In last week’s issue of Time magazine their film critic Richard Corliss wrote a rather lengthy article on why he thought that all of the best movies this year were blockbusters. Some of his favorites from the past year were Iron Man, Speed Racer, WALL-E and The Dark Knight, and while I agree with two of his choices, Speed Racer didn’t appeal to me (so I didn’t see it) and, hate me if you will, and if you loved it you probably will, but I didn’t care about seeing WALL-E. At all. I’m a big fan of the Pixar pictures, but WALL-E just didn’t interest me.
But I have to agree with Corliss on his secondary point; being the end of the year this is the time for awards-caliber films, and this year is looking pretty lame. Early on I was interested in seeing Gran Torino but then my interest fizzled out for no perceptible reason even though I love Clint Eastwood. The Reader sounds so boring and Slumdog Millionaire deals with under-aged prostitution so they’re out in my book.
But Corliss doesn’t bring up the biggest glaring omission that he made about the two films that we do agree on. The Dark Knight was directed by Christopher Nolan who did the fantastic Memento 1And the awesome The Prestige. several years back and John Favreau directed Iron Man. Favreau started out in indie films (Swingers, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle) and then moved on to directing (Will Ferrell’s second most underrated performance – Elf 2Most underrated? Stranger Than Fiction. ) Indie directors tend to focus more on story and plot than, say, Michael Bay or that dufus McG 3Why doesn’t he just use his real name – Joseph McGinty? because their budgets are usually in the high hundred-thousands or the low millions. What’s been great about Nolan’s and Favreau’s careers is that they so far have kept the indie ethic of storytelling first and just tacking on the special effects to aide the visuals.
I doubt Iron Man or The Dark Knight will get nominated for the big awards, other than Heath Ledger, but the were enjoyable and interesting films that deserved the critical accolades, and the piles of money, that they earned.