Hrm. It’s been a crappy year for movies. Nearly every eagerly anticipated flick turned out to be a piece of utter crap. A couple of low-expectation pictures turned out to the be the cream of the crop. And it was a good year for superhero movies. A bad year for almost everything else.
To top it all off, I spent almost six months on the road and only saw about five movies – rather than my customary one per week – during that time. I don’t think I missed much although I would have liked to see things like Death Race, Max Payne, Tropic Thunder, etc.
Maybe someday I’ll settle down long enough to rejoin Netflix.
In the meantime, here’s my annual run down. I’m shitcanning the rule where movies can only count against the year they came out rather than the year I saw ’em. I don’t track when things came out and I can’t be bothered trying to sort out the studios’ machinations around Oscar nominations and the end of the year. New year, new rule.
13. I’m Not There – The Bob Dylan biopic with different actors doing Dylan during different stages of his life. Bottom of the list not because it was a bad film – it wasn’t – but because I am not overawed by the subject matter. It was one of those interesting little pictures that made the cut despite my expectations.
12. The Forbidden Kingdom – Another surprisingly enjoyable and memorable movie. Jackie Chan as the Drunken Master. A fairly literate Kung-Fu flick. Who’da thunk it?
11. The Spirit – I wonder if this shouldn’t be ranked higher than it is. I liked it, despite the deficiencies, and suspect it’s kind of like Punisher: War Zone in that it is a literal translation from one medium – comics – to the screen and in the case of The Spirit also a temporal shift from the 1940s to 2008 without any finessing at all. I know what Miller was going for, I’m just not certain he pulled it off.
10. Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The kiddiefication of Star Wars continues apace. In this case, however, that’s not an entirely bad thing. I had the lowest of expectations and came away pleasantly surprised. The TV show ain’t hateful either.
9. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian – I shouldn’t even rank this since I was drunk for the little bit I managed to stay awake during. I don’t count that against the film and I remember liking what I saw but disliking the completely extraneous love story. Can’t win ’em all.
8. Persepolis – I saw this a long time ago. I dug it. Can’t say why apart from the style.
7. Leatherheads – Downright hilarious. Clooney is a minor comedic deity and the dude from The Office shows he’s more than a nebbishy wimp. Even Zellweger’s presence couldn’t make me hate this flick – and that’s really saying something.
6. In Bruges – Bizarre flick. Starts out as a black humor buddy flick and ends up a bloody mess. Even managed to stay bitterly amusing when the amped-up Shakespearean tragedy kicked in. I’ve recommended this over and over but doubt anybody but me’s seen it.
5. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – Depp, twisted lyrics, cannibalistic pies and stylized filmmaking. Granted, it didn’t have the huge white sheet spattered with blood while someone screamed in the background like the stage play – but what movie has?
4. The Incredible Hulk – Finally, our long national nightmare is over. We can put the Ang Lee psychological Hulk behind us and groove on the reason the Hulk even became a popular comic book character. Sometimes that’s hard to figure out.
3. The Dark Knight – I can’t stand Heath Ledger. But the Joker rules.
2. Hellboy II: The Golden Army – Spectacularly cool. Made more sense and flowed more smoothly than the first one. And stayed kick ass. Steampunk robots rule.
1. Iron Man – Robert Downey, Jr. single-handedly makes a picture. Doesn’t matter what it is. Brother rules the roost. Plus you have a cool character in Tony Stark – amoral, alcoholic, brilliant and rich – my kind of cat.
That’s all folks. I could list all the nifty flicks I missed, but instead I’ll settle for warning all of you about the single worst film ever made – surpassing even Batman and Robin in its horrendousness. Do not, under any circumstances, see The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008). It would be better to critically analyze Vogon poetry. Trust me on this.