It's been a hard (read: bad) year for movies. I've recently resigned myself to watching TV shows from Netflix. I think I was inspired (or tricked by friends) to go to the movies fewer than a dozen times this year. And I think it says something that my second-favorite movie this year is nothing more than popcorn entertainment not made by Hollywood - or that my favorite was released late last year.
6) Tie: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Broken Flowers.
The W&G film is chock-full of puns. So many, and some pretty decently, that I had to laugh, several times. Also, it's a watchable film, meaning that there's a lot moving with each frame. I still don't know how they moved the bunnies in space. Or why they decided to leave fingerprints all over the clay figures. BF is a completely different movie, all atmosphere, some disgusting shock, some anticipated disgust (there's a daughter trying to titillate the protagonist by the name of Lolita. The protaganist, a burned-out lady's man trying to come to amends with his philandeering past is named Don Jonston, and there are several references throughout to his namesake - don't think too hard on that one.) But two things are going for this piece, 1) Bill Murray; 2) Jim Jarmusch. What is interesting in this moving picture is the space and silence that these two collaborate on so well.
5) Serenity - Upon getting around to watching the Firefly series on DVD (and loving it), I saw this film as a good continuation (hopefully, not a coda) to what Joss Whedon had already, though too briefly, begun on Fox. Not a great filmic movie (Whedon's first, abouttimeIsay), but un, exciting and with some themes to chew upon (the requisite Whedon's teamwork and sacrifice being tentamount, but, I'm a sucker for those punches). As far as the movie/series: Think of Han Solo before he came into contact with Old Ben and the rebels and when he shot first, only slightly closer to Earth and you have a good idea.
4) Batman Begins - OK, so I ended up liking it. Very well done. I rarely watch a movie more than once, but if it holds up under multiple viewings, it gets top honors. Everything else there is to say about it, I already did.
3) The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Maybe I'll like it more, maybe I won't, I don't know. Tilda Swinton was (and apparently is, in real life) pure evil. The girl who played Lucy a heart-stringer and a pure delight, and Liam Neeson had a decent Aslan voice (much more regal than the nasally and pseudo-Shakespearean actor trying to keep up with the legacy of the Lion in the Focus on the Family audiobooks. Sorry, Adam). But really, credit goes to C.S. Lewis. Anyway, who listens to me?
2) Kung-Fu Hustle - It made me laugh. Hard. Often. A live-action martial-arts Looney Tunes with physical comedy coming from all directions. A much better review is here.
1) Hotel Rwanda - I dare you to watch it and not cry. If a mark of a real work of art is by how it moves you - how it truly, deeply affects you and the way you view the world and draws you to actual movement - then this would be the piece de resistance of the year. No propaganda, just a a necessary and powerful story told well. Give to Compassion Int'l, the Red Cross, Data, World Vision. Press your congressperson, president, prime minister, mayor, water reclamation district manager, to action on behalf of justice, to release the financial burbens of Third World (or, more accurately, 2/3's World) Nations. Get others to join on the humanitarian bandwagon. But mostly, promote peace and love and - like Daniel - beseech God on all of our behalf.