Welcome to a new feature I’m hoping to develop in this blog, where I rank everything in particular artist/group’s catalogue from best to worst (or least best in some cases). This is different than a top 5/10/however long list, as those are based on exclusion. Half the fun of reading a top list is to see what doesn’t make it, which tends to take the focus away from the positioning of what does make it. For these posts, everything makes the list, so the discussion is then focused on where. This is an extension of what list obsessives tend to do whenever something new is released by the people we like: mentally place how it compares to everything else they’ve released.
And what better way to kick off this feature than a focus on the absolute best studio making movies today: Pixar Animation. They’ve had an unmatched run of success since the release of Toy Story in 1995, with their name becoming synonymous with quality. The release of a Pixar film is anticipated as much by movie geeks as it is by families looking for the latest distraction for their rugrats, with the releases instantly getting stamped as one of the best releases of the year. So deciding how their feature length films match up will be no mean feat. It’s probably no surprise when I say that I’m an unabashed Pixar fan (especially if you’ve read any of my reviews of their previous films), so be prepared for an onslaught of superlatives. Continue reading →
It’s time once again for one of my signature posts: the fifth (and probably final) Andy Movie Awards, where I select not only who I think should win the awards being handed out this Sunday, but also who should’ve been nominated with those winners. There’s a lot of posts around this time of year where writers predict who they think will win Oscars, and some about they think should win. But unless you’re the only person in the world who agrees completely with the Academy’s nominees, it’s a false choice. What if your winner wasn’t nominated? What if you’re forced to choose the only worthy nominee in a group of junk?
Instead, I write a super-long post that basically amounts to a series of specified year-end lists, not only for the big awards that people care about, but also the other awards that most people don’t. The only Academy Award categories for feature length films that the Andy Awards don’t cover are Best Achievement in Editing (because I don’t know enough about the process to pass judgement, as with most viewers, I only notice editing when it’s bad), the two sound categories (as it’s not something I notice while watching movies), and Best Original Song (because it’s a stupid award. Instead, I’ve substituted it for my own award).
To make my decisions, I’ve seen 66 films that had a North American release date in 2008. The Academy nominated a total of 36 feature length films, of which I’ve seen 27 (75%). When you take out the ten films nominated in the foreign language and documentary categories (only four of which were released outside of LA/NY… I caught three of those), I’ve seen 24 out of 26 (92%), with the exceptions being Defiance (nominated for Original Score) and Australia (nominated for Costume Design). Thus, whenever my nominations divulge from the Academy (other than in those four categories), it’s because I disagree, not because I don’t know. Which brings me to why this very well may be my last post of this nature: I can’t imagine myself finding the time in the upcoming years to watch this many movies again.
As I did with my albums of the year list, I have to begin this list lamenting the fact that the 2008 year in film was not as good as the 2007 year in film. It was a down year for art in general, as pretty much any critic you read will tell you. Part of the reason for the negativity is the fact that the usual year end glut of awards baiting prestige films were largely disappointing, often ranging from merely solid to outright bad. And since that’s the steady diet critics (and myself) are fed around the time they write year end lists (albeit theirs come out at the actual end of the year, whereas mine waits until February, but I have to pay to see my movies), so it’s not surprising that the same enthusiasm wasn’t there, especially when the year before featured instant classics like No Country for Old Men, Zodiac, and There Will Be Blood.
Instead, the greatness in 2008 came not from the types of movies Hollywood likes to get dressed up for to dole out awards, but from the films fans line up for to buy overpriced concessions to see on opening day, or movies released early in the year when people weren’t paying attention. So this list is still filled with movies I enjoyed quite a bit, and recommend to everyone. As of this writing, I’ve seen 63 films released in North America in 2008, which includes some foreign language films that were released in their native countries in previous years, but doesn’t include some TIFF films I saw that haven’t yet been released (some of which would definitely contend for this list and will probably pop up next year… unless it is phenomenal). Of those 63, these were the best… Continue reading →
The Oscar nominations for 2008 were announced today (posted here). As always, my more complete thoughts on what were the year’s best will appear in both my year-end top ten movies list (which looks to be pushed back to early February this year) and the Andy Movie Awards, which should appear the week of the ceremony. But I thought I’d get some initial reaction on what the Academy snubbed, what they foolishly recognized, and what I have yet to see in my annual, catch-up-on-Oscars viewing checklist. Continue reading →