As you may know if you’ve been reading Film School Rejects for a while, we are generally not holiday people. We very rarely set out to do big features and lists for holidays — even failing to take advantage of easy shots such as President’s Day and Memorial Day (greatest war films, cinematic presidents, blah blah blah). In general we like to keep it simple on holidays: work not and drink much. But before I sent them off to their respective family engagements, I asked a select group of FSR staffers to give me one paragraph each on what they are thankful for in the year 2008. The only requirements were that they had to try and find something different to talk about (otherwise everyone would be thankful for Christopher Nolan) and it had to be movie related. Find what they had to say below.
Also, a side note — for those looking for an explanation of the picture above, we have none to offer.
Thankful for the girls being back in town
Although there are always an abundance of chick flicks releasing every year, it’s rare that we ever have something like this summer’s phenomenal success in this area. Sex and the City and Mamma Mia proved that women really can take back the multiplexes and make movies into events. No longer will dressing up and heading for the local movie theater be reserved for comic book and cult novel adaptations. Sex and the City proved that women really could show up in droves for something they believed in, and get into the spirit of the movie in a way no one expected, a revelation I’m truly thankful for and hope that Hollywood pays close attention to.
Thankful for Fangirls
I’m thankful for fangirls. Girls are proving to be just as psycho crazy about comic book/graphic novel/novel adaptations as their male counterparts. After the madness that was Twilight struck theaters, I think it’s safe to say that a new era of fangirls will emerge. I think that Watchmen especially will get a lot of girls on board…no doubt in their best latex Silk Spectre costumes. It comes down to simple math, really. Teen girls + obsession + crafty costuming skills= $$$. I’m thankful to be able to combine my two finest talents into one glorious show of love: sewing and obsessing.
Thankful For Foreign Films That Drew Audiences In Search of Quality and Originality
Foreign films make their way to our shores every year, but most of them only do so in DVD form. Of the ones that do reach theaters they’re often stuffy, pretentious, or just too damn foreign for most audiences. This year has been better than most, and we’ve seen several foreign releases that played on the big screen and attracted audiences in search of something just a little bit different from the Hollywood diet. In Bruges, Son of Rambow, Tell No One, and Let the Right One In all played to packed houses (albeit in limited runs) filled with people craving original entertainment, and all four delivered. Three of those movies even rank in my top ten films of 2008. And from what I’ve heard, JCVD and Timecrimes promise to be equally entertaining. I only hope President Obama can do something about the literacy rate in the US so more Americans will be able to enjoy these cinematic gifts from overseas.
Thankful for Big Summer Movies
I’ve always been the kind of guy to populate my Best Of list at the end of the year with major blockbusters rather than arthouse flicks. Call me a low-brow elitist, but I love a great film for the masses as much as anyone. We’ve had some wobbly summers in the past, but this year was simply glorious. From the mind-blowing success of The Dark Knight to the incredible animation offered with WALL-E and Kung Fu Panda, this was one of the best summers on record. And I even liked the new Indiana Jones film. By and large, there were relatively few duds, and even with those (like Hancock and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor), there was usually something enjoyable in the film. We haven’t seen a spectacular summer slate like this for years, and it was a great season to be covering movies. Oh, and I am thankful that Carly Pope had it in her to go topless in Young People F*cking.
Thankful for In Bruges and the Continued Coolness of Being a Movie Fanboy
Obviously, this was a very big year for geek-out films. And I wasn’t too disappointed with any of the major event releases. (I suspect I might even warm to Quantum of Solace at some point.) But this year I think I’m most thankful for a little movie that came out of nowhere, and I hope there’s plenty more like it to come. That movie is In Bruges. I picked it up on DVD not long ago and I’ve watched it three or four times now. It gets better with each viewing–reminding me of when I first discovered Glengarry Glen Ross and subjected it to obsessive repeat viewings, every time uncovering a new layer of previously undiscovered greatness. I’m also thankful for the Star Trek trailer. Even if the movie turns out to be sub-par, I can’t remember the last time a trailer got me so stoked. I could say the same for Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino trailer. So I suppose I’m most thankful that I’m not yet too old to get fanboy geek-slobbering feverishly juiced up passionate for films.
Thankful for the recognition of Robert Downey Jr.’s talent
While much of the critical buzz this year surrounded Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight, unquestionably one of the greatest acting transformations in film history, there was another actor who had his own coming out party. Robert Downey Jr., Hollywood’s prodigal son, not only spun gold out of Iron Man, a relative superhero unknown in comparison to Superman or Batman, but he was the single best reason to watch Tropic Thunder. For years it appeared that the trouble star was destined to be nothing more than an E! True Hollywood Story. Now he is the greatest comeback story in Hollywood since John Travolta’s celluloid resurrection in Pulp Fiction and nobody would be shocked to see Downey Jr. win an Academy Award before the end of his career. Just make sure that you stay away from any Battlefield Earth sequels, Robert.
Robert Fure, Associate Editor:
Thankful for R-Rated Films
While I may often rally against Judd Apatow, I’ve got to slip him some praise in helping to firmly establish the R-Rated comedy. Lately, Hollywood has been more willing to release movies with an R-Rating, allowing them to pull no punches and go for the laughs full force. Tropic Thunder, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Role Models where all excellent films this year with R-Ratings. Laughs aside, films like Rambo, Saw V, Mirrors, and Wanted were also bringing the appropriate amount of blood and violence and I see a positive sign in the upcoming Punisher: War Zone retaining an R-Rating. I’m thankful R-Rated films are here for adult audiences and I hope they stay.
Brian Gibson, Associate Editor:
Thankful for Great Entertainment, and Morgan Freeman’s F-Bomb.
I know this sounds broad, and a tad bit cheesy, but think about it. At a time in the year when we were all still pretty frustrated about a writers strike, an alcoholic millionaire with an awesome suit made us remember what it is that makes movies fun and still worth going to see. Then when a certain dark superhero movie was ready to trample the competition, most people were talking about the death of one of its stars. The film though, was a reason for us to remember him for his greatness and not his demise. We had little robots and fighting pandas to make us forget about the horrid gas prices. We even saw how a movie about two roommates making a movie could get the whole world in a stir over one word. Entertainment is powerful. It allows us to escape, imagine and feel. This was a year that gave us some really awesome films to be thankful for. I am also very thankful to hear Morgan Freeman drop an F-bomb (in Wanted).
Cole Abaius, Features Editor:
Thankful that the Magic of Moviemaking is Thriving
It’s easy to be cynical or sarcastic about the host of remakes, the lack of creativity and the greed-induced features that come with their own size extra-enormous promotional popcorn. But take the time to step back, and you’ll see a that innovation and the sheer joy that comes with movies (writing them, shooting them, watching them) is alive and robust. From the summer phenomenons like Iron Man and The Dark Knight that gave millions a shared experience to the little vampire film that could – Let the Right One In – that came out of a left field called Sweden. From the intensity of Comic-Con to genius minds like Palahniuk and Charlie Kaufman being back on screen. No matter how you feel critically about the film itself, to see hoards of girls start riots over anything is incredible. The technical innovation. The awe and dropped jaws of audiences all year long. The magic is still there. And it’s growing.
Neil Miller, Executive Editor:
Thankful that Fans, the Millions of Movielovers Across the Web, Won’t Back Down
If 2008 has taught us anything it has been the power — and sometimes lack thereof — of the internet in the world of entertainment. Blogs are all the rage, the voices of the people from all walks of life are being heard loud and clear. What started in the mid-90s by a select few has blossomed into an online community of lovers and haters, all of whom are just looking to share their love of movies. This collective affection for moving pictures has allowed FSR to thrive, it has brought together the best damn writing team on the web, and it keeps readers coming back day in and day out, constantly challenging us to be better. Challenging us to use this bully-pulpit of popularity to take Hollywood to task. And while we are sure to find our share of growing pains in the future, we are glad that you’ve chosen to keep reading. That, and meeting Christopher Nolan was pretty wicked.
So there you have it, some things for which we are thankful. Most of all we are thankful for the opportunity to interact with and entertain all of you. Even if you are laughing at us, we’re just glad you’re laughing at all. From all of us here at FSR to you and yours, Happy Thanksgiving.
We will resume our normal posting whenever we roll out of bed and sober up on Friday…
What are you thankful for this year?