This is where I give snap judgments on movies I’ve seen in 2008. Sometimes I look back to see what I thought about a movie and realized that even though I’ve been telling people I hated a movie, I actually liked it at first. My taste is a mystery wrapped in a bag of buttered popcorn. See also my 2007 - Movie List.
51. Gran Torino (12/08) Unintentionally funny. And not horrible to watch. Both Mr. F and I enjoyed it.
50. Doubt (12/08) Meryl Streep is so good. Such a pleasure to watch. I really liked this.
49. Mrs. Doubtfire (12/27/08) Still pretty much holds up. I still liked it. And still found Sally Field to be a repulsive and horrible mom.
48. The Wedding Date (12/27/08) Oh man, this movie is bad. But trapped in a hotel room with nothing but my snot and the television to keep me company and this is what we watched.
47. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (12/08) Not a horrible movie, a bit long for my taste, and the ending was not my cup. Definitely entertaining.
46. Revolutionary Road (12/08) I liked a lot of things about this movie, but it left me feeling a little cold. The performance by Michael Shannon deserves an Oscar nod, but I’m not sure he’ll get one.
45. Slumdog Millionaire (12/08) Unfortunately, this was way hyped before we saw it. And while I loved the stuff with the kids, the love story totally didn’t work for me. I’m sure it will be nominated, and it might even win, but I don’t think it’s as good as everyone else thinks it is.
44. Who’ll Stop the Rain (12/08) My boyfriend had this on VHS and I was intrigued by the logline. It moves kind of slowly and I hated the female lead, Tuesday Weld, but it’s worth a watch if you’re into drug movies and Nick Nolte. And who isn’t, really?
43. Burn After Reading (12/2/08) I think some might criticize this movie for being kind of about nothing, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and it felt like a nice fast watch, which it was. All hail the return of 90 minute movies. Praise Jesus!
42. Steel Magnolias (11/30/08) One day when I was unable to force myself to leave the house I watched this on cable. All I could think about was how atrocious Julia Roberts’ eye brows looked. I think it’s safe to say we, as a society, have come a long way in regards to eye brow shaping. Thank the lord for that.
41. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (10/12/06) This was the Palm D’Or winner at Cannes. It’s an amazingly acted film with these master shots that last a full film load, a scene playing out like you’re watching a documentary, but better. It’s pretty brutal, but also touching, the things these women go through for friendship. The ending left me wanting more, and a little disappointed, but I do recommend it.
40. Up Close and Personal (9/21/08) Also watched this for research. Was sad that Joan Didion, one of my all time favorite writers and literary heroes, wrote it. Not a good movie.
39. I Love Trouble (9/21/08) I watched this in the name of research. Couldn’t get through it. It was a good example of how to mess up a high concept film with ridiculous plotting.
38. The King of Kong (9/15/08) An extremely well done documentary about a small group of people whose lives revolve around arcade video games and high scores. I totally recommend it. It’s a fantastic example of building a story around a real life set of characters.
37. Designing Woman (9/14/08) Mr. F recommended this to me, and it’s pretty fun. Lauren Bacall plays a high fashion designer, Gregory Peck a sports reporter. They meet at the Beverly Hills Hotel (one of Mr. F and my favorite LA places) fall madly in love and go back to New York and struggle to mesh their disparate lives together. Hijinks ensue. It’s worth a watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
36. Bug (8/1/08) Mr. F’s assistant recommended this to him, and on the strength of her description (meth users go insane in a hotel room) we popped it in. It was good for a few (unintentional) laughs. And while we gave it kind of reaming, we were still talking about it days later, so… there’s that.
35. My Summer of Love (6/15/08) I loved the poster for this and I’d heard decent things so I queued it up in Netflix and then took forever to watch it. It’s beautifully shot, and the acting and writing are all spot on. It’s a bit meandering, but that’s what I like in a movie like this. I recommend.
34. The Kite Runner (6/15/08) I don’t know what genius decided it would be a good idea to put yellow subtitles on a movie about Afghanistan (a very yellow place) but uh, they should probably think about their color choices a little better next time. The boys are great in this movie as is all the acting, but the story continues to bug me with as my sister put it, “The Victorian use of coincidence to further the plot.”
33. Sex and the City (5/30/08) I really loved this movie. Sure there was some bad acting and there were some mis-steps, but all in all, totally delivered. I got pretty emotional watching it. Something about the friends rallying around Carrie really spoke to me. I’ll probably see it again.
32. Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull of Doom and Maybe Aliens - (5/25/08) I cannot tell you how angry I was after walking out of the theater. I mean, MONKEYS? AND GODDAMNED ALIENS? Not to mention the fucking ants of power. Ugh. HATE.
31. Michael Clayton (5/20/08) I really liked this. There were enough twists and turns and good writing to keep me interested throughout. But then again, maybe it was just the excessive law talk and George Clooney. Two great tastes that taste great together.
30. No End in Sight (5/28/08) This is one of the most compelling documentaries I’ve seen on the Iraq war and the complete failure and total arrogance of our current administration and their bungling of the occupation. It’s depressing, without a shred of hope. Should be required viewing for all voters.
29. Elephant (5/7/08) This is the Alan Clarke film that Gus Van Sant was inspired by to make his Elephant. It’s a short, but it feels like a feature. The cinematography and steadicam work is some of the best I’ve ever seen. Stunning.
28. Lost Boys of Sudan (5/1/08) I had heard great things about this film, and so I went in with my serious documentary glasses on, and again, disappointed. I work in documentary so I think I’m maybe a little too critical. But I felt like this came away with all the awards because of the characters, not so much the film making. Which is why I have trouble watching most documentaries. They feel sloppy and poorly made and slip through because they have great subjects.
27. Baby Mama (4/25/08) I had high hopes. They were dashed. It’s a definite rental, with some seriously hilarious moments, but it felt like and easy cop-out.
26. I Am Legend (4/20/08) I have mixed feelings about this adaptation. Something about setting it in New York feels very right, but I love the post-apocalyptic version the author painted of Los Angeles in the book. The book has a better more dramatic death of the wife and kid, and also does a better job with the vampires, one is his neighbor who taunts him every night, screaming his name. Also, I liked in the book that our hero wasn’t a scientist, just a common man trying to figure out how to cure the disease. There’s a better twist at the end of the book. Hmm. After writing all that down, I guess my feelings aren’t all that mixed. Book was better, even though it was totally sexist and a little rape-y.
25. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (4/18/08) Catherine and Waller had an extra ticket to see this at the Cinerama dome, and I had nothing to do on a Friday night, so I tagged along. It’s a great movie to see with an audience, and the director and the star introduced the film, so it was a nice touch. I say it won’t hold up after repeated viewings, but there are some truly hilarious moments and the British dude is probably on everyone’s knew crush list. Hot, hilarious, and did I mention British?
24. The Martian Child (4/9/08) I saw this preview in front of some other Netflix movie and it looked kind of good so I added it to my queue. I have a serious girl crush on Amanda Peet and Joan Cusack and I still heart John Cusack, so was thrilled that they were all in the movie. It’s pretty watchable, entirely predictable, but I liked it nonetheless. There’s this great moment between Amanda Peet and John Cusack at the door, full of this awesome sexual tension that I keep thinking about. If you see it on OnDemand and need a nice little cry, this might be a good one to check out.
23. Dark Victory (4/7/08) Oh man, this movie is unintentionally hilarious. Bette Davis is a socialite who likes boys, booze and horses and she gets this mysterious illness, not entirely unlike the “Brain Fog” Hanks gets in Joe Vs. the Volcano. She falls madly in love with her doctor then leaves him when she finds out he and her best friend are keeping a gigantic secret from her about her impending expiration date (I guess medicine had fewer rules in the good ol’ days?), then she finally comes to her senses and falls back in love with her doctor and they live happily ever after until she suddenly goes blind and dies a few minutes later, after she convinces her doctor husband she’s fine and just needs to take a little nap. heh.
22. Rear Window (4/6/08) Grace Kelly is stunning, James Stewart is such a charmer, but it’s Thelma Ritter who gets me every time, she is perfect. I love this movie.
21. Jezebel (4/5/08) I have to watch a lot of montages for that thing I do that pays me money, and this one came up and it looked good, so I watched it. Bette Davis has this moment where she uses her riding crop to scoop up the back of long train on her riding habit and I fell in love with her. The movie, not so much, but I can totally see the Bette Davis appeal now.
20. Shopgirl (4/5/08) I kind of hated this movie, except for Jason Schwartzman. Highly don’t recommend.
19. The Wire, Season 3 (3/30/08) I know, I know! It’s television. But! The last two episodes of this season are so good, they should have been nominated for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and all the acting categories. There’s a moment on the balcony between Stringer and Avon that is so completely moving and sad that I clapped. In my apartment. All by myself. Please watch this.
18. I Could Never Be Your Woman (3/30/08) Very cute, highly watchable. I have no idea why they buried this and never gave it the theatrical distribution it deserved. Saoirse Ronan is adorable, Michelle Pfeiffer looks amazing, and Paul Rudd is hilarious. If you can find it, you should check it out.
17. The Descent (3/26/08) I made Tara watch this instead of working on our pilot. I’ve already seen it, but there was still a part where I jumped awkwardly enough to pull something. Awesome.
16. Rocket Science (3/18/08) Sweet little story. And the boy who plays the flying boy on Heroes, was so cute I wanted to have inappropriate sex with him. If you like quirk, you’ll like this.
15. 3:10 to Yuma (3/10/08) Hello, yummy, yummy dirty men riding horses. This was a little draggy in parts, but it seriously made up for it by the pure lusty cowboy action. Speaking of action, the action sequences were OK, but a little tired. I guess it’s hard to bring anything fresh to the table action-wise anymore.
14. Girl 27 (3/2/08) This was a Netflix recommendation and the synopsis intrigued me. I think it would have made an excellent short film, but it was waaaaay too long and I got really sick of seeing the same for still photos of the woman. Do not recommend.
13. The Other Boleyn Girl (3/2/08) I should have known I wasn’t really going to love this movie. I kind of hated the book. Eric Bana was pretty disappointing. But man, I have a huge crush on the dude who played George, I hope we see more of him.
12. Prater (2/25/08) I thought this was going to be a weird experimental film that had some documentary aspects, it was playing at REDCAT, afterall. Instead it was almost just a straight forward doc with some experimental lapses. My favorite parts were the experimental lapses, of which there were far too few.
11. Be Kind, Rewind (2/25/08) I went in with my expectations way too high. I have been working on lowering my expectations for everything - parties, books, music, people - and it’s been an exercise in surprise. I love to be delightfully surprised with a fun time when I was expecting to just get through it. So, I went to this movie getting ahead of myself, thinking, “Oh, I have low expectations for this but it’s going to be so awesome.” And then? Not so much. It’s fine and sort of cute. I love Mos Def (because I’m a white person) and I’m not one of those people who hates Jack Black, so they weren’t the problem. It was the interminably slow pace and the quirk without the quirk… that doesn’t make sense. It was just kind of there. Not charming enough. Like they tried to be charming. Whatever. It’s a rental at best.
10. Munich (2/21/08) I have a mighty crush on Eric Bana, and this movie did nothing to assuage that. The big problem is that it suffers from having about three places in the last act that feel like the end. Then it ends again. I don’t really recommend it, unless you need a little Eric Bana fix.
9. Step Up 2: The Streets (2/16/08) I was in grad school when the director was finishing his undergraduate degree. I knew of him, but didn’t really know him. We’ve all been amazed by the way this film went from being a direct to DVD movie to a big theatrical release, with a great ad campaign. It’s a serviceable story, but where it really shines are the dance sequences. Definitely recommend if you want to see some hott dance action.
8. Once - (watched 2/2/08) I wanted a little more out of this, but the music completely made up for the lack in script development. If you’re looking for a charming little something to brighten your day, check it out.
7. The Notebook - (watched 1/11/08) I can’t help myself, I’m a sucker for Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. I needed a little sugar injection this week, apparently.
6. Dirty Dancing - (watched 1/10/08) This is the first time I’ve watched that I noticed what a total loser Johnny is. I was kind of hoping Baby wouldn’t get wrapped up in his spell, because he seems like he’s never going to amount to anything, no matter how beautiful a dancer he is - proving I am a cynical, heartless woman scorned.
5. Lost in Translation - (watched 1/10/08) I love this movie. It struck a particularly strong cord with me this viewing. I want Sophia Coppola to re-write my life.
4. Atonement - (watched 1/10/08) Beautiful. I couldn’t really remember the book, but this brought it all back quite nicely. I recommend it. And I recommend the book.
3. Music and Lyrics - (watched 1/6/08) This is not very good. But Drew Barrymore looks terrific in it, and the music videos are hilarious. I caught it on HBO and will probably get sucked into it every time it’s on now. Goddamnit.
2. Into the Wild - (watched 1/6/08) I have a hate/hate relationship with Sean Penn’s directing. I think he lets actors over-act and it does an disservice to the talent he has at his fingertips. That said, the non-actors in this movie were amazing. The guy who plays “Rainey” gave such a good performance that we were all sure we had seen him in something before. This movie is too long, it is kind of offensive in the way it treats the audience, but the last hour is moving and kind of redeeming. I don’t recommend it, but I won’t bad mouth it too much either.
1. The Orphanage - (watched 1/4/08) I was pretty excited to see this having heard good things, but, and this always happens when I have high expectations for a movie, I was pretty disappointed. It seemed to have a lot of potential with the script, and the idea was definitely scary, but the cinematography was so lacking in style and the editing was so film school-y that I couldn’t get into it. Tara watched it with me and she didn’t have as many problems with it, so take my thoughts for what they are - thoughts of a bitter filmmaker.