Movie Buzz: 2008 Year in Review

Metro Spirit | December 29, 2008
It's no secret that the awards season blitz uses up all of Hollywood's creative juices by the end of December. Any film worthy of an Oscar or Golden Globe nod had its release, if only to a limited number of theaters, by the Christmas box office.

Accordingly, with the big guns of the big-screen continuing their runs, January doesn't have much to offer in terms of new releases. With no new widely released films opening on Friday, it seemed appropriate to reflect on the movies of 2008 as we close out the year.

2008: Year of the Superhero -- Two of the year's biggest films provided escapist entertainment straight out of comic books. The Dark Knight put Christian Bale back in the role of Batman matching wits with Heath Ledger's colorful and demented Joker while Robert Downey Jr. made an unlikely superhero in director Jon Favreau's Iron Man.

Edward Norton turned green to play The Incredible Hulk while Ron Perlman sported a bright red skin tone to reprise his role as an unlikely do-gooder in Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Will Smith also played a superhero with an attitude problem in Hancock.

2008: Year of the Comeback Attempt -- Rambo marked Sylvester Stallone's return to the renegade character he left behind twenty years ago. Unfortunately, the flick did not earn him accolades like those he received for 2006's Rocky Balboa.

Harrison Ford returned to one of his iconic movie roles in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Bringing new life to a story that resonated with audience two decades ago, an aging Ford was complemented by the presence of up-and-coming actor Shia LaBeouf.

Two once glorious actors did not fare as well with their comeback attempts. Meg Ryan starred in the disappointing remake of George Cukor's 1939 film, The Women, while Nicolas Cage realized his name alone will not attract viewers to action flicks like Bangkok Dangerous.

2008: Year of the Smart Comedy That Masquerades as a Stupid Comedy -- Not only did audiences have to see Seth Rogen in his underwear in Pineapple Express, they also had to endure his comically unattractive physique in Zack and Miri Make a Porno.

Other surprising crowd pleasers included Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott attempting to be Role Models, George Clooney and Brad Pitt in the Coen Brothers comedy, Burn After Reading, and a flick that found Ben Stiller in the roles of writer, director, and actor. A witty spoof and movie-within-a-movie, Tropic Thunder earned surprise Golden Globe nominations for Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Cruise in the Best Supporting Actor category.

2008: Final Thoughts -- Films like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Doubt, Frost/Nixon, Revolutionary Road, Milk, and Slumdog Millionaire may earn critical raves and awards, and deservingly so. Yet, Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight, Jon Favreau's Iron Man, the return of James Bond in Quantum of Solace, and Oliver Stone's Presidential jab, W., proved to be truly buzz-worthy.

Tweens came out in droves for Twilight and High School Musical 3: Senior Year. Kids cheered for WALL-E and Kung Fu Panda. Europeans spent all their box office cash to see Meryl Streep in the ABBA musical, Mama Mia! and American women flocked to the big-screen reunion that was Sex and the City: The Movie.

2009 will offer some highly anticipated new flicks. What should your New Year's Movie Resolution be? Look for new releases from the Harry Potter, X-Men, Terminator and Transformers franchises. Plus, Star Trek and Watchmen will provide out of this world entertainment while Tom Hanks stars in novelist Dan Brown's Angels & Demons and Johnny Depp plays notorious gangster John Dillinger in Public Enemies.
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