Thursday, January 1, 2009
Bests of 2008
Happy New Year, everybody. As I work to catch up on film viewing and writing after the holiday break (while also trying to finally kick this energy-sapping bug I’ve been carrying around for a week), here’s a look back at the 2008 year in film, based on what I’ve seen so far.
Best Face: Freida Pinto as the eldest Latika in Slumdog Millionaire
Best Blue-Balls-Face: Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) in Twilight
Best Reason to Avoid HGH: Sylvester Stallone in Rambo
Best Reason to Avoid Botox: Mia Farrow in Be Kind Rewind
Best Beard: Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) in Iron Man
Best Ponytail: Barry (Steve Martin) in Baby Mama
Best Ponytail Reference: JCVD (Jean-Claude Van Damme) on Steven Seagal in JCVD
Best Use Of Dessert As Sex Metaphor: My Blueberry Nights
Best Example Of How George Lucas Has Hurt Cinema As Much As Helped It: Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
Best Performance By Someone You’ve Never Heard Of And Might Never See Again: Catinca Untaru as Alexandria in The Fall
Best Reason To Never Want To See Renee Zellweger Again: Appaloosa
Best Argument In Favor Of Adding Real-Life Cattle To The Screen Actors Guild: Australia
Best Boob Flashing By An Actress In Her Sixties: Charlotte Rampling in Deception
Best Boobs: Penelope Cruz in Elegy
Best Boob: Josh Brolin’s George W Bush in W.
Best Impression Of A Jason Bourne Movie: Quantum Of Solace
Best Pronunciation Of A Word: “Memoirs” (“Mem-wahhs”) by Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) in Burn After Reading
Best Swearing: Harry Waters (Ralph Fiennes) in In Bruges
Best Rambo(w) : Son Of Rambow
Best Stuntwork By Cell Phones (That’s Not A Compliment) : Sex And The City
Best Performance By A Whistle: Milk
Best Use Of A Windshield: Pineapple Express
Best Reason To Never, Ever Let M Night Shyamalan Write So Much As A Christmas Card: The Happening
Best Totally Pointless Jump Over A Metal Barrel: Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller) in Tropic Thunder
Best Employment Of A Sound Effect: The recognizable computer-powering-up tone in WALL-E
Best Evidence That Norman Bates Didn’t Have Such A Bad Mother After All: Barbara Baekeland (Julianne Moore) in Savage Grace
Best For-The-Greater-Good Defense Of The Policies/Tactics Of The George W Bush Administration: The Dark Knight
Best Covert Operation In A Documentary: Philippe Petit’s World Trade Center tightrope walk in Man On Wire
Best Covert Operation In A Comedy: The basement project of Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney) in Burn After Reading
Best Role If You’re Not Good At Memorization: Christine “He’s not my son” Collins (Angelina Jolie) in Changeling
Best Evidence That Kathy Griffin Might Not Be The Most Obnoxious Person Ever: Poppy (Sally Hawkins) in Happy-Go-Lucky
Best Use Of A Neil Young Song: “Unknown Legend” as sung by Sidney (Tunde Adebimpe) in Rachel Getting Married
Best Use Of A U2 Song: “With Or Without You” in Tell No One
Best Use Of A Song: “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” in WALL-E
Best Use Of A Song To Drive An Audience Insane: “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” in Australia
Best Sign That Some People Take Movies WAY Too Seriously: The comments section at Keith Uhlich’s review of The Dark Knight at The House Next Door.
So, what did I miss? Any “bests” you’d like to add?
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The best reason to just say no: The Yes Man
Best reason for the earth to keep turning: The Day the Earth Stood Still
Best Nazi film for Ralph Fiennes to stay away from (although I looked for him): Valkyrie
Best Distracting Performance: Cate Blanchett's jumpsuit in Indiana Jones and the Shit Made Up as They Went Along.
I love both your Neil Young song and U2 song "bests". If you asked me if a movie should try and insert "With Or Without You" into it after 20 years of pop culture tie-ins to it, I would say "NO WAY!", but Tell No One pulls it off beautifully.
Also, I'm presumming that since she didn't technically "flash" them, that you are passing up Helen Mirren's boobs for Ramplings.
Best Example That, Even In An Average Movie, Paul Rudd Is One Of the Most Likeable Actors Around: "Role Models."
Nice job, everyone. Keep 'em coming!
Craig: LOVE the title. Perfect!
Fox: The terrific thing about "Tell No One" is that when the song begins it's a serious WTF moment. As you imply, it feels like a lazy pop culture sell-out in a movie that would seem to be above such things. But then it works. Oh, how it works. (Can't say more without spoiling it for folks, if we haven't already just by calling attention to it. Oh well.)
And, yes, the Goddess Helen Mirren would have had to at least appear in that red bikini in a movie to qualify for this list. Alas.
One of my favorite moments in the film year 2008: the Joker faces Batman for a showdown in the streets of Gotham. “Come on. I want you to do it. Come on. Hit me. Hit me.”
Also, that moment stands as a metaphor for my movie-going experiences in 2008. Each time I went to the movies, and the film began to roll, a similar refrain ran through my mind: “Come on. I want you to do it. Hit me,” as I wished for a viewing experience to sock it to me. All too often the film never landed a punch. Quite often – just a limp nudge.
Nevertheless, here are some images, moments, sequences, and performances that responded to the Joker’s imperative:
Cloverfield – the whole thing – the action – the monster – all the way through the credits accompanied by “Roar – The Cloverfield Overture.”
WALL-E – the whole part set on Earth – favorite moments: WALL-E clicks a remote key and car responds somewhere in the wasteland of garbarge; Eve zaps the magnet of the tanker and then causes a whole line of them to fall over like dominoes.
In The Fall – the opening slow-mo sequence – the train on the bridge and the horse struggling in the water – accompanied by the second movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony.
In American Teen – the animated depiction of Hannah’s depression.
In Rachel Getting Married – Hathaway’s performance and her line in response to a possible job with a public relations firm, “Unfortunately, the public’s kind of afraid of me.”
In Man on Wire – The Man on wire.
In I’ve Loved You So Long – the first shot of Juliette (Thomas) sitting alone in the airport café.
In Death Race – the Dreadnought gets flipped – a tractor-trailer flip that outdoes the one in The Dark Knight.
In Quarantine – the creepy attic of the mad scientist.
In Blindness – Julianne Moore, who has been feigning blindness, turns and flips off the guards.
In The Boy in the Striped Pajamas – the inmates’ “pajamas” hanging on hooks.
In Slumdog Millionaire – Jamal uses his last lifeline – the phone call.
In Valkyrie – during the bombing raid on Berlin, the phonograph skips to “The Ride of the Valkyries.” Trite, I suppose, but I loved it.
In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – the tugboat rams the U-boat; the beauty of Cate Blanchett; “Sleep with me.” “Absolutely.”
In The Reader – Hanna guides ardent lover Michael to the right spot.
FUNNIEST VIEWING EXPERIENCE –
Viewing the horrid The Happening in D.C. with Jason of the Cooler, Elliot yells, “Close the door!” As if there’s any doubt why he’s saying this, Deschanel as Alma says, “Why should I close the door?” And a woman in the audience in a beautiful D.C. accent yells out, “Close the door, ho!”
Best blog posts of 2008 (including one of yours):
By the way, I limited myself to one post per blog and in your case there were several strong contenders. In a slip-up I accidentally posted your review of Synecdoche, NY - which was way up there - instead of your hilarious analysis of the "Bourning of Bond", which I meant to post instead. I've left Synecdoche in place since that review was great as well (though I've linked to the Bourning one too.) Thanks for making it difficult, Jason...
And while I have some issues with the Slumdog hype, particularly vis a vis the ending, it really must be commended for introducing me to Freida Pinto. "Best Face" indeed - no wonder Danny Boyle felt compelled to return to that same luminous shot by the train tracks over and over. It may have been redundant but damned if I'm complaining!
Hokahey: Tremendous list! Well done!
MovieMan: Well, thanks then for the multiple compliments (and I'm happily going through all those links; wow!). I'm honored. And I sure have enjoyed going to your site these past two months. I think my personal highlight of the Politics & Movies blog-a-thon was discovering "The Dancing Image."
We meant to stay a week. It was our “paradise” - and many years later after much world travel I have come to the conclusion that revisiting a place is not for me. The world is large, my time and funds are relatively meager and the adventure I had on my first visit was made more vivid by the memories of the particular time I was there, the people I met, the food I ate, the sights I saw….none of these can be replicated.
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