Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Year End List - Movies and TV

My Favorite Movies I Saw in 2008

1) Iron Man
I'm not sure it's all ages fun. I'll leave that to the parents to decide, but I don't think there's any denying how great Robert Downey Jr. was as Tony Stark, how great the armor and effects were, or the level of summer-fun that director John Favreau squeezed into the movie.

2) I liked "Incredible Hulk"
Maybe not the brightest movie ever made, but it brought the story of the Hulk to the big screen with a certain, imaginative panache. Ed Norton was a likable Bruce Banner, and the final effects on the Hulk were really pretty good.

3) Dark Knight
I've already talked at length about Dark Knight, but it set a new standard for action movies and comic adaptations. And for this DC Comics fan, it was particularly gratifying to see something that was so close to the spirit of the Batman comics after so many years of bad adaptations under WB's belt.

4) Step-Brothers
Dumb comedies never make these lists, but I laughed myself sick at this movie (as I tend to do at about 2/3rds of Will Ferrell's comedies). It's no masterpiece, but I liked it.

5) Wall-E
I tend to go for Pixar's work, and I found Wall-E to be a triumph even by Pixar standards. I'm not sure I loved it as much as I loved Ratatouille, but... just a deeply gratifying movie.

Movie that wasted my time: Wanted
This movie didn't just complete ignore the source material, it just wasn't a very good movie. Unlikeable characters engaged in a plot that seemed like it was cooked up by someone in a blindfold mixing up words from fridge magnet poetry... If I knew it wasn't going to get any better after the first 30 minutes, I probably would have walked out.


1) The Middleman
I think JimD, Jason, Jamie and I were the only folks who watched ABC Family's bizarre little show about a straight arrow fighter of bizarre threats to the world and his cynical sidekick. But for a low-budget show, it was big on ideas and very well written and cast. I will actually pick up the series/ season 1 on DVD.

2) It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Season 4 didn't have quite the same zing as Season 3, but this FX Network show still delivered. It's in no way an all ages show, and it may not fit your brand of humor (how badly didn't you want to see Danny Devito's posterior through a hospital gown?). But the characters are well drawn and the show is, if nothing else, not afraid to take risks. Plus: Kaitlin Olson is one of the funniest women on TV

3) 30 Rock
Speaking of hilarious women on TV, Tina Fey continues to be, maybe, the funniest person on television, rivaled only by the rest of her cast on 30 Rock (I have special love for Alec Baldwin on the show).

4) Mythbusters
It's not just the explosions that are fun. I really enjoy watching these guys, who you sorta wish were your friends, engage in problem solving for problems nobody else would bother to work out. Whether shooting arrows as a "ninja" (martial arts master) or blowing up pianos, it's always a good time.

5) Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
I'm not one who goes in for hour-long dramas, but I'm hooked on Terminator, and not just for the one-two punch of Summer Glau and Lena Headey. Robots, a gripping storyline, and tying into one of my favorite film franchises... I'm a fan.

6) Ghosthunters
I cannot explain why I love this show, but I do.

7) A Colbert Christmas
I always enjoy The Daily Show and Colbert Report, but I particularly enjoyed the hour-long special of A Colbert Christmas on Comedy Central. If you stumble across it on cable, I highly recommend it.

8) American Experience
More of a clearinghouse for documentaries on PBS than a particular show, the documentary program covers both grand and horrific moments in American history. It might not have the immediacy of "Independent Lens", but it does put history into context in a way that I'm not sure even the programming on the History Channel manages. Always beautifully produced, it's well wortha dding to your DVR.

9) John Adams
An HBO mini-series, this show followed the life of America's first Vice President and Second President from the earliest rumblings of revolution in the colonies to Adams's death on the 4th of July. Add in another great performance from Paul Giamatti as Adams and what may be Laura Linney's finest performance, and its a good renter.

10) History Detectives
This PBS show is the natural spin-off of Antiques Roadshow. People contact the show with heirlooms they know very little about, and a team of researchers uncovers whether the item is authentic, the true story behind the item if its not authentic, but most importantly relates the story of the part of history where the item might be from. This can be anything from old firearms to paintings, to photographs... It's a great show, and often oddly moving as the owners of the objects learn the history that's touching them through the items.


Anonymous said...

I haven't seen *all* of your TV picks, but of the ones I have seen the only one I disagree with is the Colbert Christmas Special. Seriously, what was funny about that thing? I picked it up about halfway through (when Willie Nelson was on) and stayed till the end.

The bit about Elvis Costello and the bear was awful. Jon Stewart's appearance meh.

The special seemed unfortunately like other celeb comic specials, when the host mistakenly thinks anything he does in the special will be funny because he's doin' it.

Although I chuckled when Willie was getting handcuffed and asked for his weed back.

The League said...

Well, I thought the part with Elvis Costello and the bear was genius, so I guess there's just going to have to be a bit of disagreement there. I'm always of the opinion that (a) if you have to explain funny, you've already lost, and (b) you don't see much in the way of comedy in "best of" lists because when it comes time to put favorites out there, people are kind of aware of the subjective nature of humor.

I buy into the Colbert school of funny, found the tie-in's to his daily program (such as the threat of bears) pretty wacky, and felt the special actually really nailed the old Christmas Special vibe, especially of the classic Bing Crosby specials, etc...

mcsteans said...

I thought the Colbert special was HI-larious. I liked the songs so much, I bought them off of iTunes.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. I should say that I *do* like Colbert's normal show... and I was a fan of many zany nonsense bits on Conan O'Brien (back when I actually could watch the show).

Including.... INAPPROPRIATE.

The League said...

No need to defend your funny credentials to me, my good man.

I don't remember where it was, but last year I saw someone on TV use the "Inappropriate" bit as their own, and I half wondered if someone had done it to them, and they'd picked it up, not knowing it came from Conan O'Brien and that millions of people were already familiar with the idea.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember that before it became a style of music, CRUNK was the faux swear word that Conan introduced back in 1994 or so??

The League said...

Oddly, it sounds like a swear Conan the Barbarian would use over Conan the Talkshow Host.

"By CRUNK, I will slay the beast!"

JAL said...

I recall "crunk" fondly. I believe it's shtick was that the swear word was so new that the censors wouldn't know to bleep it.