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Best Movies, 2009

Well. I saw close to 60 new releases this year, most thanks to working at the movie theater. However, since the theater I work at is one of four in Humboldt County–a place seemingly devoid of truly independent features–I have mostly only seen mainstream and fringe mainstream films. Not to say this is a bad thing, it’s just that you won’t find Precious or the Road or Nine or whatever on these lists because they haven’t been released up here–if they ever will be.

Some movies struck me in a different way than most critics. I am willing to assume this is either due to age or experience. Perhaps when I am older, I will revisit Up in the Air–a movie on several year-end lists–and find it more enjoyable or at least relatable. So this best-of-the-year list is me, now.

Top 19 of the year:

19) 9: I mentioned in my Where the Wild Things are review that this movie was essentially Jungian Archetypes: the Movie, which was pointed out to me by my girlfriend. This is very true. And, after acknowledging that, I was much more satisfied with the film as a visual parable than as a film with a three-act story. I guess it could’ve also been called Voldemort’s Horcruxes as performed by socks and gloves but that’s a too esoteric, I guess.

18) Gamer: Boy, this is one flawed but awesome movie. With a supporting cast of underdeveloped characters and two very well written main characters, this movie created one of the coolest bad guys of the year as well as offering some more revoltingstrange imagery that the NevaldineTaylor team has become known for with their Crank movies. Definitely one I look forward to owning.

17) District 9: A story that has been told before but without such an awesome flow. The beginning of this film is shot much like a documentary and, as the story slowly evolves along with Van der Mewe, the cinematography becomes steadier and steadier until it is shot on tripods like an average film. It is interesting details like this that help to elevate it above and beyond other films about aliens and their implications. I really liked the way that the story was handled.

16) Adventureland: A very personal film from the guy that did Superbad and from a school that I hope will become my MFA alma mater (Columbia). The characters in this movie are very relatable and instantly likeable… except Ryan Reynolds who plays the guy that all the kids love but the adults (and people his age) don’t care too much for. Anyone who’s ever had a summer job or lived through high school can relate to at least one thing in this very strong film.

15) Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Honestly, this movie might have been funnier than anything I’ve seen this year. It was that hilarious. The story drags ass in its third act as the evil food-making machine gets its ass whooped, but the first and second portions of the movie made me laugh. I was impressed with how well done (and how socially conscious) this movie was–the second computer animated film (Monster House was the first) not made by Pixar to steal my heart.

14) The Hangover: Surprisingly hilarious, well written, well acted, and well directed. What else is there to say? The moment this film hit theaters, it entered into the comedy canon of films that are able to make a lot of people laugh. I remember enjoying my theater checks for this film because everyone was always laughing. The first comedy in a long time to hit a lot of funny bones. Hopefully the sequel will be just as kickass.

13) Where the Wild Things are: When I wrote about it, I talked about its symbolism and its strengths. Given that, and how beautiful it is, I still found it to be kind of boring. Needless, it is a beautiful film that has a lot to say and has been done in such a way to cull emotions from childhood for even the coldest of hearts.

12) Fantastic Mr. Fox: This movie was one that showed that Wes Anderson could adapt himself to any format he wants, adapt any books he wants, and still remain Wes Anderson. The animation is arcane yet awesome because it accentuates the story in such a way that it stops short of becoming just another Wes Anderson quirk-fest.

11) A Serious Man: The only movie on this list to even be remotely considered indie (damn you Humboldt County!), the Coen brothers offer a strange fable of cyclical, parallel, stories of a father and son trying to deal with Jewish faith and growing up and dealing with a divorce and other strange tragedies.

10) Inglourious Basterds: This movie would have slotted higher had Tarantino not relinquished the beauty of this film in favor of paying homage to shitty violence by repeating their shitty violence with pisspoor effects. I understand where he’s coming from, but these moments in the film were entirely disengaging. Yet, still, this is an awesome film built out of long dialogue sequences told in chapters that almost collide near the end of the film. A film that can open with a 20 minute dialogue in French and English without being disengaging in this day and age should be admired–especially for a wide release summer film. The language, mind you, was one of my favorite things in this film: instead of everyone speaking English (I’m looking at you, Valkyrie), Tarantino chose to do this film in four languages and acknowledge the barriers between them.

9) Observe and Report: This is the darkest comedy I’ve seen in a long time. It’s also the funniest movie I saw all year. Seth Rogen does an amazing job as a mentally unstable mall cop whose megalomaniacal delusions and dissertations help to heighten the humor as the movie kicks into high gear for a back half that had me laughing and cheering this movie to the end. But, be forewarned, this movie is not for everyone. It is fucked up and it is sad, but it is played with such awkward and insanely risky timing that it becomes funny. In any other context, this film is as serious as a heart attack. But, in this universe, this film is a riot.

8 ) Paranormal Activity: I about crapped my pants four times during this film. Not since the Blair Witch Project have I been so scared out of my mind and so terrified for an hour and a half straight. Seriously, don’t see this shit alone. But see it nonetheless. The horror is in your mind and, as a result, it stays with you much longer than Saw VI ever would.[1]

7) Moon: I love a movie that will twist and convulse into itself until it makes perfect sense while making no sense at all. That’s exactly what happened in Moon. Normal things happen then weird things happen then crazy things happen. And, through it all, Sam Rockwell is the only one in this film aside from the voice of Kevin Spacey–this is an amazing thing because he carries the weight of an entire film with the dirty-hipster ease that he’s always had. His turn as Charlie Ford made me a fan, this made me an advocate. The director of this film, Duncan Jones, also happens to be the son of Ziggy Stardust. This was an awesome sci-fi film.

I’m still working on 6-1. They seem so fluid. Tomorrow. I promise.


[1] Interesting note: These two films were playing in side by side theaters when they were released up here. Walking out of the tomb of silence in Paranormal into the Saw VI gore and guts fest was a very odd experience that seemed to be rather indicative of the two extremes that horror is falling into these days… Just a thought.

Top Ten American Directors, 1990-Present

I had to write this one for a class too. I only turned in 1-5.

Top Ten Best American Directors, 1990-Today

 

There have been plenty of lists to dictate who the best directors of all time are. The likes of Orson Welles or Jean Luc Godard consistently made the list, along with many others.

However, not much has been said about the current state of cinema in the way of artistic integrity. Much seems to have been said about the evolving state of the box office or viewing habits as a result the new Blu-Ray technology, but little is often said about what great movies are being released today.

The criterion for this list is that the directors did not begin directing feature films before 1990. If a director had projects in which he was used in a different role before that date, or wasn’t making feature films as a director, I still consider them for the list. This allowed me to include the likes of Quentin Tarantino who penned two feature films in the late 80’s (True Romance and Natural Born Killers before making his directorial debut with Reservoir Dogs in 1992.

Let’s get down to it.

 

10.            Michael Bay  (Bad Boys, The Rock, Pearl Harbor, Bad Boys II, The Island, Transformers) – Don’t give me crap about this choice. I put him on this list because he has set a new precedent for action films. No, his films cannot be described as high art—or even medium art most of the time—but he has become the benchmark for whether or not an action film is good or even decent. He sets up and films explosions better than anyone in the business.  He tosses away pretense and gives the audience pure spectacle. According to a reviewer on “Aint it Cool News” by the pseudonym of Mr. Beaks, “Bad Boys II is the ultimate achievement in empty spectacle; an unabashedly brainless thrill ride that cleverly announces its intentions with an opening credit montage of Ecstasy tablets rolling off an assembly line. This is a summer cinematic narcotic refreshingly bereft of pretension and aimed directly at the pleasure center; a perfect complement to the deadly serious philosophizing of THE MATRIX franchise that focuses solely on sensory overload, not stopping until it collapses in exhaustion at the finish line with a brilliantly improbable finale that ups the ante just as the film seems to be wrapping up.”

Michael Bay doesn’t just make an action film, he empties it of its story and its character development, and creates something that lacks between explosions and excels during them. That may not be a good thing, but damn is it an enjoyable one that has become the new modus operandi for the genre.

 

9.            Michael Moore (Roger and Me [December of 1989 is close enough to 1990 for me], Canadian Bacon, The Big One, Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 911, Sicko) –

Aside from his attempted foray into directing comedy with Canadian Bacon, Michael Moore has been a thorough and conniving documentarian. When I was in video production in High School, we analyzed the techniques of his films. For example, one things that he does is that he poses a question via voiceover and then shows clips of people simply saying yes.

Does it take this out of context? Most of the time, yes. But is it effective? All of the time, hell yes.

And it makes sense that he would do this given that, to be a successful documentarian, you have to be able to convince your audience of your point of view across the runtime of your film. And sometimes, the only way to do this is to sometimes twist the truth just a little bit.

It doesn’t matter that his Fahrenheit 911 didn’t convince the American people to not re-elect George W. Bush, what does matter about this film and all of his other films, is that he was able to get people talking and wondering about such issues. This is usually where convincing comes from—the after-the-movie discussions that eventually breed grassroots dissent either over the internet or the phone.

 

8.            Kevin Smith –

Honestly, I don’t like Kevin Smith. I think he’s a one trick pony (and, usually, that one trick is people talking about girls fucking ponies) who can write smart and tight dialogue but honestly cannot direct worth a damn.

I had been trying to pin down why I didn’t enjoy his films until earlier this week when I was discussing this with a friend of mine and we got on the subject of the acting and it became clear to me that Kevin Smith just eats it as a director.

So the hell is he here? Because he set a new precedent with Clerks in indie filmmaking by doing it all by his lonesome. He used the place he worked at as the set, he maxed out his credit cards, and he got a discount on film by saying he was a student. Essentially, he did what Melvin Van Peebles did with “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song”: he taught a brand new generation of directors that lying, cheating, and stealing can turn your screenplay into a film if you have the wit and the ethical depravity (who am I kidding, we  all do at heart).

 

7.            Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up)

I honestly feel like comedy has never gotten very much attention even though it’s been known that, “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.” Oscar Wilde said that and he is never known much for comedy, but Apatow is.

I really think that his films portray just as much tragedy and sadness as Baumbach’s except that they are swathed in raunch and circumstance. Take, for instance, his directorial debut film of the 40 Year Old Virgin: it is damnable that a man has gone 40 years of his life so shy agoraphobic that he hasn’t been able to sustain a romantic relationship. He stays home most nights either repainting WarHammer figurines or watching the TV show Survivor with his elderly next door neighbors.

Obviously, if this film were made as a drama, it would break your heart. But, instead, it is taken as humorous and it runs with this as a gag instead of as a fault for him.

And, in Knocked Up, we are confronted with the all-too-real possibility of a one-night-stand leading to a pregnancy that neither party wants to deal with or abort.

His films deal with real situations in hyper-comical ways instead of dealing with comical situations in comical ways (like modern comedies like Zoolander or Balls of Fury or Napoleon Dynamite). The realism of his films lends itself to an undertone of subtle sadness.

 

6.            John Lasseter (Toy Story 1 & 2, A Bug’s Life)

Whenever I reflect on the successes of John Lasseter, I wonder what it’s like to see the effects of your innovations on an entire genre of filmmaking.

Before Lasseter got the crazy idea to animate a film completely on computers, the genre was beginning to sag because animating by hand is expensive and time-consuming. Computer technology was beginning to be used for special effects by the beginning of the 90’s, but no one expected it to be something that could be visually engaging.

With 1995’s Toy Story, Lasseter proved the opposite: a film made wholly through computer animation could be visually engaging as well as one hell of a film.

It’s not just that Lasseter’s films are revolutionary for their animation innovations, it’s also that they are done with such heart and such passion that it flows through every cell and every animation.

 

5.             Noah Baumbach (Kicking and Screaming, Mr. Jealousy, The Squid and The Whale, Margot at the Wedding)

Although Baumbach hasn’t done very much to reinvent or reinvigorate a genre,

he has, according to Kevin Mattson of Dissent Magazine in their Summer 2006 issue, he has begun to brought back Susan Sontag’s idea of filmic directness that “that entirely frees us from the itch to interpret.”

His films are emotionally raw. Everything that happens on screen lingers within your soul.

Dealing with familial dissension and existential quandaries he has released movies that make you forget the actors and remember the characters. In his 2007 film Margot at the Wedding, Jack Black plays a character who is a pitiful excuse for a man who wants to sit around and play guitar. When something is revealed later in the film and he is chased down a hill and onto the beach, you can really see the characters true colors: running away and crying and apologizing profusely like a small child.

The movies he makes are wildly visceral, focusing on a small amount of time in which the main characters are honestly suffering and, in an age in which films are given to irony and jadedness, it is a refreshing film even though it will, along with his other films, ultimately breaks your heart.

 

4.            Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill, Death Proof) –

By waking up a generation of film goers by shocking the hell out of them with Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino reinvigorated a generation of jaded watchers with eyes glazed over.

And it’s an amazing film in the way that an adolescent film lover will watch it at 15 or 16, right around the time that one becomes jaded towards children’s films and typical Hollywood fare (and the whole world in general), and suddenly capture the movie-bug. It did it for kids in 1992, and it did it for me during my Junior Year of High School.

I was sick and tired of seeing movies at that point. I knew they were something I loved, but I just hated everything about the typical fare that one gets at the multiplexes or at Blockbuster. I wanted something more.

Based on someone’s recommendation, I discovered this film and, honestly, it was much like discovering masturbation: I thought I was the only one who knew about its glories and its heights and I wanted to tell every other male my age about it.

As a result I woke up the friends around me to better films as we began our journey into adulthood.

But, here’s the thing about Tarantino: he seems to work better under some kind of limitation—under some sort of reign. This is evident during his two greatest works of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction (which is considered by some to be the Citizen Kane of that Generation) because he was constantly hounded by producers to see a return.

And when they got their return by way of Pulp Fiction being nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards (it lost to Forrest Gump, because what movie wouldn’t lose to Forrest Gump?), he was essentially given a blank check for the rest of the movies. He was allowed to go about and make the most bombastic and utterly disastrous films around.

Take Jackie Brown for instance: it’s a 2 and a half hour film lead by Pam Grier who Tarantino had a crush on as a child. He seemed to have disregarded the fact that she really can’t act.

Or Kill Bill, a four hour movie split into two films that Tarantino has yet to re-release as one film. It’s simply four hours of homage to all his favorite kung fu and western films. He even goes so far as to cast David Carradine, a perennially B-rate kung fu star, as the titular Bill.

Or his most recent picture, Death Proof, which was packaged in theaters as a double bill with Richard Rodriguez’s Planet Terror: it, again, is pure homage. After Pulp Fiction, it seems like he’s run out of original ideas.

 

3.            Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain) –

With a flare for the visual, Darren Aronofsky has created visceral and emotional films much like Noah Baumbach except with a style that beckons one to constantly pay attention.

Take for example his film Requiem for a Dream where he uses half-second close ups of eyes dilating and mouths gasping cuts to show people taking heroine as opposed to simply showing them shooting up. He gives his film a look all his own by casting off norms and pointing his films in a surreal direction.

With The Fountain, he took his stylized approach to a whole new level. The story spans a thousand years and tells three parallel loves stories: one of a conquistador searching for the tree of life for his queen, one of a present-day doctor trying to find a cure for cancer that may have been found in the bark of a tree in South America, and a man in the future with the tree of life floating through a bubble trying to get to the Mayan afterlife. Obviously, the idea is the question of “What if you could live forever?”

I can’t understand why critics responded the way they did to the film. I mean, sure, it can be a bit convoluted at times but it is also one of the most beautiful films ever produced. It stands alone as a film that can both visually keep me in awe and make me cry every time I watch it.

 

2.            Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket, The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited)

A post-modern filmmaker to the end, his films are swathed in the irony that was discussed in the Baumbach portion.

They are antitheses even though they often work together. Where Baumbach’s films go out of their way to show pain and to show hurt, Anderson’s go out of their way to avoid such feelings or to confront them in a deadpan and stylized way.

All his characters are jaded by life and are only willing to show their true colors some of the time.

In his films, you really have to watch the eyes because they are usually the only portion of the face allowed to show emotion. The rest of the face is flat with exhaustion from the hyperbolic situations they are thrust in. Everything in Anderson’s movies is amped up with style and flare except for the acting which comes across as apathetic.

This mix causes the viewer to be constantly taken away with the film to its strangest places—be it India or the bottom of the ocean.

 

1.            Paul Thomas Anderson (Sydney [or Hard Eight], Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, There Will be Blood)

PT Anderson, to me, is the greatest director to come out of the 90’s and today. He has been able to create epic films out of some of the most esoteric topics like 70’s porn or oilmen of the early 20th century.

Yet he has also been able to make films that deal with being lovelorn and angry as well as dealing with tragedy and death of the soul and the body.

And he has done it all with a flare and with imagination. He doesn’t go so far towards the Anderson side of quirk and smarminess nor does he go the entire other way of Baumbach by constantly showing heartwrenching emotion. Instead, he sways around in the middle, choosing to go either way as he chooses.

A lot of my affection for his films goes beyond words. You simply have to see Magnolia to understand what pendulum shifts I am talking about. The movie is about six people in the San Fernando Valley losing themselves in sadness which fulfills the Baumbach esthetic. And yet, there is something unreal about the world be it frogs falling from the sky or a character having success through a series of inspirational series about dating with the tagline “No Pussy has Nine Lives,” and this fulfills the Wes Anderson esthetic.

The film sits happily in the middle, allowing humor to shine through at the right times to give a break from some of the sadness, or allowing pure emotion to shine through when it needs to as well.

On top of all this, PT Anderson is one of hell of a director just based on his Academy Award Nomination track record: three of his five films have had one or more actors nominated for awards (Burt Reynolds and Julianne Moore in Boogie Nights; Tom Cruise in Magnolia; and Daniel Day-Lewis won for his role in There Will be Blood).

So there you have it. My top five American Directors of the past 18 years. To see directors numbered six through ten, check out http://filmicpulp.wordpress.com.

 

eagle vs. shark

If Noah Baumbach and Michel Gondry made a child that came out a New Zealander with a sense of Wes-Anderson-esque irony, this baby’s name would be Eagle Vs. Shark.

Taika Waititi’s feature debut is not an Animal Planet special. Instead, it’s about a girl who falls for a guy only to find out he’s a pathologically lying, awkwardly depressed introvert. And it’s a comedy.

Though this film was billed by my Starz On-Demand programming as a nerd-fest, I begged to differ as I watched… See, this is much different from other awkward-nerd movies–like Napoleon Dynamite or Welcome to the Dollhouse–because it isn’t completely swathed in irony which usually overlays every aspect of a film of this type.

Instead, as with the Baumbach reference above, we are confronted with the character’s emotion and introduced to a great subtlety about this film. The way that characters are presented, the way that they speak and act, all plays into what this film is. It isn’t simply about the guy’s quirkiness and “oh, look at me, I’m distraught for some asinine reasons.” Instead, it’s really a kind of character study.

And the little art pieces that act as transitions or scene interpretations offer nice interludes about apples. That’s where the Michel Gondry part of this baby comes in: the art work is done in his same style of quirk and stop-motion as seen in The Science of Sleep. And I’m willing to assume that both of these men owe their styles in part to Terry Gilliam’s work.

The most surprising part of this film is the performance turned in by the bemuttonchopped half of Flight of the Conchords, Jemaine Clement. In that show, he’s mostly just straight funny and partly emotionless. That’s part of the show I think: to not show a lot of emotion because it’s funny when people react the wrong way.

But here he’s able to show off the whole kit-n-kaboodle of his acting skills. In the climactic fight scene, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cringe. I didn’t know whether to be mad at him, laugh at him, or empathize with him most way through the movie. Maybe this is actually a weakness, but I really think that it advanced his performance past his typical schtick.

the darjeeling limited

In the Darjeeling Limited, three disconnected and disaffected brothers reunite on a journey through India to see their Mother and to discover themselves. Their father has died and they still, literally, carry around the luggage of their relationship with him. His luggage set, which is only opened once, fills their cabins. And yet, they never change clothes throughout the movie.

The movie chugs along episodically. Much like the titular train itself, the movie has multiple stops along its towards its destination including: a hot stewardess, a Catholic monastery, the train itself getting lost just as the brothers are being found within themselves, and some others. This aspect of the storyline bothered me at first–the fact that it is merely a series of events towards a greater enlightenment and resolve. But then I realized that this movie is about brothers on a train and what is happening to them and that made it all okay.

And each brother has his own things he must deal with. For Peter (Adrien Brody), its his wife who has a child. For Jack (Jason Schwartzman), it’s his ex-girlfriend (see Hotel Chevalier for some perspective on their relationship). For Francis (Owen Wilson), it’s his innate loneliness despite his assumed success in the field of business. And each of these problems are represented by, respectively, their father’s sunglasses, his mustache (which he didn’t have in Chevalier) and the bandages on his head. None of their disguises or mechanisms completely devolve throughout the movie, though we see Jack trim his mustache and we see Peter slowly stop wearing the sunglasses and we see Francis remove the bandages–which, up until that point, I thought were a fake and a sob story to keep his brothers along. But none of them completely let go of their internal problems.

But, at the end of the movie, when they’re trying to get on their train home, The Bengal Express, they toss away all of their father’s luggage, finally having coped with his death at the aid of their now-nun mother. That is the resolve: though they haven’t completely fixed themselves, they are now freer and less weighed down to figure it all out–to figure out the depression and the kid and the women.

One of the greatest thing about this film is the universe it is set in. Wes Anderson has a penchant for creating a brilliant universe full of dichotomous depression and bright colors. All the yellows and reds and blues have great contrast to the internal feelings of the movie. That is why India is the perfect place for this movie to be filmed. It’s busy and garish and loud and bright. Yet, within each of them, there’s a dullness. And this country, rather subtly, allows them to brighten up and lighten up.

Which is odd because, at first, Francis is determined as hell to go to every single spiritual place on the journey–not realizing that a short amount of frantic time doesn’t allow for the amount of shutting down that spiritual realization necessitates. However, that is what train offers. The journey itself allows for this time to think and realize and cope and cognate all events in all their lives. What is supposed to be a minor mode of transportation becomes their temple.

And that’s how it is with this movie, and with most Anderson films: what is supposed to be subtle becomes the biggest changer in the characters’ lives. Like saving the Latin program and finding your son on the road to killing a shark and simply being family.

Anderson has filmed this movie brilliantly, getting great, subtle and dim performances from people who we can relate to. We know how it feels to not want to tell anyone anything and to be in a strange land, wondering what the fuck our family is getting up to. And as the train continues and their minds expand, their emotions become more broad and open.

The Darjeeling Limited is a great movie and perhaps my favorite Wes Anderson flick to date.

quick hits

NOTE: THESE REVIEWS ARE MERELY STANDINS. WHENIF I REWATCH THE FILM, IT WILL MORE THOROUGHLY REVIEWED. EP

The 40-Year-Old-Virgin (9–the unrated scenes actually add something, unlike many movies where it’s just a fucking ploy)

Dazed and Confused (4–fuck you Richard Linklater. Your high school experience was like this? Well, then, you’re an asshole.)

Wild at Heart (8–Fuck you David Lynch. You scare me. You’re the Freddy Kreuger of directors. I can’t sleep after watching ANY of your films.)

Animal House (5–John Belushi. That’s the only reason it got a five.)

The Squid and the Whale (8–the most depressing fucking movie you will ever watch. Yes, even more depressing than Requiem for a Dream and American History X. And no one even fucking dies in this movie. Or loses an arm. Nothing like that. I’m so pissed off right now at Jeff Daniels’ character in the Squid and the Whale. He’s a pretentious-ass-fucking cunt who says shit that doesn’t even mean anything. And his sons take after him. That’s when a movie’s good: when it’s resounding so hard in your mind that you’re straight-up-fucking-pissed-the-hell-off. Goddam. I just finished it and I am so damned depressed.)

Bottle Rocket (6–Wes Anderson’s start. It’s only okay and a mere shadow of his better later films. As an aside: fuck you critics who think that the Darjeeling Limited was a self-parodying mess.)

oscar coverage from a bus going north

let’s talk Oscars. On the bus ride home, Kelley was sending me results since I couldn’t view the actual program. I’m glad that the Coen brothers finally won Best Director(s). It’s an award they’ve deserved for almost every movie they’ve done (except the Ladykillers. What was that shit?!)

In the Best Supporting Actor category, I thought Paul Dano was nominated for his role as Eli Sunday in There Will be Blood. But he wasn’t. And that was probably a good thing because it was already a hard enough category between Casey Affleck (one of my new favorite actors after Gone Baby Gone and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) and Javier Bardem. Both did a great job–I was rooting for Affleck more so than Bardem simply because of the last 45 minutes of TAOJJBTCRF truly break your heart. Affleck thought he’d be received as a celebrity. But instead it’s the opposite. He’s treated like scum because he killed a national star.

In Supporting Actress, I’m sad that Blanchett lost. She was an awesome Bob Dylan. And I love me some Bob Dylan (well, before his 80’s phase. Reaganomics even turned the music into shit!).

The Best Score award was skewed because of Greenwood using, say, thirty seconds from his previous composition (Popcorn Superhet Receiver. It’s actually pretty cool) in his score for There Will Be Blood. And that definitely was one of the best musical compositions for film I’ve heard in awhile.

But, as in previous years, at least one of my favorite films had to be completely ignored. Last year, it was The Fountain and Inland Empire. This year, it was the Darjeeling Limited.

And that’s okay because the Academy doesn’t make your opinions. You do.

best movie of the year?

That’s tough. I have three favorites, two I’ve already written about and the third one isn’t quite a comedy so I couldn’t toss it in that category.

My top three movies of this year, in a tie for first place are:

The Darjeeling Limited
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

These three movies together show why I love some movies more than others. They all have themes and visual metaphors and some beautiful cinematography. The way that India was filmed and talked about in Darjeeling was beautiful. The way that the brothers never changed clothes yet had all of their fathers’ luggage was beautiful. Some critics said that it was Wes Anderson doing a parody of Wes Anderson. But I say they can go fuck themselves. This was probably his best film, edging out the Royal Tenenbaums. He’s definitely one of my favorite film makers and this, so far, was his pinnacle. He was able to capture everything about being a family so perfectly. And the way that they were able to finally let go their grief about their father’s death was awesome. They realized that they couldn’t get on the train, continue on their journey, with all the (literal) baggage of their father. So they just threw it off them and watched it fade from view.

And I liked that the three of them had their things that they could hide behind. Francis had his bandages and the most visible damage, Jack had his moustache and his words and Peter had his Father’s sunglasses that, even though they were the wrong prescription, he never took them off.

2007 was a great year in cinema. I hope 2008 is just as good, though I’ll be able to see less movies in the theater since I’ll be up at school most of the time. I’ll see what I can with what money I can, but I know that the Netflix cue will have plenty coming its way when some of these movies come out on DVD.