Monday, January 26, 2009

My Favorite Movies of 2008 (Part 1)

Dice's Favorite 25 Movies of 2008
(These are, in order, the movies I enjoy, respect, desire, and love the most that I saw for the first time in the calender year 2008.)

* possible objectionable content warning

Honorable Mentions:

Alvin & the Chipmunks - I've never been one to hold it against a movie for falling into the "Children's" section at your local Walmart.   This movie was just fun enough and the music just good enough to make it completely bearable for at least the first 20 times your kids want to watch it.
Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - The fact that a new Indy movie came out and it didn't even make my top 25 is a big indication of just how torn I am on this film.  I thought it was really fun and the Indy character still resonates, but it was so over the top at points that it lost me.  The weird thing is that the old ones aren't any more subdued, but I think maybe this is a movie out of it's time.

Juno - I expected to hate this movie.  Everything I saw made it seem like a light and gimmicky take on a topic that has too much pain and depth to it succeed.  Maybe it's because of those low expectations that I actually had an enjoyable time with this story and presentation.  Yes, the dialogue is a little bit forced, but it's funny.    And the scene where she realizes her fetus has fingernails was as simple and poignant as anything I've seen in a long time.

The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything - This movie should have been better, but as is, it's still a fun romp with characters I love.  Not as good as Jonah, but still worth a purchase.

The Mist* - OK.  First movie with a content asterisk, and the most deserving of it for sure.  This movie is not for the faint of heart.   If you chose to wade through though the thing that will destroy you is not the swearing and violence, but perhaps the most impactful ending to a movie I have ever seen.  I won't say much else, because I don't want to ruin it, but this movie tore me up, and somehow said something powerful and true while doing so.  Also, I'm beginning to think Stephen King fans are pretty smart people.

Vantage Point - This movie gets a little lost in its own high concept conceit, but overall the plot is decent enough to make this one worth checking out. 

21 - I'm pretty sure the only reason I liked this movie so much was because I love numbers, probabilities, and math in general.  The performances aren't great (even Spacey seems to phone it in a bit) the plot is a bit overproduced, and the action seems forced.  Still, look at all the pretty numbers!

The Top 25:

25. Live Free or Die Hard - Never really saw the originals (I know, insanity) so this is in no way a vote of nostalgia.  This movie was fun, well acted, and really tight.  The action was over the top but still fit the universe it exists in and Bruce Willis is a flat out movie star.

24. Sweeny Todd* - How is it possible that someone wrote a musical based on a psychotic killer who uses a fake barber shop to kill the rich and then bake them in meat pies?  Really? And it works?  Maybe it's the Depp factor, maybe it's the fact that the music is really good, but whatever it is, somehow I loved it.

23.  There Will Be Blood* - Though it's true that this movie is worth seeing solely for the performance of Daniel Day Lewis, I would suggest that the movie itself is pretty OK as well.  The pacing is a bit slow, but it adds to the feeling that we are living this man's life as he sees passion turn to obsession, greed, and eventually insanity. 

22. Get Smart - If you ever needed any reason to take away any shred of credibility I may have had in my movie taste, you need look no further than the fact that I just ranked Get Smart ahead of There Will Be Blood.  Sorry, I love to laugh, and Steve Carell is hitting on all cylinders for me lately.  Also, I'm becoming convinced that Anne Hathaway's versatility as an actress is pretty amazing.  I had a great time watching this, and it was pretty faithful to the feel of the TV show which gave it bonus points in my book as well. 

21. We are Marshall - Yep.  It doesn't take much for me to love a sports movie.  If it's based on a true story, fills me in on the details of that story in compelling ways, and hits all the ups and downs that are inherent in athletic endeavors, I'm in.  Needless to say We are Marshall checked every item on the list, and left me (as all good "true story" movies do) perusing Wikipedia for more on the events behind the emotion.