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Jan 30, 2009

The 2nd Annual Blog Cabins End of Year Spectacular (2008)

To see the list of all of films I've seen since 2008 (save for those reviewed this week), click here. Otherwise, let the SPECTACULAR begin!!

The Five Best Films I Saw This Year (Academy Award eligible):
1. Man on Wire
2. The Dark Knight
3. Wall*E
4. Slumdog Millionaire
5. The Wrestler

The Five Films That Barely Missed "The Five Best Films I Saw This Year" List:
1. El Orfanato (The Orphange)
2. Milk
3. Waltz with Bashir
4. Iron Man
5. In Bruges

The Best of the Rest that Didn't Make Either of the Above Lists:
Tropic Thunder, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Be Kind Rewind, Roman de Gare, The Visitor, The Fall, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Pineapple Express, Religulous, Synecdoche, New York

The Top Five Films I Didn't Get Around to Seeing This Year (I'm Guessing):
1. Let the Right One In
2. Encounters at the End of the World
3. Snow Angels
4. Paranoid Park
5. Boy A

The Five Worst Films I Saw This Year
1. Strange Wilderness
2. The Day the Earth Stood Still
3. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
4. The Incredible Hulk
5. Street Kings

My Five Ten Favorite Performances of the Year That Won't Win Any Awards:
1. James Franco, Pineapple Express - A career-defining performance. Seriously - hate the rest of the movie if you will (I won't, but I will admit that it's spotty), but Franco is gold in it.

2. Phillippe Petit, Man on Wire - You wouldn't normally call someone's role in a documentary a "performance." But you also wouldn't normally walk on a tightrope between two buildings 1,000 feet in the air. Such is Petit.

3. Ken Jeong, Role Models - Quickly becoming my favorite character actor. He didn't just steal all of his scenes - he kidnapped them and took such good care of them that they had Stockholm Syndrome and didn't want to leave him after awhile.

4. Justin Long, Zack and Miri Make a Porno - Capping off a banner year for Mr. Long. Not onscreen for long, but memorable indeed (bonus points to "Superman" Brandon Routh" for lampooning his image as well).

5. Russel Brand, Forgetting Sarah Marshall - I wasn't the only one worried about Brand from the trailer alone - "Oh, great, here's the annoying cockney rock star." Wrong. Also stole the show, which was hard to do because Jason Segel was pretty damned appealing (when not naked).

6. Prem Kumar, Slundog Millionaire - "Who wants....to be a MILLONAIRE [sic]??" Brought a smile to my face every time he said that...

7. Dominique Pinon, Roman de Gare - The lovable grump from Amelie was the perfect poker face in this twisting, turning French thriller in which we're unsure of Pinon's character's true identity through 3/4 of the film.

8. Ralph Fiennes, In Bruges - Vulgar, nutty, and yet logical when need be - between this, The Reader and the Harry Potter flicks, Fiennes is finally becoming a favorite of mine. It was worth the wait.

9. Craig Robinson, Zack and Miri Make a Porno - He could read a Denny's menu aloud to me and I'd likely find it funny.

10. Jon Voight, Pride and Glory - Of course, Voight was awful in this battered family cop flick. But that's what I loved about him - he wasn't just bad, he was drunk and seemed to play four characters simultaneously. High comedy. Casting directors - there are other (and vastly) better actors over the age of 50 working these days. Use them. Thanks.

And a Few that Have or Will Win Some:
1. Meryl Streep, Doubt - Managed to make that ice queen from The Devil Wears Prada look like a little kitty cat. No small feat.

2. Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight - It really can't be underestimated either how great this manic performance was or how unfortunately bad his onscreen exit was. Such a sad tease for audiences.

3. Richard Jenkins, The Visitor - It's true - there were richer, tougher performances done this year (witness his three main competitors - Rourke, Penn, and Langella - for the Best Actor statue, for starters), but it was sweeter seeing a lifelong character actor such as Jenkins given the chance to be the headliner and having him knock it out of the park. A shame that much of that goodwill disappeared along with his appearance in Step Brothers.

The Five Films I Was Most Looking Forward to Last Year at This Time and the Results
1. Cloverfield - Wasn't quite worthy of the insane hype, but it was a nice blending of Blair Witch and Godzilla, produced well and marketed even better. If only the "characters" (haha) had been developed a little more. It would have been nice for us not to be cheering for the demise of our de-facto narrator, either (the camera guy).

2. Be Kind Rewind - Many hated it. A handful loved it. The rest hunt and pecked for good/bad things. I fell closer to the "loved it" crowd; sure, Jack Black was mostly annoying, the city was made into some kind of sainted object and the ending was sappy as hell, but c'mon - if you love the power of the imagination as it applies to filmmaking, then Michel Gondry has to be one of your favorite directors. The man is a visionary and is to directing what Charlie Kauffman is to screenwriting; why else do you think their partnership resulted in the best movie of this decade?

3. The Dark Knight - Last year, I said that it would be "hard to imagine this being a failure." Understatement of the year, perhaps? Safe to say that it more than lived up to the hype. - if only it had scored about $100 million more to take out Titanic from the top box office spot. With enough re-releases, I have faith it will accomplish that goal.

4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - Since we're looking back, in contrast I said this about Skull: "the collective hope is that it just isn't awful." So much for that. I don't even want to get started on this again.

5. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Meh. Certainly wasn't worth the amount of "Looking Forward To" that I had done for it.

The Five Films I'm Most Looking Forward to for Next Year
1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - What can I say? I'm a sucker for this popcorn franchise. Doesn't help that it was delayed by nine months.

2. Where the Wild Things Are - Famous children's book. Passion project in the works for years. The words "Directed by Spike Jonze." Starring Paul Dano, Forrest Whitaker, Catherine Keener and James Gandolfini. Yes, please.

3. Inglorius Basterds - Tarantino still has a Season Pass. Having Brad Pitt as his lead doesn't hurt.

4. 9 - Pretty big buzz for a previously unheard of film that doesn't open for nine months. Haven't seen the trailer yet? You should.

5. The Box - The quandry that was Southland Tales only makes me that much more curious to see what Richard Kelly comes up with next. The news of an original score done by Arcade Fire is just a nice perk.

Finally, Mrs. Fletch's Top 10
1. Mongol
2. Waltz with Bashir
3. Slumdog Millionaire
4. Persepolis
5. The Wrestler
6. In Bruges
7. Roman de Gare
8. Synecdoche, New York
9. Pineapple Express
10. The Savages

Honorable mentions:
"Penelope - for the most awesomely weird costuming and set design.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall - for actually making me laugh out loud."

18 people have chosen wisely: on "The 2nd Annual Blog Cabins End of Year Spectacular (2008)"

RIPE Creative said...

The Films I'm Most Looking Forward to for Next Year (so far): Coraline.

Mikey Filmmaker said...

Definitely agree with what you said about Jenkins and Franco. I thought The Visitor was a really good indie film. Franco finally has lived up to his hype this year.

Nick said...

For your favorite Top Ten, I also agree with basically all of them except Long, Kumar, Pinon, Robinson, and Voight... and that's only because I haven't seen the movies they were in. But the others are definite agreements.

Though I do disagree with your statement about cameraman Hud in Cloverfield. Who was cheering for his demise? He was the best character in the movie, and I was so sad that he died. And most reviews I read pretty much agreed...

And yes, my Top 2 'so can't wait' movies for this year are Half-Blood Prince and 9. Hopefully both live up to their hype, especially HBP, as it's my favorite HP book. Plus the whole pushed back nearly a year thing.

ElGuappa said...

Man On Wire absolutely floored me...I cried like a newborn. It was incredibly moving. I will recommend it to anyone with ears. Your blog is kickass by the way. Thank you!
If you have a sec I'd love to see you round my way.

Farzan said...

Very good detailed list Fletch. How come you didnt enjoy The Incredible Hulk. I thought it was a good entertaining movie. Gave it a B- in my review.

General Disdain said...

How could you place Strange Wilderness in your worst films of the year list? Sure it was mildly retarded, but retarded is funny!

Witless Protection, now that "movie" should have been on the list. It may very well be WORST comedy of all time . . .

Fletch said...

Thanks, Mikey. Yeah, The Visitor came and went pretty early in the year, so it was nice to see Jenkins get the recognition.

Nick - so you basically agree with half of them? ;)

I think a lot of people were annoyed by the camera guy in Cloverfield. He was probably the least appealing of the main characters, in my opinion.

ElGuappa - first of all, thanks for stopping by. Second, I'm not fluent or anything, but isn't that a male/female disagreement with the "el" and the "guappa?"

Yeah, MoW almost had me in tears, too. I was awed much of the time, and that doesn't happen often. The fact that is was all real only amplified that.

Farzan - see the Hulk review. I enjoyed the first 20 minutes or so, but the rest was dumb, dumb, dumb. Hated the Abomination character, and the effects in general. A low point for Norton.

General - Strange Wilderness was the first film that I'd ever walked out of. Completely unfunny. Not even the gratuitous nudity was doing anything for me. Lucky for me, I never saw Witless Protection. I usually try to avoid those awful ones. :)

the editor., said...

Hi! Fletch,
I'am very "impressed" with yours' and Mrs. Fletch, film viewing list.
I really hope that you and your wife can "stop"
by my blog this month in order to discuss films along with all the other guest that I plan to invite!...as I prepare to change my format completely for March.(In other words, no more "guest" (e)bloggers, unless they "request" to be featured...and being a "genie" their "wish" will be my command!)
The "Dame" ;-)

T.S. said...

Great end-of-the-year rundown, Fletch. I especially enjoy the Favorite Performances That Won't Win Any Awards category. And that's a pretty solid top ten (I'm just fusing the categories together), especially with the love for In Bruges.

Anil Usumezbas said...

I have realized that it's not among the movies you have seen this year, but I insist that Ralph Fiennes's performance in The Duchess deserves a mention.

As for Richard Jenkins, he is my favorite for the upcoming Oscars. I have always admired the man but his performance in The Visitor is talent showcase.

Fletch said...

Will do, dame. Format change is big news...

Thanks, T.S.! That category (Performances that won't win any awards) was probably my favorite to come up with, too. I'm sure I could think of 10 more easily.

Anil - fair enough. Seems to have been a banner year for Fiennes as well, what with In Bruges and The Reader also on his resume. I was turned off of The Duchess mostly by the presence of Keira Knightley, but on your word, I'll likely look for it just to see Fiennes perf.

Anil Usumezbas said...

I hate Keira Knightley no less than you do, but the film is so good that even she does not stand out; at least not as much as she did in other films where she got to wear corsets.

Let's see how you will feel about it...

Daniel Getahun said...

Excellently thorough undertaking. I think the only movie we really split in a significant way on was Be Kind Rewind, so similar are our tastes.

Loved Jeong in Role Models, a movie that probably deserved more credit when I originally reviewed. I'm sure I'll see it again and find myself laughing more than I remembered.


Like the choice of Pinon in a movie that really faded for me pretty quickly after I saw it. Probably worth a late night revisit some weekend.

Dang, Craig Robinson - yes, sir. Seriously the only bright spot in that movie.

Interesting that two movies coming out in 2009 are named "9" and "Nine" - and they're COMPLETELY different movies.

My jaw dropped when I saw that you didn't include The Happening among your worst, until I looked back and saw that you didn't actually see it...right? Please tell me you didn't actually see it and exclude it from that list...

Fletch said...

Anil - fair enough. It will go on the "to be rented" list.

Thanks, Daniel. I've gotten nothing on your flabbergastingly comprehensive series (seriously folks, check out Getafilm's Best of 2008 if you have somehow now yet), but I had fun with it, and (like you) was wise enough to wait until I'd seen (as many of) the 2008 releases that I really wanted to.

Yeah, I was surprised to see that note about Roman de Gare on your site. It's not mind-bendingly original or strikingly beautiful, but it was tautly made and was probably the strongest thriller I saw in '08. As a bonus, I'm a sucker for Paris-set films. As a double-bonus for it, I was let down by the spotty Tell No One.

Not familiar with the other Nine - at least I don't think I am...

No - I did not see The Happening. Or The Love Guru. Or 10,000 B.C. Or Meet the Spartans. Or...


Daniel Getahun said...

Well thanks for that plug, but mine wasn't anything life-changing. Anyway, Roman de Gare vs. Tell No One is an interesting debate. Like you, I wasn't totally gripped by Tell No One, but I think I could understand a case for both. Might make a nice double feature. Did you ever see 2 Days in Paris? I think you did - if not, I think you'd dig it.

The other Nine (spelled instead of numbered) is the Broadway musical adaptation by "Chicago" guy Rob Marshall. Starring DDL and Cotillard and coming out at THanksgiving. Definitely in line for some Oscar nods next year.

And it pains me to say this, but I almost recommend that you see The Happening - you need to understand how bad it is. You really do.

Fletch said...

"Might make a nice double feature. Did you ever see 2 Days in Paris? I think you did - if not, I think you'd dig it."

I agree - even though I didn't totally dig Tell No One, it'd make an excellent double feature.

And yes, I saw and loved 2 Days in Paris.

Well, if it's a DDL flick, I'm sure I'll be seeing it. Thanks for the info.

I'll see The Happening eventually. I want to like Night, but he's made it really hard lately.

Reel Whore said...

Hulk and Indy didn't make my worst films - then again I watch a lot of crap. For all my love of Strange Wilderness early in the year, it did wind up lurking on the bottom rungs for me.

Franco was the best thing about PE. Jeong and his ring were too funny in Role Models. Long, Robinson, Fiennes and Kumar also all great choices.

Where the Wild Things Are looks great. I love QT so Basterds is a definite too. 9? I must find out more.

Nice recap...and you manage to do it in two posts, unlike my seven!

Sukachu said...

Totally agree with Indy 4, it was so bad. Was quite looking forward to this one, but after seeing it ... What a disappointment!