Discussion: Stepping Out…To The Cinema

slumdogThis week, given the wide variety of views and superb taste of our readership – and yesterday’s Oscar nominations – I thought it would be fun to step away from country music for a minute and re-visit the year at the cinemas.

Like most movie buffs towards the end of December and during the beginning of the new year, I’ve been scrambling to see all the so-called great movies of the past year.  I’m sorely lagging behind.  The ridiculous number of critics’ lists have been mostly crowded with the same movies, including Milk, Doubt, Frost/Nixon, Revolutionary Road, The Wrestler, Gran Torino and Rachel Getting Married.  Sadly, I haven’t seen any of them.  (I initially chalked up my failure to see all of them to lack of time, but now that I’m looking at that list, I’m starting to think that maybe I was just waiting for the right time … to be incredibly depressed.)

Throughout the year, I did manage to see Oscar nominees The Dark Knight, Wall-E and Vicky Christina Barcelona, among others.  All of them were highly entertaining and had wonderful aspects but I wouldn’t go so far as to nominate them for a Best Picture Oscar.  I also tried to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button after Christmas, but it was sold out and I haven’t made it back. (Am I allowed to wish another actor had the lead role? I’m sick of Brad Pitt.)

The only movie I did see this year that I can’t recommend enough, up for multiple Oscars including Best Picture, is Slumdog Millionaire.  Best movie ever? No. But it reminded me of why I love the movies. It had that indefinable, irreplaceable *magic*. I can’t wait to see it again.

So, what was your favorite movie of the year?

To keep a toe in music…here is a link to some of the great music that supported and enhanced the movies in 2008: Amazon (I’m loving “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire, Springsteen’s “The Wrestler,” and Jamie Cullum’s “Gran Torino”)


  1. Absolutely Slumdog Millionaire. I’ve seen all the Best Picture contenders aside from Benjamin Button now (gotta do something with your winter break) and they were all quite good, but that was the only movie that struck me as a real masterpiece. I don’t want to give anyone who hasn’t seen it unrealistically high expectations, but I personally love it.

    But I also thought The Reader was pretty remarkable (mostly because Kate Winslet’s face fills in all the plot holes and then some – she really deserves to win), and I have a feeling I’ll really like Wall-E once I finally get around to seeing it. And I somehow ended up seeing The Dark Knight four times in theaters (the last time at an IMAX, which was awesome) and it impressed me a little more each time, though I agree it’s not Best Picture caliber.

    Yeah, I like movies. :)

  2. I’ve seen way too many movies this past year but Benjamin Button is my favorite out of the Best Picture noms. I’d say my overall favorite though was Rachel Getting Married, I really loved the movie and thought Anne Hathaway did an amazing job. Hopefully she’ll win for best actress but with Meryl Streep in there I “Doubt” it will.

  3. Considering the hype I’ve been really interested in actually seeing Benjamin Button and Slumdog Millionaire.

    However in 2008 I attended the movies much more than ever before and I have to say that “The Dark Knight” and Ledgers portrayal of a sadistic and twisted Joker where two of the best things I have ever seen in any for of entertainment. A close second and third respectively for 2008 for me would be “Iron Man” and “Wall-E”

  4. My pick for the best movie of 2008 is FROST/NIXON, in large part because of the performances of Michael Sheen (as David Frost) and Frank Langella (as Richard Nixon), who recreated the roles from the Peter Morgan stage play upon which the film is based. And since it was those real-life 1977 interviews with the former president that got David Frost truly noticed on this side of the Atlantic, it was of historical importance to me.

    The other thing about that film is that it pointed out just what continues to make Richard Nixon such a fascinating figure in American history–why someone with his considerable abilities and his achievements could have blown it all because of his own personal paranoia. Langella did a very good portrayal of the 37th president (IMHO).

  5. Now that my joke has time to ‘sink in’ I’ll just say that I enjoyed stuff like “Wanted” and “Iron Man” this year along with “The Dark Knight.” I have plans to see the great Oscar-nominated movies, particularly “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Benjamin Button”

  6. I’ll chime in with love for Slumdog Millionaire. It is far from a flawless movie, but somehow, I found myself rooting so hard for Jamal to survive with his innocence intact that the thin plot didn’t bother mel. And this film has the most credible representation of Mumbai that I’ve seen in film — Danny Boyle captures the incredible energy of the city and, more remarkably, offers a frank portrayal of various aspects of the city’s modern life without fetishizing them. The child actors in the film seamlessly morph into their characters without being cutesy or precocious. Frankly, I think their performances are stronger than that of their adult counterparts, though Dev Patel, Freida Pinto and Madhur Mittal certainly do what is asked of them. I also think Irfan Khan does a very nice job as police inspector.

    Lynn, for what it’s worth, I thought the film was at least as rewarding the second time around. I appreciated more of what the actors were doing apart from delivering dialogue, and the film does a good job with detail there. And in thinking about the film, I am increasingly impressed with the contextual ground it manages to cover as far as socio-economic realities go. And it conveys those realities with remarkable efficiency and efficacy.

    And finally, the music is really well used to reflect the spirit of the movie. The “Jai Ho” scene a well-earned wink and such fun. But my favorite tune from the movie is probably the other song from this movie that is nominated for an Oscar: “O Saya” (featuring M.I.A.). It is compelling enough on its own, but all the more so in concert with the opening scenes of the film.

  7. I’ve seen 3 of the movies nominated for Best Picture: Frost/Nixon, Milk, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I still would like to see Slumdog Millionaire, but I’m not sure if I want to see the Reader or not. I actually disagree with it’s nomination (Considering what the critics said and Rotten Tomatoes) and think it should have gone to either The Dark Knight or The Wrestler. I’ve not see the latter, but the Dark Knight was the best movie I saw this year. At least Heath Ledger got the nomination for the Joker, which was an absolutely amazing performance.

    I have a major problem with the way the Academy does things and only nominates the best movies of November/December but that’s for another topic and another time.

  8. I say don’t write off The Reader until you’ve seen it. I think it’s being unfairly maligned by critics mostly because it’s yet another movie about the Holocaust and we’ve seen quite a lot of those. It’s not a perfectly constructed movie like, say, Frost/Nixon, but I still think it packs a lot of emotional wallop (again, largely because of Kate Winslet) and has the potential to get you thinking. I personally found it a bit more affecting than I did Milk, which I expected to like a lot more than I did. I think the excitement over that one is more related to its huge political relevance than it is to the actual quality of the filmmaking (though it is a well-made movie in lots of ways).

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