“But it isn’t related to comics?” I know that. It does have two comic book movies on it though, does that count? I love comics, but I also love movies. I saw quite a few of them this year and to be honest, it’s fun to voice my top ten on here. It doesn’t fit well on this site, but we do have a movie review section and a top ten fill in the blank section. So without further blabbing, I give you my top ten!
10. Iron Man
Finally, we get a superhero movie where the action and special effects are one of the worst things about it. In fact, that last action scene was one of Iron Man’s biggest flaws. Jon Favreau is not an action director. However, the big fight was better than most in the superhero genre because we were actually invested in these characters. Terrific acting, witty, and thoroughly entertaining, Iron Man is the perfect comic book flick. Oh, and Robert Downey Jr. is the man.
Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected public office in California. That sounds like the typical “socially aware” Hollywood film, right? But this is a great movie. Yes, Penn is magnificent as always. He creates a full portrait of Milk, flaws and all. It’s to be expected that Harvey is portrayed as a trailblazing hero, but we also get lines like “I have had four relationships in my life. And three of them tried to commit suicide, and it’s my fault…” Strong support from Josh Brolin, James Franco, Emile Hersh and Gus Van Sant’s direction help make this an excellent film. And yes, this movie is powerful and important. Same-sex marriage is legal in only two states. That’s ridiculous, but this movie doesn’t try to convert you. It only tries to make you aware.
“Sure the acting is great, but it’s not a good story.” That’s the usual complaint I hear about this movie. It’s hard to put this film’s “story” into words. As Father Flynn’s opening sermon informs us, it’s about doubt. When we view sessions of conversation, we don’t believe we’ve actually seen a story, but we have. Doubt is based on a play and perhaps it should’ve stayed on Broadway, but how else could we have seen the talent of Meryl Streep, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis? There’s a reason every single one of them (Including Davis who only had a fifteen-minute scene at most) has been nominated for an Academy Award. What’s most important is that in every single scene, this movie gets us thinking. That is a rare thing.
7. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
It’s too bad this movie isn’t on many top ten lists, but I understand it. Putting this above films like Milk and Doubt seems weird, but it is appropriate. This is the funniest movie of the year. There’s not much more to be said about it. Comedy is the hardest thing to explain because it’s all about personal taste. All I can say is that this movie makes me really happy. Mila Kunis is adorable. Russell Brand is hilarious. Oh and who doesn’t love a Dracula musical with puppets?
6. In Bruges
A lot of people missed In Bruges because it was released around January. Nothing good ever comes out in January. This however, was awesome! Who knew Colin Farrell could act and be funny?! Ralph Fiennes is fantastic as always and an old favorite character actor of mine, Brendan Gleeson, proves to everyone else how great he is. In Bruges is the best hit man buddy picture since Pulp Fiction. It’s funny and it also features a borderline racist midget in a school uniform. This is a great flick!
5. Revolutionary Road
This is the horribly sad conclusion to Jack and Rose’s story. The traditional romantic couple trapped in a suburban nightmare. Revolutionary Road is a more modern take on the “Born in the wrong time” tragedy. Frank and April are caged within their 50’s Pleasantville surroundings aching to be free of each other. The white male is king and women are bound to the kitchen. Revolutionary Road captures these elements in painfully tragic detail. Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio have grown so much since Titanic and it’s perfect that this was the next project they did together. Sam Mendes has crafted a brilliant movie that is hard to watch, but is also important and unforgettable.
Honestly, there are times when I think this is the best film of 2008. Wall-E is the best sci-fi movie in years. It may also be the best romantic film in years. Did I mention these are robots in love? Did I mention that this is a kid’s movie with very little dialogue within the first thirty minutes? This film tries to make us aware of our increasingly corporate, corpulent, sedentary, and wasteful society. Wall-E even makes me love an old throwaway musical like Hello Dolly. How the heck did this movie achieve all of this? Because Wall-E is endearing, it’s one of the riskiest and most lovable films of the decade. Wall-E is very special.
3. The Dark Knight
You’ve heard and know everything that’s positive about this film. There is no reason for me to repeat it. I will however, mention the fundamental flaw in Nolan’s Batman. Batman is the least interesting character in the movie! There’s a reason why Bale never gets any attention for this role. Oh sure, we know he’s there, but that’s all he is, there. It’s tragic because Bale is one of the hardest working actors today. He puts everything into a role. If Bale comes back, I hope whoever’s behind the camera uses his full potential. As for Heath, I really will miss that man.
Maybe it’s my love of politics, but I found this to be an incredibly gripping film. This isn’t a biopic. It’s not some sappy nonsense about Nixon’s presidency. It’s about two men involved in a verbal duel. What I said about Christian Bale goes double for Michael Sheen. Sheen was actually given a great role and he absolutely nailed it and still, he was denied recognition, shadowed by his counterpart much like Frost himself was. But Langella was as good as you’ve heard. Howard’s best captures an important historical moment that will leave your mind buzzing. Frost/Nixon deserves the little bald guy this year because sadly, my number one, much like the character it’s about, is left outside the spotlight.
1. The Wrestler
I could go on and on, but I’ll try to keep it short. This is the best performance of Rourke’s life and the year. It’s partly personal for him, which adds to the wonder. This movie isn’t depressing. It’s about performers in their winter years. It’s about mistakes and how it’s never too late to make things better. It’s about pursuing your calling at the expense of your health and loved ones. It glorifies wrestling in its realism. Sure it’s fixed, but that fall wasn’t. It’s about Randy “The Ram”. No, he doesn’t go the distance crying “Adrian!” But we do love “The Ram” through all his mistakes and flaws. And whether Rourke wins the Oscar or not, I’ll be cheering for him.
So there it is. Agree? Disagree? Please let me know. I’m not sure if I can say whether 2008 was a great year for movies or not. I do know that I liked most of the ones I saw. I hope that can continue in 2009. Anyway, thanks for reading even though it wasn’t about comics. Who knows, I may have a top ten comics list in me somewhere.