Monday, January 27, 2014

The Favorite Films Of My Lifetime: 2008

Let's start this differently.  Take a look at these Academy Award nominees for Best Picture.

Winner - Slumdog Millionaire
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
The Reader

Man, isn't it crazy how we are still having big time conversations about these films?  Oh wait...we're not.  This is the year that changed how things are done in our present day awards situation.  The Dark Knight and Wall-E getting the shaft infuriated many.  Personally, if a movie becomes the 2nd highest grossing film of all time, I really think that should give it a lock for a nomination REGARDLESS of what genre the movie is or if its a popcorn summer blockbuster or a little arthouse indie.  The five were just lackluster in comparison to a lot of excitement at the movies that year.  The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button might be one of the worst nominees for Best Picture I've seen in my lifetime and David Fincher's worst film in his catalog.  And...The Reader?  Just showing that the Weinstein dollar will always get you a nomination.  I don't think the category needed spread to 10 films, but just the committee being a bit more open minded and expanding THEIR horizons as they so would like general audiences to do.  Ah well...

Here's mine, a good year with some tougher cut like, surprisingly, my favorite birthday weekend movie of all time - Cloverfield, which I saw 3 times in the theater.

The Dark Knight

I think you'll understand when I just put a simple "Duh" for my reasoning here.  I think the bigger surprise would have been had it NOT made the list.  That picture above indicates something Scott Mendelson said about this film that rings ever so true.  You have Batman, Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent atop a building next to the Bat Signal discussing how to stop the Joker.  It doesn't get more perfect than that.


This film was treated as such a throwaway movie upon release.  I went to a pretty empty Arclight Hollywood by myself on a Sunday morning to see it opening weekend (which, even the poorer box office movies are usually kinda full opening weekend in Los Angeles).  I really didn't keep up with it as far as preproduction aside from that it was Neil Marshall's next movie and he made The Descent which I loved.  Well, paint it to my surprise as this was the ultimate love letter to all the cult movies a I cherished growing up.  It was John Carpeter, it was Escape From New York, it was Dawn Of The Dead, it was The Road Warrior, it was Conan The Barbarian and so much more.  I had an absolute blast with this film.  I even applauded the projectionist at the end.  I'm guessing a LOT of you probably never saw this movie, heard of it or forgot it.  But, if you're into this stuff, seek this damn thing out.  Its awesome.  And the severely underused Rhona Mitra is terrific in it.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

I consider this one of the greatest comic book superhero movies of all time.  It's brilliant.  Too bad it was completely overshadowed by The Dark Knight which came out the following week.  Read all about my undying love for this one HERE.

Iron Man

Yeah, its pretty terrific.  But this first Iron Man movie is a one man show.  Had it not been Robert Downey Jr in the title role, would this movie had worked and been as popular as it is?  Its his performance that takes this B level hero and graduates him to A-level status.  The world got to learn what most of us fans had known for years...Robert Downey Jr is an incredibly talented man that owns the screen whenever he's on it.  The final battle in the film may be weak with just a bit of live action rock em sock em robots, but it doesn't deter from all the greatness the film had leading up to it.  This film kicked off summer 2008 on a big high and was so good, we were all wondering if this film would be upstaging The Dark Knight...yeah, we were wrong, but that seemed to be the worry.

Pineapple Express

So, this came out in 2008, but I saw it in September 2007 at a test screening with my friend Ian.  Franco and Rogen were silently in attendance.  We had a blast.  We had no idea what this was before we saw it, went on a whim because we liked the comic talent involved.  Danny McBride won our hearts with this movie.  He brought such a unique presence to the film that we immediately went out to soak up all the McBride we could...except...there was none.  Only The Foot Fist Way which we wouldn't be able to see til almost a year later (WORTH THE WAIT!).  Also giving a groovy turn in the film is one of my all time favorite character actors, Kevin Corrigan.  This over the top ridiculous action-stoner comedy has become one of my favorite comedies of all time.  Its one my sister and I quote all the time.  I think this one just managed to rock that "absurd" style of humor I've mentioned I have.

Speed Racer

It's finally started happening this year, but people are coming around on this movie and realizing they unfairly dogged it back upon release.  And I will bare witness that Scott Mendelson was with this film from day 1.  Had it not been for him I would have skipped it.  He urged me to get to it opening weekend, and I said "fine, I'll go".  And holy crap. This is a grade A terrific movie.  Yes, its got a lot of visuals...but let's remember, this is a live action cartoon coming to life.  But those visuals are freaking amazing.  The world and races the Wachowskis created are 2nd to none.  But what's even better is the story and performances in the film.  There are individual scenes between John Goodman and Susan Sarandon that seem Oscar-worthy in their own right.  Yes, I admit, the kid and the monkey suck, but that's there for the kids.  There's even more material here for the adults than they have, so I'll let them take the monkey.  This film is one of the most stunning achievements and great films in the last decade and everybody quickly turned their back on it and swept it under the rug.  Shame, we should have had at least 2 more Speed Racer movies by now.

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