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The Year in Film 2008: Politics as entertainment --shot by shot, shoe, or screen
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Milkin' it

Stone's prez is as innocent as an identity-free frat boy — even though the filmmaker does conclude with a recurring dream sequence that ends up referencing traditional horror tropes. It's not over till the monster screams. Or is hit by a shoe.

The year closed with the ticket-clinching bookend to W., ideal for every disgraced presidential library: Frost/Nixon. Its bracing, sexy blend of meta-Medium Cool media savvy and humanizing Milk-y goodness and characterization managed to slightly sweeten the sour old manipulator, the worst US leader since our latest. Bringing more than an ounce of the creepiness cloaking his noted disco-sleaze turn in Dracula (1979), Frank Langella transformed Nixon into the most menacing and identifiable blood-sucker entangled with an all-too-human dissembler/interrogator amid this year's Twilight and True Blood vamps. As divulged in the dark of the movie house, Frost/Nixon's and W.'s rogue presidents were united in at least one thing, besides the fact that their real-life counterparts made us embarrassed to be Americans. Their backstory — their real, pathetic will to power — had little to do with public service or serving anything but their damaged, mysterious, played-out egos.

KIMBERLY CHUN'S FIVE FOR FLESH, FANTASY, AND FIGHTING:

Best use of Google Earth-cam: Burn After Reading (Ethan and Joel Coen, USA/UK/France)

Best post-Planet of the Apes Statue of Liberty desecration: Cloverfield (Matt Reeves, USA)

Most phun without pharmaceuticals: Happy-Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh, UK)

Best vampire-human love story: Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, Sweden)

Best mix of mudflaps, hair bands, and mystery flab: The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky, USA)

>>More Year in Film 2008

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