The Year in Film 2008: A Guardian critic counts down his hours in the dark
DENNIS HARVEY'S 16 HORRIBLE EXPERIENCES AT THE MOVIES:
1. Over Her Dead Body (Jeff Lowell, USA) Paul Rudd can redeem anything. Or so I thought.
2. Be Kind Rewind (Michel Gondry, USA) When the cause of whimsy and movie-love requires making every character onscreen a grating comedy 'tard, you gotta wonder: what made this Gondry joint better than Rob Schneider?
3. American Teen (Nanette Burstein, USA) Manipulated à la reality TV trash, Burstein's "documentary" pushed the envelope in terms of stage-managing alleged truth. That envelope would've best stayed sealed.
4. The Hottie and the Nottie (Tom Putnam, USA) A Pygmalion comedy so atrocious that Paris Hilton wasn't the worst thing about it.
5. Six Sex Scenes and a Murder (Julie Rubio, USA) Local enterprise to be applauded. Lame sub-Skinemax results, not so much.
6. Hell Ride (Larry Bishop, USA) The Tarantino-produced missing third panel of Grindhouse (2007), this retro biker flick unfortunately forgot to be satirical. Or fun.
7. Filth and Wisdom (Madonna, UK) Madge's directorial debut so loutish and inept Guy Ritchie could use it as custody-battle evidence.
8. Diary of the Dead (George A. Romero, USA) The worst movie by the sole great director on this list. It was Friday the 13th (1980) meets The Blair Witch Project (1999) which is just so tired, not to mention beneath him.
9. The Fall (Tarsem Singh, India/UK/USA, 2006) Or, Around the World in 80 Pretentious Ways. A luxury coffee-table photography tome morphed into pointless faux-narrative cinema.
10. Chapter 27 (JP Schaefer, USA/Canada) John Lennon's assassin, Mark David Chapman, was a disconnected, unattractive, incoherent mutterer. Jared Leto gained 67 pounds to faithfully reproduce this profoundly boring slob. In the movie, Lindsay Lohan befriends him. No wonder she's a lesbian now.
11. The Happening (M. Night Shyamalan, USA/India) Not the worst Shyamalan. But then again, everything he's done since 1999's The Sixth Sense has rated among its year's worst, no?
12. Surfer, Dude (SR Bindler, USA) This laugh-free comedy proved it's possible to render 90 minutes of Matthew McConaughey in board shorts into a hard-off.
13. Synecdoche, NY (Charlie Kaufman, USA) What's like a prostate exam minus the health benefits? The extent to which writer-director Kaufman rams head up ass in this neurotic, pseudo-intellectual wankfest. Its stellar cast walked the plank into elaborate meaninglessness.
14. Australia (Baz Luhrmann, Australia/USA) Possibly the most expensive insufferable movie ever made. Can a continent sue for defamation?
15. Valkyrie (Bryan Singer, USA/Germany) Not even surprisingly decent talk-show Elvis impressions can save you this time, Tom Cruise.
16. The Spirit (Frank Miller, USA) The Dork Knight. Least super hero ever. Frank Miller: stand in the corner!
DENNIS HARVEY'S BEST PERFORMANCES MOST LIKELY TO BE OVERLOOKED:
Elio Germano in My Brother Is an Only Child (Daniele Luchetti, Italy/France, 2007)
Shane Jacobson in Kenny (Clayton Jacobson, Australia, 2006)
Emma Thompson in Brideshead Revisited (Julian Jarrold, UK)
Mathieu Amalric in A Christmas Tale (Arnaud Desplechin, France)
Jane Lynch in Role Models (David Wain, USA/Germany)
Stephen Rea, Mena Suvari, and Russell Hornsby in Stuck (Stuart Gordon, Canada/USA/UK/Germany)
Naomi Watts and Tim Roth in Funny Games (Michael Haneke, USA/France/UK/Austria/Germany/Italy)
Haaz Sleiman in The Visitor (Thomas McCarthy, USA)
Asia Argento in Boarding Gate (Olivier Assayas, France/Luxembourg) and The Last Mistress (Catherine Breillat, France/Italy, 2007)
Norma Khouri in Forbidden Lie$ (Anna Broinowski, Australia, 2007)
Russell Brand in Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Nicholas Stoller, USA)
Brad Pitt in Burn After Reading (Ethan and Joel Coen, USA/UK/France)
Thandie Newton in W. (Oliver Stone, USA/Hong Kong/Germany/UK/Australia)
James Franco in Pineapple Express (David Gordon Green, USA) and Milk (Gus Van Sant, USA)
Amy Adams in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Bharat Nalluri, UK/USA)
Thomas Haden Church in Smart People (Noam Murro, USA)
Emily Mortimer in Transsiberian (Brad Anderson, UK/Germany/Spain/Lithuania)
Judith Light in Save Me (Robert Cary, USA, 2007)
Kathy Bates in Revolutionary Road (Sam Mendes, USA/UK)
Anna Biller in Viva (Anna Biller, USA)
Taraji P. Henson in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher, USA)
Anna Faris in The House Bunny (Fred Wolf, USA)
DENNIS HARVEY'S TOP 25 (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER):
1. Battle for Haditha (Nick Broomfield, UK, 2007)
2. Bigger Stronger Faster (Chris Bell, US)
3. Brideshead Revisited (Julian Jerrold, UK)
4. A Christmas Tale (Arnaud Desplechin, France)
5. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher, USA)
6. Doubt (John Patrick Shanley, USA)
7. Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog, USA, 2007)
8. Forbidden Lie$ (Anna Broinowski, Australia, 2007)
9. Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (Alex Gibney,
10. Happy-Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh, UK)
11. I Served the King of England (Jirí Menzel, Czech Republic/Slovakia, 2006)
12. Kenny (Clayton Jacobsen, Australia, 2006)
13. Milk (Gus Van Sant, USA)
14. Monks: The Transatlantic Feedback (Lucia Palacios and Dietmar Post,
15. My Brother Is an Only Child (Daniele Luchetti, Italy/France, 2007)
16. Planet B-Boy (Benson Lee, US, 2007)
17. Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant, France/USA, 2007)
18. Reprise (Joachim Trier, Norway, 2006)
19. Revolutionary Road (Sam Mendes, USA/UK)
20. A Secret (Claude Miller, France, 2007)
21. The Signal (David Bruckner, Dan Bush, and Jacob Gentry, USA, 2007)
22. Trouble the Water (Carl Deal and Tia Lessin, USA)
23. The Violin (Francisco Vargas, Mexico, 2005)
24. Viva (Anna Biller, USA)
25. Waltz with Bashir (Ari Folman, Israel/Germany/France/USA)