Saturday, December 27, 2008

Let's Go To The Movies

By: Jenny Bruce

Some people knit. Others fish. I go to the movies.

I love movies. I love them so much that I go about once a week. You know what I love almost as much as I love movies? Lists. Thus, as 2008 comes to a close, I thought I'd take this opportunity to put together several lists highlighting my picks for best and worst movies of the year. Yes, this post is fluffy and long. But hey, it's the Saturday after Christmas. And if there ever was a day to read a long and fluffy post, this would be the day. So here goes:

The 5 Best Movies Of 2008

Rachel Getting Married: Not only did this film contain the coolest wedding in the history of the world (porcelain trinkets as placecards? Genius!), it also featured outstanding performances from Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin, and Debra Winger and a thoughtful and heartbreaking look at family dynamics. I've seen it twice and would see it again. It's probably my favorite movie of the year.

Frost/Nixon: So I didn't expect to cry at a movie about David Frost's historic interviews with Richard Nixon. But I did. A lot. You may not leave the theater with smudged mascara, but I think you'll enjoy the slice of history and fascinating study of two complicated men.

Iron Man: The only movie in the top 5 that didn't make me cry! I've always been a fan of super heroes that don't have super powers (other than their intellect, awesome gadgets and fat bank accounts.) Give me Batman over Superman anyday. So Tony Stark is definitely my kind of super hero and Iron Man was my kind of summer movie: explosions, humor, gadgets galore, a touch of romance, a bunch of A-List actors and Robert Downey Jr. Jon Favreau has already directed a near-perfect holiday movie with "Elf" and now he's given us a near-perfect super hero movie. Seriously, what can't he do?

Wall-E: I thought I was going to absolutely hate this movie. First: it features robots and I pretty much hate all movies that feature robots. Second: there's no dialogue for at least the first thirty minutes and I pretty much hate movies with no dialogue (I don't think I ever got over having to watch "The Red Balloon" in grade school.) Third: much of the movie takes place in space and I pretty much hate movies about space (Star Wars and Galaxy Quest excluded.) But I was wrong about "Wall-E". So very wrong. Those sneaky masterminds at Pixar opened the movie with "Put On Your Sunday Clothes" and I was hooked. "Wall-E" was touching without being maudlin, message-oriented without being preachy, and had a perfect balance of sweetness and eerieness. I absolutely loved it.

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button: This movie is the most beautifully crafted film about death that I've ever seen. And if you take hope in Christ out of the equation, this film's perspective on death makes a whole lot of sense. It's Ecclesiastes without the last two verses.

The 4 Worst Movies Of 2008

Swing Vote: Given that Kevin Costner was the star, I really should have known that this movie would end up on my year's worst list. But that didn't stop me from seeing it. And I can never get that hour and a half back.

The Women: I had such high hopes for this movie. I adored the original and the update featured Annette Benning, Carrie Fisher, and Candice Bergen. What wasn't to like? Well, perhaps the toothless adaptation of the originally biting script. Or the dull "sisterhood above all else" message. Or the lack of the original's ten minute fashion show. Or straightened hair as a symbol of female empowerment.

Nights In Rodanthe: The previews featured Diane Lane frolicking on the beach with horses, so I knew going in that this wasn't going to be "Citizen Kane." But sometimes it's fun to giggle over silly movies with your sister in law. I just worry a bit about Nicholas Sparks' need to kill his characters. Seriously, have you ever seen a Nicholas Sparks movie where a pivatol character doesn't die?

Mama Mia!: Hollywood musicals have been doing so well over the past few years: "Hairspray", "Chicago", "The Producers", and "Enchanted" were all winners. And then "Mama Mia!" had to go and ruin it all. However, if Meryl Streep was running around a Greek island singing the songs of Rogers and Hammerstein instead of Abba, I probably would have loved it.

The 3 Most Misunderstood Movies Of 2008

Australia: Critics panned it, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Baz Luhrman's three hour spectacle. Sure, it's three movies in one and contrived and sappy. But it's clearly made by someone who loves movies, the art direction is gorgeous, it stars the most adorable child actor of the year and the score somehow integrated Bach's "Where Sheep May Safely Graze", Elgar's "Enigma Variations" and "Somewhere Over The Rainbow." I think it's a much better movie than the critics made it out to be.

City Of Ember: Again, not popular with the critics, but a truly nifty children's movie. It's just the kind of movie I enjoyed as a kid: heavy on secret rooms, cool inventions, plucky children, and nefarious adults and light on scary images, violence, disrespectful children, and oafish adults.

Be Kind, Rewind: I tend to think that everyone's expectations for this movie were too high, given that it was directed by indie darling, Michel Gondry. It made some people's worst of the year lists, but I totally enjoyed it. From Jack Black's antics to the homemade Fats Waller film, I thought it was delightful.

The 2 Movies Of 2008 You May Have Missed And Should Rent

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day: Amy Adams, Frances McDormand, and Lee Pace star in this screwball comedy (with a surprisingly sweet ending) set in the 1920's. A treat for anyone who loves snappy dialogue, art deco, or Amy Adams (and who doesn't love Amy Adams?)

Ghost Town: I expected this flick to be hilarious (any film featuring Ricky Gervais and Kristen Wiig is bound to be comedy gold), but I didn't expect it to also be insightful/touching/personally convicting. If you liked "Stranger Than Fiction", I have a feeling you'll like "Ghost Town" as well.

The 1 Movie I'm Ashamed To Admit I Saw/Liked In 2008

High School Musical 3: Yes, I saw it. And yes, I liked it.

That's it for me. I'm anxious to read your lists!

1 comment:

Bill Faris said...

"Yes Man" was hilarious, I thought. Not every second -and I really wish it didn't have That One Scene (if you saw it, you know which scene). However, Zooey Deschanel confirms her place at the top of the adorable list and Carey being Carey (a la "Liar Liar") is hard to beat.

On video, my son Chris turned me on to The Fall which he has on Blue Ray and I can say that it is THE most visually arresting film I have ever scene. I don't know how they got the little girl star of the film to act at the level she did and the story takes plenty of intriguing twists and turns.

Plenty has been written about Dark Knight so I won't add too much except to say that I don't really want to see it again despite Ledger's truly astounding performance.

BTW, Jenny: from what you wrote about a couple of the movies you need to see The Four Seasons with Alan Alda and Carol Burnett -- still in my forever top five faves for the snappy writing and themes of friendship, dysfunction, family and endurance.

Finally, if you (any of you) haven't scene the John Adams mini-series (now on DVD) with Paul Giamatti: SHAME! Go rectify the situation in whatever manner suits you (Blockbuster, Netflix, purchase). Do it now.