Thoughts on Best of 2008

I haven’t done a review of all the movies I saw in 2008, to make my pronouncements about “best”, yet.

But the Oscars noms are out, and a more predictably dreary selection you can hardly imagine. You know, if they were really about “best of”, you’d get a much broader selection of movies, and seldom would you see sweeps, because there can be complete gems in an otherwise turd-of-a-movie.

Big Hollywood has a “top 5” snubs article. I quote:

1. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) – Not just the best picture of that year, but one of the greatest achievements in cinema history. Were it not for the height of the MGM musical in the late forties and early fifties, you’d now be reading an argument that film as an art form peaked with “Sunrise.”

2. The Searchers (1956) – Arguably the greatest film — not just Western – ever produced. John Ford’s epic character study of a man who helps create a civilization that will not have a place for him received a grand total of zero nominations.

3. The Wild Bunch (1969) – Was it the violence, which looks pretty tame by today’s standards, that turned the Academy off? Something has to explain why “Hello, Dolly!” And “Anne of a Thousand Days” made the cut and Peckinpah’s masterpiece did not.

4. A Night At The Opera (1934) – It would take a revival three decades later for the genius of the Marx Brothers to be fully appreciated. “Duck Soup” was never nominated either, but I’m partial to this one.

5.Sweet Smell of Success (1957) – The dark, cynical response to anyone who says Tony Curtis wasn’t one helluva actor.

I had not even ever heard of Sweet Smell of Success until about five years ago, and such a marvel of a film that is. As far as Tony Curtis goes, I have had this discussion with myself and others more than once:

Me: Kirk Douglas wasn’t really a very good actor.
Me (or someone else): Oh?
Me: Well, he was great in Sweet Smell of Success, though!
Me (or someone else): That’s because that was Tony Curtis.

Anyway, Success was up against some real heavyweights: Bridge on the River Kwai was the winner, with 12 Angry Men and Witness for the Prosecution waiting in the wings. The two sacrifices to the God of Mediocrity that year would’ve been the Brando vehicle Sayonara and the (at the time) steamy soap opera Peyton Place.

I’ll try to get off my keister and put together a “best of” for 2008.

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