Best of 2008

Top Movies of 2008

by Alan Rapp on January 7, 2009

in Top Tens & Lists

best-of-2008

Yeah, I know most people whittle their lists down to 10, but (as teh ‘monkey often observes) I’m not exactly what you’d call “normal.” And this way you get three more extra-good flicks at no extra charge.

2008 was the year of the cape. Super-heroes and comic book films hit theaters like Twilight tweens at a Robert Pattinson appearance, and most of them turned out to be pretty good (forgetting that second-half of Hancock and all of Punisher: War Zone). As a self-admitted and unabashed comic book nerd I couldn’t help but pepper my list with a few of these along with some heroes not in tights, a vampire, a pair of documentaries, and one kick ass panda.

Honorable mentions – Before we begin let me mention a couple films I missed including In Bruges, The Reader, and The Fall (the last of which made our pal Eric’s list), and offer some appreciation to the lovable also-rans who didn’t quite make the cut. These include Traitor, Tropic Thunder, The Visitor, Bolt, and Wall-E (the last film to miss the cut).

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Frost/Nixon

by Alan Rapp on December 25, 2008

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Frost/Nixon
  • IMDB: link

“What made you exceptional, they said, was that you were a person who had achieved great fame without possessing any discernible quality.”

Sometimes it takes David to bring down Goliath.  David Frost (Michael Sheen) was a likable talk-show host who mortgaged his future and career with an interview with former President Richard Nixon (Frank Langella).  Nixon, in need of money and a change in his public perception, agreed to the interview with the man whom his aide (Kevin Bacon) stated simply “isn’t in your league.”

After an intial montage summing up the Watergate scandal, the film follows Frost on his journey to land, finance, and prepare for the interviews which would almost break him, all while the rest of the world looked on and laughed.

Sheen (The Queen, Music Within) once again gives a great performance on which the film rests.  Over the last two years he’s become one of my favorite actors working today.

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Vicky Christina Barcelona

by Alan Rapp on December 19, 2008

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Vicky Christina Barcelona
  • IMDB: link

“I was in love with the most incredible woman, and she put a knife into me.”
“That’s terrible!”
“Well, maybe you did something to deserve it.”

Two American women find themselves in Barcelona for the summer with friends (Patricia Clarkson, Kevin Dunn).  Our leading ladies, as our narrator (Christopher Evan Welch) informs us, are as different as friends can be.

Vicky (Rebecca Hall) is responsible and rational, always making the smart call and against silly flights of fancy or taking chances.  She is engaged to be married to a nice stable man (Chris Messina) back home in the States.

Christina (Scarlett Johansson) is a free spirit and dreamer unsure about life or her career (she recently wrote, directed, and starred in a a short film about the meaning of love which, by the time she finished, she hated).

One night the pair are approached by a local artist Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), still in love with his unstable ex-wife (Penélope Cruz), who propositions them both.  Although Vicky balks at his offer Christina finds him charming and accepts.  Separately both women’s lives will be turned upside down by Juan Antonio as they begin to look at life and love in an entirely new way.

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The Wrestler

by Aaron on December 17, 2008

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Wrestler
  • IMDB: link

Considering the subject matter of his previous films, Darren Aronofsky could be accused of being a little obsessive/addicted himself, as his latest film takes an unflinching look at a self-proclaimed ‘broken down piece of meat’ wrestler who finds it impossible to give up life in the ring even as he comes to terms with the notion that his best days are indeed well behind him.  Mickey Rourke inhabits the body of Randy ‘The Ram’ like no other role in his career, making The Wrestler not only one of the best films of the year, but elevating Rourke beyond the lost-years of the last few decades to the potential film icon he once was.

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Slumdog Millionaire

by Alan Rapp on December 12, 2008

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Slumdog Millionaire
  • IMDB: link

The film takes place over a period of many years through a series of flashbacks.  In the present we see Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) interrogated for supposed cheating on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire by a Police Investigator (Irfan Khan) and his subordinate (Saurabh Shukla) who simply can’t believe an uneducated street kid like Jamal could actually know the answers.

In his attempts to prove his innocence we are granted glimpses at Jamal’s early life as a child (played by Ayush Mahesh Khedekar) with his older brother Salim (Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail) through his performance on the show the night before.

What director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy give us is a thoroughly engaging and slowly unfolding tale as Jamal relates his story and the events which led to him learning the answers to the trivia questions he was given.  Along the way we learn more about his life, his first love, and his tempestuous relationship with his brother.

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