I didn't think that I would have a chance to type this before my work trip to Houston, Texas, but because of the twelve inches of snow outside, I have a whole day of time on my hands.
So, here it is! Ronald Short's twenty one favorite films released theatrically in America in 2008!
(It is to note that this is my opinion and that if you don't like it, you can suck it.)
21. The Incredible Hulk
Who would have thought that they'd take the aftermath from one of my most hated films of all time, Hulk, and make something so...good? The Incredible Hulk is one of those films that takes a great action director, gives him a great A-list cast, and lets them free to do what they do best. I loved this movie and Edward Norton as the Bruce Banner was a great move by the creative team. Now, I hope if they make a sequel and/or if the Hulk is in the Avengers movie, they bring back Ed. I know there were some creative differences, but I hope they can over come them and bring this guy back!
On top of all of that, they use the original theme from The Incredible Hulk TV show and Lou Ferrigno plays the Hulk's voice! Awesome.
2o. Snow Angels
This film really took me by surprise. I mean, I knew the cast was strong and that the director was a good one, but I didn't realize that the experience would be so powerful. It's one of those snake in the grass films, one that you'll almost pass right by without a thought until it bites you in the leg and lets you know it's there and it's damn powerful.
19. In Bruges
A comedy that's smarter than the advertising would lead you to believe. Sure, there's a midget, but unlike every other comedy that would exploit said little person based off their stature, this film actually makes him an important character to the story. Okay, they exploit him a little bit, but it's hilarious!
Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are a fantastic comedic duo and Ralph Fiennes plays a great diabolical villain. It sums up to be a good time that mixes action and comedy flawlessly.
18. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls
I know what you're thinking and to those thoughts I say, "Fuck you!" Seriously, fuck you. This is a good movie and fits well into the original trilogy. Sure, there's aliens involved and not religious artifacts, but this is (hopefully) a new trilogy about the supernatural. I liked Mutt! I liked the Russians! And I loved Harrison Ford back in the fedora! I really really hope that Indy 5 happens. While it's not better than Raiders or Crusade, it is infinitely better than Temple of Doom.
17. Speed Racer
I'm going to go ahead and claim this as the most underrated movie of 2008. People just wanted to hate on it for no real reason whatsoever. It's fun! Lots and lots of fun! It's a Red Bull in movie form and will have you bouncing in excitement with every race. I felt like a kid again and just enjoyed the hell out of this film. Pop it in your DVD player, open up a bag of Sour Patch Kids, and buy a four pack of your favorite energy drink and prepare for the ride of your life.
16. Synecdoche, New York
Probably the most depressing movie on the list (Snow Angels is pretty close). Kaufman's screenplay, which is so strange and jumps time in the most random areas, is powerful and symbolic and can even be hopeful if you view the film with the right eyes. His direction is spot on and Hoffman, along with the supporting cast, are all at the top of their game. Most people belonging to the mainstream audience won't get it and will write it off as "weird," but I enjoyed it immensely and cannot wait to own it and come up with more conclusions on what some of the symbols mean.
What can you say about this film without ruining any of the horrors that await the viewer? How about this: It's probably the best horror film I saw last year (unless you count Cloverfield). It made me jump, it made me squirm, and it left me sick to my stomach.
Prepare for an experience unlike any other.
14. Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Kevin Smith was my inspiration to start making movies. The man can mix dick and fart jokes with real human drama and make it work along with making it look easy. This film is no different. It's funny, heartwarming, and just a good time. Sure, I would have changed some things about the ending, but it still works as a whole.
13. Kung Fu Panda
This film has been over shadowed by the greatness that is Wall-E. While I agree it's not even on par with that little robot, I do think this movie was well done and deserves some praise as well. This is probably the first Dreamworks animated film that isn't filled to the brim with pop culture references and adult jokes disguised well enough to go over children's' heads. It is an original enough story with awesome characters and fantastic animation. If Dreamworks continues down this path, then Pixar might possibly have some kind of competition in the future in terms of quality.
Who knew that a film so virally marketed could actually live up to the hype? This film is flat out AWESOME! It's a good fucking time and will leave you on the edge of your seat. The whole thing is just believable and the techniques used to make you believe what's happening are well done and practically flawless. The monster is creepy and I love the fact that we never get a clear picture of it. I also love the fact that most of it is left unexplained. I love mystery in movies like this! A plain great creature feature from 2008.
11. Revolutionary Road
A great movie for the Feminist movement! You just want April and Frank to have the life they deserve, but society won't let it be. The performances are mind blowing in this perfect film from one of my top ten favorite directors, Sam Mendes.
RONALD SHORT'S TOP TEN FAVORITE MOVIES OF 2008:
10. RepriseThis film has went under the radar for most people I've talked to. Hell, many people haven't even heard of it. Released in 2006 in Norway and finally released in 2008 here in the States, this little film was well worth the wait. The storytelling elements work so well and help bring this story of two friends who are also authors and deal with success in very different ways to heights no other filmmaker could have accomplished.
9. Slumdog Millionaire
Danny Boyle continues to surprise me time and time again. He has made movies about drug addicts, zombies (though not really zombies), children finding loads of money, and space missions to reignite the sun and each and every time, he knocks it out of the park. This film can be categorized as one of Boyle's absolute best. It's a heartwarming story for hopeless romantics and I fit into that category perfectly.
8. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
This is the best comedy of the year. Jason Segel's script, along with his hilarious acting, makes this movie just plain great. There's new and old faces in this Judd Apatow production and everyone his top notch and laugh a minute. It shows the world that Mila Kunis is more than a television actor and that she can hold her own with comedy greats. And that Dracula musical at the end? Priceless.
7. Iron Man
This set the trend of smart and damn entertaining super hero films of last year and it still holds up after several viewings. This is the type of movie every popcorn film should be; it doesn't treat its audience like a bunch of idiots, but is still a load of fun. Robert Downey Jr. is brilliant as Tony Stark and Jon Favreau brings in a stellar supporting cast, none of them phoning in their role in the slightest. Jeff Bridges as the super villain? AMAZING! I just wish Terrance Howard could return to the sequel, but alas...
6. Rachel Getting Married
I can't say anything more than my original review:
I thought this flick was fantastic. It's one of those slice of life films that actually feels real. These aren't performances, they're people existing in their own little fucked up reality. Anne Hathaway is uncomfortably great as Kym, but Rosemarie DeWitt, who plays the title Rachel, really shines as her performance takes your breath away. Jonathan Demme directs perfectly from this wonderful screenplay from Jenny Lumet. Sure, he makes some ballsy artistic choices in letting a few scenes that could be trimmed go on as long as they did, but that's why I enjoyed this so much. It's real and I have to respect the filmmakers for not losing their integrity.
Finally, the way the film was shot was beautiful. People were complaining about the "shaky cam" in some reviews I've read, but really, if you've seen one steady cam film, this isn't any worse. I like how it felt like a wedding video, catching all of the happenings, which is what I hear Demme was trying to achieve. It just works and makes for a beautiful piece of art.
5. The Wackness
Here's another film that seems to be getting overlooked by many critics. From what I could tell, this got really great reviews when it was released. So, what's the deal here? The story's unique, the characters are entertaining and well acted, and the art design can be entertainingly quirky. Josh Peck is certainly one to watch out for and this being Jonathan Levine's second feature film is an accomplishment (I just wish I could see his first film!).
All of my thoughts on this wonderful film can be found in a blog I wrote a few weeks ago. You can read that below.
While I've always held Pixar's work in high regards, this is the first I would actually consider a work of art. I would love to see a TV hanging in a museum playing this movie. It's beautiful and these fucking robots, especially the title character, are so damn endearing and adorable. How can you not love Wall-E? On top of all that, there's a story here teaching kids to lead a greener life. Who could ask for anything more?
2. The Wrestler
I've compared Darren Aronofsky to Stanley Kubrick, who is my favorite director of all time and is probably the biggest compliment I could give to the man. With this film, Aronofsky cements that comparison even more. That, plus Rourke's amazing, amazing, AMAZING performance, makes this the second best film of the year. Sure, it's about wrestling, something I have absolutely no interest in whatsoever, but the filmmakers make you care and the film's more about the characters and the story than the "sport" itself.
1. The Dark Knight
I know I know I know. Whodathunk? It has almost become cliche' at this point, but that should show you just how good this film is. Almost everyone in the film community has named this film as one of the best films of the year, if not one of the best in the last few years. Everything is spot on and perfect. Ledger deserves all the praise he has received, dead or not, and I'm royally pissed that Nolan and company got snubbed by the Academy. At least I know that this was the best film of the year and that I can watch it over and over on Blu-Ray. That's all I need.
Whelp, there you have it. Here's to another year of great cinema!