In the lead-up to yet another new year, I'm making lists and checking them twice. Here's the first of my lists of my favourite 2008 things. (I promise that I'm not trying the channel Martha here though. Or Julie Andrews.)
I'm starting with my favourite films of 2008. While there's been films I've enjoyed a lot (the adorable How to Lose Friends and Alienate People), some disappointing (Quantum of Solace), and others I've cringed over (Nights in Rodanthe!), there's been several that have stood out as being satisfying movie experiences for the year. So I'm going to choose five that I enjoyed very much, for different reasons.
I read and really enjoyed Ian McEwan's Atonement early in the year. The adaptation was a rare example of a novel which translates to the big screen remarkably well I thought. It was beautiful and operatic, and moving - even though I knew what was coming. Keira Knightley was perfectly cast (which is not something I always think when I consider her movie roles), and the other actors were fantastic. I loved the recurrent tap-tap-tapping of the typewriter keys too. It was a very satisfying film, and I'm very interested in seeing what the director Joe Wright does next.
The next is a film I saw only last weekend - And Then She Found Me. Part comedy, part drama, this was an interesting and occasionally odd film about choices and happiness. It starred and was directed by another actor who can leave me cold - Helen Hunt - but this film has turned my opinion of her around. I'd like to see it again.
My third film is French - Roman de Gare. A thoroughly entertaining romantic comedy slash mystery thriller, this has a plot to keep you guessing, and a cast of great characters. It is just the sort of film that Hollywood will remake, but with a conventionally handsome leading man (Dominique Pinon is not what you'd call handsome, but his character was nevertheless appealing). I just hope that if the Americans do go the obvious route, they don't stuff it up too much, because the original is so entertaining.
And my final two films are chosen for pure enjoyment. Mamma Mia is in no way a great film, and it's well documented that Pierce Brosnan is a terrible albeit very pretty singer, but that's not the point. And Sex & The City had a meandering plot tied together with lots of faaaaabulous shoes and frocks. But I had a ball seeing both of these films. I saw Mamma Mia with a good friend and our daughters (aged ten and seven) - they loved it, and their excitement was infectious. And you can't beat the joy expressed in the 'Dancing Queen' scene of all of the island women jumping into the sea.
Nor could you beat turning up to a cinema with a bunch of girlfriends on a cold Tuesday night to watch SATC on the big screen with a huge audience that was 95 per cent women (and being Melbourne, all dressed in black!). Such fun.
That's my list. What's on yours?