And here … we … go …
What are the 10 best movies you saw this year?
(Last year’s are here.)
10. Get Smart. Seriously. Original review here.
9. Rambo. If you listen closely, this movie is saying, “Hello, My Audience. Sylvester Stallone here. I know exactly what you want, and I’m going to give it to you, only I’m going to give it to you even better than you’re expecting, with one of the most appropriate and surprisingly beautiful endings you’ll see all year, especially for a movie as lean and as mean as this one.” As my buddy Mike said, “There’s a lot of bad in this movie … but it’s really good!”
8. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Say what you will about this movie. I loved it. I had a ton of fun with it. Harrison Ford was 100% reporting for duty, and the first half of this movie — Indy in the Atomic Age! McCarthyism! UFO mumbo jumbo! — is as exciting and as wonderful as anything in Raiders or The Last Crusade. Original review here.
7. The Incredible Hulk. Original review here.
6. Iron Man. Original review here.
5. Appaloosa. Ed Harris co-writes and directs this adaptation of Robert Parker’s well-regarded Western novel, with an invaluable co-starring assist by Viggo Mortensen. Virgil Cole (Harris) and Everett Hitch (Mortensen) are peacekeepers hired by the small town of Appaloosa, which is being held in the unforgiving grasp of evil rancher Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons) and his gang of vile bastards. Things get complicated by a girl (played pitch-perfectly by the ever-adorable Renee Zellweger) who can’t stand to be alone and a landscape that’s changing faster than the black-and-white days of good guys and bad guys can keep up with. The film has lots of slower moments, but they’re filled with so many delightful and effortlessly acted character moments that you won’t mind at all. Can’t wait to enjoy this again on Blu-ray on January 13.
4. Quantum of Solace. I read lots of complaints that this movie doesn’t have a story. Of course it has a story. It’s called Casino Royale, and Quantum of Solace is particularly effective if you watch its predecessor immediately before viewing it. Daniel Craig immediately became my all-time favorite Bond upon his debut in 2006, and he proves again here that if you try to kill Bond, Bond will a) kill you first and b) kill you the worst. This is a lean, mean revenge movie, and yet when Bond tells M (Judi Dench) that he’s still driven by his duty, you know he’s telling the truth. Many critics trashed this for not having any romance, but Bond and Camille (Olga Kurlyenko) were every bit the “damaged goods” the villainous Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) observed them to be. They were two broken souls who wanted bloody, righteous revenge, and a romance wouldn’t have been believable, particularly given the hole in Bond’s heart left by Vesper. And then there’s the final scene, that says everything I’ve ever needed to know about James Bond and sets 007 free to become even more formidable in the next installment. I can’t wait to see where they take it.
3. Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Bigger, funnier, and infinitely more magical and action-packed than the first one. And if not for Heath Ledger’s Joker, Luke Goss’s dangerous, nuanced Prince Nuada would take the gold as the year’s most formidable villain. Original review here.
2. The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Beautiful, moving, and everything I needed it to be — and more. Original review here.
1. The Dark Knight. I still haven’t written a review of this because I still don’t know how to approach it in a way that can do it justice. It’s one year after the events of Batman Begins. Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego Batman (Christian Bale), Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) have got the scum of Gotham City on the run. Bruce sees in Dent the kind of hero (and a symbol of hope) he thinks he can never be — a man who stands against crime and corruption without having to wear a mask. He also sees his last chance for a normal life with lifelong best friend and lovely legal eagle Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal), whose own relationship with Dent is more than just business. But The Joker (Heath Ledger), an agent of chaos who unleashes his heinous plans with great and terrible glee, has other ideas. And in the end, the only thing Bruce and his friends can give to stop this monster’s march toward anarchy … is everything. My sincerest thanks go out to my friend Kareem (and his family and friends) for hosting me this summer in Los Angeles and sharing this once-in-a-lifetime movie experience.
And now … it’s your turn.