Monday, December 8, 2008

Four shaker roundup: The best DVDs of the year

I have no affiliation with SAG or any other organization for that matter, but much luck to Jessi as she frantically screens; I look forward to more verdicts.

Since it’s that time of year, I’ve rounded up my top 20. Of course a majority of these DVDs were released theatrically in 2007 (unless noted as a 2008 release); Like Jessi, I may have slipped a few theatrical releases in there -so sue us bitches!

You know, I saw a higher number of films this year than normal but it always amazes me how it seems constant that 75% of films made are just average or below, no matter how selective you are. Hopefully this list will help you weed out some bad ones:

1. American Gangster - Russell Crow and Denzel Washington have a lot of fun in a good old fashioned gangster flick.

2. The Dark Knight (2008) - I know Jessi heartily disagrees and it has its' bloated moments- but this was the best comic book film of the year, helped by the late Heath Ledger’s eerie Joker.

3. Eastern Promises - A knife fight in a sauna? Cool! Viggo Mortensen totally nails the Eastern European character in this great little mob film.

4. Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale - Ricky Gervais who gave us the original, succinct and far superior “The Office”, does it again by finishing his second series with a comic swipe at celebrity culture.

5. Frozen River (2008) - I second Jessi's opinion. Atmospheric and real, this look at poverty, human trafficking and cultural divide is an unbelievable indie with Melissa Leo really shining in the lead.

6. Kabluey - Previously reviewed on this blog. The funniest blue man since David Cross on "Arrested Development".

7. The King of Kong - Who knew a documentary on Donkey Kong competitors would be so compelling? The villain in this is unintentionally hilarious!

8. The Lives of Others – Humanity trumps conservative and oppressive bureaucracy in this timely German film on government vs. privacy.

9. No Country for Old Men - The sound design alone makes you want to see this film again. True the ending is unexpected and bizarre, but this film is a classic.

10. No End in Sight - This year gave us many fine documentaries on the Iraqi war, but this one is just a simple, straightforward presentation of facts as many high-level insiders openly condemn the action.

11. Persepolis - A rebellious Iranian girl comes of age in the political turmoil following the fall of the Shah. Amazing with original animation.

12. Ratatouille - The second of three animated films I’ve selected, is a great family film about a foodie vermin finding his inner chef. Brad Bird is a great storyteller.

13. The Savages – Previously reviewed on this blog. Yay dysfunction!

14. Starting Out in the Evening - Frank Langella rules as an old school intellect and author who’s become a recluse. Sort of a “Lost in Translation” for the literati.

15. Step Brothers (2008) - Will Ferrell’s best film to date and the best comedy of the year. John C. Reilly and he are man-boys who sleepwalk, fight and improvise the absurd fantastic!

16. Up the Yangtze. - Young employees on a tourist excursion boat face uncertain futures in a changing China. A unique documentary of the disruptive Three Gorges dam project as seen through their eyes.

17. The Visitor - Richard Jenkins who was the comic father in “Step Brothers”, shows his dramatic range playing a widowed, unpopular professor dealing with a crowded apartment and an empty life.

18. Waitress - Sweet as pie! A small film of dreams and the compromises of life. The tragic murder of the director and co-star Adrienne Shelly make it even more poignant.

19. WALL-E (2008) - A strange film since it is a Disney animation that would no doubt bore and depress children. If you believe in dystopia clap your hands!

20. Zodiac - I love true-life crime thrillers and this one just rocks! I am psyched that there will be a deluxe edition coming out. Plus it inspired Dirty Harry Callahan. See it punk!

(Oh- I didn't award any '5 shakers' except for "No Country.." this year and even that one's 'shakey')

1 comment:

Sean L said...

"No Country"'s ending wasn't as disturbing as why that idiot went to bring "agua" back to a mexican drug runner who was probably dead or eaten by "lobos" already.

Great film though! Javier Bardem was brilliant, and well as the Cohens.

Notice the boot marks on the floor in the opening strangulation scene.