Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Low Res Oscar Ballot: Best Picture

[Previously: Acting awards; Technical awards; Underrated/runners-up]

THE TOP 10 MOVIES OF THE YEAR (as chosen by some blogger you know)

#10 -- American Teen: Just a joy to behold, and no pesky concerns about the state of reality television or the authenticity of media-bred high-schoolers could possibly dampen the love I felt after seeing this. Mitch Reinholt 4 Life!

#9 -- Vicky Christina Barcelona: The kind of breezy, witty, verbose fun that Woody Allen's movie's are supposed to be but so rarely have been in the last fifteen years.

#8 -- The Strangers: I think I still have muscles that are still tensed up from seeing this back in May. Absolutely terrifying, artfully simplistic.

#7 -- WALL-E
#6 -- The Dark Knight
The two most overhyped movies of the year. Of the decade. And they're great. TDK is an immensely satisfying, epic crime drama; WALL-E is (most of the time) a sweet and innovative love story. Of course, they both had their flaws, and by saying that I've become a hater. And honestly, in a better year, these two wouldn't place nearly as high on my list, so maybe I am a hater. But they've come to define the cinematic zeitgeist for good reason, and I'm almost entirely happy about that.

#5 -- Wendy & Lucy: Quietly devastating, impeccably performed, and doggedly resonant. No pun intended.

#4 -- Milk: Again, a flawed movie, though apparently it's not against the law to say so about THIS movie. But honest to god, I could give a shit. I'm not sure how it happened, but the shortcomings of the script (which I maintain deep-sixed Diego Luna's character more than Diego Luna did) and the erratic distribution of directorial flourish (honestly, a minor concern, but superfluous voiceover is superfluous voiceover) could not have mattered less by the time the story reached its emotional conclusion.

#3 -- In Bruges: The funniest, most enjoyable, violentest, unexpectedly sweetest, foul-mouthiest, Colin Farrell making good on his last chance-iest, inanimate fucking object-iest, indirect travelougue-iest, midget-tastic movie of the year.

#2 -- The Wrestler
#1 -- Rachel Getting Married
Let's tackle these both at once, since it seems like I have been singing their praises for longer than I've had this blog. They both inhabit their worlds with bracing specificity and they both flay their main characters and put them on display for all to see. Of course, it's not only their similarities that I loved. The vibrant life on display in Rachel is traded for deeply felt (if noble) fatalism in Wrestler. Both are rendered with honesty and kindness and insight into the lives of actual flesh-and-blood human beings won't be found in at least 3/5 of the ultimate Best Picture field.

Final Tally:
The Dark Knight 9 nominations
Rachel Getting Married 8
The Wrestler 7
Milk 6
Doubt 5
In Bruges 4
The Reader 4
Vicky Christina Barcelona 4
Wendy & Lucy 3
Frozen River 3
Synecdoche, NY 3
The Strangers 3
[7 movies with 2 nominations; 12 movies with 1 nomination; 32 movies recognized in total.]


Vance said...

I agree. Wall*E and TDK are imperfect and usually wouldn't rate as high on my list but so far not much has surpassed it yet (though I STILL have yet to see Rachel, Wrestler, Reader, Rev Road, etc (hmm... apparently anything with an R sound in it)).

That Bootleg Guy said...

I just don't get the Wall-E love (your own conditional praise is duly noted, Joe). The first 20 minutes were terrific -- even if I didn't initially get all the homages to Buster Keaton, etc.

Once Wall-E and EVE leave earth, it turns into a glorified chase movie with ham-handed social commentary and an unnecessarily dark tone that belies its psychedelically colored backgrounds in every scene aboard the Axiom.