Notes from the back row 

Best of the year

It wasn’t the best year at the cinemas but Angelina Jolie hit the big screen three times in 2008 so that makes it a good year in my books. Here’s the best of the rest.

Best Comedy – This category needs to be subdivided into “High” comedy and “Really High” comedy. High comedy is smart and witty and also quite rare, making the Coen brothers’ Burn After Reading this year’s easy winner. All the hype was around the dorky Brad Pitt character but John Malkovich is the real star of this tightly scripted screwball farce that is even funnier the second time around.

Really High Comedy is not as intelligent but, depending on the smoky atmosphere in your living room, it’s usually way funnier. Strange Wilderness , a little-seen improv flick starring Steve Zahn on a mission to find Bigfoot is comedy genius. Runner up — Role Models .

Best Action — Comic book movies were big this year. The Dark Knight made a billion dollars and director Christopher Nolan’s use of IMAX cameras for the giant action set pieces was truly spectacular. Iron Man was way better than I expected. But the most innovative action this year was in Wanted . Director Timur Bekmambetov’s fresh ideas, curving bullets, and insanely impossible stunts made this one a real treat. A naked Angelina Jolie didn’t hurt either.

Best Chick Flick — I skipped most of 2008s female-targeted flicks but after I got used to being the only dude in a room full of 11-year-old girls The House Bunny was actually pretty funny. Thanks mainly to Anna Farris’ timing and Emma Stone’s breakthrough talent. Runner-up — Changeling , due to the Angelina factor.

Scariest — It was a shitty year for horror and it’s way past the time they stop making Saw movies but if you live out in the middle of nowhere and it’s a dark, moonless night The Strangers is a pretty freaking scary. Second place goes to The Ruins , a movie about killer plants. Like I said, shitty year for horror.

Best Cartoon — Kung-Fu Panda had the Angelina factor going for it but since it’s only her voice Wall-E wins this one. Pixar’s near-perfect sci-fi cartoon with the anti-consumption message is an instant classic.

Best Date Movie – Zombie Strippers was way better than you’d think but since not everyone’s dating techniques are like mine lets give this one to Choke , a quirky little movie that has laughs, tears, black humour and lots of sex. Based on the Chuck Palahniuk novel of the same name, this one also wins “Best movie you didn’t hear about.”

Best Documentary — There are so many good docs that we never see until they hit DVD that this category is almost impossible but Religulous , the anti religion movie by Bill Maher was ballsy and rad, as was the Hunter Thompson movie Gonzo . The winner though, is Encounters at the End of the World by doc master Werner Herzog. Rent it when you can.

Worst Movie – Even the dreadlocked caveman movie 10,000 B.C. had at least one redeeming quality but I can safely say that Mr. Lonely , a movie about a bunch of celebrity impersonators wasting each other’s time in the French countryside was so terrible it made the Lindsay Lohan stinker I Know Who Killed Me look like an award winner.

Best Movie – Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire and Darren Arnofsky’s The Wrestler could both win this category but I’m gonna go with anarchy, ass-kicking, and the sheer awesomeness of The Dark Knight . It’s Batman done right, a comic movie with real feeling, and it’s the kind of cinematic experience that movie geeks live for. See ya in 2009.

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