Every December around this time, I sit down to make a list of all the films I’ve seen in the previous year so that I can craft my best-and-worst ‘Pie piece. I write them all down and put them under one of three headings: best, worst and other. Normally, I have to whittle down my best and worst, and the “other” category is overflowing with titles.
But this year?
I barely scraped together 10 movies I loved. The number of craptacular films didn’t even come to 10… which, I suppose, could be considered a good thing. And my third grouping—essentially the “everything else” portion—had about half the number of titles as my 2007 list had.
To be honest, I think 2008 was a year where I kind of fell out of love with movies.
Some of it has to do with skyrocketing ticket prices. And rude rude rude audience members. And a dwindling number of press-screening invites. But a huge part of my disillusionment was my terrible terrible TIFF, which resulted in me ending the fest by speculating that I might break up with my longtime September love in 2009. At the same time, I also didn’t really care that much about what was being released in theaters. There were countless Event Films I didn’t bother with—among them, The Dark Knight, Sex and the City, Mamma Mia!, Speed Racer and The Incredible Hulk—to say nothing of The Reader, Doubt, The Wrestler, Rachel Getting Married or any of the other Oscar-bait flicks I have yet to check out. And I don’t even feel bad about my film-going deficit. Surely that can’t be a good thing.
There were no breakout stars for me in 2008. No freaky trends. Nothing particularly mockable. Which is why this year’s best-and-worst entry from me is in this narrative form and not the categorical structure I’ve used in years passed. It just felt like I didn’t have enough material with which to work.
On the upside, my experiences at HotDocs! and The Worldwide Short Film Festival rocked, as usual… which may mean that documentaries and shorts will be where I find solace in the future. Or maybe Hollywood and the rest of the global filmmaking community will knock my socks off in 2009, and 2008—like the economy—was simply experiencing a dramatic slump (pun intended). Fingers crossed.
In the meantime, while I wait to be wowed, here’s what I really dug and really despised over the past 12 months:
Movies I Loved in 2008
- Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist—So simple and yet so insanely charming.
- The Visitor—Beautifully acted and quietly moving.
- The Secret Life of Bees—Say what you will, this is exactly the kind of movie that gets to me.
- WALL-E—Could be my best of 2008, I think. Loved it so so much.
- The Pineapple Express—I was ready to HATE this movie but, instead, fell in love with it. AND with James Franco, whom I’d previously thought toolish.
- Henry Poole is Here—Pretty sure no one else saw this sweet little movie but me. That’s okay.
- Trouble the Water—Terrific and heartbreaking documentary about the red-tape aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
- Synecdoche, New York—A lot of people hated this. I loved its surreal, poetic, metaphoric storytelling.
- Slumdog Millionaire—Audience Award at TIFF. On countless “top 10” lists. Allow me to jump on this film’s bandwagon.
- Milk—End-of-the-year greatness, and a surefire Oscar for Sean Penn.
Movies I Loathed in 2008
- Cloverfield—Overrated, overhyped, overly nauseating.
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull—Everyone should have left well enough alone.
- The Happening—The Crappening. So stinky. ‘Nuff said.
- The X-Files: I Want to Believe—I wanted this to be 100x better than it was. And so did everyone else.
- The Women—No. No no no no no no no.
Movies I’m Psyched to See in 2009
Any that can profoundly re-ignite my passion for film-going. Seriously.