Amanda Mae Meyncke January 8, 2009
Once the year is over it becomes ever easier to look back, take stock and pick out the themes that seem to mirror the feelings of audiences across America. Admittedly it was a catchall sort of year, with films of every kind littering the landscape. Perhaps not a landmark or particularly auspicious time, 2008 still yielded astoundingly high box office numbers for certain films, and three distinctive themes present themselves, speaking to the coming cinematic year, which will be a time of recovery for everyone.
Cautious Hope in Ordinary Lives
First, a theme that is hard to encapsulate yet comes up nearly every year was exceptionally well represented by the following films.
src="http://i.realone.com/assets/rn/img/6/9/5/1/24111596-24111598-medium.jpg" alt="Zack and Miri Make a Porno" width="162" height="221" align="left" hspace="6"/>Almost everyone was charmed by Wall-E, the simple tale of a robot in love on a search across the universe for the one he holds dear. Wall-E is complex, with a futuristic environmentalist subplot that questions current choices made by humans but never strays too far from the optimistic high notes. Be Kind Rewind follows two hapless video clerks who set out to recreate some favorite films for a good customer and end up uniting an entire neighborhood. Director Michel Gondry takes a step back from the whimsical and a step towards telling a story that should feel saccharine but is actually genuinely touching. Likewise, in Vicky Cristina Barcelona the stark story of friends who encounter love in a foreign country and meet trouble along the way seems self-indulgent or perhaps overly smug at first glance. But from the start it is the underlying message — that chances are for taking, and hearts recover from breaking — that makes this one of the best films of the year. Strange as it may be, this Kevin Smith entry, Zack & Miri Make a Porno, takes on the topic of casual sex between two down-and-out friends and ends up with a love story that is almost plausible.
The quality shared by all these films is the upturn of hope where none might have been necessary, and all of them felt infused with possibility rather than loss, which is rare without ringing false.
src="http://i.realone.com/assets/rn/img/1/2/3/4/20404321-20404323-medium.jpg" alt="Tina Fey in Baby Mama" width="162" height="221" align="left" hspace="6"/>This next category is comprised of films that aided and abetted stars in reaching new heights of fame. While not necessarily new faces, these stars further cemented their success via these movies, insuring that we would be seeing much more of them in years to come.
Tina Fey continued to grow ever more popular in 2008 and her film Baby Mama did well enough for a first outing, proving that America wants more Fey. Jason Segel has a solid following from his involvement with Judd Apatow, which likely allowed him the creative space to write and act in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Allegedly based on Segel’s real experiences, the film culminates in an opera, the plot of which is too good to give away. The sometimes hilarious and always predictable Pineapple Express likewise helped to further the career of Seth Rogen, who finds himself very steadily employed since coming into the limelight with last year’s Knocked Up. And how could anyone forget Twilight? Love or hate the books, this was a year marked by the fevered obsession of teen girls everywhere, and the movie was an astonishing hit, making over $262 million as of this writing and likely catapulting star
Robert Pattinson from C-list nobody to (at the very least) B-list star-in-the-making.
Heroes and Sequels
src="http://i.realone.com/assets/rn/img/6/4/2/8/20938246-20938248-medium.jpg" alt="Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" width="162" height="221" align="left" hspace="6"/>This could also have very well been called the Year of the Sequel, with such highly anticipated movies such as The Dark Knight, Indiana Jones 4 and Quantum of Solace performing astonishingly well at the box office. Other perhaps lesser franchises swelled their numbers, with Rambo,
Helboy II and
The X-Files all turning in sequels. The Dark Knight and Quantum of Solace stand out as two of the better action films of the year, possibly even better than the films that came before them,
Batman Begins and Casino Royale, respectively. Often the second book or film in a series is the darkest and these films are no exception, with our savvy bevy of heroes often left with nothing, stripped of all that they hold important and left to fight their way out of overwhelming odds. These films converged at an appropriate time in the cultural consciousness, awkwardly mirroring our own fatigue as we face an uncertain future.
In the coming year we’ll see many more from these specific categories, including several highly anticipated sequels: the latest
Harry Potter film, Terminator Salvation and New Moon, the sequel to Twilight.
As always, several big name directors will drop some long awaited films, including Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, Jonze’s Where The Wild Things Are and Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. Certainly 2009 will bring many changes, but it also looks to be shaping up as one of the best years for cinema in recent memory.
Categories: No CategoriesTags: Forgetting sarah marshall, The dark knight, Wall-e