Now I want to make it clear that I’m not trying to say that these are the ultimate critical best of the year they are just my favourite ten movies of the year past. Also I would like to preface my list by listing a few movies that I think that if I had seen by now would have a very good chance of making my list are: Synecdoche, New York, Doubt, The Wrestler, Chop Shop, Rachel Getting Married, and The Bands Visit; and a few more that I can’t think of right now as a type up this list.
So here we go
TEN – The Go-Getter
I never did a proper review of this movie but when I got a hold of it I loved it so much. Mercer [Lou Taylor Pucci] steals a car only to find that the owner [Zooey Deschanel] calls him up on her cell phone that is in the car and they have a series of conversations as he takes her car on road trip across state lines to find his brother. This movie was so enjoyable, I couldn’t help myself but love Zooey – as I do in most of her movies – and the ridiculousness of the situation where she allows this guy to have her car as long as he talks to her. The movie kept me going and it is a DVD that I think everyone should give a chance and check out.
NINE – Slumdog Millionaire
Jamal Malik [Dev Patel] grew up in the slums of Mumbai, and is now one question away from winning twenty million Rupees on the Indian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”. This new film from acclaimed director Danny Boyle is such a compelling tale of how a full life can teach you so much more than any amount of degrees can. I’ve always believed in the idea that experience teaches so much better than any class can, and this movie is more or less proof. As they say, professors and scientists can’t get past a couple thousand rupees, but this “Slumdog” is on ten million. And I love that the movie takes us question by question and showing us Jamal’s story of how he personally has been impacted in his life and knows the answer. Danny Boyle even gives us the moment when we see how useless school education is to the story where a certain question, what should be mundane for any Indian citizen, Jamal couldn’t answer. This is just a great story and is a must see for anyone who likes a great story.
EIGHT – Revolutionary Road
Frank [Leonardo DiCaprio] and April Wheeler [Kate Winslet] are the young married couple in this suburban neighbourhood during the mid-1950s. Now I want to say that this movie just makes me remember why I love American Beauty so much, Sam Mendes returns to capture the suburbs like never before and I love this movie for it. Another great performance for both Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio is given here and I would be shocked if they don’t get any form of award for it somewhere. As the movie follows this couple as they go through their fair share of drama and trouble. I felt that even though DiCaprio is once again gunning for an Oscar here, Michael Givings gave an awesome performance as well as John Givings as the ‘lunatic’ mathematician.
SEVEN – WALL-E
Now I’ve raved about this movie when it came out this summer as possibly Pixar’s best movie yet. Even though I will agree with most of my friends that when it comes to sheer child like entertainment it doesn’t surpass that of The Incredibles, I still feel that it is the best Pixar film, and it proves that animation can be made into a serious FILM. This movie utilizes so many stripped down elements of storytelling that you can’t help but fall in love with this clunky robot as Eve does as well. And I still can’t get over that a movie with approximately fifty minutes without more than two words of dialogue can be more compelling for me than most of these most witty and verbose scripts out there.
SIX – Tropic Thunder
Now, I have never been a Ben Stiller fan, actually I am the complete opposite of that. I’ve hated Stiller’s brand of humour from forever, every once in a while he will surprise me with a movie that may make me laugh a bit – i.e. Meet the Parents and There’s Something About Mary – but in general I loathe seeing him on screen. However, I decided to go into this movie with an open mind and forget all about that, and after I left I wanted to hug the guy. This movie is just an amazing comedy and my favourite of the year. All the roles are amazing and each actor made me laugh proportional to their screen time. Robert Downey Jr. as Kirk Lazarus, Jack Black as Jeff Portnoy, Ben Stiller as Tugg Speedman, Steve Coogan as Damien Cockburn, Nick Nolte as Four Leaf Tayback, and Tom Cruise and Matthew McConaughey cameoing in the movie made it just especially special for me. “Seriously… a nutless monkey”.
FIVE – In Bruges
So I remember earlier this summer one night I went to my local theatre to try and see Hancock and was turned back since it was already sold out, angry that I couldn’t see it I came back home to watch this movie and it blew me away. I never before thought that Colin Farrell in a leading role would be a good thing, his inflections and the bluntness and honesty in his speech just made me laugh every time. And you can’t forget the great comedic complement that was Brendan Gleeson he made me realize how great an actor Farrell can be when he is given the space to roam into the realm of ridiculousness. Now you may be asking if I’m laughing at this movie it’s a comedy. And I just said Tropic Thunder was the best comedy? Well I don’t officially count this as a comedy but rather an amazingly funny real take on hitmen hiding out In Bruges.
FOUR – Milk
Here Gus Van Sant directs Sean Penn in the biopic of Harvey Milk the first openly gay man elected to office in America. Most people are seeing this movie as so relevant today with the news of Prop 8 and I guess you can say so, but I love this movie for so many other reasons. I’ve always been a fan of biopics, people complain that they become so formulaic and if you actually know the history they become worthless. But that’s what I like about them; I don’t know the history so this is a chance for me to watch a movie that will fill me in on this story of a real person. Sean Penn is one of the greatest actors of our generation without a doubt. No matter what movie he is in, he never fails to deliver a perfect performance and that is the same thing here. I love him as Harvey Milk, and I think that he should get nominated and possibly win the Best Actor award for this movie.
THREE – The Dark Knight
Before you pick up the pick axes and torches against me here, I want to say that from here on we are talking about more or less a tie in my book. Each of these films [three through to one] is perfect in their own right, but I just gave them rankings based on something more than just filmmaking. So here is Christopher Nolan’s box office record breaking summer blockbuster, The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger will definitely win every Supporting Actor award that is available for his perfect performance as The Joker as we see him try to burn Gotham City to theground. On repeat viewings I have started to love Aaron Eckhart’s performance as Harvey Dent and Two Face equally as much as I love Heath’s performance. If you haven’t seen this movie yet I don’t think we should be friends.
TWO – Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father
This is one of the most heart-wrenching documentaries I’ve seen this year. The only other movie that I saw this year that made me want to cry like this did is Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain, but this movie made me want to weep like a child. Dr. Andrew Bagby has been murdered and his best friend, who is a filmmaker, Kurt Keane, decided to make this documentary about his friend for Andrew’s unborn child. I, like many of my friends, usually look over documentaries since they leave the entertainment factor at home but this one got me like how I hope some movies would and I can’t help but tear up as I write this remembering the tragic story.
ONE – Let The Right One In
Thomas Alfredson’s children’s love story is so amazing when we find out that Eli [Lina Leandersson] is a vampire. Oskar [Kåre Hedebrant] doesn’t mind this and still they fall in love. This movie is so awesome, people I don’t think realize what a year this was for vampires, they went fangless in Twilight, and they got a series and went mainstream in True Blood and had young love stories in Let the Right One In. The movies pays so much attention to the relationship of Oskar and Eli developing that we actually don’t care when we get a ‘standard’ vampire moment like when a vampire is exposed to sunlight, or that she must be invited in. It is perfect and I love this movie.
So here a few movies that barely missed my Top Ten List in no real order:
Australia, Gran Torino, Man On Wire, JCVD, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and In Search of the Midnight Kiss.
So let me know what your top ten movies are in the comments and make sure to hear Simon’s Top Ten in our podcast prequel.