Here's where I pretend that I am a positive and optimistic "glass half full" kinda guy - where I spritz on some Eau d' Poppy by Sally Hawkins - and give some love to the flicks that severely disappointed me this year. There are five big time awards contenders that came out towards the end of 2008 that left a very very bitter taste in my mouth, but instead of bitching them out (again) I'm gonna pinpoint a single thing about each that I did like. Because even if they didn't float my boat each of these films were made by a heap of admirable craftsmen and women, and just because the final product isn't doing it for me it doesn't mean there's not nothing I can't admire.
Australia - Okay, nobody's maintaining that Baz's flick is a "big time awards contender" anymore. Even Nicole Kidman is a hater! But the actual other "big time awards contenders" are movies which I would've deep-throated a hot poker before allowing myself to be dragged into the theater to see - I don't do Ron Howard or Clint Eastwood if I can manage escaping them, so suck it Frost/Nixon, The Changeling and Gran Torino - so that leaves Australia. Poor ignored Australia that I thought was a little better than everybody was saying it was. And since I already gave love to the best thing about it, I'll have to seek something else out. Hrm, I could say that kid Brandon Walters was fine, which he was, but blurgh, boring. So I will take this moment to give love to Australia itself.
The country, the locales that Baz shot so lovingly. You rock, Australia. Take a bow, former prison colony of my dreams!
Rachel Getting Married - Like I said in my review, Debra Winger is fantastic. And my beloved Annie is great too. Too bad it's all in service of such unbearable dreck... happy thoughts!
Slumdog Millionaire - The first forty-five minutes was captivating enough, and got the tone right for the fairytale they were trying to make. And as always Danny Boyle's eye for color and rhythm was impeccable.
Milk - I already gave some explicit love to Diego Luna's performance, and a shout-out to Josh Brolin, and a loving appreciation of James Franco's beautiful bare ass. So what the hell else is left for me to love? I'm on the record as not being that big a fan of Sean Penn or Emile Hirsch's performances. Allison Pill was good. And the costumes, the sense of place and time, seemed spot on. I liked the fact that a lot of the hairstyles and clothes were unflattering, which seems wholly true to the period. Usually actors pick the cute styles for themselves in their jaunts to olden days, but, for example, that fro and glasses ensemble that Emile was rocking wasn't doing him any favors. But mostly, I am thankful for the visual of Joseph Cross and Emile making friendly in the darkroom. That certainly lingers.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Visually, it's a very pretty movie. That is all I will say about that. Done.