Who can believe another year has gone by? It seems like only a year ago I was writing the review of 2007, and here I am again looking back over the year and creating the much anticipated top 10, as well as the educational “turkeys”, which should hopefully steer you clear of the cowpats along the way.
Looking back it’s been a belter of a year, throwing out some spectacular films (particularly in the months of February and July it seems) and proving Cinemafool’s dedication by beating last year’s record with 45 new films seen at the cinema. Because you have short attention spans, I will waste no further time and get straight into the first section: what all films aspire to reach, the Cinemafool top 10 of 2008, presented to you in chronological order:
The Top 10 of 2008
12th Jan 08 - Lust, Caution
What: Ang Lee’s foray into 1940s Chinese spy drama… with plenty of , errr, “tucking.”
I said then: Gripping plot, scintillating character interaction and an unusual blend of, well, lust and caution.
I say now: Cruelly ignored by the Oscars when this ticked all the boxes – fabulous acting, period setting, beautiful relationship development. Perhaps the porn-eqsue sex throughout may have put the Oscar crew off, though…
I also said: I couldn’t help but notice the audience for this film was made up of an interesting number of boys in their late teens
6th Feb 08 - No Country for Old Men
What: The Coen brothers trot in with a meaty award-laden film full of violence and a hunt for that good ol’ bag of money.
I said then: Powerful, thrilling and chock full of memorable performances.
I say now: Rewards further on a second viewing and now sitting in the Cinemafool DVD collection, No Country is the Coens on full form, even though I still haven’t been able to pay attention to that closing speech.
I also said: I’ve just mixed a landscape analogy with a pie analogy
15th Feb 08 - Cloverfield
What: Big monster attacks New York (for a change) but this time they’ve given one of the running, screaming extras a camcorder.
I said then: Chaotic, dazzling and down-right frightening…an exciting B-movie done in an entirely new angle.
I say now: The Blair-Witch style cameras have been done to death the rest of this year, but Cloverfield was at the forefront, and this is still a little nugget of shaky terror worth catching.
I also said: You could only get motion sickness if you felt queasy with simple things like rollercoasters, banana flavoured beer, or just generally moving around.
20th Feb 08 - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
What: Real life tale of magazine editor suffering stroke, resulting in only being able to move one eyelid. In French! All the hallmarks of something depressing and a bit rah. But…
I said then: This film is both uplifting and upsetting, beautifully shot and acted, altogether emotionally gratifying.
I say now: Not half as rah or depressing as it sounds, this was one of the most moving films of the year and also one of the most creatively shot. Don’t be put off – this should be a definite on your film lists.
I also said: I’ve just bought myself a coffee percolator. It makes noises like Darth Vader underwater and has made me a tad hyper.
23rd Feb 08 - There Will Be Blood
What: P. T. Anderson’s whopper about an oil man, with Oscar winning performance from Day Lewis.
I said then: A fascinating character study and an epic tale of greed… you can easily get lost in the depths of this film, with its substantial running time, measured pace and unknown plot directions.
I say now: Cor blimey this is a good film. You have to set aside an entire evening to truly appreciate, but, well, cor blimey this is good.
I also said: I’d even stoop to watching him in a period drama with Knightley, as long as he spent the majority of the film talking in a thick accent about how rubbish she is.
9th April 08 - The Orphanage
What: Spanish horror set in a haunted orphanage… mummy!
I said then: Chills with an emotional core... Don your best pair of brown trousers and go watch.
I say now: One of the scariest flicks of the year that still retains a sense of dignity and, well, plot, The Orphanage is one to watch but not with young children who might walk into the room. With pillow cases over their heads.
I also said: Scary enough to make me turn on every light in my house that evening
16th July 08 – The Mist
What: Frank Darabont’s done Shawshank, he’s done Green Mile – now it’s time for gloomy monster carnage. Of course…
I said then: Richly satisfying drama meets horror. Oh, and it’s fucking depressing.
I say now: Angry Darabont encapsulates everything Stephen King’s original story had to say about mankind, and throws a bit more welly in to boot. Dark, absorbing, and mighty considering it’s essentially “monsters in the mist”.
I also said: Come out of The Mist and you’ll probably want to sit in your bedroom and poke yourself in the eye in despair.
23rd July 08 - Wall-E
What: It’s a garbage-collecting robot and his cockroach companion on a desolate planet. What could be better!
I said then: Refreshing, original, beautifully animated and superbly plotted.
I say now: Pixar shows everyone how it’s done with a heart-warming tale and the most endearing robots ever created.
I also said: Its message is as blunt as a donkey punch
30th July 08 - The Dark Knight
What: Nolan and Bale return with the man of bat and a media storm following a career-defining performance mixed with upsetting career-ending circumstances.
I said then: Nolan weaves an impressive tale, with plenty of stonking action, suspenseful lead-ups, dramatic interchanges bristling with danger, and the occasional flash of humour.
I say now: Let’s face it, this has set the bar for superhero flicks. It’ll be interesting to see how the hotly anticipated Watchmen fares against it this year.
I also said: A clown that wants to slice your cheeks and ram a pencil in your face. Come on kids, it’s fun!
14th Sep 08 - Burn After Reading
What: The Coens are back again with a spy comedy and a host of their favourite faces.
I said then: Funny, fascinating and fully digestible on first-viewing.
I say now: Double whammy for the Coens, offering up a sizeable main course with No Country, and following up with this sharp and sassy dessert.
I also said: I’m still smug in New York. Check me out. Smug.
2008: The Losers
Not too many stinkers this year, but just a couple I have to mention before the big turkey:
2nd Jan 08 - I'm Not There
I said: "This film is the equivalent of someone taking all the ingredients necessary to make the best cake in the world, putting them in a big bowl, mixing them all together, but then by-passing the oven that will unite them into a cohesive sponge and instead using the mixture to write a big, obscure Bob Dylan quote all over the wall."
3rd Sep 08 - Babylon A.D
I said: “Bloody hell.”
“My only guess is the film makers assume their target audience has stopped paying attention by this point.”
“It was shit. A big steaming shit. Lazily created to sit on our screens for a while before slowly sliding off into the trough of shit films that end up on 3-for-2 offers.”
31st Dec 08 - The Day the Earth Stood Still
I said: "Watch the trailer for the cool stadium shot, then just look at a powerpoint slide with the phrase “save the Earth – recycle” and you’ll have the same effect, only more enjoyable."
The Turkey of 2008
Despite the lowest mark being awarded to Babylon Zoo – sorry, “A.D” - the mantle of turkey of the year has to go to another film. One that was highly anticipated but ultimately annoyed, befuddled and confused. I’m talking, of course, about:
25th May 08 - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
I said: “Three words: What. The. Fuck.”
“A never-ending car chase interspersed with everything and anything that could exist in the real world (or not).”
“Brings nothing new to the table except a lump of crusty bread that we’ve already seen before, only now it looks like it’s picked up every bit of fluff off the floor and some space dust along with it.”
“No more sherbet, Lucas. Your mother knows what she’s talking about.”
End on a high
Because I don’t want to leave the year with the bitter taste of insane Lucas in my mouth, let’s throw a few special mentions out. 2008 was the year of films that looked rubbish but turned out to be pretty good. Iron Man and Hulk gave a tantalising view of what’s to come from the new Marvel studio, In Bruges demonstrated Colin Farrell’s immense eyebrow acting abilities, Lars and the Real Girl gave soft smiles, Rambo shrieks of unintentional laughter, and Transporter 3 proved there was a reason for living.
There are some exciting films on the horizon for the new year, and an ever challenging new record to beat (45 is the target for 09). Who knows what’s in store. Shall we go and see…?