As any movie fan knows, you need about half of the next year before you can see all of the movies from the previous year. So here’s my better-late-than-never top 10 movies of 2008.
Really, this is basically a personality profile. You’ve probably already seen these films (if not, they’re all on DVD now), but this list will give you an idea of what I like (nothing beats a well-made comedy), and therefore, whether you want to keep reading my blog.
1. “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” — I love the chuckle-worthy lines, like when Nick says he asked for “the Ellen DeGeneres haircut,” or when Norah tosses off an insult like “fistful of a**h***s” (which would be a good band name). Also, Caroline talking to her turkey sandwich. Oh, and the soothing-but-poppy soundtrack, which isn’t ideal for exercising to, but I can’t resist. (Full review.)
2. “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” — When a “Freaks and Geeks” alumnus headlines a movie, it’s rarely a miss. This one, starring Jason Segel along with “Veronica Mars'” Kristen Bell, particularly hits home as a portrait of a heartbroken dude (a solid week in green sweatpants is a tip-off that he’s not doing too well). And who knew Mila Kunis (the voice of Meg Griffin on “Family Guy”) could be so endearing?
3. “Get Smart” — Steve Carell plays a very unlikable boss at times on “The Office” (although I, for one, was rooting for the Michael Scott Paper Company), so it’s nice to see him play a nice, normal, clutzy guy in “Get Smart.” I admit that Anne Hathaway also held my attention. Sequel, anyone?
4. “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” — FFO (For Fans Only), but I am one of those fans who needs an “X-Files” fix whenever I can get it. This is just a standalone yarn, but it’s a good, creepy one about two-headed dogs and other weird stuff. And it gives the Mulder-Scully relationship room to breathe, something the show never did. (Full review.)
5. “Religulous” — Bill Maher’s documentary isn’t on this list so much for it’s execution (it leans more toward the haphazard Michael Moore approach than a polished CNBC style), but for it’s existence. Maher doesn’t understand religious people, and he doesn’t expect to understand them, but he says, “I have to try,” and I’m glad he did. People won’t discard their religion after seeing this movie, but maybe they’ll have their eyes opened to the corporate nature of Big Religion and the dangers of the U.S. losing its Separation of Church and State foundation.
6. “The House Bunny” — I’d watch Anna Faris in just about anything (I sat through three full “Scary Movie” entries, so I guess I’ve already proven my loyalty). Here, she is completely endearing as a girl who is kicked out of the Playboy Mansion for being, at age 27, too old. Also look for “Superbad’s” Emma Stone, another always-funny actress, as one of the nerds from the struggling sorority.
7. “Slumdog Millionaire” — It didn’t deserve Best Picture, but it does deserve praise as one of those simple, straightforward romances that just works. The film portrays urban India so well you can almost smell it — the country’s public restrooms will make you appreciate the Porta-Potties at WE Fest. Bonus points for the out-of-nowhere dance number during the credits, because you can’t have an Indian movie without a dance sequence.
8. “Role Models” — This comedy had me from the moment that Paul Rudd is guzzling an energy drink while Seann William Scott is dressed up as a minotaur. Throw in the fact that “Superbad’s” McLovin gets the girl again, and you’ll have trouble keeping the smile off your face.
9. “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” — A solid launch to an even better Cartoon Network TV series. Ziro the Hutt is George Lucas Gone Wild again, but you know, the Truman Capote-sounding slum lord kind of made me laugh. And after a decade as a Jar Jar apologist, I am now happily taking up the role of Ahsoka apologist (she’s Anakin’s impulsive teenage Padawan). (Full review.)
10. “Rambo” — A Claymore mine that blows up a whole forest, a villain that feeds prisoners to starving pigs, and a final battle that’s nothing more than 20 minutes of Rambo mowing down bad guys with truck-mounted machine guns … really, what’s not to like? If you were approaching this fourth “Rambo” entry as a serious exploration of political unrest in southeast Asia, you missed the point. You also missed the best unintentional comedy of the year.
Share your own top 10 — or give my top 10 a good working-over, “Dark Knight” fans; I can take it — in the comment thread below.