) to list their Top Ten Favorite Movies of 2008 here on this blog. I'm not saying the Top Ten Best Movies of 2008 --- we all know that "Four Christmases" was, empirically, the Best Movie of the Year --- I'm saying YOUR favorite movies of 2008. And I encourage you, the reader, to list some of your favorites as well.

And here we go...

First, let me list my two Least Favorite Movies of 2008...

2) FOUR CHRISTMASES --- It started as a joke. When Brian and I saw the trailer for "Four Christmases" we jokingly said to each other, "Oh we need to see that." Cut to, Thanksgiving Eve. Brian and I go to the Arc Light to see "Milk." "Milk" is very sold out. So, we decide, "Let's see 'Slumdog Millionaire.'" Also very sold out. So we both jokingly say, "How about 'Four Christmases'?" And we laugh and we laugh. Then, for some reason, we continue the joke and buy the tickets. And we laugh and we laugh. Then, we look down at the tickets. Fifteen bucks. We just spent fifteen bucks. To see "Four Christmases." The theater was packed. The movie started. The audience ate it up! The guy sitting next to me was literally sitting on the edge of his seat waiting to see what would happen next. Brian said the guy sitting next to him was literally slapping his knees, he was laughing so hard. But it didn't hit us. Nope. It bored us. To tears. It was painfully, painfully, painfully contrived and unfunny. And stupid! Just stupid!

1) INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL --- Do I really need to say anything more about what a piece of crap this movie was? Lucas, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me FOUR FUCKING TIMES. SHAME ON ME! At least we learned an important lesson from the film... If a movie opens with a CGI gopher coming out of a hole... it's going to be bad.

Now, on to the good.


10. NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST - Now, let me explain. I hated the crap out of this director's previous film, "Raising Victor Vargas." My reasoning was simple--- The lead character spends all of his time either shirtless or in a wife beater. He eats at the dinner table with no shirt on. Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's because I always wear four or five layers and am uncomfortable with nudity. But still, I hated "Victor Vargas." So, I went into this movie a little hesitant. And, I ended up falling in love with it. Now, to be fair, there might have been some external factors which contributed to my love for "Nick and Norah." Namely, I was moving out of New York that week and a love story set against the backdrop of the Lower East Side made me realize just how much I was going to miss New York. I bought the DVD recently and didn't have that same magic feeling. But I'll put it on here for the way it made me feel the first time. Though, part of me is thinking I should exchange it for "Pineapple Express." Can we call it a tie?

9. BURN AFTER READING - I've stuck with the Coen Brothers. Sine "O Brother," they'd been in a real slump. I still saw them all --- even the god awful "Intolerable Cruelty." I knew there were brighter days ahead. Then came "No Country For Old Men," which I loved. Real, dramatic, twisted, vintage Coen Brothers. But I was really, really hoping for them to do another dark comedy. Then came "Burn After Reading"! I loved the style. I loved the tone. I loved the actors. I was laughing out loud all over the theater --- and I saw it alone.

8. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE - I really dug this movie. I dug the style. I dug the storytelling techniques. I think it's a fine, solid choice for Best Picture.

7. INCREDIBLE HULK - I love the Incredible Hulk TV show. My biggest problem with Ang Lee's 2003 "Hulk" movie (besides the comic book panels, the running time, the tone, the acting, the story and the leap frogging Hulk) was that it wasn't the TV show. So, when this movie came along and basically WAS the TV show (complete with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno cameos), I was as happy as a Hulk Dog in Hulk shit. I saw this a second time with my Mom, also a big fan of the TV show, and we had the following conversation...

Mom: (Queens accent) It was nice that they referenced the TV show! That was my problem with the new "Batman" movie. They didn't even acknowledge the fans of the old TV show.

Steven: By "new Batman movie," do you mean the one that came out in 1989?

Mom: Yeah.

6. IRON MAN - What a great year for Marvel films! After coming off the colossally bad 2007 ("Spider-Man 3" and "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" - UCK!), they really shined this year with "Incredible Hulk" and this. I thought this flick was really smart. They took "Iron Man," a second tier hero, hard to adapt because he's basically a guy in a robot suit, and gave him one of the most charismatic leads ever in a superhero picture --- ROBERT DOWNEY FUCKING JR! And, to top it off, he has to fight The Dude. Kudos to Favs for directing the hell out of this movie. Kudos indeed.

5. SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK - I recommend this movie only for die-hard Charlie Kaufman fans. Otherwise, you'll be completely lost in this dense, complicated, confusing flick. I loved every second of it!

4. THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON - I didn't see this flick until yesterday, after hearing many, many, many mixed reviews. And, I can't believe it, but it really got to me. It almost played out like a really good book. That's why the running time didn't bother me so much. It's my choice for Best Picture, though I think "Slumdog" will win.

3. WALL-E - How did they make me care so much about a robot? How!? Was it Ben Burtt? Was it Pixar? Was it Andrew Stanton? Or was it just some sort of serendipitous merging of all the magical elements of the universe that made possibly the greatest animated film of all time? All I can say is, "MO!"

2. THE WRESTLER - Now, I love wrestling. I've read many autobiographies. Watched many documentaries. And have always known that the life of a wrestler isn't exactly easy. Then this movie comes along, and simply, beautifully, and naturally absorbs years and years worth of these stories and puts them all on the shoulders of Mickey Rourke. I really love this movie. And I'm so glad Marisa Tomei is also getting recognition. But, come on, Academy --- How did this movie (and "Wall-E" and "Dark Knight") not get a Best Picture nomination? It's certainly much, much better than the middle of the road "Frost/Nixon." It's a real shame. BUT GO MICKEY ROURKE!

1. THE DARK KNIGHT - This one's kind of a no-brainer, isn't it? I accurately predicted in my "My Favorite Movies of 2007" blog that "Dark Knight" would top my list next year, and here we are. The movie did not disappoint. It raised the bar for not only comic book movies, but traditional summer blockbusters. It was the "Batman" movie I've always wanted. So rich. So dense. So full of characters and ideas. And boy oh boy did I "Love that Joker." But even more than that, I loved that Harvey Dent. I'm waiting with baited breath to see where Nolan takes this series next. I only have two words. "RIDDLER. ROBIN."

So, that's the Stevie List. Bring it on, roommates!


Devon said...

Replace Robin with Catwoman and we've got ourselves a deal. Pretty decent list. I'm verrrry glad I never saw Four Christmases. Although, honestly, it would have taken at least three full grown men to drag me to that movie. No lie.

David said...

Synecdoche, New York is one of the best films I have ever seen. Another stellar entry from 2008 that Bianca recommended was Rachel Getting Married, from Jonathan Demme (who also directed Silence of the Lambs). It's more engaging than its premise suggests, thanks in large part to Anne Hathaway.

Lars said...

All I can say is John Lasseter should be King.

Btw, did you see the bull between Jericho and Rourke?

Anonymous said...

You asked for it Steven.

Worst movie-
Babylon A.D.

Best movies (i.e. my favorites)-
10. Strange Wilderness
9. Be Kind Rewind
8. Cloverfield
7. Iron Man
6. The Spiderwick Chronicles
5. Leatherheads
4. City Of Ember
3. The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian
2. The Dark Knight
1. Get Smart