BOP 25 of the Holidays 2008: 25-16

By BOP Staff

October 8, 2008

Are you McLovin? You look like McLovin. 25) Role Models

When the subject of role models is broached, gentlemen forced to mentor the nation's youth through the magic of community service is usually not the first idea in our minds. For Judd Apatow's legion of comedy, this is fertile soil for a movie. The premise is simple. Two dudes with a permanent case of arrested development do something wildly illegal involving an energy drink truck and a school zone. As punishment, they are sentenced to work at Sturdy Wings in lieu of a month of being prison brides. After a few days, they start to wonder if the latter might have been the more reasonable choice as the kids they are entrusted to mentor, one of whom looks a lot like McLovin, are...let's say difficult to love. Sure, it's not the most engaging premise for a movie, but the real appeal to BOP is that the three leads are all BOP faves. Elizabeth Banks, Seann William Scott and Paul Rudd are the featured players in a movie written by Rudd himself. That's more than enough for us to enjoy but if you need more, simply consider the beauty of Stifler offering guidance to McLovin. (David Mumpower/BOP)
Wahlberg enlists help to talk with Night about The Happening. 24) Max Payne

Cynics are quick to point out that most videogame adaptations are not very good. BOP objects to this contention as often as not, but it doesn't matter where you stand on the issue. The reality is that most videogame adaptations smart enough to exclude Uwe Boll from the proceedings make their fair share of money. This means that casual movie-goers want to see what their favorite games will look like on the screen. What's odd about Max Payne is that you would experience difficulty in finding someone who has played these games. Dismissed as a Matrix wannabe, the franchise's heavy reliance on slow motion gun fu has not proven to be a huge hit among gamers. Oddly, some sort of inverse corollary has been created for videogame adaptations wherein one of the least established titles has produced one of the sexiest trailers in recent movie history. BOP bears no love for the games themselves, but Max Payne the movie looks white-hot. We may be getting fooled by another cleverly cut commercial that cleverly hides the movie's woes. Even allowing for this, Max Payne has us intrigued. (David Mumpower/BOP)
Rachel may not be getting married if her husband sees this 23) Rachel Getting Married

A movie that has been gathering steam since it played at the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals, Rachel Getting Married has people talking about Anne Hathaway as a potential Academy Award nominee for her performance as the sister of the title character. In the movie, she portrays a young woman who has been in and out of rehab who returns to her family home for her sister's wedding. Because Rachel has been mostly out of contact with her family, a number of conflicts bubble to the surface upon her arrival.

Over the summer, Hathaway received a lot of positive acclaim for her portrayal of Agent 99 in Get Smart. Since breaking through to the big time with The Princess Diaries, Hathaway has turned in some solid performances in movies like Brokeback Mountain and The Devil Wears Prada. Rachel Getting Married is her real chance to add some indie cred to her resume (we're not going to count Becoming Jane since it was a mere blip on the radar). The film itself is directed by Jonathan Demme, a previous Academy Award winner for The Silence of the Lambs. Reviews are saying that Rachel Getting Married is a return to form for Demme, whose recent resume has been middling to above average (The Truth About Charlie, The Manchurian Candidate). We're intrigued to see Hathaway in a role that really allows her talent to shine through, and are hopeful that Demme has succeeded as much as critics are saying. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

Hobos packing heat. Tonight on 60 Minutes. 22) The Road

Last year, No Country for Old Men brought author Cormac McCarthy into the spotlight as it won a plethora of awards, including the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. Although McCarthy has been publishing his gothic Southern fiction for years, No Country was one of his more recent works, and not even one of his most acclaimed. Nonetheless, it proved to work exceptionally well when translated to the big screen, which is significant when you consider that the Coen brothers were extremely faithful to the source material.
One year later, we have the prospect of another McCarthy adaptation on the horizon. This time, it is his most recent novel, The Road. Many critics consider the book the best of that year, and it won the Pulitzer Prize as well as the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. It was also selected as one of Oprah's Book Club picks, which means that there is a significant built-in audience for the story.

Like No Country, the source material is as dark as dark can be. The story follows a father and son who are journeying together through a post-apocalyptic landscape. Something horrible has happened in our world, though we're never told exactly what it was. Civilization essentially no longer exists, and the duo must forage and scavenge to survive. Father and son are heading south in an effort to find a habitable climate, since they know that winter will ultimately be deadly.

The casting for this project is stellar. Viggo Mortensen stars as the father, which is really all you need to know since the story spends most of its time with its central duo. Supporting performers include Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce and Robert Duval. The only cause for hesitation in our overall enthusiasm for this project is the fact that director John Hillcoat is somewhat unproven. He received some accolades for his indie Aussie flick The Proposition, but prior to that he was mostly involved in video direction for Nick Cave and Depeche Mode. Even so, we have high hopes that he'll capture the book's existential nature, even if it is overly bleak. Not all movies can be shiny and happy, after all. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Maher's favorite and least favorite film is Life of Brian. 21) Religulous

Bill Maher has a bit of a bone to pick with religion. All of them. Mainly, that bone of contention is, "how the hell are you so damn sure?" In Religulous (religion + ridiculous) The HBO and ex-ABC TV show host and comedian travels the world in search of an answer to this potentially blasphemous question. No aspect of religious belief is spared his mocking inquiry in this Michael Moore-ish documentary – which is to say while the topic might nominally be religion, the real focus of the movie is Maher himself. While a critical look at faith and religion is sorely needed, one wonders if Maher will be doing more than preaching to the converted. At the outside, he'll probably at least make us laugh a little. (Reagen Sulewski/BOP)
Would shouting Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich help deliver this baby? 20) Synecdoche, New York

Charlie Kaufman is a master of the profoundly weird. As the writer of Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Adaptation, Kaufman took audiences on mind-bending, recursive journeys into strange, uncharted territory. Now someone let him direct a movie. Uh oh. Synecdoche, New York, reveals that he's up to his same old recursive tricks (the title is a literary term meaning a part of a thing that represents the whole of it), which of course makes one wonder when Kaufman is going to go up his own ass. Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays a theatre director who attempts to create a life-size New York in a warehouse to stage his masterwork, instructing his actors to live out their own lives. Complicating things are the loves of his life (Michelle Williams and Samantha Morton) and the actor he's hired to play himself, who's doing just a little bit too good of a job at it. At this point you're either fascinated with this idea and are sold, or have already moved onto the next writeup. Hey, this kind of film isn't for everyone, and you probably would enjoy Madagascar 2 better. But until he proves us wrong, anything Kaufman touches is at least worth a glance, if only so we can try and figure out what the hell he's talking about. (Reagen Sulewski/BOP)
Penn and his friends celebrate his second divorce. 19) Milk

Sean Penn has become one of the most reliable actors in the business. Generally, if Penn is starring in a movie, you can count on it to be top notch. Sure, there have been a few missteps along the way (All the King's Men, anyone), but generally, Penn is as solid as they come. Even if you disagree with his political views, you have to admit that he's been amazing in stuff like Mystic River and 21 Grams.

This year's prestige film for Penn is Milk, a biopic about the later life and eventual assassination of the San Francisco city supervisor/gay rights activist named Harvey Milk. Milk was an outspoken advocate for homosexuals in San Francisco, encouraging them to seize power and support each other as opportunities arose.

Penn isn't the only standout in the cast. Emile Hirsch, who starred in Penn's directorial effort Into the Wild, is onboard, as well as James Franco, Josh Brolin, Victor Garber (one of my personal favorite actors) and Diego Luna. It's directed by Gus Van Sant, who was previously nominated for an Academy Award for Good Will Hunting. Like so many movies on our Holiday 25 list, it's certainly angling for awards attention, and the fact that it covers such a groundbreaking figure is sure to factor into its overall success. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Sadly, Amy Adams doesn't look much older than these girls. 18) Doubt

Meryl Streep. Philip Seymour Hoffman. Amy Adams. All three have been nominated for Academy Awards. Hoffman and Streep have won. If ever a film had an amazing acting pedigree, it would be one that starred all three of these people. Doubt is that film.

The movie itself is set in 1964, and centers on a nun who becomes suspicious that a priest is abusing an African-American boy. Needless to say, this will be emotionally charged subject matter, but if any performers are up to the challenge, Streep, Hoffman and Adams would qualify.

The trailer for the film debuted recently, and the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. BOP certainly agrees that the preview gives a taste of intrigue and shows some evidence that even a period piece about a topic that is difficult to discuss under any circumstance can make people stand up and take notice. The movie is directed by John Patrick Shanley, who wrote the play on which the screenplay is based. He's received plenty of positive critical notice for this play, including a Pulitzer Prize, a Drama Desk Award and a Tony. Clearly, this is a story that captures people's attention. It should be a major factor as awards season gets into high gear. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Pick the second smartest creature in this picture. 17) W.

Yeah, we know. We know. This is a take it or leave it proposition, even among the BOP staff. Those who voted for it were very, very excited by the prospects of an incendiary biopic about the reigning President of the United States, putting it toward the top of their ballots. The majority of voters ignored it completely. This is probably about what should be expected of its box office potential as well. Movie releases don't come any more partisan than W. We've come to a point where even the hint of a discussion that is political in tone will cause a third of the people to argue for the left, a third of the people to argue for the right and a third of the people to curl up in the fetal position and cry "Mommy!" until the bad people shut up. Let's leave it at this. You know who the director of W. is. You know what the movie W. is about. And you know that its release prior to the election is far from accidental. Ergo, you have formulated an opinion about this movie that will not be swayed by anything I say here. So, all that is left for me to say is that I like Oliver Stone as a director and I was one of the people who voted for this movie. Send all your torches and pitchforks this way if so inclined. (David Mumpower/BOP)
Have you ever wondered what 'on set creative differences' means? 16) RocknRolla

Guy Ritchie directed Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, a movie BOP selected as one of the most underrated of the 1990s. Guy Ritchie directed Snatch,a movie BOP selected as one of the 20 five best movies of 2000. Clearly, BOP likes Guy Ritchie, or at least we did before he handed his genitals over to Madonna. The news of their split and her dalliances with Alex Rodriguez are inciting the celebrity media for one reason while exciting BOP for an altogether different one. We as a staff feel that he married beneath himself and the news of his impending bachelorhood is being met with ticker tape parades at our office. We're ready for Guy Ritchie to go back to doing movies about bad guys being placed in tight spots by even more villainous folks. And if Thandie Newton stars, so much the better.

Odd BOP 25 sidenote: We have no idea what a Gemma Arterton is, but this is the first of two appearances she makes on the list this season. (David Mumpower/BOP)

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