Mr. Chair’s Best of 2008!
They aren’t really in order, the list sizes change arbitrarily. And between you and me, a lot of my picks aren’t even from 2008. The last one was a topsy-turvy year. Comic books ruled the box office. Indie rock turned earthy. And a lot of art was, well, really fucking dark. As was the year I spose. But here are some things that helped us enjoy, and endure, 2008.
I had a lot of fun at the movies this year. I can’t say I saw a lot of the critically acclaimed movies that ought to be on such a list. But it was a dream come true for comic book fans.
7. Wanted — The Russian director of Night Watch has handily taken the helm of flashy, stylized action from the Wachowskis.
6. Iron Man — Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. This is why we go to the movies.
5. Tropic Thunder — Robert Downey Jr. as an Australian actor as a black man. This is why we go to the movies.
4. Paranoid Park, Gus Van Sant — The bipolar filmaker (Elephant/Finding Forrester??) is on a roll. His movies seem so real lately.
3. Hellboy II: The Golden Army — I don’t think a lot of people saw this one. But Del Toro’s modern fairytales on screen get better and better. It’s as much a companion to Pan’s Labyrinth as it is to the Hellboy comics.
2. Forgetting Sarah Marshall — Judd Apatow & Co. can do no wrong. Another perfect balance of irreverence, laughter and world-weary sincerity.
1. The Dark Knight — No surprise here. Now I know there were some haters. It gave my girlfriend nausea and PTSD. Batman’s voice sounded like Bea Arthur. But from start to finish, this movie was nothing short of an ass-kicking. It was dark, smart, weighty, and unforgiving — clearly everything moviegoers needed last year. It nailed the zeitgeist. Hype aside, Heath Ledger’s idealist/anarchist Joker elevated TDK to the best comic book movie ever made.
The music scene is fucking good these days. I credit the shift to digital and streaming. There are so many different, exciting artists. 2007 was great, and 2008 was still full of surprises. I haven’t even listened to a ton of stuff yet, but from what I did, there was some pretty sweet shit:
14. Thao with the Get Down Stay Down
13. Vampire Weekend
12. Helio Sequence, Keep Your Eyes Ahead
11. Stephen Malkmus, Real Emotional Trash
10. Ratatat, LP3 – Fact: listening to Ratatat can transport you temporarily into the future, and increases productivity by 23 percent.
9. Jack’s Mannequin, Glass Passenger — Yeah, I still listen to emo. F off.
8. Weakerthans, Reunion Tour
7. Calexico, Carried to Dust — I miss their spookier old stuff, but they keep evolving like a new Wilco.
6. Sigur Ros, jibberish words — don’t know what they’re singing about but I likes the sounds of it.
5. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Dig! Lazarus! Dig! — at his dark, funny, smarmy best.
4. Blitzen Trapper, Furr — Portland gives us a new kind of indie rock. One made in the woods by middle-aged men with beards.
3. The Hold Steady, Stay Positive — okay, it sounded a lot like the last album, but who cares. The only album of the year that blew my ass out the first time it started to play.
2. TV on the Radio, Dear Science — everything you’ve heard is true. Nothing like them around, and they get keep getting better.
1. Bon Iver, Forever, For Emma — Guys with beards ruled the year. I definitely listened to this more than any other album from 2008. Can’t wait for the follow up. Can’t wait to see him live.
Bon Iver, Skinny Love
Blitzen Trapper, Furr
The Hold Steady, Lord, I’m Discouraged
TV on the Radio, The Golden Age
Hopscotch Willie, Stephen Malkmus
Helio Sequence, Keep Your Eyes Ahead
Weakerthans, Virtue the Cat Explains her Departure
I’m always behind cause I watch everything on Netflix, so almost none of this is actually 2008. But it’s when I saw it dammit.
5. Mad Men — Who would have thought a show on AMC about ad execs could be a pitch-perfect portrayal of the post-war American Dream’s sinister underside.
4. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia — “Dennis, our bar is south Philly in a scary alley… might as well call it ‘Rape Bar.'”
3. Big Love — Bill Paxton has too many wives.
2. Lost — If you doubt me, sit down with a season. I dare you.
1. The Wire — Perfect end to a perfect show.
Honorable Mentions, all categories.
Run Fatboy Run. Nada Surf, Lucky. Okkervil River, The Stand Ins. Fleet Foxes. The Swim, Random Walk. Shearwater, Rook. Randy Newman. Jenny Lewis. Giant Sand. The Office. Bonnie “Prince” Billy. Harold and Kumar. Flight of the Concords. Weeds. Cloverfield. The Orphanage. And of course all of the amazing stuff I’ve been reading about that I’ve been missing. Can’t wait.
Shit I hated:
-The Signal — I don’t know where I heard this was good, but it wasn’t. Could have been made by a bunch of 13-year-olds saying, “You know what would be cool…”
-Journey to the Center of the Earth — I don’t know why I even watched this. Self-loathing I guess. Brendan Fraser is still Encino Man.
-Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Poopy *fart noise* — Lucas proves himself a total. fucking. ass.
-Newspapers going under.
-MTV reality shows that are unmistakably scripted.
-The Zac Efron haircut