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December 23, 2008

Fave five films


With apologies to whatever cell phone company uses this tagline, we're embarking on a series of Fave Fives as a capper to a year spent in many darkened movie theaters and screening rooms in and around L.A. (Is the ArcLight really that great? Well, yeah, but if you complain loudly about the popcorn on the floor and the bad sound, the AMC might give you a freebie. So, there's always that).

Just know that we're speaking from a fan perspective here, not a professional full-time critic's, so don't look for "Synecdoche, New York," though we've loved Charlie Kaufman's writing for years (doesn't mean he should direct, right?).

The bar here is: Did we love it? Did we enjoy it? Did it move us, stick with us, affect us in some way? It's not about the cultural significance, though a few of these movies definitely have that base covered, or about their Oscar or major awards potential, though some have that in spades.

We did take into account the element of surprise, which was at work in our reactions to all these films. And by that we mean, we were surprised by how much we loved them, given in some cases the advance hype and the great weight sitting on their cinematic shoulders.

We'll be back with more Fave Fives in other categories, but we'll start with best films. Here goes (in alphabetical order):

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

In Bruges

Slumdog Millionaire


Almost listed: "Tropic Thunder," "The Visitor," "Kung Fu Panda," "Tell No One" and "Man on Wire," but anybody can do a top 10. We're mercenary here, people!

Come on back for more, which will include but not be limited to best performances and most depressing.


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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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