Half-Time Checklist

We’re a few days away from a full six months having passed in the year 2008, and so it’s time to briefly assess the best, worst and in-betweens. It’s understood I’ll be leaving a few off that I should (and will) be adding to this or that category once the outraged responses come in, but these are the films that popped out when I sorted them all through. I’ve only mentioned 63 films here. There have been at least nine, I believe, that deserve to be called creme de la creme, but maybe I’m forgetting one or two.
Best So Far (in order of excellence): A tie between WALL*E and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (the latter technically being an ’07 film even though it opened on January 23), The Bank Job, The Visitor, Shine a Light, Iron Man, Young @ Heart, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, Son of Rambow. (9)
Decent, Solid, Respectable: In Bruges, Stop-Loss, The Band’s Visit, Cassandra’s Dream, Cloverfield, War, Inc., The Incredible Hulk, Taxi to the Dark Side, Chicago 10, The Counterfeiters, Then She Found Me, Standard Operating Procedure, Battle for Haditha, Speed Racer (more for its ambitious and mostly unique visual design than for what it actually was), Surfwise, Encounters at the End of the World, OSS117: Cairo, Nest of Spies, The Edge of Heaven, Mongol, Irina Palm. (20)
Best Ridiculous-Machismo Action Movie of the year: Rambo. (1)
Flawed Film, Genuinely Creepy Vibe, Righteous Theme: The Happening (1)
Best Stupid-Ass Adam Sandler Attitude Comedy In Years: You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. (1)
Loathsome but Respectable: Funny Games. (1)
Not Bad but Also Bothersome, Irritating: The Tracey Fragments, The Babysitters. (I need to add to this list.) (2)
Passable but Mostly Negligible (in order of preference): Be Kind Rewind, Semi-Pro, The Other Boleyn Girl, Leatherheads, Nim’s Island, Forgetting Sarah Marshall (galumph aesthetic, penis shots), 21, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (fastest fading movie of the year, death-button upon second viewing), Kung Fu Panda, Get Smart, Street Kings. (11)
Worst So Far (in order of awfulness): Wanted, Sex and the City, 10,000 B.C., Vantage Point, Mad Money, 88 Minutes, My Blueberry Nights, The Hottie and the Nottie, Chapter 27, The Love Guru, Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns, Deception, Drilllbit Taylor, College Road Trip, Smart People, What Happens in Vegas, Reprise. (17)
Didn’t See ‘Em: City of Men, The Year My Parents Went on Vacation, Married Life, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Redbelt, The Fall, The Foot Fist Way.

44 thoughts on “Half-Time Checklist

  1. Rob on said:

    Yay! Someone else hated Reprise as much as I did! I wanted to smack those two assholes the entire time.

  2. Haven’t seen any of these. “Mad Men” is coming out on DVD on Tuesday. That’s what I want to see. (The Best So Fars all look good as well).

  3. BLIND MOUNTAIN = BEST MOVIE SO FAR THIS YEAR.
    that being said, jeff NAILED the worst list. it’s going to be very difficult to dethrone WANTED.
    and now jeff’s added the inclusion of penis shots into his inexplicably eccentric reasons as to why he didn’t like forgetting sarah marshall? not that i want to rehash the collective response to jeff’s reaction and ensuing explanations…

  4. BLIND MOUNTAIN WILL OWN YOUR ASS.
    CHINESE SLAVE SHIT IS THE GREATEST GENRE EVER AND I HOPE PEOPLE GET FUCKED THE FUCK UP IN THIS MOVIE.
    SUPERHERO SHIT IS FOR NERDS.
    BADASS CHINESE SLAVE MOVIES ARE BETTER THAN NERDASS SPIDERMAN AND IRON MAN.
    CHINESE SLAVE MOVIES RULE. KNOW.
    PRAGER IS YOUR GOD. YOU ARE WEAK.
    Gruver1, RECOGNIZE THE PRAGER. I AM THE STAR. YOU ARE AN EXTRA.

  5. not really all that sure of what prager was trying to say there… but it seems my CAPS have riled him up a wee bit.
    yes, blind mountain is the best movie released thus far this year, as far as i’m concerned. adventures at the end of the world, wall-e, PARANOID PARK, and jellyfish were all quite wonderful, as i’m sure the dark knight will be.

  6. Ehrlich, you’re way off base, buddy. How about The Eye, or Prom Night or The Signal? How about The Happening, or the Hottie and the Nottie. By the way Jeff, I can’t believe you saw that and Meet the Browns and you skipped The Fall and Redbelt and Foot Fist Way. And how can you enjoy Zohan and Happening and not Sex and the City? This list is bunk. Mine is better. Check the blog.

  7. “it’s going to be very difficult to dethrone WANTED.”
    Where the fuck were you when MEET THE SPARTANS and SUPERHERO MOVIE and WITLESS PROTECTION and HOTTIE AND THE NOTTIE and PARANOID PARK came out?

  8. I’d toss Flight of the Red Balloon, The Witnesses and Love Songs onto the best list. It’s been a helluva year for French cinema.

  9. I think EDGE OF HEAVEN is better than “respectable.” It’s on my best list so far this year (along with ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED and THE VISITOR).

  10. “I think EDGE OF HEAVEN is better than “respectable.”"
    Yeah, it’s almost as if these lists were entirely subjective!

  11. Then again, my list and Wells’ list only overlaps with 25 films. Clearly he has a higher-brow sensibilities than I, since I actually paid to see Pathology on Thursday at midnite the week it opened… and I kinda liked it! Jeff sees way more docs too. But 4 Months shouldn’t count Jeff, despite its release date, since it was Oscar-eligible (can’t believe that doesn’t say Oscar-nominated, let alone Oscar-winner) last year. Same deal with Lives of Others last year (actually 2 years ago).

  12. You forgot/haven’t seen Snow Angels. My top five so far, minding I still need to see some stuff ….
    Snow Angels
    My Blueberry Nights
    Speed Racer
    The Bank Job
    Young@Heart

  13. @InSneider … well, i should qualify my statement about wanted being the worst film of the year by stating that i’ve been very good at avoiding the obvious tripe this year. that being said, i did catch THE SIGNAL and HOT DAMN that movie is a fucking disaster. i can’t remember i emerged from a screening with that degree of vitriol for the online community, what with aintitcool (again) doing confusing amateurism for innovation and doing backflips over a huge bomb. but no character in the signal turned the camera and directly insulted the viewer, as macavoy’s wesley does twice in wanted.
    and breadleymoore… in my humble opinion PARANOID PARK was one of the BEST films of the year, and i can’t even fathom how you could consider it to be amongst the putrid ranks of the signal, wanted, etc…
    @K.Bowen – david gordon green is one of my favorite working american filmmakers, but SNOW ANGELS was easily the most disappointing film i’ve seen this year, with MY BLUEBERRY nights not being far behind… i found speed racer to be only intermittently interesting and the THE BANK JOB to be a huge chunk of mediocrity… so clearly we’re on different wavelengths this year.
    and breadle

  14. Wow, Jeff, still defending The Happening? I didn’t bother with a lot of the titles on your “worst” list, but that was the biggest turd I’ve see so far this year.

  15. wow that last post of mine was missing a lot of articles and had tense issues up the wazoo… i’ll blame it on WANTED somehow interrupting synaptic transmissions 48 hours after the fact.

  16. My 5 top rated films thus far for ’08:
    WALL-E
    Iron Man
    In Bruges
    The Bank Job
    The Visitor
    4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days I count as ’07, but it would make this list otherwise…

  17. That’s interesting that you put War Inc in the “decent” category since it was slammed by most people. Was there a review and I missed it?
    Looking forward to seeing it myself as a huge Cusack fan; interesting to note that it was originally coming out on DVD July 1 (I pre-ordered) but now it’s been pushed to later in the year. Guess it’s doing better in its limited release than hoped and they’re stretching its run a bit.

  18. Speaking of 2008 – sure were a lot of interesting births that year, film wise: Jimmy Stewart, Bette Davis, Carol Lombard, Fred MacMurray.
    And next tuesday is the 100th Ann. of the Tunguska event – well known to anyone who saw GHOSTBUSTERS more than once and can quote lines verbatim.

  19. Speaking of 2008 – 1908 sure were a lot of interesting births that year, film wise: Jimmy Stewart, Bette Davis, Carol Lombard, Fred MacMurray.
    And next tuesday is the 100th Ann. of the Tunguska event – well known to anyone who saw GHOSTBUSTERS more than once and can quote lines verbatim.

  20. “and breadleymoore… in my humble opinion PARANOID PARK was one of the BEST films of the year, and i can’t even fathom how you could consider it to be amongst the putrid ranks of the signal, wanted, etc…”
    I didn’t. SIGNAL has its moments, and WANTED had Jolie.
    PARK has zilch; another Van Sant jerkoff puddle of bore, trying to feel culturally important and cinematically nutritious. Not a frame registers as either entertainment or art. It’s a chunk of soy for the art-house goblins.
    If you saw it as anything but garbage, Van Sant is laughing his balls off and would like to revisit your wallet further ASAP.

  21. No love for MISTER LONELY? That’s far and away the best movie I’ve seen this year. PARANOID PARK and THE FALL are also on that list. Nothing else I’ve seen compares, although I can’t wait for WALL*E.

  22. Gruver can you comment on the DVD release of GOODBYE UNCLE TOM this week?
    WTF is that? My mouth was dropped open during 90% of it. Cant believe that thing was made 37 years ago.

  23. This list is depressing. It reminds me of why I haven’t gone out to the movies much this past year. I was thinking it was because I was too busy. But when I look at this list, even the good movies on it don’t really have what it takes to motivate a person to get out of the house.
    Just to pick one — In Bruges is a good film, and I’m glad I saw it in a theater. But it just happened to work out that week, which was fine. I never felt like I had to see In Bruges in a theater, or at all.
    Not to pick on In Bruges. I could have said the same about The Bank Job or Iron Man. It’s all the better films on that list. They’re all a bit, I don’t know, obscure. Deservedly obscure. (Well, I guess Iron Man is not obscure.) My friends who are only so-so into movies probably wouldn’t recognize 80 percent of the titles on this list, even the big commercial turds on the list.
    But more depressing is there’s hardly anything on the list I read and say, oh yeah, I’ve got to recommend that to my friends who don’t get to the movies that much.
    What’s there to get excited about? I didn’t used to feel this way, and I don’t think it’s my attitude that’s changed. It’s the movie industry. And it’s not just 2008. It’s been more and more like this with each passing year.
    No wonder I spend a lot more time revisiting the 30s and the 70s on DVD.

  24. Who cares if the best films are “obscure?” I was exhilarated after I saw 4 Months 3 Weeks, and I could give a shit if the Meet the Spartans crowd has heard if it or not.

  25. Yikes, I’ve seen like 12 or 13 films this year. Not much to go on, but my 3 faves are so far: In Bruges, Iron Man and The Bank Job.
    Gotta see Wall-E.

  26. CITY OF MEN was brilliant! Not quite CITY OF GOD level, but pretty close. Definitely worth the effort to seek it out.

  27. Best Movie that Next to Nobody Saw: THE FALL
    Thank goodness I was able to persuade a half dozen friends to catch a screening over the brief two-week theatrical run. Even the skeptical ones thanked me in the end. I swear I’ll never read Nathan Lee again after the hatchet job he published in the NYT.

  28. My top 10 so far:
    1. 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, AND 2 DAYS
    2. THE BAND’S VISIT
    3. XXY
    4. WALL*E
    5. THE YEAR MY PARENTS WENT ON VACATION
    6. REPRISE
    7. BEAUFORT
    8. THE VISITOR
    9. YOUNG @ HEART
    10. BATTLE FOR HADITHA
    With IN BRUGES, WATER LILIES, UP THE YANGTZE, and THE FALL also getting honorable mentions.

  29. The worst:
    1. PROM NIGHT
    2. 10,000 B.C.
    3. THE HAPPENING
    4. SAVAGE GRACE
    5. TEETH
    6. THE CHILDREN OF HUANG SHI
    7. FIRST SUNDAY
    8. VANTAGE POINT
    9. 88 MINUTES
    10. DRILLBIT TAYLOR

  30. Best so far includes…”Son of Rambow”??????
    No, Jeff.
    I’m sorry, I didn’t make myself heard…
    NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. Yikes, I’ve seen like 12 or 13 films this year. Not much to go on, but my 3 faves are so far: In Bruges, Iron Man and The Bank Job.

    Gotta see Wall-E.

  32. My favorites to far.. The Bank Job, Shine a Light, Iron Man, In Bruges and The Visitor. Most disappointing.. 88 minutes. I used to be a huge fan of Pacino. I am worried what is happening to his career. Is he just not being offered good movies or what? I would love to see him make one more good movie but he has to stop trying to look like he is 4o and stop screaming all of his lines. Oy. I am also somewhat cheered up by the fact that the new Indy movie did not break all kinds of records. I think they were all assuming you did not have to make a great movie and everyone would show up anyway. Well yeah they all showed up the first week and I am not sure about this… but I think Iron Man had better legs in the long run.

  33. Oh, NO, not The Visitor. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  34. “@K.Bowen – david gordon green is one of my favorite working american filmmakers, but SNOW ANGELS was easily the most disappointing film i’ve seen this year, with MY BLUEBERRY nights not being far behind… i found speed racer to be only intermittently interesting and the THE BANK JOB to be a huge chunk of mediocrity… so clearly we’re on different wavelengths this year.”
    Honestly, David, I wouldn’t say Snow Angels is as good as All the Real Girls or George Washington, but it’s still among the best films I’ve seen this year. Bluebbery isn’t among Wong’s best, either. Bank Job was a greatly above average heist film, but I woudl bet against it being in the Top Ten in the end.
    It’s been a pretty weak year.

  35. INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL should have been among thr worst films of the year.
    Well at least 1 good thing came of it, the new urban ‘Nuke The Fridge’ saying.

  36. REDBELT and MARRIED LIFE, two films on Wells’s haven’t-seen-em list, are among the only 2008 movies that have stayed with me.

  37. Top 5 so far in no particular order except:
    WALL-E (It will be tough for any other film this year to knock this one off of my best-of list)
    Snow Angels
    The Bank Job
    Cloverfield
    The Visitor.
    Saw Son Of Ranbow last year, same with 4 months, 2 weeks and 3 Days, so I won’t put them here.
    Not a great year so far. Though I think WALL-E is better than any other film I saw last year.

  38. Jeff,
    In Bruges belongs well above The Bank Job. I believe you loved it when it opened Sundance, and claimed it was the best film to ever open the festival.
    Are you having short-term memory syndrome? I hope not.

  39. 1. Paranoid Park
    2. Son of Rambow
    3. Roman de Gare
    4. Surfwise
    5. Iron Man
    Notable: My Blueberry Nights, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
    Surprisingly Good: Prince Caspian, The Happening
    Horrendous: Jumper

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