Friday, January 25

The Friday Random Ten+5 is just happy to be nom
. . . aw, who the hell am I kidding?

The 2008 Oscar nominations came out this past week, and for the first time in several years I've actually seen a bunch of the films that got nominated -- three of the five Best Picture nominees, in fact, and I may be able to hit the other two sometime in the next couple weeks. Which means that for probably the first time ever, my favorite movie from a given year might actually win Best Picture (avenging "Pulp Fiction," "Trainspotting," and a bunch of other movies I loved but the Academy ignored in favor of one damn movie or another). Not that you care, but this week's +5 is My Five Favorite Movies Of 2008, not just in terms of cinematic merit (which I'm hardly an expert on) but also in terms of how much I enjoyed watching them (which I pretty much am):

5. "Atonement"
I concur with baby sis on this one -- "Atonement" was one of the most beautifully shot movies I've ever seen, and even in scenes like the ones that take place on Dunkerque, where the goal was not beauty so much as a modern-day interpretation of Dante's Inferno, the film is just staggering. The plot twist is one that I imagine was difficult to translate into a movie, and not having read the book, I'm still not sure how I feel about the way they accomplished that, but still, it's a gorgeous and incredibly well-acted movie.

4. "Superbad"
How's that for a switch? This movie was hilarious, obviously, but at the risk of sounding like a wuss, it also had a sincere heart to it, which is important because even I can't watch two hours of nonstop dick jokes unless I have some confidence that it's, you know, going somewhere. Michael Cera, in particular, needs to get a fricking Oscar of his own somewhere along the line; after this and "Juno," though, I'm a little worried that he's only going to get painfully-awkward-teenager roles from here on out. He may need a psychotic maladjusted school shooter role sometime in the next couple years just to keep things balanced.

3. "Charlie Wilson's War"
Funny, very well-shot, full of hot chicks, fairly accurate in its portrayal of the early to mid-1980s . . . and it doesn't shy away from the downer ending that it kind of had to have. (I don't know if anyone else noticed this, but one of the Foley artists for the final scene at Wilson's condo is a twisted genius.) Comes close to going over-the-top at times but is almost always smart enough to stop just short where other less ably directed films would go tumbling over the precipice with similar subject matter. (Trivia item: Julia Roberts was supposedly four months pregnant when she shot this scene.)

2. "Knocked Up"
Some people have criticized this movie as being a little removed from reality -- the ending, in particular, gets wrapped up a bit too neatly for some -- but I don't think it's that far off, either. And the path that the two main characters take to get to that happy ending rang true to me. Judd Apatow just really gets how guys act and talk, and in particular he gets how we frequently screw things up royally not out of cruelty or vindictiveness but just by being total clods. I also like how even when he makes a movie that revolves around one or two main characters, the supporting cast is given enough to do that it almost feels like an ensemble film. My only caveat is that while this might look like a great date movie, it really isn't. Unless you have no intention of having sex at the end of the night, then it's cool.

1. "No Country For Old Men"
I don't know that I've ever seen a movie that was so faithful to the material from which it was adapted; a few people have made the comment that you could sit in the theatre with Cormac McCarthy's novel and follow along with certain scenes almost word for word. This is a good thing, because the novel is one of the best (if also most heartbreakingly depressing) books I've ever read. Javier Bardem is nightmare-inducingly good as the hired assassin Chigurh, who operates on a moral plane completely removed from what any of us have ever recognized, but the movie is really about the sheriff played by Tommy Lee Jones, who's trying to solve a crime and prevent further deaths even as he perceives the moral fabric of society crumbling around him. Just a fantastic movie; if you haven't seen it yet, you've still got time. Go.

Honorable mention: "Transformers," "Juno," and "The Bourne Ultimatum." And an early contestant for the 2009 version of this list: "Cloverfield." Saw it last night and my jaw was just about hanging to the floor by the time it was over; if you're thinking that the "Blair Witch" hand-held camera gimmick is going to result in a grainy, shitty-looking movie with half-assed special effects, you're in for an eye-popping surprise.

And now the Ten:

1. Dimitri from Paris, "Free Ton Style"
2. Underworld, "Second Hand"
3. Thievery Corporation, "Hong Kong Triad"
4. Pet Shop Boys, "Call Me Old-Fashioned"
5. Morrissey, "How Could Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?"
6. Modest Mouse, "Dance Hall"
7. Jimi Hendrix, "Fire"
8. Miles Davis, "Rouge"
9. KRS-One, "The MC"
10. De La Soul, "Buddy"

Let's hear your own Random Tens, as well as the movies from last year you loved -- or hated -- in the comments.


Joshua said...

juno = crap

Don't insult The Transformers by including it in the same sentence as that stupid movie.

Josh M. said...

My 2007 top 10 list is being finalized, but I'm not going to release it unto the world until I've seen a few more flicks (namely Juno, Atonement, The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford, and Rambo.)

I know Rambo is a 2008 release, by the way, but I'm assuming it's going to be SO good I'm putting it on every top 10 list from now until my death.

Josh M. said...

Oh, and I've chosen to ignore your inclusion of Transformers because you were kind enough to link to my blog.

Anonymous said...

1) There Will Be Blood
2) No Country for Old Men
3) Black Snake Moan
4) The Darjeeling Limited
5) Knocked Up
6) Control (Awesome Ian Curtis biopic)
7) Into the Wild
8) I'm Not There
9) The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
10) Lust, Caution

I don't know if you have and just didn't mention it, but you MUST go see "There Will Be Blood." It's the flash of brilliance from "Boogie Nights" combined with the awe-inspiring ambition and scope of "Magnolia." When I left the theater I told my girlfriend we had just seen our generations "Godfather." Check it out.

Josh M. said...

Oh, FINE. I can't resist. At the moment, my top 5:

1) Once
2) There Will Be Blood
3) Eastern Promises
4) Michael Clayton
5) No Country For Old Men

(No Country probably would have been #1 if I hadn't read the book, but it was almost TOO faithful and drained some of the impact).

Kanu said...

Everyone told me how great Knocked Up was, but then when I saw it I was pretty disappointed. Bourne was 50x better in my humble opinion.

That shot on the beach in Atonement was pretty amazing- the whole walk up to the pub was one continuous shot.

Some others I saw that weren't on your list but were very good, off the top of my foggy-memoried head, and are all worth seeing.

Michael Clayton
The Rape Of Europa {beyond interesting- check it out}

Ahora, El Diez:

1. "It's Over Now" by 112, from 'Part III'

2. "Abendlied" by Ludwig van Beethoven, performed by Marilyn Horne, from 'RCA Victor Red Seal Sampling'

3. "The Sun" by Maroon 5, from 'Songs About Jane'

4. "Pretty Girl Bullshit" by Foxy Brown, from 'Bad Boys II Soundtrack'

5. "Feel No Pain" by Sade, from 'Love Deluxe'

6. "Let's Ride" by Eightball, from 'Lost (Disc 2)'

7. "Ghetto Musick" by OUtkast, from 'Speakerboxxx'

8. "Let Loose" by The Expendables, from '{dodgy concert internet download}'

9. "Dog It" by Digable Planets, from 'Blowout Comb'

10. "Quiet Niggas" by Nas, from 'Nastradamus'

Feliz fin de semana chicos y chicas!

Stay warm & dry.

Dad said...

In no particular order:

-- No Country for Old Men
-- I Am Legend
-- The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
-- The Bourne Ultimatum
-- Transformers

The Ten:

1. "Are we not men" by DEVO
2. "Domino Dancing" by Pet Shop Boys
3. "Oculus ex Inferni" by Symphony X
4. "Fates Warning" by Iron Maiden
5. "Rambling Fever" by Merle Haggard
6. "The Thing That Should Not Be" by Metallica
7. "Locomotive Breath" by Jethro Tull
8. "Eagle Fly Free" by Helloween
9. "If Heaven Ain't a Lot Like Dixie" by Hank Williams, Jr.
10. "Dark Wings, Dark Words" by HammerFall

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but I can't jump on the Aptow bandwagon. I can't help but think that yeah, he gets guys, but he must really hate women. The scene in Superbad where the fat kid is dancing with the chick and she leaves blood on him epitomizes how little he, and his characters, think of women. I'm not normally the rabid feminist, but his movies really piss me off.

As for Michael Cera, he's Okay. He delivers lines beautifully but I always get the feeling he's not acting, but just waiting to give the lines. It's weird to watch.

Anonymous said...

2007 marked the first time in 5 years I went to see a film in a movie theater. It was about as I remembered the experience being the time before. Aside from that flick (Harry Potter)... I know I must have sat down with the missus while she was watching a film at some point, but for some reason all I can think of was Spiderman 3 being shown on a flight back from Scotland. I wanted my airfare back for being subjected to that; even with the sound off, my IQ went down by points I could ill afford to lose.

The 10:

1) Ministry, Thieves (live)
2) Cypress Hill, I ain't goin out like that
3) Depeche Mode, Everything counts
4) Radiohead, Fake Plastic Trees
5) Super Furry Animals, Liberty Belle
6) Oasis, Married with Children
7) Primal Scream, Higher than the sun
8) Jimi Hendrix, Gypsy Eyes
9) Madness, Close Escape
10)Super Furry Animals, (Drawing) Rings around the world

oreo said...

My favorites that came out in 2007 (going to catch Atonement next week and There Will Be Blood tomorrow):
1.No Country For Old Men
3.The Lives of Others
4.Bourne Ultimatum
5.The Lookout

Other good ones: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Letters from Iwo Jima, Hot Fuzz, Knocked Up, American Gangster, Eastern Promises, Ratatouille, Blue State.

C. Paul said...


I'm with you on Knocked Up - the dialog was fantastic but it was 30 minutes too long. As well, I'm a big Aaron Sorkin guy so Charlie Wilson was up to his usual standards.

C. Paul

Anonymous said...

Anyone who is thinking about going to see Juno, may i suggest that you just donate your 10 dollars to charity and shoot yourself in the chest with a cannon instead. or maybe you could get someone to finger your dickhole for a couple hours, because hands down, ive never seen a movie that tried harder to be funny and irreverent than that pile of shit. The character of juno is neither likable or realistic in the tiniest degree, constantly spouting esoteric pop culture references that are often WRONG. such as the line "thundercats are go" when she discovers she is pregnant, when in actuality, any dumbass knows it is "thundercats, thundercats, thundercats, Ho-oh!" And the whole movie, i suppose i was supposed to be rooting for a juno/ george michael relationship to start, but unfortunately, i had no reason to like either character at all, and actually wanted them to not find happiness, which for them consisted of sitting on a porch and playing little maudlin indie acoustic songs. Ive never hated a character (and therefore a movie) as much as juno in my entire life. maybe im worng and she was a realistic portrayal of the arduous life of suburban 16 year old girls, but man, if thats the case then i fucking hate me some 16 year old girls. and that disgusting love interest between the old washed up rocker and 16 year old pregnant juno was unbearable to watch.

most of all, i was irritated by everyones lackadaisical attitude towards having a kid at 16. i dont know what its actually like to tell your parents that your pregnant, but i think it wouldnt be a laughing matter, and i would guess that 98% of the time, everyone in the room starts crying. having a kid is not like getting a wart removed. fuck this movie into oblivion. the only good part about it was that i snuck into it after seeing sweeney todd, which was actually quite good.

Universal Remonster said...

I feel like I have to throw mine in, being the resident filmmaker and all.

10) Gone Baby Gone
9) Hot Fuzz
8) Grindhouse
7) Zodiac
6) Superbad
5) Once
4) Eastern Promises
3) There Will Be Blood
2) No Country For Old Men
1) Sweeney Todd

Honorable mention - Wristcutters; a love story, 3:10 to Yuma, Knocked Up, Control, Juno, Waitress.

Movies that shouldn't exist - Dragon Wars, Shooter, Transformers, Spiderman 3, Alien vs. Predator; Requiem.

Universal Remonster said...

James, your comments regarding "Juno" are misguided and I truly believe you missed the movie because of your initial loathing for the character.

Joshua said...

No, Juno sucked. He pretty much got it right.

Anonymous said...

Hey, to each his own--I actually thought Juno was great, but it's not for everyone.

That said, Joshua, if you think that TRANSFORMERS was such a legitimate movie that Juno brings down by comparison, than you are out of your fucking mind.

I mean, please--"I'm staying here with Bumblebee."? Hell, Ellen Page's shit could have delivered that line with more conviction and legitimacy.

Universal Remonster said...


Talking from an educated filmmaker's perspective I can totally understand your beef with a lot of the content and character devices used to propel the ship, but thematically and structurally you can't argue that it's not a good film.

So whatever, you didn't like it. But until you offer me some reasons I'll consider your opinion unsubstantiated.

If you can't tell, I'm passionate about people criticizing films for the wrong reasons.

Anonymous said...

i dont care how well a movie is shot, if you dont have a good plot, then ANY movie is absolutely worthless. if you want to look at something asthetically pleasing then go to an art museum and look at paintings. Juno was a turd that was so bold and atrocious that no film technique could ever even attempt to polish it. "honest to blog!" didnt you love that comedic jewel of a line? pffffft.

Anonymous said...


Come on, man, if you're going to make a criticism of a movie at least make it coherent. Yeah, the fact that the friend said "Honest to blog" really fucked up the plot of Juno. I mean, holy shit, after that line, not even the intervention of Kubrick could have salvaged it.

The character of Juno is not in the least bit likable or realistic? I disagree on both counts.

For the record, I thought Sweeney Todd was pretty boring and the songs were shit. So what should I do, get on here and tell you what an idiot you are for liking it?

Perhaps instead I could just take the stick out of my ass and accept that I have an opinion, and it's no worse or better than anyone else's. Maybe you should do the same.