12 July 2008

The Mid-Year Awards 2008

Only films released between January 1 and June 30 qualify.
That's it.

1) U2 3D (dirs. Catherine Owen & Mark Pellington)
More than just a concert film, this super-cool doc (from the uncoolest of places: National Geographic) is better than a front-row seat. It's front-row, onstage, behind the drummer, in the pit, everywhere. One of the all-time great moviegoing experiences.

2) WALL·E (dir. Andrew Stanton)
Just when you think Pixar has outdone themselves, they do it again with this rebirth of the silent film (in its first half) and a scathing satire of American laziness (in its second) with a love story joining its magnificently crafted parts.

3) Iron Man (dir. Jon Favreau)
The bar is now set for pure entertainment. Let's see who raises it.

4) Forgetting Sarah Marshall (dir. Nicholas Stoller)
In his screenwriting debut, Jason Segel (of the mildly humorous How I Met Your Mother), has already beat producer Judd Apatow at his own game: balancing the sweet with the raunchy.

5) Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (dir. Nathan Frankowski)
It's a bit uneven and a bit biased, but like all great documentaries, it's got a killer guide through the mess (Ben Stein) and it makes you think and ask questions for yourself. Chief among them being: If Intelligent Design is as worthless a concept as the scientific community says it is, why are they so quick to silence anyone who believes it (or even questions the many holes in the theory of evolution).

1) Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark in Iron Man
Here, the notorious actor portrays a super-rich, alcoholic degenerate who turns his life around. Sound familiar?

2) Russell Brand as Aldous Snow in Forgetting Sarah Marshall
We Americans are just now getting our first taste of something the UK has known for years: Brand is a stellar comedic talent.

3) Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart in Get Smart
Forget The Office: this is the role the brilliantly deadpan funnyman was born to play.

4) Dylan Moran as Gordon in Run, Fatboy, Run
Perhaps the only reason Moran played Simon Pegg's sidekick instead of Nick Frost is so audiences wouldn't think it was one of those masterful "Blood and Ice Cream" films. And even if this British import (directed by David Schwimmer--yes, that one) isn't quite a classic, Moran's one-liners carry the film above its clich├ęs.

5) Abigail Breslin as Maya in Definitely, Maybe
This last one may be a stretch, but the always delightful Oscar nominee continued to show up everyone in her age group by deftly playing the daughter of a couple going through a divorce.

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