2008's Top Ten Films- Duncan

And now my own top ten of 2008!



10. Tropic Thunder

As a lover of films and a writer with the aspiration to be involved in the making of them someday, there’s nothing quite so appealing as a movie about a movie being made. I watched all of Singin’ In The Rain the other day on PBS, and not just for tap dancing.

Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder is a future cult classic rich in caricatures of all of today’s mass-marketed stars and franchises, and a kickass action film to boot. It takes on multiple targets, and doesn’t worry about offending anyone, refreshingly. Plus, I could watch an entire comedy composed of nothing but fake trailers.

9. The Wrestler

I am officially a Darren Anofsky fan, and not only because I also enjoy playfully flipping my friends the bird on national television. As much as I liked Pi and Requiem For A Dream, I had sort of written him off as a limited visionary with a thing for rapid edits and depressing the hell out of people.

But with the imaginatively original The Fountain and the much more personal The Wrestler, he’s proved as flexible as any modern auteur.

8. Let The Right One In

A brilliant, casually frank blending of a coming of age tale and vampire creeper movie. A future Halloween staple for me.

(see my top 250 entry about it for more)

More...

7. Milk

I figured, if anyone could do away with the standard rise and fall tropes of the biopicture, it’s Gus Van Sant, and he mostly did. The more I think about Milk, the more I like it as the perfect blend of an accessible story and Van Sant’s art nouveau sensibility. The pace is frenetic enough to keep people interested, but there is, on occasion, an entire shot framed on the reflection of a blood-spattered whistle.



6. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

I really want to like this film enough for the top five, I gotta say. You got epic historical events, great effects, a pretty good love story…

But oh.. modern day framing device. Why? Not only is the cloying, overhanded modern day framing device of Benjamin Button unnecessary in most ways to the story, it solidifies the biggest critique of the film: the story itself is set in a completely racism-free New Orleans, and the framing device follows the travails of two affluent white people DURING HURRICANE KATRINA.

So, sorry, solid effort, but not a timeless classic. Plus the use of the Arcade Fire's "My Body Is A Cage" in a tv spot (above) made me expect a much darker, more extreme tale than I got.

5. Rachel Getting Married

Speaking of race relations, Rachel Getting Married got to traffic in a background composed entirely of upper class, multicultural synergy- basking in the glow of Obama-fever essentially. Though the central interracial couple getting hitched is largely a subplot to the travails of Anne Hathaway’s rehab-addled sister and the rest of the family’s dysfunction, there’s still a huge, musical cast all through the edges of Jonathan Demme’s filmscape, making an entire world for the weekend to unfold in.

It’s not that Rachel Getting Married is exceptionally groundbreaking in dramatic terms, but it’s exceptionally well-realized. It’s an experience, and a memorable one.

4. In Bruges

Another film that could give a rat’s ass about fitting in to one particular genre. It’s a buddy comedy, it’s a Ritchie-esque thriller, it’s a stagy drama. The best work I’ve seen from Colin Farrell, and splendid performances from Brendan Gleason and Ralph Fiennes round out a movie that’s hilarious, tragic, and all around outstanding.

(see my top 250 writeup)

3. Wall-E

Things I already thought were awesome before I saw Wall-E: Robots. Pixar. Showtunes. Space travel. Fred Willard. Love.

Case closed.



2. The Fall

Remember how The Cell looked really cool, but was insufferably self-serious and enjoyed playing Buffalo Bill a bit too much? What if you took all of the director’s visual flair and applied it to a game of competing fairy tales between the guy from Pushing Daisies and an adorable little girl?

It’s essentially a companion piece to The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, in many ways, and it definitely helped fill the Gilliam-sized hole in my heart after Tideland offended everybody to the point of revulsion and The Brothers Grimm out and out sucked.

1. The Dark Knight

Where to start? Everything about The Dark Knight took a leap forward from Batman Begins, a film I already have a poster of.

The score is moody, dark, and epic. The Joker is one of the most quotable, memorable villains ever (full disclosure- I dressed as The Joker for Halloween. Yeah. I can do the voice pretty well, thank you.) The action set pieces are remarkable, the use of IMAX cameras was groundbreaking, the magic trick...

I do, I’ll concede, have problems with everything in the third act of the film- it does too good a job convincing us that the world is truly chaos to have us believe in hope. But a lot of people like the bit with the boats and all, so maybe I’m just a cynical, hipster douchebag.

My theory is that if the film ended two thirds of the way through (right after some stuff blows up, and Alfred burns a note, if you’ve seen it), then it would be a truly grim masterpiece that the Academy couldn’t have found a way to ignore. But then there’s no way it breaks $400 million, because people want a little hope at the end.

As it is, neither the picture, Christopher Nolan, or the screenplay are up for statuettes, but I’m okay with it now, you know why? Because The Dark Knight can be the outcast. It can be the movie the country deserves, but not the movie it wants right now. A silent guardian, a watchful protector of shunned masterpieces. A dark knight.

2 Response to "2008's Top Ten Films- Duncan"

  1. Kerri says:

    I have seen 4/10...looks like I have some movies to get Omar to download.

    notemily says:

    heee hee hee, nice ending.

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