Friday, January 9, 2009

Best of the Year 2008: Films

Annually reviews some pop culture and ranks a best in categories like film, music and television. This year is expanded to include critiques. This.... is.... 2008!

I was very disappointed in the Indiana Jones blockbuster this year, and it really rattled my expectations for film franchises. So, here's to some new film ideas with (hopefully) some sense not to churn out sequels. OK, maybe Iron Man can make a spinoff or two. They have my permission.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
If Superbad was the essential 2000-era comedy about adolescence, this is the one for adulthood. The cast of characters are relative newcomers, but that's what makes watching it great. It's a level playing ground for hilarity, and the guys and girls all have their different takes on the whole "Sarah situation". Unlike the past decade's comedies, Sarah Marshall really commits to the storyline and doesn't just tack it on at the end.

I haven't kept up with all of the new CGI-cartoony children's movies, but this Pixar joint is one for the ages. From the get-go, the tranquility of this film is what sells it. I don't think a word is spoken in the first 30 minutes, and it's just soothing for a kid or an adult who often are punched in the face with cute dialogue. Peter Gabriel also has a song during the ending credits!

Tropic Thunder
I expected this to be funny, and it is exactly met my expectations. RDJ scores another hit in his "sober years streak", and injects some buffoonery to the often-too-dramatic Vietnam War pseudo-era. Ben Stiller is actually funny, too. I wonder if he's apologized about the retard jokes.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
David Fincher has been taking ambitious stabs at portraying a time in history, last time with Zodiac. In this one, he chronicles New Olreans from the Depression to Hurrican Katrina with stunning accuracy, expanding a short-short story into a 3-hour adventure. Ben Button will probably win a score of Oscars--cinematography, art design, makeup. But, there's something un-emotional about this that makes it just a silver medalist.

Iron Man
Yes, I know this is a superhero movie, and Robert Downey is Tony Stark. And I know director Jon Favreau isn't the toast of the town. But seriously it's the gold standard for comic book adaptations, and a slam-dunk for producers with sequel money in their eyesights. Comedy and a surreal attitude are a big deal for comics, and unlike the Dark Knight, this one is neatly packaged for consumption.

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