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)