Every year I look back through the movies I’ve seen and try to remember enough of them to make a decent attempt at compiling my list of the year’s best. Every year I have to scratch my head and think, “Did I actually see that? What did I think of it? Why do I drink so much before I go to the picture show? I barely remember any of it.”
This was an interesting year. I got to see a lot of limited release stuff early in the year and almost nothing of any redeeming value later in the year. Two movies that weren’t on the MUST SEE! list turned out to be the two best experiences of the year. And the only superhero movie to make the cut ended up down near the bottom mostly because I haven’t seen it since and really can’t remember it all that well. My assumption being if it didn’t leave a strong impression of, “Damn. That was two hours well spent!” I probably didn’t enjoy it that much.
13. Taken – There are a few actors who are worth watching no matter what the film: George Clooney in comedies, Johnny Depp in mind-trips are two. I think I need to add Liam Neeson to that list as well. Brother can be Jesus in a CGI lion’s, free Ireland, whoop up as a Jedi Knight and kick the ass of every two-bit Hungarian slaver in Europe. F**king A!
12. Zombieland – Twinkies, Woody Harrelson and Bill Murray. So lovely I can overlook the nebbishy kid. I am really getting sick of nebbishy kids. *cough*Michael Cera*cough*
11. Milk – Brother was queerer than a three-dollar bill and would almost certainly have me first against the wall come his revolution but I dug the whole scene. Maybe Sean Penn – as much as I despise his politics – needs to be added to the list of actors you always want to watch. And the assassination scene is exquisitely squirm-inducing. Just thinking of it gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies.
10. Watchmen – No impression. It was pretty. I think I’d like to see it again but I don’t know why. In all honestly, I never figured out what the hell was going on in the comic book. The movie’s no different.
9. The Wrestler – Got another candidate for the “actors always worth watching list” – Mickey Rourke. Plus I found out about the really nifty abandoned Casino in Asbury Park. A run-down place but well worth the visit.
8. The Reader – A bizarrely gentle film about the aftermath of Nazism. That alone is the formula for a memorable movie experience.
7. Slumdog Millionaire – I don’t know why this is so high on my list. I think mainly because I have a vague recollection of enjoying it more than the movies to follow. I don’t think I need to see it again. But I won’t regret seeing it the first time.
6. Pirate Radio – I laughed a hell of a lot. It made no sense, had no discernible point or purpose, but I laughed a lot. And sometimes, that’s all that’s required.
5. The Hangover – Here’s another one I barely remember. I’m sure the title was appropriate for me the next day. I remember it being funny but not uproarious like the first Harold and Kumar. Mostly I remember the nekkid Chinaman beating people with a tire iron. Now that’s comedy!
4. Star Trek – After overcoming my initial disgust that Budweiser survived into the 23d or 24th century I have only four words: Harold with a katana!
3. Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day – It ain’t often that more of the same is all you desire from a sequel. And, in getting it, find out the sequel is almost superior to the original. Although I could have done without the mexican.
2. District 9 – They sure advertised the hell out of this little movie but left no idea of what to expect. I went in without expectations and came away convinced I’d seen one of the best films of the year.
1. Gran Torino – Clint Eastwood is only slightly younger than God and yet he continues to make wonderful films. I laughed like hell all through this movie – even though nobody else was laughing – and my Dad had the same experience when he saw it on my strong recommendation. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t enjoyed it even if it wasn’t on their radar.