Saturday, December 20, 2008

2008 : The Year in Review

As part of my build up to the unveiling of my top ten list on January 1st, I am putting together my annual list of superlatives for 2008. Next week we'll have my worst of the year list, followed by my top ten. Feel free to agree, disagree, or add your own!

PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

No other performance this year tapped into the zeitgeist and became so instantly iconic as Ledger's maniacally unhinged Joker. It is the stuff of legend, a performance for the ages, its genius made even more immediate (and poignant) by Ledger's untimely death just before the film's release.


BEST SOUNDTRACK
Slumdog Millionaire


The exuberant sounds of A.R. Rahman's thumping Bollywood score are half the reason Danny Boyle's beloved film has been so successful. From the pulsing opening track "O Saya" to M.I.A.'s raucous "Paper Planes," to the jubilant finale, "Jai Ho," Slumdog Millionaire is the most infectious, lovable, and downright addictive soundtrack of the year.


BEST VAMPIRE LOVE STORY

Let the Right One In

Sorry Twilight, but this eerie, snow covered gothic fantasy about two 12 year olds in love - one a shy, bullied little boy, the other an ageless, androgynous vampire - takes the cake as the year's most touching undead romance. Darker, more macabre, and ultimately more touching than anything in Catherine Hardwicke's popular teen flick, Let the Right One In hits every note just right.


BEST DISPLAY OF AWKWARDNESS
Rachel Getting Married

Chalk up Kym's cringe inducing "it's all about me" rehearsal dinner toast as the most painful scene of the year; and Anne Hathaway's beautifully subtle performance makes it totally believable. Aren't you glad this isn't your family?


BEST FOREIGN ANIMATED DOCUMENTARY

Waltz with Bashir

OK, honestly, how often do you get to say those three words in a row? Seriously though, it's brilliant. Watch it.


BEST MUSICAL
Love Songs


Who needs Mamma Mia when you have the deliriously romantic French tunes of Christophe Honore's sublime Love Songs?


MOST UNDERRATED
Mister Lonely


I was tempted to go with XXY here, but it was rightfully praised by the few people who saw it during its woefully short, week long American release. Harmony Korine's peculiar little oddity, Mister Lonely, on the other hand, completely failed to find an audience, either popular or critical. I found it to be a lovely, eccentric tale of lonely misfits who find solace in a group of people just as strange as they are. It is alternately joyous and tragic, but the ultimate feeling is one so unique and beautiful that it's hard to resist.


FUNNIEST
Pineapple Express


As much as I would like to sound sophisticated and say OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (although it's a close second), or be ironic and say The Happening, no other movie this year made me laugh my ass off like this one did.


MOST BEAUTIFUL

The Fall

Breathtaking doesn't even begin to describe the gorgeous imagery of Tarsem's unhinged, flawed masterpiece, The Fall. Extra points for not using any computer effects, and for featuring two of the most stunning scene transitions I have ever seen.


BEST DOUBLE HEADER
Clint Eastwood, Changeling/Gran Torino

Changeling may have been flawed, but as Gran Torino more than proved, even at 78 years old, Eastwood can still knock 'em out of the park. Honorable mention to Gus Van Sant for Paranoid Park and Milk.


BEST GUILTY PLEASURE

Rambo

Yes I still love it. So sue me. But there's just something incredibly cathartic about Sylvester Stallone's ultra violent, gleefully over the top jungle adventure.


MOST EERILY RELEVANT
Milk

Gus Van Sant's biopic of the first openly gay man to be elected to public office would have still been a powerful film no matter when it was released, but coming right on the heels of the regrettable passing of the discriminatory Proposition 8 in California which repealed marriage rights for homosexuals, suddenly makes Harvey Milk's historic struggle against the even more insidious Prop 6 (which would have allowed the state to fire gay teachers and their supporters) seem poignantly immediate.


BIGGEST EMOTIONAL SUCKER PUNCH
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father


You never see it coming, but when it does, you can literally feel the wind being knocked out of you. Honorable mention to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button for its brilliant denouement.


BEST PERFORMANCE IN A BAD MOVIE
Emma Thompson, Brideshead Revisited


The always reliable Thomson brought a touch of class and refinement to this otherwise turgid adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's classic novel.


BEST ENDING
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

My brain is saying to go with the haunting stunner of 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, or the quiet grandeur of Silent Light, or the warped tenderness of Let the Right One In, but my heart is saying go with the tragic beauty of Benjamin Button, a deeply powerful turnaround from the film's pedestrian, Forrest Gump-esque middle stretch. You'll just have to see it to understand.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

On both the Best Sucker Punch and the Best Musical agreed. It is too early for me to make any more calls though.