So what follows is this: a not so complete remembrance of the year past in terms of some music, movies, TV, and such and such. It has also got to be the very last “Best Of” list posted, despite not even being a “Best of,” per se.
Movies first? Alright, then stay tuned for music and TV.
Anyway, as the B-52’s once gaily sang: Here it ‘tis-
My Favorite Movie This Year is Slumdog Millionaire. The director, Danny Boyle, takes what could have been a story by Dickens and “Indians” up the proceedings, losing none of the comedy, satire, energy, children being tortured, and ultimate uplift. And a nice little Bollywood dance number to boot. I don’t really care that the plot relies on coincidence and that sentiment is the order of the day- but then again, I can be a bit of a sap. Boyle, who has directed Trainspotting, Millions, 28 Days Later, and Sunshine before this, shows with this one that he can pretty much do anything. Give that guy the keys to the kingdom.
Other movies worth your time (in loose order of preference):
• The Dark Knight– I kind of like that this movie is not perfect. Yeah, Heath buries all the old Jokers, and someone put some time into thinking up a pretty fantastic Batman story. HOWEVER- Batman’s growl? It is inexcusably hilarious and really does stop the movie in its tracks whenever he speaks. May sound like a slight sticking point, but it is probably the second thing anyone mentions when discussing the movie, as in: “Yeah it was awesome. Heath Ledger, man. What a tragedy… (pause) Hey, what was up with Batman’s voice?”
Still, this is one of the best summer movies in quite some time, harkening back to the days of Raiders, Road Warrior, Ghostbusters, ET, and so on. Summer movies with a brain in their heads.
• In Bruges– The most slept-on movie of the year. It reminds you why anyone cared about Colin Farrell in the first place.
• The Wrestler– Maybe he won’t win the Academy Award, but he gave Heath Ledger a run for his money in the “Greasy Dirty Blonde Hair” department. This made my wife cry, repeating: “It’s just so SAD!” So if you like sad movies with a dollop of redemption thrown into the stew, here ya go. Or if you just want to see Mickey Rourke get stapled…
• Iron Man– If Robert Downey Jr. had done this one in black face, it would have made more money than Dark Knight. Even so, Iron Man is a different animal than Batman, much more a true comic book movie. This may actually be more entertaining than DK, too.
• The Curious Case of Benjamin Button– Again, this loooooong movie doesn’t always work, but when it hits, it hits really hard. And aside from Slumdog, it is probably the most beautiful movie of the year.
• Milk– Sean Penn is pretty damn great in this. The movie doesn’t do much new in terms of the biopic structure, although it is so entwined with this Prop 8 nonsense out here in California, that it achieves a relevance this year that had to have been intended. It’s an important movie as long civil rights for anyone are being denied, right? I’m making it sound noble and pretentions, which it really isn’t. Yeah, this is one you should see.
• Rachel Getting Married- Let me jump on the “I want to go to this wedding!” bandwagon.
• Wall-E– Can this still be called animation? Photo-realistic love story between 2 robots, while at the same time calling the human race out on its treatment of the planet. Best Pixar since Nemo.
• Frost/Nixon– Langella knocking it out of the park as Nixon. I will go out on a limb and say “Best Nixon since Dan Hedaya in Dick.”
• Burn After Reading– I could listen to Malkovich say “What the fuck!?” on a loop. Also, Brad Pitt creates one of the funniest characters in the Coen Bros. canon. Add Clooney’s little basement surprise, and you’ve got one of my favorites of the year.
• Hellboy 2– Didn’t love the first one, but I did love this one. Del Toro was definitely flexing his Pan’s Labyrinth muscles with this sequel. I can’t wait for The Hobbit.
• The Strangers– If you like scary movies, this is the real deal. At least it was in May, in a packed theater with great sound. There is your caveat. Also, it demonstrated how spooky a Joanna Newsom song can be if used correctly.
• Vicky Cristina Barcelona– It did what the best Woody Allen movies do- it made you want to be a character in the movie. Barcelona looks pretty nice to these eyes…
• Man on Wire– I got vertigo watching this guy. He is one of the most original characters in movies this year, and he’s real. A spritely little Frenchman who likes to take off his shirt and walk on wires.
Some Movies to Skip:
• The Bucket List– This has to be the worst movie of the year, right? Jesus…
• Speed Racer– This is unwatchable, right? I mean, actually unwatchable. I literally couldn’t track it with my eyes.
• The Happening– Didn’t see it, but my brother says it’s the worst movie he’s ever seen. It may get extra points now that Samberg’s “Mark Wahlberg Talks To Animals” skit has seen the light of day.
• 7 Pounds– Again, didn’t see it, but my brother did. He told me that the movie is one long close-up of Will Smith’s lower lip trembling. I thought that was pretty funny.
• Pineapple Express– Not terrible, but sort of played out and tired. Maybe I just don’t find the idea of weed all that funny. At least in and of itself. I have been told I need to see it again, though.
• Role Models– For my money, the funniest movie of the year, beating Pineapple Express, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Tropic Thunder. The guys behind The State keep making me happy- make sure to rent this when it comes out.
I haven’t seen Happy Go Lucky, Revolutionary Road, The Changeling, Gran Torino, or Australia. Are they any good?