Thursday, January 15, 2009

My Top Ten ('09)

After countless hours at the cineplex, tons of popcorn consumed, and many movie passes used, I've finally been able to recap my favorite films of this past year. If you have even the slightest clue about me, you know that I'm a total list maker. I make lists when I go to the grocery store, pack a suitcase, and as a salute to 2008 -- My Top Ten Films of 2008.

10. Frost/Nixon
Upon entering the movie theatre, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I mean, the ingredients for this movie seemed all too perfect -- talented cast, Tony-Award winning play, rock star director. Yet, I still wasn't the least bit excited. If I wanted to watch a televised interview between a TV anchor and a politician, I'd have stayed home with Tina Fey and Amy Poeler. Then, without even a warning, a surprising thing happened on my way to the exit... I actually liked it. Not only was this film intriguing, but it was thoroughly entertaining. Who'd have thought a simple stage play between two talking heads could transform into such a nail biting political thriller.

9. The Dark Knight
Heath Ledger. Heath Ledger. Heath Ledger. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a huge fan of the superhero franchise. In fact, I spent an entire summer interning at Marvel Studios where I was painfully swimming in a sea of weird cartoon magazines -- I think they're called comic books? Therefore, when I decided to jump on the highly publicized band wagon, I attempted to mask my inevitable skepticism with a forced calmness. ...And then a revelation. Heath Ledger graced the screen with an almost unrecognizable portrayal of the Joker and I was sold. Next stop: Oscar.

8. Sex and the City: The Movie
While most boys were counting down the days till the latest batman installment, I was anticipating a very different movie. Ever since Carrie Bradshaw packed up her Manolo Blahniks on HBO's hit comedy, I've been going through Sex withdrawals. Seriously, my palms were sweaty and I had the shakes! Then, after what felt like a decade, I saw it! Make no mistake, it wasn't the best picture ever made (and doesn't hold a candle near the series). However, like a drunken night after the Beta Kappa luau, it certainly was satisfying.

7. Doubt
Is there anything Meryl Streep can't do? I'm convinced that woman could portray William Howard Taft and still be nominated for an Oscar. As my previous blog expressively implies, I was beyond impressed with Michael Patrick Shanley's stage-to-screen adaptation. Everything from the writing to the performances deserves praise, especially having dealt with such a controversial subject matter. I have no, um, doubt that it'll get kudos come award season. By the way, that "doubt" pun never gets old. Okay, maybe it does....

6. Wall-E
Who knew robots could be this cute? I was under the impression that most robots were either terrifying (the Terminator), creepy (Hayley Joel Osment in 'A.I.') or gay (C-3PO). Yet, Wall-E proved that it doesn't take many characters or excessive dialogue to create a heartfelt story. Hell, I even rooted for the nasty-ass cockroach. Pixar proves once again that they're the masters behind well-made animation films. Now, if they could only make a film about a tape worm on a whimsical quest in a digestive tract...

5. Milk
"My name is Harvey Milk and I'm here to recruit you". Just hearing Sean Penn say these words sends a shiver down my spine. Initially, I walked into this film with relatively little knowledge of Harvey Milk. I knew he was a gay activist. I knew he was assassinated. Beyond that, I wasn't too familiar with his political background. Then, this 2 hour and 8 minute film did something I didn't expect... it became a stirring admonition on the participatory political process, and an unspoken incitement to get involved.

4. Rachel Getting Married
Have I ever mentioned that I'm an Anne Hathaway fan? It's true, I can't make this stuff up. Therefore, when I finally stumbled upon the trailer for this Jonathan Demme film, I was obviously elated. My favorite gal pal doing what she does best - acting! However, after screening the movie in its entirety, I discovered that it was much more than the Anne Hathaway show. The story was beautifully written and the film was well crafted. It was the best looking home video I've ever seen.

3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Three hours is excruciatingly long for any movie. I coped through Titanic. I forgave all three Lord of the Rings. I suffered through King Long (er, Kong...). And it's safe to say that Australia and I aren't talking. Therefore, you can imagine my hesitation when I heard Button was another epic long film. Yet, somewhere between my hesitation and Brad Pitt's lips, I seem to have moved beyond any weariness and into complete awe. Having seen it twice, I can honestly say it's the best epic I've seen in years... with a Brad Pitt cherry on top.

2. Slumdog Millionaire
A little over 3 months ago, I was invited to a special screening of this movie. After one look at the poster, I dismissed the invitation assuming it revolved around some sort of marathon and its million dollar prize (Doesn't it look that way??). Little did I know, this film would eventually become a cinematic phenomenon and a Best Picture front runner. This is a prime example why someone should never judge a book, or movie, by its cover. Now if you don't mind, I must go put all my eggs in one basket, cross a bridge before I get there, and cry over spilt milk.

1. Happy-Go-Lucky
I'm not sure why, but I've gotten into the habit of choosing feel-good comedies as my favorite movies of the year. Two years ago, I picked Little Miss Sunshine. Last year, Juno. Now, I've gotten so blatantly obvious, I went and selected a film with happiness smack down in the title. Mike Leigh's film about an excessively peppy school teacher, named Poppy, did what so many films neglect to do -- open the audience's eyes. After seeing the film, I attempted to see the world the way Poppy does. Carefree and positive. However, after a mere two days, I aborted the experiment. I'm sorry, but I'm convinced Poppy was popping Percocet...

Anyway, I say in complete honesty, Happy-Go-Lucky is a film that deserves to be seen. Still feeling hesitant? Perhaps Poppy's worldview optimism is exactly what you need.


1 comment:

Travis Cook said...

Very solid list. I've seen most of the movies listed. My list would probably look very similar, but I might've seen if I could fit in 'Burn After Reading' or 'The Visitor' with an honorable mention to 'Quarantine' cause it successfully scared the shit out of me.