Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The State of the Best...and the Worst...as the Year Closes

We don't (yet) live in a major population center. We don't (yet) get paid for doing this work we love so much. There have been some great films this year (and, as usual, an unbalanced flood of them in recent weeks), but I never quite feel right making a formal "Best of the Year" list until I've seen all of them...or at least, all but a few.

At this point, I feel that there are four outstanding titles prohibiting the list from being compiled. Those are Frost/Nixon, The Reader, Revolutionary Road, and The Wrestler. In a perfect world, I'd say Che and A Christmas Tale are necessary viewing as well, but those are harder to get a hold of. I am hoping that the list will be completed by the time Oscar nominations are announced on January 22.

It will be easier, however, to quickly complete the vaunted "Worst of 2008" list, always a simultaneously fun and painful experience. Look for our Worst lists in the very near future.

Every year I am reminded that these year-end retrospectives are, ultimately, meaningless in the grand scheme of things. There are, even in the worst years (except 2006, where the quality was potent for about 10 movies, and then the well dried up), more than ten films worthy of consideration, and it usually depends on the subjective views each critic applies on any given day as to which films ultimately receive the honor of landing a spot on THE LIST. But as I always do, I must defend the undeniable fun of looking back over the year that was, and celebrating the greatest (and throwing one last sucker punch at the most dubious) of the year's cinematic achievements. The movies deserve it, one way or the other.

I am a movie guy...have been since I was about 5 years old. The movies have the ability to transport, influence, enrage, horrify, entertain, educate, and enliven. They can make us laugh or make us cry, turn us on or turn us off. Film is, if I may steal a term coined by Dr. Charles Derry, a SuperArt...an all-encompassing synthesis of writing, music, and photography. In choosing to honor these films by making lists, I choose to pay special homage to the medium that has wound my clock, jump-started my heart, enlivened my imagination, and opened my mind so many times. The movies mean the world to me.

And for that reason, perhaps these lists aren't so meaningless after all.

Happy New Year...Happy Cinema.

2 comments:

the WIZARD, fkap said...

I share your dilemma of being unable to see many (or most) highly praised movies during the "list" and awards season.

Living in an extremely small town with only one three screen and privately owned cinema, I am even unable to see some box office champions due to the eclectic tastes of our theater owner.

So I must await DVDs before I can see many award winning films.

Having said all that, I wish you had a better platform than Blogspot for your review site. I'd love to be able to easily locate movies to add my comments once I've seen them. Alas, I am unaware fo a better organized (and still free) option.

Keep up the good work, I enjoy your comments and look forward to seeing some of the obviously excellent movies you've reviewed in the last few weeks.

J McKiernan said...

Thanks, Wizard, for the kind words. I agree that a blog is not the ideal format for what we are doing...but I have found it effective enough, and I've been able to add a few additional touches here and there, like finding a place for Box Office numbers, etc.

You, sir, are in a much more desolate town than we! Dayton certainly ain't New York, but we do have more than one independent theater, a slew of multiplexes, and are only about an hour away from the major cities, like Cincy and Columbus. So seeing everything is a possibility for us...we just can't get it all done as soon as we'd like. Right now, it's down to two: "The Wrestler" and "Revolutionary Road." I think K and I both have clear ideas as to what our Best List will contain, but I still don't feel like it is "complete" enough unless I see all the possibilities.

What kind of movies play at your local theater?