Best and the rest from mainstream films


Make no mistake, 2008 was the year of the woman. From politics to multiplex, they were the most newsworthy.

At the box office, week after week brought about stories about how, mother of all shockers, women enjoy going to the movies too. From summer “event movies” (usually an exclusive boys tree house where “No Gurlz Allowd”), to record-breaking such as best opening for a female director, women were the new black at the box office.

In 2008:

  • Twilight was the highest-grossing film opening by a female director (at $70 million);
  • It received the second-largest advanced ticket sales, trailing only The Dark Knight;
  • Sex and the City was the best opening ever for an R-rated comedy;
  • The SATC gals also debuted as the fifth best R-rated film of all time;
  • The film also bested Mission Impossible as the best debut of a film based on a TV show.

Now, perhaps next year we can do the same with good movies.

Sex in the City was the female equivalent of Iron Man, replacing magical gadgetry with matching accessories and pyrotechnics for Prada. The other glass ceiling-shattering film, Twilight, featured a lead who thankfully did not have to resort to sex for empowerment, but she really didn’t do much else, either. Twilight’s accolades are deserved for what it accomplished behind the camera, not what was captured on it.

Though there were film aplenty that could populate both lists, I tried to limit this list to films that would have played in most major cities outside the metropolitan areas.


The Dark Knight: Let me join the chorus of hosannas for this little underrated indie gem, for I know it could use the help financially.

WALL·E: A family film with a virtually dialogue-free first half, a protagonist made of metal, an Earth barren of life and squelched by pollution, a cuddly cockroach sidekick, and a human cast that’s a Dorito away from permanent bedrest. A film of staggering beauty from a company for which that is a trademark feature.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Director David Fincher’s most accessible, polished film to date. While Zodiac and Fight Club may resonate longer, Button is the kind of marriage between theatrics, epic scope, and pure emotion that lands him in the top tier of working directors. Winning, tender performances by Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett only further cement the film’s top 10 placement.

Burn After Reading: After bumming us out of us with last year’s stark, desolate (but excellent) No Country for Old Men, the Brothers Coen demonstrate their sharp comic chops with this irreverent, all-star dissection of middle-age madness and frustration of lives lived that come nowhere close to youthful aspirations.

Milk: Sean Penn offers further proof of his necessity in cinema today with his ingratiating portrayal of slain politician Harvey Milk. Director Gus Van Sant lifts his vision from his navel (where it was focused during films such as Gerry and Last Days) to create a sensitive, intimate biopic that is saved from maudlin tendencies by Penn’s presence.

Tropic Thunder: Bold, unexpected comedy that does not wear out its welcome by the third act, like so many other mainstream comedies. Ben Stiller directs Robert Downey Jr. to his second standout performance this summer.

Quantum of Solace: Some have decried the fact that Daniel Craig’s Bond is just too mean. But Solace, which feels like a perfect extension of Casino Royale, feels as though it is taking its sweet time in creating the psyche of someone who has reason to be known as the greatest super-spy the world has ever known.

Let the Right One In: This is a bit of a cheat, since this may have only appeared on area screens as part of a film festival, but its effect is one that reverberates far outside its limited runs nationwide. In a year when Twilight has been garnering all the attention, The Right One has become the one true vampire (and adolescence) film whose bite leaves a mark and should be sought out on DVD before the inevitable US remake.

U2-3D: Demonstrating just why they are the world’s biggest rock band, U2 raised the roof with this truly cinematic 3D spectacle that not only captured the feel of one of their concerts, but invited the audience on stage to jam with Bono and the boys.

Slumdog Millionaire: Danny Boyle never disappoints, even with his misfires (A Life Less Ordinary, Sunshine). But he nails it again with Slumdog, a rather pedestrian tale told with wit, undeniable humanity and delivered with uncompromising conviction.


The Happening: When wind is your chief villain, it’s time to rethink the script.

The Love Guru: Mike Myers steps in Deepak doo-doo.

Sex and the City: Inside this film’s Sax Fifth Avenue window dressing lies the the cold, calculated heart of an empty Wal-Mart.

88Minutes/Righteous Kill: Al Pacino should have known better after working with director Jon Avnet in 88, but instead enlisted fellow legend Robert DeNiro to further Kill both their careers.

X-Files: I Want to Believe: But now I no longer do.

Seven Pounds: Will Smith packed his bags for a guilt trip, and we’re forced to ride along in the back seat.

An American Carol: Looks like Republicans were just as good at making films as they were winning elections in 2008.

Meet the Spartans/Disaster Movie: Cinematic parody: Born 1923, Died 2008.

~ by usesoapfilm on December 31, 2008.

One Response to “Best and the rest from mainstream films”

  1. I think you are thinking like sukrat, but I think you should cover the other side of the topic in the post too…

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