Hard to believe this is my fourth annual offering. After an exhaustive amount of deliberation, below you’ll find this year’s winners and runners-up, ready to populate your Netflix queue with months of quality entertainment.
The usual disclaimers apply. Though I’ve seen nearly 100 new movies this year, mostly on home video (so a few of these are late ’08), a number of the year’s notables have thus far escaped me, like Avatar, The Informant!, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Bronson, The Hurt Locker, Kick Ass, and maybe a few others that some deem worthy. I also do my best to avoid watching bad films, so everything’s on a curve of sorts, catered to my personal tastes.
And now . . . let the wild rumpus start!
Zack Galifianakis, The Hangover
Sacha Baron Cohen, Brüno
Kristen Bell, Fanboys
Rinko Kikuchi, The Brothers Bloom
Weak sauce. Good for some supporting laughs, sure, but where are all the gut-busting female roles?
FILM THAT MADE ME SNARF SODA OUT MY NOSE
(500) Days of Summer
FILM NOT TO WATCH IN THE DARK
I wasn’t in love with either of these, but they’re the most category-appropriate of this year’s offerings I’ve seen. I’d suggest a double-feature of Trick ‘R Treat and Drag Me to Hell if you prefer your seat-jumping moments balanced with a dose of camp.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Sam Rockwell, Moon
Viggo Mortensen, The Road
Julianne Moore, Blindness
Alison Lohman, Drag Me to Hell
It ain’t Shakespeare, but not exactly comedy either, and I loved Alison’s casting in this role. Not to mention being a good sport with all of Sam Raimi’s trademark actorly tortures. Apologies; I didn’t see many female-driven dramas this year, most notably The Blind Side or Julie & Julia.
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Minase Yashiro, The Machine Girl
Kim Ok-bin, Thirst
Thandie Newton, RocknRolla
Why was this so hard to pick this year? Sure, Megan Fox was cartoonishly smokin in that piece of Transformers dreck, but I hated the way Michael Bay’s lens objectified her, and the bimbo from My Bloody Valentine 3D had to have been buck naked for what seemed five solid minutes, but that was more brave than sexy. I didn’t see that Jessica Biel movie. Meanwhile Zooey Deschanel was hypnotically adorable in (500) Days, but sexy‘s a stretch. Might need to rethink this category next year.
Maya Rudolph, Away We Go
James Gandolfini, Where the Wild Things Are
Harrison Ford, Brüno
William Shatner, Fanboys
BEST ENSEMBLE CAST
The Brothers Bloom
HARDEST ASS KICKED
Crank 2: High Voltage
Though I will confess the Paris sequence in G.I. Joe rocked, as did Watchmen‘s stunning recreations, and the realistic shootouts in Public Enemies.
MOST EFFED-UP TWIST
(500) Days of Summer
HIGHEST SCORING MUSIC
Clint Mansell, Moon
Michael Giacchino, Up
Where the Wild Things Are had one of my favorite scores of the year, as did Drag Me to Hell‘s gothic stylings, however I gave a nod to Giacchino partly because he also scored Star Trek.
COOLEST VISUAL STYLE
Can’t believe I haven’t found a place for Coraline yet, and it’s especially deserving here, as is Blindness for its set design and highly-stylized and reflective compositions. Still, Watchmen brought a much-beloved and nearly-unfilmable graphic novel world to life more faithfully than anyone could imagine, and District 9‘s verité stylings are so convincing you forget it’s half CG.
WANTED TO HATE, BUT DIDN’T MIND SO MUCH
My Bloody Valentine 3D
Angels & Demons
Trick ‘R Treat
Tell No One
GEEKIEST BD/DVD EXTRAS
BEST MUSIC BD/DVD
Jeff Beck Live at Ronnie Scott’s
Stevie Wonder Live at Last
WORTHY FILMS THAT DON’T FIT ELSEWHERE
WORST WAY TO SPEND $9.25
Don’t get me wrong, Up is nowhere near a bad film, a solid B even, it just didn’t spark that Pixar magic within me that I’ve come to expect. Killshot‘s reviews prepared me for its dreadfulness, but how do you fuck up good material this badly given such a cast? Maybe we should ask The Informers. . . Another dishonorable mention to JCVD, which wouldn’t normally even be on my radar, but friends made it sound like Van Damme was reinventing the genre. No, he just played himself with a little more vulnerability.
With apologies to (500) Days of Summer, Moon, and several others listed above.
Note: I also saw Son of Rambow this year, too old for this list, but it would’ve swept a few categories last year when I was oblivious, so check it out if you haven’t.