What is December 31 for, if not to look back on the other 364 days of our planet’s latest journey around the sun? James has weighed in on his favorite films of the year and Locke will be doing so as well in the coming weeks, so I’ll take a slightly different approach and give you my take on some different, but still cinematically-related, highlights and low points of 2008.
Most Disappointing News
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince moves from November 2008 to July 2009
Misery loves company, so at least the millions of J.K. Rowling fans around the world could take solace in the fact that they all were crushed by Warner Brother’s decision to delay the release of the sixth HP movie. I was definitely among those who wanted to organize some sort of protest. At least the traveling exhibition will arrive in my home city a few months before the next installment’s premiere. Sneak peeks galore for me!
Zac Efron is no Kevin Bacon, and Jaden Smith is no Ralph Macchio. And there will never be another Mr. Miyagi! I’m still in denial that these films are going to happen. Wax OFF, evil Hollywood studios!
Craziest Pop Culture Phenomenon
I read all of Stephenie Meyer’s books within six weeks this summer, saw the adaptation of the first novel three times, and then bought its soundtrack. And I’m well into my thirties. Sad? You be the judge. But whether you love them or hate them, those "vegetarian" vampires aren’t going anywhere… for years.
Unlike J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, which I believe has a very
good shot at attracting moviegoers who have never watched the TV series
of the same name (such as myself), Watchmen is set to alienate all but its most hardcore fans before the graphic
novel adaptation even hits theaters. There’s simply way too much hype for this one… but now that
Fox and Warner Brothers are deeply embroiled in a legal dispute over the
film’s distribution rights, maybe no one will ever even get to see what
all the fuss was about.
Most Overexposed Film… Which Is Out
Yeah, I said it! Sure, I was one of the many who enjoyed Danny
Boyle’s colorful, frenetic tale of triumph over life in the slums of
Mumbai, but I’m totally sick of hearing about it at this point. And I
feel badly for anyone who sees the film now, after expectations have
been raised so high about how awesome it is. It was good, but it
wasn’t that good.
Best Use of a Song
"Benny and the Jets" in 27 Dresses
I may be in the minority here, but I still get a smile on my face when I think about Katherine Heigl and James Marsden’s characters belting this one out with no abandon from atop the counter at a dive bar. B-b-b-BENNY!
Paging Funny Will Ferrell — return to us immediately! Remind us why you’re above these hot messes. Hint: you seem to do a lot better when anatomy and bodily-function gags aren’t behind every attempt to get a laugh in your movies…
Most Pleasant Surprise
Owen Wilson’s turn as a low-budget bodyguard could’ve easily been horrible; no one would’ve blamed him for giving a halfhearted performance. Instead, his off-the-cuff riffs, hilarious one-liners and swaggering persona had me laughing out loud. Which was fantastic, seeing as how I had been prepared to cringe through ninety minutes of roundhouse kicks.
I realize that this has been a fairly random brain dump of opinions regarding this past year in film, so I’ll end with more familiar territory:
The Worst Movie I Saw in 2008
Senior Skip Day
Haven’t heard of it? Good! Keep it that way… trust me. Just know
that Tara Reid makes an appearance as an older sister who tries to help
her brother throw the Best. Party. Ever. It’s an offensive, vulgar,
unnecessary copycat of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and if I
ever come face to face with anyone involved in this monstrosity, it
will be hard for me not to haul off and smack them! Unless, that is,
they’re willing to pay for me to have the memory of this godawful romp
erased from my memory.
My Favorite Movie of the Year
Notice I didn’t call this "the best" film; I deemed it to be my favorite movie of the last twelve months. I realize that overall, it can’t compete with the likes of Frost/Nixon, Milk or any of the other heavy-hitters that will surely be showered with awards come February, if they haven’t been already. But I have to keep it real, and watching Role Models was by far the most fun I had in a movie theater in 2008. And yes, I would’ve still given it my top honor even if I hadn’t seen Paul Rudd at the screening!
All in all, I feel that 2008 was kind of a blah year for movies (yes, I’m bracing for Dark Knight fanatics to flame me…). But within the next week or so, I’ll write about the great expectations I have for 2009. For now, I hope you and your family have a wonderful and safe time ringing in the new year tonight!